Thursday, July 7, 2011

Preaching that is more than your two cents

I came across this quote from Fred Craddock today, "Small topics are like pennies; even when polished to a high gloss, they are still pennies" (Preaching, 49). The quote is placed within a section in which Craddock argues for preachers who think and preach theologically.  His point is that good theology compels the preacher to bring a big agenda to the pulpit for God has a big agenda for the world.  Good theology reminds us that God is up to more than whether or not we, the congregation, are presently pleased, comfortable, or entertained.

Craddock's point is well taken.  I read quite a few theology books each year, and I believe I am a better preacher because of it.  This isn't because I get anything out of those books for direct use in my sermons (like quotes or illustrations).  No.  Very little in such books makes a direct jump into the text of my sermons.  No, the point isn't to get material for my sermons, but rather, to get deeper thoughts into me.  Reading theology stretches my understanding and challenges my assumptions.  Reading theology calls me to examine questions I'd rather leave unasked and to hear answers I'd rather not hear.  Reading theology, good theology, deepens my faith, and that makes me a better preacher.

Three favorite theology books (among many):
  •  Exclusion & Embrace by Miroslav Volf
  • The Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer
  • The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann
Here are two of the more theologically focused blogs that I follow:
  • Roger Olson, Professor of Theology at Truett Seminary.  You can read his thoughts on why theology is essential to ministry here.
  • Scot McKnight, a New Testament professor at North Park University (I realize McKnight is not technically a theologian, but the truth is, all good biblical scholars also do theology just as good theologians also study their Bibles!).
I'd love to hear of your favorite theology books and blogs, as well.

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