Archives For Preaching


Hearing the Words of A Prophet

A Review of
Martin Luther King, Jr.:
The Essential Box Set.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ Listen to clips from this box set.]

Martin Luther King, Jr.:
The Essential Box Set.

15 Cd’s: Hachette Audio,  2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon – Martin Luther King – Essential Box Set ]

Martin Luther King -Essential Box SetMartin Luther King, Jr. was one of, if not the finest American orator, of the twentieth century.  Following in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass and many other renowned Black orators, King spoke powerfully for the causes of freedom and justice, whether in pulpit of his home church, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama or speaking as the voice of the Civil Rights movement in Washington, D.C. and throughout the South.  And now thanks to Hachette Audio, we have a high-quality collection of twenty-three of King’s finest sermons and speeches: Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Essential Box Set.  The narrators who introduce these talks by Martin Luther King emphasize that he was, first and foremost, a preacher, and that his primary identity was located in the Church (see also the book excerpt on King below).  Even when speaking to broader audiences, he spoke the prophetic words of a preacher, connecting with his audiences on shared virtues such as freedom, equality and justice.  It has been important for me, when thinking of Dr. King, not only to see the words that he spoke on the printed page (or computer screen) but also to hear his voice speaking the words, and for many years now, I have been collecting vintage LP’s with recordings of King’s speeches and sermons.  While I certainly will not be getting rid of my vinyl recordings any time soon, I am delighted to have recordings of the same talks (and more) in a cleaner, more durable format and one that can more easily be shared with our sons and daughter as well as others.

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Excerpt from the book:

Ring Out Freedom!:
The Voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and
the Making of the Civil Rights Movement.

Fredrik Sunnemark.

Paperback: Indiana Univ. Press, 2003.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Ring Out Freedom (Excerpt)


A Brief Review of

The Early Preaching of Karl Barth:
Fourteen Sermons with Commentary by William H. Willimon
Paperback: WJK Books, 2009.

Buy Now:  [ ]

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

This review originally appeared on Bob’s blog:
It is reprinted here with the reviewer’s permission.

Preaching has changed over the years, whether for the good or ill is difficult to say. In an earlier day, at least as seen from reading sermons by the young Karl Barth, preachers demanded more of the listeners than is normally expected of someone sitting in the pews today. There is less emphasis on the “practical” and more on the “theological.”

This book contains fourteen sermons preached by Karl Barth to the people of the small Swiss village of Safenwil between 1917 and 1920. They have been carefully selected by William Willimon, and translated by John E. Wilson. Barth began his pastorate in 1911, but the sermons come from the end of Barth’s tenure in the pastorate – just before he left for a teaching post at Gottingen. They also come from an interesting period of European history – from the closing years of World War I through the immediate aftermath. It is a period of transition, marked by the Revolution in Russia – an event that is very much present in Barth’s mind and preaching. Both the war and the revolution seem to represent the movement into a new age, where old paradigms no longer hold true.

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“A real prescription for what ails the world”

A Review of
The Cross-Shattered Church:
Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching.

by Stanley Hauerwas.

 Reviewed by Michael J. Bowling.


The Cross-Shattered Church:
Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching.

Stanley Hauerwas.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2009.
Buy now:   [ ]


Language matters to Stanley Hauerwas, and he is not shy when it comes to saying so. As a theologian, he consistently demonstrates precision with his words; as an ethicist, he reduces the matter to a simple, “don’t lie.” So for those of us who have come to deeply appreciate both his words, his work and his advocacy for truthfulness in the Church, A CROSS-SHATTERED CHURCH should be read with high expectations. From the preface to the three-fold appendix, this new book by the noted Duke University professor offers far more than seventeen well-crafted sermons. Here we find a real prescription for what ails the world and that which ails the Church in the world…a distillation of reflection from a brother in Christ who loves the Church, honors the preached Word and has worked carefully as a theologian for many years. I have a sneaky suspicion those of us whose theological labors are shared with the Church from behind a pulpit will long savor his strong words in support of preaching and will be challenged by the economy of language without sacrificing real substance in the sermons. However, those who walk the halls of academia and primarily speak from behind lecterns will be quoting from this book for years to come because of the “Hauerwas explaining Hauerwas” revelations found in both the Introduction and the Appendix.


Hauerwas raises expectations concerning this book in the Preface. Referencing additional works as well…THE CROSS-SHATTERED CHRIST, DISRUPTING TIME and his recent commentary on the Gospel of Matthew… he writes, “But if you can only read a little Hauerwas, read one of these books. They are what I most care about.” After expressing his gratitude and dedicating the book to two bishops, one an old friend (Will Willimon) and the other a new friend (Archbishop Javier Martinez), he is off and running with the introduction, which is not so much a preview of the forthcoming seventeen sermons as it is a joint treatise on theological method and the important place of the sermon as “the context for theological reflection” that is “crucial if Christians are to negotiate the world in which we find ourselves.” Because Hauerwas believes that the exposition of Scripture is the primary work of theology, it would naturally follow that sermons are appropriate places for theological work to be done (assuming Scripture continues to be valued by those who preach). But it is at this point that a potential erroneous presumption is countered. Hauerwas lays the groundwork for denying that sermons or theology for that matter are the positions taken by “an individual thinker.” Instead, theologians (and I would add preachers) “are servants of a tradition in which the creative challenge is how to be faithful to what we have received.” Continue Reading…