Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: Preaching Gospel Essays in Honor of Richard Lischer

When I saw that Cascade Books recently published a volume of essays in honor of the Duke Divinity School's Professor of Homiletics, Richard Lischer, I knew that I had to read it. I was first introduced to Lischer's writings several years ago by a colleague who told me that I just had to read his books. I devoured his memoir Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery (Harmony Publishing,
2002) which recalls his time as a Lutheran pastor in a small town. Lischer is a preacher's preacher, teaching preaching and homiletics at Duke for 37 years. He will be retiring at the end of the Spring 2017 semester.

This volume of essays is a tribute to Prof. Lischer's long and industrious career. The seventeen essays are from former students and colleagues as well as from a diverse Christian spectrum. Each touch on an important aspect of the proclaimed word, and highlight Prof. Lischer's contribution to the field of homiletics. This is not a dry academic assortment of essays which one often finds in volumes such as these. Some of the essays such as Profs.  Stanley Hauerwas and Ellen Davis include not just an essay but sermons as well. As I was reading I thought what a wonderful way to honor a professor of homiletics than by including a few sermons too!

The essays include a wide variety of topics: preaching the Old Testament, social justice and the gospel, the gospel and spirituals, the gospel in the public arena, as well as others.

While some books of essays are arranged topically, this one is not, it would be very hard to do so, given the wide variety and range. Yet they all do share a common thread; every Sunday human preachers with human words help make the Word real and alive for people in the pews, and we do this Sunday after Sunday, year after year, season after season, and it's hard work. However, this work, according to Richard Lischer is not a burden, but a blessing, since we know in the Gospel of John that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. After reading Preaching Gospel I have a lot of gratitude for Prof. Lischer and all of his labors. I never heard Richard Lischer preach in person nor did I have him as a teacher, but I do know that after reading this volume of essays, as well as his own writings and sermons, that I have gained a lot for doing so, and for this I am grateful.

I congratulate the editors who put together this volume of essays and I commend and congratulate Prof. Lischer for his long teaching career. It has born fruit and we are all grateful for that.

For more information about Preaching Gospel: Essays in Honor of Richard Lischer click here