Four years ago Joel Gregory, Professor of Preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, was commissioned by the Baptist World Alliance to study representative Baptist preaching throughout the world. Talk about taking a bite out of an elephant? How do you pick just a few? His challenge was to come up with six or less preachers from North America. With six regions of the world that was still three dozen preachers.
Promised out of this study was a book—a heavy book—from Baylor University Press. I guess I never thought it would take four years to complete this project and get the book published. But it did. The book has finally arrived. Baptist Preaching: A Global Anthology, Joel C. Gregory, Editor, has just been released and is available at www.Amazon.com by clicking HERE.
If you want to buy one, pull out your platinum card because the retail price is $59.95. Doesn’t this sound just about right for an academic publisher who believes every book should be seen as a textbook, and no textbook is worth its considerable weight unless it costs at least $50.00? If you want it, you have to buy the whole thing. They are not—at least initially—making it available as a Kindle eBook. Sad!
Joel asked me to help him get recommendations for representative Baptist preachers from the United States and Canada. We discussed a strategy. I contacted the CEO’s of the various Baptist denominations related to the North American Baptist Fellowship for recommendations. They came pouring in. Many more than we could handle, yet not the diversity we desired.
They could not be all white guys in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. That would not be representative; much less politically correct. Racial, ethnic, and gender diversity was mandatory. Some geographic spread was needed. Preachers from a variety of denominations were essential. Left out were about a third of the Baptist denominations in North American who are not part of the Fellowship.
Could the right mix be achieved in just six representative preachers?
Here are the six representative Baptist preachers from the U.S.A. and Canada that made it into the book along with their sermon titles:
• J. Peter Holmes, “A Sermon for Yorkminster Park Baptist Church” (Toronto, Canada)
• George Mason, “Beauty’s Truth” (Dallas, USA)
• John Piper, “The Old Testament Witness to Jesus” (Minneapolis, USA)
• Jacqueline A. Thompson , “It’s a Family Thing” (Oakland, USA)
• Tonya Vickery, “Now What Do We Do?” (Cullowhee, USA)
• Ralph D. West, Sr., “Preaching in a Heterodidactic Age” (Houston, USA)
Do you recognize any of these names? You may have a lot of questions. “I did not know he is a Baptist?” “Who is that woman?” Why isn’t ________ on this list?” All of these questions are legitimate. Remember this is an anthology of representative Baptist preaching.
My Endorsement Statements
As someone aware of this project from the beginning, I was pleased to provide an endorsement. Here are some of my thoughts.
Baptist Preaching: A Global Anthology is a literary gold mine of the highest caliber on representative preaching among Baptists worldwide. It is a sourcebook that will stretch preachers for many years. It has the potential to enhance preaching in congregational life throughout the world.
Occasionally a giant with great wisdom and insight comes along who can speak into crucial Christian issues. Such is the case with Joel Gregory in his work Baptist Preaching: A Global Anthology and his outstanding scholarship off of a base of phenomenal personal inspiration regarding preaching. At the same time, let us hear clearly Joel’s admonition to not make too much of the sermon and too little of the Savior.
Preaching is more than an art and a science. It is a calling, a passion, and a spiritual offering in praise to the Triune God. As Joel Gregory says in Baptist Preaching: A Global Anthology, “preaching presents the Lord Jesus Christ, introduces a Person, and leads to a relationship as its chief end.” To learn through this book how representative Baptists are living out their calling as preachers is of such great value that a price cannot be put on it. Joel Gregory and those who helped him develop this sourcebook have done Baptist Christians and many other traditions a sacrificial service that is sure to multiply geometrically as it is read and shared.
If I were currently a Baptist ministerial student called to preach, and I could only buy one book, this is it. This is a book preachers will pick up time and time again as they go through various phases of their preaching life. It will provide them with a point of reference—even moorings—for their preaching. It will challenge them to not get stuck in one phase, but to move forward in expressing their craft and calling. Thank you, Joel Gregory, for this great gift to preachers.