The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching, Augustine to the Present

(Richard Lischer). Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002.

Richard Lischer has organized this book into seven sections that reflect on the rhetorical triangle, the nature of preaching, and "Preaching and the Church." As Lischer notes, all preachers included in the book sought to reenergize the preaching of their day without abandoning the power of God and the reconciliation of the cross. Augustine, whose work on preaching is classic, appears twice, as does Phillips Brooks. Happy surprises include (1) the historic Frank Bartleman, recounting his Pentecostal preaching history at Azusa Street, and (2) Phoebe Palmer, on the place of preaching women in the 19th century. Not to be missed are Karl Barth's reflections on preaching and the contemporary work of Charles Campbell.

This book, aptly called a "company of preachers," provides helpful companions to those of us who serve pulpits every week. Don't plan to read it in one sitting; works, both historical and contemporary, by Dodd and Edwards and Barbara Brown Taylor, will have you pausing frequently for reflection and prayer. Sitting down to write a sermon with this book at your elbow will feel like having a support group of the finest preachers of all time gathered at your elbow to encourage you.