The World’s Best Preacher? And Other Random Thoughts

Ruth Gledhill has a post which includes a reflection on the quality of Rowan Williams' preaching: 'I've heard him preach time and again the most beautiful, evocative
sermons that will stand in my soul as guiding lights over a lifetime.' It set me thinking about who is the best preacher I have heard. In early days I would have said a Tony Campolo, or an Eric Delve. But now? The unknown preacher who was caught on tape by Keith Clements and played to a group of Bristol Baptist College students in 1987 sticks out. The sermon was called 'Will a Simple Prayer do at Midnight?" and I still remember the lines: e.g. on Reagan, "I don't care what astrologer the First Lady decides to see, but I do care about the way her husband does his Voodoo economics'. That was a sermon in the black church, and that prompts me also to mention Brad Braxton who is a friend and a brilliant preacher. Sticking to the US – William Willimon (never heard him live but seen clips); Barbara Brown Taylor (ditto); Tom Long (ditto). Back in the UK? honourable mention to Brian Haymes, not least for the sermon he preached at a leaving service for close friends at Didsbury Baptist Church; Mary Coates, for her sermon printed in Silence in Heaven called 'Standing in the Stable' which makes me shiver every time I read it etc etc.

What about you? Who is the best preacher you have heard – combining form, delivery and, importantly, content.

Other random links:

Andy Goodliff has information about the 2010 Whitley Lecture, to be delivered by my friend David Southall.

Steve Harmon draws attention to substantial engagement with his book on Baptist Catholicity in the journal Pro Ecclesia. No library in Melbourne seems to take this journal – so I am looking to find a copy of the articles.

The Guardian has started a new series on aspects of literary theory, The first is on Barthes' notion of the Death of the Author.

George Hunsinger on the historical reliability of the gospels.

The power of Bach's Cello Suites.