IMAGINATION OF THE HEART by Paul Scott Wilson ($23)*

ABG: 0-687-18692-7

This guide to contemporary preaching focuses on exciting and innovative ideas that have recently emerged in the work of Fred Craddock and others. Much more than just another "how-to" book, the volume is informed by substantial work in contemporary theology, linguistics, and hermeneutical theory. At the same time, the book is very practical, and addresses basic principles of preaching. Paul Scott Wilson demonstrates with clarity and in detail how Scripture and personal experience can be used to train the imagination, and how this, in turn, can both strengthen and enliven the task of preaching.

"In the northern conifer forests of the United States and Canada there are a variety of birds in the grouse family which seek winter shelter under the snow. Often when I have unknowingly walked too close to one's hiding place, I have been startled as it thundered up through the surface and past the tops of the trees. I have turned only to see a fine sunlit dusting of snow falling in its flight path. Sometimes imagination is startling and wonderful like that. I have been told, however, that many grouse die when freezing rain traps them under a thick crust. The imagination of many of us who preach may similarly be trapped. We need a way to set it free.

"Homiletics is an exciting field which has developed rapidly in the last thirty years. It is now a discipline in its own right and enjoys widespread interdenominational sharing of resources and theory. One purpose of this book is to develop a method for biblical preaching that incorporates recent learnings from a variety of disciplines including homiletics. Another is to help preachers who share my own ongoing struggle to spread the wings of imagination when exploring the Bible.

"This is written both for students in seminary and preachers serving churches. One of my courses in preaching is taught along the lines of this book and one week is devoted to the subject of each chapter here. Pastors in the field who want to use this book to renew their own preaching, or to learn how to preach in what may be a new style for them, may benefit from working on one chapter a week (or a month). Similarly, pastors wishing to teach laypeople how to preach might find helpful resources here. A subject index focusing on method is provided.

"This book is intended to be ecumenical in scope. Since I teach in the largest federated theology school in North America my students are from many denominations, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. It is a time when we can benefit from conversations over denominational fences. I try to use the terms "sermon" and "homily" equally therefore, respecting that the former is Protestant and the latter is the preferred Roman Catholic term since Vatican II.

"The approach presented here is new. Once the principles discussed in these pages are understood and learned, they can help reduce the time needed to prepare for preaching, improve the quality of the preaching, and can be easily adapted by those doing simpler forms of preaching, either for children or for daily services. I try to be comprehensive in the sense of giving detailed yet flexible guidelines for each stage of preparing a sermon or homily. Here is a method for preaching, not the method for preaching, for there can never be just one. The ones that most of us use are ultimately and wondrously quite personal, a combination of learnings from a variety of sources that we have found valuable. Fortunately, the value of any method for preaching is that is does not demand conformity but discloses opportunity.

"At the same time the approach here is not simply a personal expression of how I approach preaching. It is based on principles I have found not only in Jesus' preaching but also in fine preaching (and books on preaching) throughout the ages. In homiletics the task of writing (or mentally preparing in a detailed way) for preaching has often been treated with ambivalence. More has been said around the task than about it. To help address this problem I offer the ideas presented here." - PAUL SCOTT WILSON, Emmanuel College Toronto School of Theology

"With an explorer's eye and a poet's voice, Paul Wilson leads us on a journey through the preacher's week. As he guides us along the seemingly familiar Monday-to-Sunday path of sermon preparation, old places suddenly become heartlands of the imagination and familiar tasks take on the excitement of fresh discovery. Anyone who travels the pilgrim road with Wilson will come away with a new zest for the possibilities of preaching." - Thomas G. Long, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Helpful, clear, and not too heavy for students or pastors. Paul Wilson's book is warm, and respects the reader as a conversational partner. Paul risks some new ideas of his own here, and there is an atmosphere of worship about his writing. This book can--and should be read in the sanctuary as well as in the study." --Fred B. Craddock Candler School of Theology, Emory University

PAUL SCOTT WILSON, a published novelist, is associate professor of homiletics at Emmanuel College in the Toronto School of Theology.

Persons who purchased this book also purchased The Practice of Preaching by Paul Scott Wilson.

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