A book review/summary...
To the one who wills to believe, final proof is not necessary; to the one who will not believe, final proof is never enough”
-Franz Werfel, The Song of Bernadette. (quoted by Fred Craddock in “Reflections on My Call to Preach”, p. 116).
For my second completed book of 2016 I present “Reflections on My Call to Preach: Connecting the Dots”, a spiritual biography of sorts where we learn about Fred Craddock's life growing up. We are presented with his major influences and how those applied in his decision to become a preacher. Some of the influences are small, some are big but they all play a part in the grand weaving of a life of ministry as it begins to take shape.
For the un-initiated Fred Craddock is one of the greatest and most influential preachers in America, he was a much sought-after speaker for lectures, conferences, and church events. A minister in a small Disciples of Christ church and a professor at Emory University for some years as well. He is best known for preaching in an inductive way, not a traditional deductive method and for leaving his sermons with open- ended questions for you, the listener, to answer.
If you think all preaching sounds the same, find yourself bored with preaching or have yet to give the art of preaching a serious chance, listen to Fred Craddock. He is small, soft voiced and unimpressive. He's great.
Back to the book, the book is not all that exciting but it is interesting if the life and direction of someone's call to preach at all interests you. Fred Craddock grew up in poverty much of his childhood and had difficulties connecting with people, few friendships and an overly religious mother who taught him the Bible along with an alcoholic father.
Fred found his calling gradually revealed to him there was no “aha” moment. He doesn't put a lot of sentiment into an overly emotional, one shining moment revealing of God and His will. He believes that if God calls you must be able to say no as well as yes or it doesn't really count. He puts a lot of stock in simple things that brought him close to God, Sunday School teachers who were stern but loved God's word, a mother who tolerated no foolishness and a simple education that started at a Bible college.
He talks about mistakes, he sees himself developing as a preacher and understanding his calling in a rather slow, drawn out process. He sees himself as no better than the carpenter, painter, grocer or teacher. He believes those professions have a sacredness to them as well and he saw great honor and respectability in growing up working normal jobs before becoming a preacher.
In typical Craddock style he sums up his book with a quote from an Israeli soldier who served as his guide in a trip to the Holy Land who saw the story of Jesus as simply that, a story, when Craddock argued his point that the Bible is truth to believers the guide states, “Unless something can be explained at least two different ways, then God had nothing to do with it.” Indeed, allow room for the “no” so that the “yes” has real substance.