Book Review: The Shape of Preaching – Dennis Cahill
When I was younger, my dad use to say, “Missed it by that much”. He was of course referencing the TV show Get Smart, but it was always a running joke in my house. As I reflect on The Shape of Preaching by Dennis Cahill, my response is: missed it by that much.
Cahill’s book reads like a modern introduction to preaching that seeks to take into account the last 20 years of homiletic development. It seems like it is written to undergrad students as an overview of the philosophy of preaching and a practical model for developing sermons.
The first half focuses on the shape and literary form of preaching. Cahill includes a great deal of explanation of the idea of narrative preaching. He shows how the last 20 years have changed our approach to preaching. Though he claims neutrality, He seems to gently suggest that modern forms are unnecessarily slanted in areas where we should be uncomfortable.
This bias shows itself in the second half of the book. Again while claiming neutrality, he seems to create a method for sermon creation that is imminently traditional. Even when he speaks of developing narrative sermons, he seems to shoe-horn this into a traditional model.
I did not have high expectations for the book, and I was not disappointed. I would not necessarily recommend it.