Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Lischer  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born:

Sites:


Illinois Connection

He has served as a pastor of Lutheran congregations in Illinois, most noteably, Dorsey, Illinois at Emmaus Lutheran Church where he served from 1972 - 1974.

Biographical and Professional Information

Richard Lischer is the James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School. Before joining the Duke faculty, he served as pastor of Lutheran congregations in Illinois and Virginia. He is the author of numerous books on preaching, theology, and ministry, including ''A Theology of Preaching: The Dynamics of the Gospel'' and the prize-winning ''The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr.and the Word That Moved America''. He is also editor of ''The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching, Augustine to the Present''. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching
ISBN: 0664227236

Westminster John Knox Press. 1995

The Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching is the most comprehensive reference work on preaching available in the English language. No other book so richly combines concerns for the practice of preaching with theological themes and historical tradition. Its scope ranges from the technical tasks of sermon preparation to thoughtful essays on such topics as narrative preaching, African American preaching, style, and prophetic preaching, as well as a host of issues that are shaping and challenging the contemporary pulpit. Also included are essays that explore the life and work of the church's most influential preachers, including such diverse figures as St. Augustine, Sojourner Truth, and Fulton Sheen.

The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word that Moved America
ISBN: 019511132X

Oxford University Press. 1997

Today it seems extraordinary that a nation the size of the United States could have been so profoundly affected by the minister of a little Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. But at a turning point in American history, Martin Luther King, Jr., had an incalculable effect on the fabric of daily life and the laws of the nation. As no other preacher in living memory and no politician since Lincoln, he transposed the themes of love, suffering, deliverance, and justice from the sacred shelter of the pulpit into the arena of public policy. He was the last great religious reformer in America. How the man who always saw himself as "fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher" crafted his strategic vision and moved a nation to renewal is the subject of this remarkable new book.
The Preacher King investigates Martin Luther King Jr.'s, religious development from a precocious "PK" ("preacher's kid") in segregated Atlanta to the most influential American preacher and orator of the twentieth century. To give the most accurate and intimate portrait possible, author Richard Lischer draws almost exclusively on King's unpublished sermons and speeches, as well as tape recordings, personal interviews, and even police surveillance reports. In King's published works, Lischer shows, King and his editors modified and polished his sermons in order to reach as wide an audience as possible. By returning to the raw sources, Lischer recaptures King's real, African-American, preaching voice and, consequently, something of the real King himself. He shows how as the son, the grandson, and the great-grandson of preachers, King early on absorbed the poetic cadences, the traditions, and the power of the pulpit. He traces King's coming of age from his rebellious teenage years (King once wrote that at thirteen he shocked his Sunday School class by "denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus") to his arrival in Montgomery, where he took on the role of "Brother Pastor" to his flock during the year of ministry before he burst into national prominence. Lischer shows that King was as profoundly influenced by his fellow African-American preachers as he was by Gandhi and the philosophers, and tracks King's themes of brotherhood and justice from the set pieces of his weekly sermons to his electrifying mass meeting speeches, demonstrations, and civil addresses. Lischer also reveals a later phase of King's development that few of his biographers or critics have addressed: the prophetic rage with which he condemned American religious and political hypocrisy. During the last three years of his life, Lischer shows, King accused his country of genocide, warned of long hot summers in the ghettos, and called for a radical redistribution of wealth.
More than any other book, The Preacher King captures the crucial aspect of the identity of Martin Luther King, Jr. Human, complex, and passionate, here is a preacher who never gave up trying to shape a congregation of people that would be capable of redeeming the moral and political character of the nation.

Open Secrets: A Spiritual Journey Through a Country Church
ISBN: 0385502176

Doubleday. 2001

Open Secrets is Richard Lischer's story of his early career as a Lutheran minister. Fresh out of divinity school and full of enthusiasm, Lischer found himself assigned to a small conservative church in an economically depressed town in southern Illinois. This was far from what this overly enthusiastic and optimistic young man expected. The town was bleak, poor, and clearly not a step on his path to a brilliant career.

It's an awkward marriage at best, a young man with a Ph.D. in theology, full of ideas and ambitions, determined to improve his parish and bring them into the twenty-first century, and a community that is "as tightly sealed as a jar of home-canned pickles." In their own way, they welcome him and his family, even though they think he's "got bigger fish to fry." Thus begins Richard Lischer's first year as a pastor: bringing communion to the sick (but forgetting to bring the wafers)

marrying two unlikely couples--a pregnant teenager and her boyfriend, and two people who can't stop fighting.

Often he doesn't understand his congregation, and sometimes they don't understand him

for instance, why does his wife hire a baby-sitter and instead of leaving, put on her bathing suit, grab a stack of novels, and hide from the kids? Or why can't Pastor Lischer see how important it is for a woman with little money to buy an elaborate coffin to bury her husband in?

There are also the moments of grace, when pastor and parishioner unite for a common goal: when he asks for prayers for his infant son, and can feel everyone in the congregation ministering to him

when old hurts are put aside to help a desperate young woman finish college and raise her baby

or when he helps save a woman from dying of a drug overdose.

In Open Secrets Lischer tells not only his own story but also the story of New Cana and all of its inhabitants--lovable, deeply flawed, imperfect people that stick together. With his sharp eye and keen wit, Lischer perfectly captures the comedy of small town life with all of its feuds, rumors, scandals, and friendships. In the end he learns to appreciate not only the life New Cana has to offer, but also the people who have accepted him, at last, as part of themselves.

A Theology of Preaching: The Dynamics of the Gospel
ISBN: 1579106595

Wipf & Stock Pub. 2001

Richard Lischer's book is a stirring affirmation of preaching's importance as a major enterprise in its own right. It is, he writes, "a theological preface whose aim is to show how theology informs preaching and how preaching, as a kerygmatic, oral, practical activity, informs theology and brings it to its final form of expression." Dr. Lischer points to the historically negative results of preaching's exclusion from theology, and then shows the benefits derived from the proper interaction of the two disciplines. As he elaborates on this theme, he explores the centrality of the Resurrection in both theology and preaching, the relation of the law and the gospel, and how preaching calls upon theology to recover its oral-aural foundation. For Lischer, the act of preaching is an exercise of the preacher's imagination. The real work of imagination is not inserting clever stories or esthetically pleasing images into the argument of the sermon. It is knowing how to read texts in such a way that they will be allowed to function according to their original power and intent.

Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery
ISBN: 0767907442

Harmony. 2002

In the tradition of Garrison Keillor, Open Secrets captures the friendships, rivalries, and rumors of small-town life by chronicling the lives of the citizens of a small Midwestern community through the eyes of a young minister.

Fresh out of divinity school and bursting with enthusiasm, Richard Lischer found himself assigned to a small conservative church in an economically depressed town in southern Illinois. It’s an awkward marriage at best--a young man with a Ph.D. in theology, full of ideas and ambitions, determined to improve his parish and bring it into the twenty-first century, and a community that is “as tightly sealed as a jar of home-canned pickles.” In Open Secrets, Lischer tells not only his own story but also the story of New Cana and its inhabitants. With charm, openness, and humor, Lischer brings to life the clash of cultures and personalities that marks his pastoral tenure, including his own doubts, as well as those of his parishioners, that a twenty-eight-year-old suburban-raised liberal can deal with the troubled marriages, alcoholism, teen sex, inadequate farm subsidies, and other concerns of the conservative, tightly knit community. But the inhabitants of New Cana--lovable, deeply flawed, imperfect people who stick together--open their arms to him in their own way, and the result is a colorful, poignant comedy of small-town life and all it has to offer.

The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching, Augustine to the Present
ISBN: 0802846092

Eerdmans. 2002

This unique volume draws on the wisdom of Christian thinkers and preachers from across the ages to present a warm and informative collection of insights on the art of preaching.

Gathering the writing of figures as diverse as Augustine, John Chrysostom, Jonathan Edwards, Gardner C. Taylor, and Barbara Brown Taylor, The Company of Preachers provides experienced advice on effective preaching, direct from the pens of those who have known it best. The book is arranged in seven divisions, each covering a central component of the preaching task. Editor Richard Lischer, himself a distinguished preacher and teacher, gives a brief introduction to each selection.

Aptly presenting a theological and historical cross-section of the church's homiletics, this volume will be invaluable to preachers, students preparing for ministry, and others seeking models of powerful Christian speech.


"
Features insights on preaching from:


  • Augustine
  • Karl Barth
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Walter Brueggemann
  • Rudolf Bultmann
  • Horace Bushnell
  • David Buttrick
  • John Calvin
  • John Cassian
  • John Chrysostom
,
  • Fred B. Craddock
  • C. H. Dodd
  • Jarena Lee
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • Charles Grandison Finney
  • P. T. Forsyth
  • Harry Emerson Fosdick
  • Gregory the Great
  • George Herbert
  • Martin Luther
,
  • Henry H. Mitchell
  • John Henry Newman
  • Phoebe Palmer
  • Paul Ricoeur
  • Oscar Romero
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher
  • Charles Haddon Spurgeon
  • Barbara Brown Taylor
  • Gardner C. Taylor
  • John Wesley, and many more
,
"

The End of Words: The Language of Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence (The Lyman Beecher Lectures in Preaching)
ISBN: 0802862802

Eerdmans. 2008

After the horrors and violence of the twentieth century, words can seem futile. In this reflection on the place of preaching today, Richard Lischer recognizes that our mass-communication culture is exhausted by words. Facing up to language's disappointments and dead ends, he opens a path to its true end.

With chapters on vocation, interpretation, narration, and reconciliation,

The End of Words

shows how faithful reading of Scripture rather than flashy performance paves the way for effective preaching

Lischer challenges conventional storytelling with a deeper and more biblical view of narrative preaching. The ultimate purpose of preaching, he argues, is to speak God's peace, the message of reconciliation.

While Lischer's

End of Words

will surely be invaluable to pastors and preachers, his honest, readable style will appeal to anyone concerned with speaking Christianly.