It is very hard not to like Fred Craddock, one of today’s great homileticians. Craddock Stories is a fascinating collection of many of Craddock’s famous tales, anecdotes, and stories that will be as interesting to preachers who want to study how to tell a story as they will be to all readers who simply want to hear some great stories from a man who loves the gospel and the church. This collection is edited by Mike Graves and Richard F. Ward and they are to be commended for doing a wonderful job.
Sermon illustration books are a dime a dozen, and I am pretty skeptical of most of them. This work, however, along with R. Kent Hughes’ wonderful collection, is well worth having. I have used stories from this book, never without saying, “Fred Craddock tells the story of…” first! (I do believe it was Craddock who tells about going to a church to hear a student preach and hearing the student present one of Craddock’s life stories as if it were his and not Craddock’s! If I recall, Craddock shook his hand afterward and commended the young man on his message, much to the minister’s embarrassment.)
Craddock is a master of understatement and of subtle illustration. Oftentimes you hear a Craddock story and it grows more profound as it sinks in. His stories are usually folksy, colloquial, and earthy. They deal a lot with the church as a family, the radical forgiveness one finds in Christ, and our all-too-current church prejudices and foibles. Craddock is a master or putting his finger on the blind spots of church culture yet he is never elitist or snobbish in doing so. Rather, he can be brutally honest about his own contribution to these shortcomings.
If you would like to read a collection of fascinating, intelligent, thoughtful, provocative, and oh-so-interesting stories that will stir your heart and convict you over and over again, get Craddock Stories!