Impact on Preaching

Fred Craddock was teaching at Phillips University when he began developing his distinctive approach to preaching. Societal upheaval and decline in the respect for the authority of scripture marred the cultural landscape in the ‘60s. He hoped to give the Gospel a new hearing amid a culture growing suspicious of authority. He developed an inductive form of preaching that emphasizes the listener’s discovery of truth rather than the preacher’s dispensing of truth. While sermons traditionally begin with the announcement of a general proposition, Dr. Craddock’s approach begins with the particulars of experience, and then invites listeners to journey with him toward often surprising biblical conclusions. This sermon form mimics how a preacher first studies a text to prepare a sermon. The preacher does not begin the study process with his conclusions about the text; rather, he studies the text and draws conclusions. An inductive sermon, as taught by Dr. Craddock, follows the same pattern.

The resulting sermon leads listeners to discover truth from the biblical text rather than simply depositing this truth into their minds.  Listeners involve themselves in the experience of the sermon rather than merely listening to it—they move beyond spectating to participating.

Dr. Craddock unveiled his inductive approach with the release of As One Without Authority in 1971. Through this and subsequent books, articles, and lectures, Fred Craddock revolutionized the field of homiletics and introduced a new era in preaching.

In addition to the inductive sermon form, Dr. Craddock also emphasized the use of vivid, creative language in preaching to evoke images and emotions in listeners’ minds. Growing from his love of Shakespeare and other classic texts—a passion inherited from his father—Dr. Craddock wove colorful nouns with lively verbs to engage and invigorate listeners’ imaginations. Few could tell a story as brilliantly as Fred Craddock. Countless preachers, however, have learned from Dr. Craddock to tell stories more effectively.

Fred Craddock lectured at some of the most prestigious lectureships around the world. Some of the more prominent include:

  • Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale
  • Scott Lectures at Claremont School of Theology
  • Adams Lectures at Southeastern Baptist Seminary
  • Schaff Lectures at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
  • Cole Lectures at Vanderbilt
  • Westervelt Lectures at Austin Presbyterian Seminary
  • Mullins Lectures at Southern Seminary
  • Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion