Kyle Childress and Rodney Wallace Kennedy
Cascade Books, Eugene, Ore.
I once met Will Campbell, the divine provocateur, who is the subject of this book. He was greeting people entering the First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee where he was to be the guest preacher. No one knew this man. As we walked up the steps he asked us, “Do they preach the gospel in this place?” Later that night in a university-sponsored debate on the use of the death penalty, Campbell replied simply to the professor who wanted a lengthy defense, “It’s tacky. It’s just tacky that we would strap someone in a chair and fry them to death while others look on.” I came to learn this was classic Will Campbell. Now, thankfully, two Texas preachers have teamed up to offer this tribute to the preacher who cared passionately for the proclamation of the gospel and had the courage to reject all pretension. Combining essays with their sermons, the authors offer a tribute that will keep Campbell’s legacy alive. There is a great humor here — the kind Campbell is known for, with deep wisdom about the wide embrace of the gospel of Jesus. Childress and Kennedy are longtime friends and pastors deeply influenced by Will Campbell. They don’t mimic his voice; they display what preaching and pastoring looks like under the influence of one of Jesus’ most courageous followers.