Speaker Highlight: Dr. Cornelius Plantinga

By Darrell Yoder on September 14, 2015

We have a fantastic line up of speakers for Talking Points on Oct. 7. Each speaker will explore the topic of new creation theology from a different angle: biblically, theologically, historically and homiletically. To help with this last angle—the task of preaching new creation theology—we have invited Dr. Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga to give a new creation sermon during the conference.

Dr. Plantinga serves as President Emeritus of Calvin Theological Seminary and Senior Research Fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He has extensive experience as a pastor, preacher, teacher and writer in service to the Church.

One feature of his experience that stands out is that Plantinga has been preaching God's Word for over 40 years. He was ordained in the Christian Reformed Church in 1971 and served in pastoral and preaching ministry for eight years before joining the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. Since 1979, he has preached roughly 40 times each year (that's almost 1,500 sermons!). This experience has positioned him as a mentor to countless preachers, personally and through print.

When I asked him how he desires to serve the Church through his ministry, Plantinga said:

"The main calling of the church is public worship of God. Worship roots everything else the church does. My job these days is to speak at worship conferences, to preach in Sunday worship and to write worship resources—and especially resources for preachers. The church wants to glorify God in its worship, including in its preaching of the Word. I want to help."

In addition to preaching, Plantinga has a distinguished career in teaching and writing in systematic theology. He has taught at several seminaries across North America, including Princeton, Fuller, Regent College and Calvin. He has written hundreds of articles in 22 academic publications and authored six books. In 1996, his book "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be" won the Book of the Year award from Christianity Today, and his most recent book "Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists" won the 2014 Best Book Award in the category "Church/Pastoral Leadership" by Eerdmans Publishing.

I first encountered Plantinga's writings 14 years ago as a newly-minted seminary student. In his book, "Engaging God's World," Plantinga writes:

A slice of bread or a game of soccer may tell us of God's goodness as surely, even if not as directly, as a tract, and this is true even if the baker and the player do not realize that their activity has been sponsored by God...The Genesis affirmations by God—This is good! This is very good!—reveal God's enthusiasm for life in all its variety and abundance, suggesting that it might be healthy for us to follow suit with some enthusiasm of our own. (Plantinga, 2002, p. 39)

This call for enthusiasm about the goodness of creation was new to me and fired my imagination in new ways. I began to see the world and the relevance of my faith in much larger terms, for which I am thankful. Attendees of the Talking Points conference will be equally blessed by Plantinga's expertise as a theologian and his passion and skill as a preacher.

Dr. Mike Wittmer notes, "Every pastor should have the experience of hearing Neal Plantinga preach. His word pictures will excite you with the gospel and inspire you to write better sermons. Sitting under Neal's ministry will make you want to go home and polish next Sunday's message."

Beyond his preaching and teaching career, Neal Plantinga is also husband to Kathleen, father to Nathan and Adam, and grandfather to five grandchildren. He loves swimming, biking, travel, reading, listening to music and practicing the violin.

I hope you will join us on Oct. 7 to welcome Dr. Plantinga to our campus and to the Talking Points conference.

To register for the conference: https://www.itickets.com/register/new/343193.

Categories: Theology, Vocation