HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: What It Is, Is Preaching
Author: Robert F. Turner
Publisher: Harwell/Lewis Publishing Co., 1998
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** Five Stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Turner, Robert F. What It Is, Is Preaching (published in 1998 by Harwell/Lewis Publishing Company, P. O. Box 3385, Lakeland, FL 33802). When I was a freshman in high school, we studied Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in English class. To provide “another viewpoint,” our English teacher had us listen to a recording of Andy Griffith’s explanation of it, which I had actually already seen on television. Then, just for fun, he played the flip side, which was Andy’s humorous monologue, “What It Was, Was Football.” In this autobiography, Robert F. Turner, a gospel preacher, tells all about “What It Is, Is Preaching,” using the witty, down-home style that has delighted his listeners and readers for many years. Born in Scottsville, KY, on November 3, 1916, he finished high school there, and began preaching the gospel of Christ in 1934. Freed-Hardeman College (1934-36) provided his early Bible-oriented training, and in the University of Illinois (1936-39) he was a Speech and Ancient History major. His wife’s name was Vivian, and they had a daughter, Barbara, and a son, Jim.
After preaching in Indianapolis, IN (1939-1941); Kilgore, TX (1941-1943); Phoenix, AZ (1943-1948); Prescott, AZ (1948-1953); Tyler, TX (1953-1955); a nearby town (1955-1957); and San Antonio. TX (1957-1962); Robert began work with a new church in Burnet, TX, in 1962, and then in 1968 started full-time meeting work which included three lengthy trips to Australia. During much of his time in Burnet, he edited a small paper entitled Plain Talk, which I received and read while a teenager at home and a young preacher starting out. Beginning with the fall semester, 1979, Robert taught special courses at Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL, for a portion of each year until 1986. This was after my years as a studentat the school (1972-1974). In fact, the only time I ever met and heard brother Turner was when we were visiting the Florida College lectures one year and attended with some friends the Wednesday night service at the University congregation where he was asked to speak.
In his later years, brother Turner also served as an elder with the Oaks-West church in Burnet, TX. What It Is, Is Preaching, written in Turner’s 77th year, not only provides a personal account of more than fifty years of preaching and its effect upon a preacher and his family but also gives a good look at a critical time in the history of the churches of Christ during that same period, including the “institutional issues” that divided brethren. The cover contains a photocopy of Turner’s very first sermon outline from 1932, misspelled words and all. The last four chapters offer some wise observations from his experiences that any gospel preacher or any man thinking about becoming a gospel preacher will benefit from greatly. Some eight years after writing the book, brother Turner passed away on October 12, 2007, at the age of 90 in Burnet, TX. It has been said that his understanding of the nature of the church as it is presented in the pages of Scripture is unsurpassed.