BOOK REVIEWS

The Preacher’s Catechism – Lewis Allen (2018)

allen

Allen Lewis, The Preacher’s Catechism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 216 pp.

I am a big fan of catechisms. So when I learned about The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen, I was intrigued. Actually, I jumped at the chance to read and review this book. Little did I know that this powerful little book would break me and convict me. It would mold and challenge me. It would encourage and edify me. The Preacher’s Catechism is remarkable in a myriad of ways, a few of which I will briefly describe below.

The Preacher’s Catechism is a book targeted to preachers. While some may consider this narrow target audience as ill-conceived, this strategy works well and helps accomplish the ultimate ends of the author.

Three convictions govern this book, which are set forth in the opening pages:

  1. The church needs preachers who last and thrive.
  2. Preachers must understand how preaching works, and how their souls work.
  3. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an outstanding resource for the heart needs of every preacher.

With the governing convictions in place, Allen Lewis determines to utilize the pattern of the Westminster Shorter Catechism by targeting specific questions and answers to preachers. The book is arranged in four parts:

Part 1: The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching

Part 2: Jesus for Preachers

Part 3: Loving the Word

Part 4: Preaching with Conviction

Summarizing the essence of The Preacher’s Catechism is an impossible task. But at its very heart is a series of gospel-centered challenges and soul-stirring encouragements. This work is like a theological battering ram that is designed to crush pride, self-sufficiency, false motives and deeds of the flesh. But make no mistake. The author does not intend to merely convict preachers; his ultimate aim is to encourage them. Once the feeble scaffolding of the flesh is sufficiently toppled, the author winsomely directs the attention of preachers to the cross. “Listeners need to know that the preacher is contented in his God and rejoicing in his Savior,” writes Allen. He continues, “When our lives as preachers are filled with a sense of amazement about the grace that is ours in Christ, others start asking questions about that grace and seeking it for themselves.”

To call The Preacher’s Catechism a success would be a profound understatement. For this book captures what is truly important about pastoral ministry. It is a vivid reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. It serves preachers by admonishing them and encouraging them. But in the final analysis, it leads preachers back to the cross. It graciously beckons them to not only preach Christ crucified but to cherish the old rugged cross and lay claim to the saving benefits that Christ wrought for his elect.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

The Preacher’s Catechism – Lewis Allen (2018)

allen

Allen Lewis, The Preacher’s Catechism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 216 pp.

I am a big fan of catechisms. So when I learned about The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen, I was intrigued. Actually, I jumped at the chance to read and review this book. Little did I know that this powerful little book would break me and convict me. It would mold and challenge me. It would encourage and edify me. The Preacher’s Catechism is remarkable in a myriad of ways, a few of which I will briefly describe below.

The Preacher’s Catechism is a book targeted to preachers. While some may consider this narrow target audience as ill-conceived, this strategy works well and helps accomplish the ultimate ends of the author.

Three convictions govern this book, which are set forth in the opening pages:

  1. The church needs preachers who last and thrive.
  2. Preachers must understand how preaching works, and how their souls work.
  3. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an outstanding resource for the heart needs of every preacher.

With the governing convictions in place, Allen Lewis determines to utilize the pattern of the Westminster Shorter Catechism by targeting specific questions and answers to preachers. The book is arranged in four parts:

Part 1: The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching

Part 2: Jesus for Preachers

Part 3: Loving the Word

Part 4: Preaching with Conviction

Summarizing the essence of The Preacher’s Catechism is an impossible task. But at its very heart is a series of gospel-centered challenges and soul-stirring encouragements. This work is like a theological battering ram that is designed to crush pride, self-sufficiency, false motives and deeds of the flesh. But make no mistake. The author does not intend to merely convict preachers; his ultimate aim is to encourage them. Once the feeble scaffolding of the flesh is sufficiently toppled, the author winsomely directs the attention of preachers to the cross. “Listeners need to know that the preacher is contented in his God and rejoicing in his Savior,” writes Allen. He continues, “When our lives as preachers are filled with a sense of amazement about the grace that is ours in Christ, others start asking questions about that grace and seeking it for themselves.”

To call The Preacher’s Catechism a success would be a profound understatement. For this book captures what is truly important about pastoral ministry. It is a vivid reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. It serves preachers by admonishing them and encouraging them. But in the final analysis, it leads preachers back to the cross. It graciously beckons them to not only preach Christ crucified but to cherish the old rugged cross and lay claim to the saving benefits that Christ wrought for his elect.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

Passion in the Pulpit – Jerry Vines and Adam Dooley (2018)

passionJerry Vines & Adam B. Dooley, Passion in the Pulpit: How to Exegete the Emotion of Scripture (Chicago: Moody Press, 2018), 206 pp.

“If the great things of the Christian faith are rightly understood, they will affect the heart.” When Jonathan Edwards penned these words in 1746, he did not intend to spark controversy. His only desire was to be faithful to the Scriptures. The intersection of the head and the heart is a subject that is of paramount importance. A Christian can stuff his mind with theological gold and remain a religious pauper. According to Edwards, there is no dichotomy between the head and the heart. If the heart isn’t transformed by truth, all is lost.

Jerry Vines and Adam Dooley address the important intersection between the head and the heart in their most recent book. Passion in the Pulpit: How to Exegete the Emotion of Scripture argues that preachers must convey pathos in their preaching. The authors provide a helpful definition of biblical persuasion, namely, “To seek the desired, voluntary response revealed within the Bible’s logos and pathos in an effort to seek the glory of God and the spiritual benefit of an audience.”

The authors strenuously maintain their thesis throughout the book and successfully drive home the point that biblical preacher must, by definition, be passionate preaching. Indeed, as they write, “Capturing the meaning of Scripture without also communicating its heart falls short of the divine mandate to preach the Word.”

Various angles are explored throughout the book which alert readers to the task at hand. Everything from the need for passion, exegetical tools, and persuasive techniques are offered with the ultimate aim of passionately and powerful proclaiming the written Word of God.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

The Preacher’s Catechism – Lewis Allen (2018)

allenAllen Lewis, The Preacher’s Catechism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 216 pp.

I am a big fan of catechisms. So when I learned about The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen, I was intrigued. Actually, I jumped at the chance to read and review this book. Little did I know that this powerful little book would break me and convict me. It would mold and challenge me. It would encourage and edify me. The Preacher’s Catechism is remarkable in a myriad of ways, a few of which I will briefly describe below.

The Preacher’s Catechism is a book targeted to preachers. While some may consider this narrow target audience as ill-conceived, this strategy works well and helps accomplish the ultimate ends of the author.

Three convictions govern this book, which are set forth in the opening pages:

  1. The church needs preachers who last and thrive.
  2. Preachers must understand how preaching works, and how their souls work.
  3. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an outstanding resource for the heart needs of every preacher.

With the governing convictions in place, Allen Lewis determines to utilize the pattern of the Westminster Shorter Catechism by targeting specific questions and answers to preachers. The book is arranged in four parts:

Part 1: The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching

Part 2: Jesus for Preachers

Part 3: Loving the Word

Part 4: Preaching with Conviction

Summarizing the essence of The Preacher’s Catechism is an impossible task. But at its very heart is a series of gospel-centered challenges and soul-stirring encouragements. This work is like a theological battering ram that is designed to crush pride, self-sufficiency, false motives and deeds of the flesh. But make no mistake. The author does not intend to merely convict preachers; his ultimate aim is to encourage them. Once the feeble scaffolding of the flesh is sufficiently toppled, the author winsomely directs the attention of preachers to the cross. “Listeners need to know that the preacher is contented in his God and rejoicing in his Savior,” writes Allen. He continues, “When our lives as preachers are filled with a sense of amazement about the grace that is ours in Christ, others start asking questions about that grace and seeking it for themselves.”

To call The Preacher’s Catechism a success would be a profound understatement. For this book captures what is truly important about pastoral ministry. It is a vivid reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. It serves preachers by admonishing them and encouraging them. But in the final analysis, it leads preachers back to the cross. It graciously beckons them to not only preach Christ crucified but to cherish the old rugged cross and lay claim to the saving benefits that Christ wrought for his elect.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

Expository Exultation – John Piper

pipJohn Piper, Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2018) 328 pp.

Expository Exaltation by John Piper is the final installment of a three-part series. Piper launched the series with A Peculiar Glory, which addressed the truthfulness of Scripture. Reading the Bible Supernaturally focussed on reading the Bible for the ultimate purpose of worshipping God. Expository Exaltation not only completes the trilogy – it satisfies the thirst of preachers around the world who have eagerly anticipated a new book on preaching by Dr. Piper:

“This God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-sustained worship – expressed in worship services, daily sacrifices of love, and eternal perfection – is the goal of Expository Exaltation.”

These words encapsulate the intentions and goals of the author and alert readers to the treasure chest that lies ahead. But before he gets started, the author makes sure that readers understand the purpose of preaching:

“The purpose is that God’s infinite worth and beauty be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation.”

In a word, Expository Exultation is enthralling. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this book, which may, in the final analysis, turn out to be one of the most important books that John Piper has penned to date. Piper captures the essence of the preaching task and marshalls an army of resources to support his claims.

Expository Exultation should be read by rookie and veteran preachers alike. It should be read and re-read. Every Bible College and Seminary professor should immediately add this work to their list of required reading for preaching courses.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS · Preaching

EXPOSITIONAL PREACHING – David Helm (2014)

Some guys are telling stories from the comfort of a stool.  Others are ranting about 1433543133_bpolitics or psychology.  Many are waxing eloquent about pop culture and exploring the benefits of modern technology.  These well-intentioned fellows may hold an audience and they may attract a crowd.  But one thing is for sure: they’re not preaching.

David Helm sets the record straight in his excellent book, Expositional Preaching.  Four sections make up this book which is a part of the 9Marks Series

Contextualization 

“Contextualization in preaching is communicating the gospel message in ways that are understandable or appropriate to the listener’s cultural context.”

Helm is quick to admit that contextualization is necessary in a solid expositional preaching ministry.  However in many pulpits, contextualization has eclipsed the Bible.  The author helps preachers understand some of the tendencies that can overrule the authority of Scripture in the pulpit.

One instance that is explored is the popular devotional practice, Lectio Divina which has origins in the Roman Catholic church.  This questionable practice places more emphasis on the subjective which ends up marginalizing theological knowledge:  “Lectio Divina advocates a method that is spiritual as opposed to systematically studious.  It substitutes intuition for investigation.  It prefers mood and emotion to methodical and reasoned inquiry.  It equates your spirit to the Holy Spirit.”  Simply put, this devotional practice ignores exegetical tools and sound hermeneutical methodology.  Let the preacher beware!  Lectio Divina is only one example which is cited.  Readers can investigate the other pitfalls for themselves.

Exegesis

Second, the author alerts preachers to the importance of biblical exegesis which should drive every sermon.  Unfortunately, many preachers are bypassing this crucial aspect of sermon preparation and moving directly to application which is in the final analysis, a deadly mistake.

The overriding theme that emerges in this chapter is the importance of knowing the Word of God and understanding the original intent of the author.  But Helm warns, “Exegesis is not enough.  Done in isolation, exegesis alone can lead to preaching that is either overtly intellectual or merely imperatival.”

Theological Reflection

The author encourages a robust adherence to biblical theology and systematic theology as these disciplines inform the preaching task.  In particular, systematic theology offers at least three advantages:

1. It holds you in the faith.

2. It helps you connect to the gospel from particular genres.

3. It hones your ability to speak to non-Christians.

Today

Finally, a positive case is advanced for contextualization.  Now that the preacher has done his exegetical homework, using the tools of biblical and systematic theology, and sound hermeneutics, he may advance to work on contextualization.  He is concerned here with three important elements:

1. The makeup of his audience.

2. The arrangement of his material.

3. The application of his message.

The great strength of this book is its brevity.  The author clearly defines his terms and sets preachers on a course which is determined to lead to fruitfulness in the pulpit which will serve many congregations well in the future.  More comprehensive treatment may be found in Lloyd-Jones work, Preaching and Preachers and John Piper’s, The Supremacy of God in Preaching.