REVIEW: The Pastor

Pastors, and those who aspire to pastoral ministry, are presented with a weighty and noble task. The Good Shepherd himself—Jesus Christ—instructs all ministers of the gospel to feed his sheep, preaching and protecting the flock as attentive undershepherds.

But what must these men of the gospel embody in their labours? This is where the book “The Pastor: His Call, Character and Work” presents serious categories for such a seriously glorious work.

This book has 9 chapters, written by the likes of Charles Hodge, Archibald Alexander, William Plumer and others. This is a banquet feast of godly experienced pastor-theologians from the era of ‘Old Princeton’. As a matter of fact, this is a condensed version of BoT’s 2 volume work “Princeton and the Work of the Christian Ministry”.

As Sinclair Ferguson notes in his introduction, the contents of this book are set above other ministry books in its combination of “theological acumen, a high sense of purpose, a vision of the privileges of serving Christ, and a recalibration of our whole vision for ministry” (p. ix, Introduction)

Here are the chapter titles and respective author:

There are two chapters that struck me most in this book: one and eight.

The first chapter gives concrete Biblical categories for sensing the Lord’s call on a man into pastoral ministry. Plumer then gives a list of reasons why some men resist the call to ministry, as well as a list of reasons why some men insist on entering the ministry without being called. A must-read chapter for determining one’s own calling.

The eighth chapter was powerful and recalibrating. Paul said he preached Christ crucified, but is that the defining attribute of most preaching in the last hundred years? Ashbel Green gives heart-stirring reasons for all preachers to align their ministry with the apostolic ministry of a Saviour and his cross. Here’s an excerpt: The Centrality of Christ Crucified In Apostolic Preaching

My wife and I both read this book and enjoyed it. She commented that though there is a great amount of helpful content in these chapters, she noticed some repetition between various chapters. Some might find that distracting, some might not.

The writing is a little dense at times, but not without its hard earned reward. Commit to reading this slowly and thoughtfully and it will prove to be a very useful book indeed. It might make for a good book to study with elders, or to help an aspiring pastor consider his calling and skillfulness for the kingdom.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Banner of Truth on exchange for an unbiased review.


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