The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

A review of reviews

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Reviews of A Portrait of Paul have been generally positive so far, the response has been fairly encouraging, and my co-author displays a remarkable knack for finding out what people are saying. With thanks to Rob for tracking these down, here is a sample of snippets and places to see what people have been saying:

Andrew Swanson in the Banner of Truth Magazine (Issue 573, June 2011), says:

In the Foreword to this book Joel Beeke declares: ‘This is a great book that should serve as required reading in an introductory course on Christian ministry. Every minister should own a copy and read it . . .’ This is high praise for a book, yet I agree with his assessment.

The subtitle alone, (Identifying a true minister of Christ) suggests that it ought also to have as wide a readership among those in the pew. It is this concern, to reach both pastors and people, that makes A Portrait of Paul such valuable reading.

The book’s great strength is that it is an exposition of Colossians 1:24-2:5 In other words this is not the attempt of two young men to put the church to rights by expressing their own opinions about who is fit to occupy the pastoral office. As one of the writers confesses, ‘I fear I cannot readily point to myself as a pattern of genuinely Christlike ministry. But I can point to Christ, and I can point to what there is of Christ in Paul.’ To a remarkable degree this is what the Lord has enabled the authors to do.

The result is a book that ‘pulls no punches’. Yet at the same time it has a remarkable blend of searching application coupled with sound biblical encouragement to press on to higher attainments. At times it makes for uncomfortable reading—it searches, convicts and humbles. But the aim is not to devastate but to encourage fresh resolve and effort to move closer to Paul’s great example.

This book deals with a vital subject, and, with God’s blessing, may be useful in restoring the spiritual health of the church in the West.  If a second edition is required, I hope the publisher will include an Index.

Elsewhere online . . .

Paul Washer’s review and recommendation can be seen as a video here.

You can read several CBD reviews here. A couple of positive snippets:

This book is a must read. How many times have you heard that before? But it’s true—really. Men in the ministry, men aspiring to the ministry, and churches evaluating men for the ministry simply must read this book. Extremely well written, weighty with content and substance, but not heavy to read, there’s nothing fluffy here. Some reviewers have commented on how convicting the book is. It is that. But it’s also extremely encouraging, especially for men who take the ministry seriously, and have had a taste of ministerial suffering. Applications are searching and practical, coming evidently, not from academic theoreticians, but ecclesiastical practitioners. Christ-centered and thoroughly biblical, it would be difficult for a gospel minister, or one in the making, to read this book and not profit from it.

. . . and . . .

It’s easy, as a pastor, to lose focus in the midst of so many demands upon our time; or to get into a rut, just doing things one week because you did them the week before. The exposition of Paul’s ministry to the Colossian church and its applications to the modern pastor and church in this book, helped me to refocus on the things that are most important in the service of Christ. My mind was instructed, my heart encouraged, and conviction often drove me to my knees to cry out to our Saviour for grace to be a faithful pastor. Both men have written with great insight. At times, I felt like they were sitting in my congregation. At other times, it seemed like they were with me in my study, with a clear understanding of my heart. It was just what I needed to spur me on to seek greater likeness to the great Shepherd.

The Reformation Heritage Books page has a review here, suggesting as follows:

One of the most helpful books I’ve ever read. It´s just Word-based and Christ-exalting. Beautiful in its simplicity, astounding in its gravity and striking in its relevancy. A must-read for every minister of the gospel.

“The Sola System” blog reviews it here, saying:

There are many different kinds of books dealing with pastoral ministry from a Reformed perspective.  Some focus more upon pastoral theology; others more on preaching and practical piety; with still others emphasizing everything from Christian counseling to program administration and local community involvement.  While there is, perhaps, a legitimate place for most (if not all) of these kinds of books, few are as indispensable as A Portrait of Paul, since few set forth the pastoral theology of the New Testament with greater balance, accuracy, and unmitigated clarity. While the book’s expositional flavor – along with its abundance of extended Pauline citations – may at times cause the reader to cry out “Cut to the chase!”, this occasional weakness is far outweighed by strength of its ad fontes methodology. Moreover, the self-conscious desire of its authors to equip church-hunting believers and pastor-hunting congregations is such a unique and valuable feature that few modern works on ‘pastoral ministry’ seem likely to equal its breadth of appeal within the Christian community.  In short, it is the earnest hope of this reviewer that Christians everywhere would drink deep of this wonderful book as they strive to obey Paul’s command to “imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (I Cor. 11:1).

It is available at Monergism Books, where it is reviewed here, concluding that

. . . this book is a must-read for anyone involved in searching for a pastor; but it is also geared for a much wider audience than that – it is not simply a “how to” manual for pastoral search committees. Its nature as a book describing in detail what a faithful minister looks like makes it an obvious choice for present or aspiring pastors; and one structural feature both underscores that use and effectively extends the target audience to virtually any believer in Christ: after the bulk of each chapter deals at a very practical and expositional level with a portion of the passage in Colossians, there are concluding segments addressed first of all to fellow-believers, and then to fellow-pastors of the authors. These segments are always suffused with intentional, practical wisdom appropriate both for the sheep and the shepherds. Not only will the pastor gain much insight into how to fulfill his ministry well, but the sheep will gain much insight into how to benefit from the labors of the pastor most fully, and how to support and uphold him, not just for his own good, but also for their own. I cannot think of any class of believer that does not stand to benefit by this marvelous book. It really is, as John MacArthur expresses it, “a wonderful, powerful, soul-stirring examination”.

Christian Book Notes says:

If you are a pastor, please pick up this book. If you are thinking about going into the ministry, this book is an must read–you may quickly learn that the pastoral calling is not for you! If you have a pastor, pick up a copy today and give it to them. We are indebted to Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker for writing this book. While many may not read Baxter’s Reformed Pastor because it was written so long ago by a (gasp!) Puritan that it can’t possibly speak to us today, they would readily pick up this book given its “modern” take on the ministry. In so doing, they will be the greater for it and the congregation in which they are the undershepherd will reap the benefits.

The Westminster Bookstore has reviews from Carl Trueman and Ben Dahlvang, who opines:

If you are burned out in your ministry or have lost the vision of what it means to care for Christ’s sheep, read this book. If you are a member of a church and find it easy to criticize your pastor, read this book. If you think you are called to the gospel ministry, and especially if you think you know what that call entails, read this book twice.

In addition, there’s an encouraging titbit here. reproduces many of the above with a couple of fresh ones here.

That’s about all that I can find, so my responsibilities to my co-author and publisher with regard to publicity are, I hope, discharged for the time being, and I trust that you are at least encouraged to consider buying the book for yourself or for some deserving individual. Links for purchase are in the sidebar if you are interested.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 27 May 2011 at 12:11

Posted in Book notices

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