The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Wrapping up pastoral theology

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Well, here we are.

This is the last batch for the present of the alphabetical run-through of some pastoral theology volumes. It is by no means intended to be exhaustive. Indeed, since I began there are already another two or three volumes in my hands which need to be added (I hope to do so shortly), and countless others that might be considered.

The full list to date continues to be available here or from the sidebar under “Pastoral theology.” Comments and further recommendations are appreciated , and if you could put them on the full page, I will be able to keep track of them more readily.

A couple of things to watch out for: I am still planning a competition associated with the list, but need to get a couple of things in place first. Also, conscious of how much else is out there of enduring value in terms of pastoral theology but not formally found under that heading (perhaps hidden away in other collections or under cover of a different theme), I hope to begin a list of ‘pastoralia’ that may be helpful to gospel ministers in understanding their calling and developing their craft.

However, for the time being, I trust that these are useful and that the brief overviews might provide pastors and students for the ministry with some hints and helps toward a filling out and filling up of their work.

Thomas, Geoffrey. Preaching: The Man, the Message, the Method. Geoff can be utterly scintillating, and his credibility as a man who has laboured in one place for over fifty years gives him a solid platform for what he has to say. Sweeping, properly assertive, and full of insights, this again is one of those foundational treatments that it is good to revisit from time to time to recalibrate our efforts and expectations in our work. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Taylor, William M. and Plumer, William S. The Ministry of the Word & Hints and Helps in Pastoral Theology. I bundle these together because my edition is two-books-in-one. I really appreciate Taylor. His primary concern is preaching (although there is some good material on private pastoral ministry), and with a robust style he deals with his topic in a way that utterly exposes carelessness and lukewarmness. Taylor abounds with solid Scriptural sense and a bracing tone presses his advice deep into the soul. Plumer is another favourite, though his style is very different. He has a slightly broader scope than Taylor, taking up a variety of more circumstantial topics (such as religious excitements, revivals, visiting the sick, whether to become a foreign missionary, and so on) and is pithier, covering his ground more quickly. In typical style, he also provides a chapter of sayings for ministers, showing some of the gleanings of his own studies. Apart, these would be formidable; together, we are in the presence of Boanerges! (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk (Taylor/Plumer) / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Tyng, Stephen H. The Christian Pastor: The Office and Duty of the Gospel Minister. A very devotional little treatment, breathing a heavenly atmosphere and explicitly taken up with the preacher as a gospel minister. Much to say about the Christlike character of the man of God, and the Christlike way in which he goes about his duty, all borne of long pastoral experience and plainly the product of careful, prayerful consideration. One of those volumes that will do as much if not more to engage the heart for the work as it does to instruct the mind in it. Such always do my soul good, even if I am told little new. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Ventura, Rob and Walker, Jeremy. A Portrait of Paul. This book attempts to provide a portrait of the apostle as pastor and preacher grounded in his dealings with the Colossian church. It considers some of the elements of the apostle’s character and endeavours in a way intended to help the pastor-preacher, those who hear him and are served by him, and those seeking a faithful undershepherd for their souls. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Wells, John D. The Pastor in the Sick Room: Ministering the Gospel to Those on the Brink of Eternity. Really a plea not to neglect those on the borders of the world to come from a sense of despair at their prospects, together with a desire to ensure that flawed sentiments and feeble convictions do not breed false expectations and hopes in the minister or those to whom he ministers. In our society, death is sometimes considered a little further off, or held at arm’s length, but this is full of useful counsel for the moments when it presses near. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

White, James R. Pulpit Crimes: The Criminal Handling of God’s Word. White’s blending of quite highbrow or technical language with more earthy or popular phrases can take getting used to (e.g. a chapter on “Felonious Eisegesis” followed by one called “Cross Dressing,” a sort of cross-dressing in itself!). In a bracing style that can sometimes feel a little aggressive and self-confident, White comes close at times to absolutism and oversimplification, but it is the fruit of his deeply-held convictions and concerns. He has a righteously high view of the pulpit and of preaching, and begins by establishing these Scripturally. Then he brings his charges against modern mishandlers of the Word, considering each one in turn. I appreciate many of his concerns, and hope that he will be well heeded. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Witmer, Timothy Z. The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church. This is, of necessity, substantially an inward-looking book, concerned most directly with the care of the flock of God. It is a bold call for bold shepherding of a close, personal and specific nature, with much good counsel as to how to accomplish the task, and as such is warmly commended. The principles that our author sets out are clearly and Biblically delineated, but the assumed standards (the present norm) and the designated targets (the shepherd’s aims) in their outworking reveal the tragically, cripplingly low level of churchmanship that is practiced in the West today (this is not an inherent criticism of the author; I do not know his own practice). Some of his systems and recommendations can appear a little mechanical. The problem is undeniable, the principles are excellent, but the practice could do with a course of steroids. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

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