The Best Pastoral Theology and Preaching Books

Discussion in 'A Puritan's Mind Updates' started by C. Matthew McMahon, Jan 3, 2017.

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  1. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    I've been working through writing summaries of all the books I have on pastoral theology and homiletics. They are "evaluations / summaries" but my intent is to supply the reader with the best information from these works in cliff-note form. If you were to read all the best works on preaching and pastoral theology they would comprise twenty thousand plus pages (just Charles Bridges work runs 700 pages in its unedited form). So, in going over all this material, I'm personally finding it exceedingly beneficial and edifying, but also thought it would serve a purpose of helping other ministers who may not have read all these books.

    If you have not read Peter van Mastricht's little work on preaching, then you are missing out greatly. Literally, he demonstrates the best method of preaching. He has some great gems in the work, and it is a relatively short work.

    Evaluation of “The Best Method of Preaching” by Peter van Mastricht – by C. Matthew McMahon
     
  2. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  3. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  4. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    I would like to buy these books for two pastors I know, but what would I tell them when presenting them with the gift without them getting offended. I don't want them to think that I'm thinking their preaching sucks or their not doing their job correctly.
     
  5. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Hi Ray,

    Speaking as a pastor, if someone said something like this, I'd feel blessed:

    "I ran across these books being discussed online and the people were saying what a blessing these titles had been to ministers for centuries. So I wanted to be a blessing to you! You're doing a great job serving the Lord, and I hope you enjoy them!"

    That would be edifying.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you
     
  7. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    The second half of Perkins isn't ready just yet. The first half is. I'm hoping to have the second half completed in about a month.

    However, I understand your question, and I'm involved in doing exactly what your thinking about with multiple preachers. Every opportunity I have to give preachers I come into contact with good books, I do it. I personally know, having read the books themselves, that these wonderful pastoral theology and homiletic books will aid in their growth as a minister. Every minister can grow. Paul instructs Timothy, "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." (1 Ti. 4:13). Part of the minister's duty is to read. That being said, my intention is never to make a faithful minister feel bad about how they might perceive my perception of their preaching. So when I hand out books, I always do so with a double word of encouragement. I first tell them these are works that I found to be beneficial to me personally, and aided in my spiritual growth as a preacher, and as a Christian. Then, I encourage them with the works, simply saying that they "may be an encouragement" to them as well. I have yet to have any of them give me an odd look, or get upset with me. They are usually quite thankful. (Inside scoop: ministers generally like to get free books.) As a matter of fact, one of those preachers just told me yesterday via phone that they were greatly encouraged in reading Perkins' Art of Faithful Preaching, and thanked me again.

    It may be that you are not a preacher, and you say to yourself, "Well, I can't tell the minister that these books did me good," because you haven't read them. Perkins, Brinsley, and other simple works that lay out simple but powerful teaching on the office of the pastor and duty of preaching well are equally as edifying to the hearer as well as to the preacher. Knowing what a good preacher "looks like" biblically, is of utmost importance. So why not read them first yourself, and then give them with all good intentions, making that known, to those you think might equally benefit from them?

    (If those ministers are, in all actuality, unfit for the office, negligent in their preaching, doing it for a paycheck, etc., that is a whole other matter entirely.)

    (I agree wholeheartedly with Rev. Marsh. Excellent way to be encouraging.)
     
  8. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  9. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Reagan,
    I read your post before I read Ray's, and without that context it sounded like you were dropping some pretty heavy hints! :rofl:
     
  10. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Well brother, if the Spirit lays it on your heart...don't be disobedient to the heavenly vision (Ac 26.19)! Ha ha! Just teasing.

    Hope you guys are doing well, my friend!
     
  11. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Likewise, brother!
     
  12. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  13. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

  14. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  15. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    I have personally uncomfortable with the promotion of the works of Baxter. Dr Jim Renihan has given an insightful lecture where he points out that Baxter's view of Justification was very unsound and the Puritans of the time were ncomfortable with Baxter's theology. Further, Dr Renihan argues one cannot seperate Baxter's theology from his practical works - the two go together. In other words Baxter's pastoral works build on the foundations of his problemaic theology. Surely we must agree that our theology must build a sound foundation for our practical Christianity. See http://confessingbaptist.com/james-renihan-on-richard-baxters-doctrine-of-justification-audio-video/
     
  16. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Generally, I'm in agreement. I don't generally "advertise" Baxter. His theology on Justification separates faith from it, and is beyond problematic.
    However, Baxter's Reformed Pastor is about as on point as the puritans would have been in practically thinking through the pastoral ministry. It's the only work I'll really reread by him.
     
  17. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Two books which I was not impressed with.

    First, I think overall, Adam's book is not very good at all on preaching. I think it is what is wrong with preaching today.
    Evaluation of “Preaching with Purpose” by Jay Adams – by C. Matthew McMahon

    Second, this work was not very deep, and I think not very helpful overall. The first half of the book was actually pretty light. The second half was a "little" better but was more an exercise in writing on the subject matter, rather than actually being helpful, or even "contribuative" to the church. It really does not offer the reader enough other than to go to some of the sources he mentions to read the first sources themselves.
    Evaluation and Summary of Bruce Bickel’s “Light and Heat: The Puritan View of the Pulpit” by C. Matthew McMahon
     
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  18. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

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    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

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    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  21. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  22. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  23. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Dr. McMahon,

    You mention in your review of Bickel that he uses books which anyone might walk into a bookstore and purchase. I'm not being argumentative here, so I sincerely hope it doesn't sound that way -- but I am confused.

    I've not read the book you're reviewing, first (it's only recently come across my radar -- though I plan to in the near future), but here's my question.

    a) Is your critique in that regard because he uses uncritical editions (i.e., popular-level, abridged, or modernized) of major works?

    b) Is it because he doesn't engage broadly enough (i.e., he only sticks to the best-known Puritans, and has not demonstrated sufficient engagement across the broad spectrum which comprised Puritanism)?

    c) Given the quality and breadth of the reprints being done today by BOT, RHB, SDG, etc., and given that they're often critical editions (I'm thinking of RHB's Perkins set, or Banner's commissioning of a new critical edition of Flavel's works, etc.), might those sorts of volumes have been acceptable in scholarly work, i.e., if he'd had them available?

    d) Or is it that he's not done enough primary source work -- getting into the archives and handling the actual volumes themselves?

    I understand that you say he basically strings quotes together without engaging their content or advancing his thesis; no problem. It's more the nature of your note that he used books anyone could access that raises my question.

    Again, not criticizing -- just curious.

    Thanks.
     
  24. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    It was more of your option B. He only dealt with sources that were readily available. In other words, if you work on a doctoral thesis, your going to have to go deeper than just what is readily available, or what my wife could read or write, for example (and she is a smart cookie in that regard). A doctoral THESIS needs to deal with a breadth of material. You'll need to have access to some kind of library or some ability that goes beyond a layman's point of view.

    One of the requirements I had before writing a doctoral thesis, was to go through a challenging course on how doctoral research is done. That was a prerequisite. If i didn't have the knowledge to find and locate the proper MSS I needed for a study, then the dissertation would be lacking.

    So if I'm writing a detailed doctoral thesis on puritan preaching, I'm going to need to go further and broader in my research than just what is commercially available.

    When you know there sources out there would enhance a thesis, but the writer didn't know that such documents even existed, that's when, as a reader, you get concerned about the vitality of such a work. It left me unfulfilled in reading it.
     
  25. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    That is very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to respond!
     
  26. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Anytime brother! Study on.
     
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