Lewis Allen has evidently thought long and hard about the nature of the Christian ministry. The result is The Preacher’s Catechism, a collection of 43 questions and answers which bring essential truths to the preacher’s heart.
Loosely following the structure of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, its subjects include the glory of God, sin, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Ten Commandments, the sacraments and the Lord’s Prayer. Each answer is followed by two or three pages of application, targeted at those with responsibility for teaching God’s Word. Wise words are cited from some of church history’s best writers and preachers.
The answers themselves are probably not ideal for memorisation, and some don’t quite answer the corresponding question directly. The wording seems to aim more for soundbites than for precision.
But Allen has a gift for getting personal. His words penetrate the preacher’s thought life and expose subconscious and sub-Christian tendencies. Examples include thinking that our vocation guarantees God’s acceptance (p.91) and turning preaching itself into an idol (chapter 23). The reader is led gently to repentance and to Christ.
The book would be most helpful for those in full-time ministry; a chapter on Monday morning will serve as a tonic for the failures of Sunday! It will help to lift up downhearted and weary pastors, heal those who are hurt, and apply the gospel to those who are backsliding.