Pastoral Book Reviews - Pastoral TheologyTolle Lege - Take and Read Book Reviews
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Pastoral Book Reviews – Pastoral Theology
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
by Thomas Murphy
Old Paths Publication, Audubon, NJ: 1996.
509 Pages, Hardback
This book was exceedingly excellent. Among the great pastoral books such as Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” and R.L. Dabney’s “Evangelical Eloquence”, this book ranks among the best in print, and I would say, in the top 10 for pastoral theology. Murphy helps the beginning minister see his need for a solid devotional life (a problem with many preachers today), and the foundation of communion with God as a key strength to the ministry. He describes the amount of time one should study each day, and the set schedule that one ought to create for himself in being a good steward of time. He explores how to preach, and gives a variety of exhortations to the minister in their office of preaching and teaching the Word. He also covers visitation, including different types of visits a minister may have. He divides the book into sections such as “The Pastor in his Closet,” “…in the pulpit”, “…in activities in the church,” “…in the Sabbath school” and much more.
His different explanations do not allow an overall consensus on one topic in the book since it treats a diverse number of subjects. However, I found little I disagreed with; but I did disagree with Murphy’s plea for the minister to be involved in higher courts – he being a Presbyterian encouraged other Presbyterians to be present in the synods and presbyteries of their local session; this being an application of Acts 15 in an incorrect manner, in my opinion. Otherwise, I believe I derived much profit from the book, and I would encourage all potential preachers, as well as current preachers to make this a regular read though the coarse of their ministry.
“That department of study whose object is to assist the Christian minister in applying the truths of the Gospel to the hearts and lives of men is called Pastoral Theology.”
“What is needed in the ministry now is complete consecration of heart and head and hands to Christ. With ministers more than with nay other persons alive the supreme motive needs to be the glory of God. In all their studies and ministrations, in every element of their being, their moving impulse should be love to Christ.”
“The pastor must be watchful, or soon he will find that all his studying of the Bible is intended for others.”
“From the nature of their office and studies ministers must have the clearest knowledge of the way in which eminent piety may be reached.”
“We would therefore recommend that only a reasonable and profitable length of time be allowed daily to the work of the study. We would venture to suggest a rule of about 5 hours a day, from eight o’clock in the morning until two, with a recess of an hour. Our program, then for the ordinary’s day’s work would be – one hour of devotion before breakfast; five hours of study; two hours and a half of visiting; and in the evening one hour and a half for reading and correspondence – ten hours a day for these various duties of the office. Considering the variety afforded by the different engagements, this would not be too much. And if this length of time daily for five days a week were devoted to earnest work, it would accomplish as much as any minister should ever undertake.”