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Pastoral Theology: The Man of God, His Preaching and Teaching Labors, vol. 2, by Albert N. Martin

Ryan M. McGraw

Pastoral Theology: The Man of God, His Preaching and Teaching Labors, vol. 2, Albert N. Martin. Montville, NJ: Trinity Pulpit Press, 2019, xiii + 651 pages, $47.00.

This is the second volume of three in what will likely become one of the most extensive pastoral theologies in the history of the church. The primary strength of this volume is that it collects some of the best Reformed and biblical material on preaching available. Martin teaches pastors how to preach Christ-centered, Spirit-filled sermons to the edification of the church and to the conversion of others. This book is useful, practical, and interesting, and it has the advantage both of condensing some of the best Reformed preaching manuals into a single volume and of introducing readers to some of the best books on preaching.

Martin’s treatment of preaching is thoroughgoing and engaging. The first section, on the content and form of preaching, includes seven axioms about preaching. The second section primarily addresses different kinds of exegetical preaching. The final section of this volume treats the act of preaching itself. Most of the first section deals with issues such as form, structure, the application, and illustration of sermons, along with other key issues. Drawing from a plethora of biblical and historical examples, Martin couples these things with over fifty years of pastoral experience and sanctified common sense.

Martin’s counsel on different kinds of exegetical preaching is particularly noteworthy. Rather than arguing simply for consecutive expository sermon series—which he favors—he uses the best of past examples to show that topical, textual, and consecutive sermons can all be expository. From this, Martin concludes that the Spirit has blessed preachers in the past through various kinds of preaching rather than in spite of it.

He also gives balanced directions regarding manuscript versus extemporaneous preaching, arguing that achieving the goals of preaching are more important than a specific method of delivery. However, preachers should recognize the clear differences between the written and the spoken word and that simply reading a manuscript to a congregation may not achieve the goals of preaching (603–14).

One final feature that stands out in this book is that Martin includes a range of issues concerning how people hear sermons, such as the effects of good airflow, comfortable chairs, and an appropriate pulpit. While some may regard such counsel as unspiritual, Martin rightly seeks to minister to people as body and soul creatures. Beyond the items mentioned here, the scope of the author’s instruction on homiletics is fairly full and includes virtually every major topic that a preacher will need.

The only major drawback in this work is that the author does not develop the place of the doctrine of the Trinity in preaching as thoroughly as some other recent authors have done. While his treatment of preaching Christ is superb and his material on the Holy Spirit is outstanding, he does not synthesize the doctrine of the Trinity into preaching distinctly. In this regard, recent authors like Sinclair Ferguson,[1] Joel Beeke,[2] and John Piper[3] usefully supplement this material.

Volume 2 of Martin’s Pastoral Theology is an excellent summary of some of the best Reformed instruction on preaching. It is an excellent place for new students to cut their teeth on homiletics, and it is an ideal review that will stir the hearts of even the most seasoned preachers.

Endnotes

[1] Sinclair B. Ferguson, Some Pastors and Teachers: Reflecting a Biblical Vision of What Every Minister Is Called to Be (Banner of Truth, 2017).

[2] Joel R. Beeke, Reformed Preaching: Proclaiming God’s Word from the Heart of the Preacher to the Heart of His People (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018).

[3] John Piper, Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018).

Ryan M. McGraw is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church serving as a professor of systematic theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina. Ordained Servant Online, October 2019.

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