Book review: The Christian Pastor

June 26, 2017

The Christian Pastor

The Office and Duty of the Gospel Minister

Publisher: Solid Ground Books

Reviewer: Discerning Reader Team

Available on Amazon

Recommended: Yes

Exactly ninety-nine years prior to the date of my own birth, Stephen Tyng delivered a series of addresses to the School of Theology in Boston University. He had been in pastoral ministry for over fifty years at the time. This book of 109 pages, reprinted for our benefit by Solid Ground Christian Books, is the product of those addresses.

The content of the lectures works itself out like this:

(1) The personal object of the pastor.

(2) The qualifications required for the Christian pastor.

(3) The instruments to be employed for the pastor’s work.

(4) The agencies and opportunities prepared for the pastor.

(5) The elements of power and attainments of the pastor.

Now, given the vocabulary employed in that table of contents, you may not think the book will have punch. In fact, by page three, I had my own doubts when Tyng wrote the following sentence:

“To give some aspect of form to utterances which would be likely to become too desultory and heterogeneous without some scheme proposed, I shall proceed to speak of…”

Huh?

However, once he got past the formal introduction, Tyng turned on the wit, passion, and pastoral warmth found throughout the remainder of the book.

Tyng would find great camaraderie with contemporary pastors like C.J. Mahaney, for he continually refers the pastor to consider the ministry in terms of being Christ-centered and Christ-glorifying. Christ-glorifying.

He says: “Our mission has this twofold object always in view: to glorify this exalted Savior, and to lead the souls of sinful men gratefully to receive, then accept, and to live in Him, and for Him – the honor of Jesus and the salvation of men.”

Time and again, Tyng pleads with pastors to be concerned about what God thinks of our ministry, rather than giving any thought to the opinion of men.

“You are to speak to all, not according to the wisdom of men, nor in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but according to the wisdom of God, in words which the Holy Ghost teacheth. The question, ‘What is popular?’ can never be allowed by us. Our demand is, ‘What is true? You can not forget that God often chooses the weak things of the world to confound those which are mighty. And he will never fail, in his own way, to prosper the fidelity of his servants, or to honor the faithful ministration of his own Word. You may meet with painful rejections of your message, and with great trials of your fidelity. But Jesus will always honor those who truly honor him.”

He recognizes that when we plead with men on behalf of the gospel of the cross, we are to be very aware of our own insufficiency apart from the grace of God.

“We never get deeper convictions of personal sin than in our attempts to console and guide others in their hours of darkness and guilt. We are never more truly or effectually made the ‘sons of consolation’ to them than when we are secretly weeping, in the bitterness of our own souls, over past personal transgressions, of which they have no consciousness or knowledge; ‘comforting others by the consolations wherewith we are comforted of God.”

The book is stuffed full of personal anecdotes, often involving people on their deathbed. A humorous one is related to instruct ministers to be mindful of personal manners:

“A minister in commencing his public prayer in a highly furnished pulpit, in my sight, took out of his mouth a large piece of tobacco, and laid it down upon the marble slab which finished the desk, and when his prayer was finished deliberately put it into his mouth again.”

On the other hand, Tyng thought ministers should be strong men, given to hard work and real, authentic masculinity, without affectation.

“There is sometimes an assumed separation, an apparent, studied, professional holiness, in the aspect and manners of a minister, which repels and disgusts.”

Tyng paints a picture of what young pastors should aspire to be:

“Many such men have I seen, and traced from youth to age in the ministry of Christ. Their fidelity to him was open and undeniable. They were men of prayer, men of experience, men of holiness, men of high and controlling motives. They knew and they taught his Word. They carried with them his example and his influence. They were honored with a peaceful and fruitful ministry. The ear that heart them, blessed them The eye that saw them, bore witness to them. Their power was undeniable, and everywhere acknowledged. It was not the influence of popularity, as public performers, nor the acknowledgment of superior intellect or of literary attainment. It was the commanding power of undeniable holiness, disinterestedness, tenderness, pureness, and love. They were universally believed to be right; their judgments stood like a rock; their words, their instructions, were received as unquestionable and undisputed truth.”

While I have several excellent books on Christian ministry written in the 19th century, because of the brevity and punch of Tyng’s work, I would heartily recommend this book as a tool for young pastors to read. I read through it for my after-church service “Sunday night reading”, bringing to my own mind a lot of encouragement and instruction in Christ-centered pastoral ministry.

HERE you will find some more quotes from this book.

Available on Amazon

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