I am a big fan of catechisms. So when I learned about The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen, I was intrigued. Actually, I jumped at the chance to read and review this book. Little did I know that this powerful little book would break me and convict me. It would also mold, challenge, encourage and edify me. The Preacher’s Catechism is remarkable in a myriad of ways, a few of which I will briefly describe below.
First, The Preacher’s Catechism is a book targeted to preachers. While some may consider this narrow target audience as ill-conceived, this strategy works well and helps accomplish the ultimate ends of the author.
Three convictions govern this book, which are outlined in the opening pages:
- The church needs preachers who last and thrive.
- Preachers must understand how preaching works, and how their souls work.
- The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an outstanding resource for the heart needs of every preacher.
With the governing convictions in place, Allen Lewis determines to utilize the pattern of the Westminster Shorter Catechism by targeting specific questions and answers to preachers. The book is arranged in four parts:
Part 1: The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching
Part 2: Jesus for Preachers
Part 3: Loving the Word
Part 4: Preaching with Conviction
Summarizing the essence of The Preacher’s Catechism is an impossible task. But at its very heart is a series of gospel-centered challenges and soul-stirring encouragements. This work is like a theological battering ram that is designed to crush pride, self-sufficiency, false motives and deeds of the flesh. But make no mistake. The author does not intend to convict preachers merely; his ultimate aim is to encourage them. Once the feeble scaffolding of the flesh is sufficiently toppled, the author winsomely directs the attention of preachers to the cross. “Listeners need to know that the preacher is contented in his God and rejoicing in his Savior,” writes Allen. He continues, “When our lives as preachers are filled with a sense of amazement about the grace that is ours in Christ, others start asking questions about that grace and seeking it for themselves.”
To call The Preacher’s Catechism, a success would be a profound understatement. For this book captures what is truly important about pastoral ministry. It is a vivid reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. It serves preachers by admonishing them and encouraging them. But in the final analysis, it leads preachers back to the cross. It graciously beckons them to not only preach Christ crucified but to cherish the old rugged cross and lay claim to the saving benefits that Christ wrought for his elect.