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‘Princeton and Preaching’ – A Review by Ted Donnelly

Category Book Reviews
Date February 2, 2007

A review by Edward Donnelly of James M. Garretson’s Princeton and Preaching: Archibald Alexander and the Christian Ministry.1

Bible colleges, seminaries, conferences and correspondence courses. Doctorates in ministry and professional advice from every point of the theological compass. Ministerial training has become, in our day, an expanding and profitable industry – of varying usefulness. Yet James Garretson has packed more wisdom and practical help from Archibald Alexander into this one volume than you will find on a shelf-full of purely modern works. Princeton and Preaching is one of the most stimulating and enjoyable books I have read for a long time.

In addition to the Princeton professor’s writings, the author has worked through Alexander`s unpublished lecture notes and sermons to provide us with a distillation of his teaching on the work of the ministry. Topics covered include the call, qualifications, sermon preparation, the preacher`s heart, the matter and manner of preaching, the difficulties, challenges and encouragements of the ministry. In a concluding chapter, Dr Garretson describes leading characteristics of Alexander`s preaching and suggests guiding principles from his example.

This book is a nutritional supplement, ideal for supplying the spiritual vitamins and minerals lacking in our contemporary diet. As he draws upon the centuries of our Reformed confessional heritage, Alexander challenges the chronological snobbery of too many ministers who are ignorant of the riches of church history and experience, and are content, even proud, to remain so. His careful analysis of what constitutes a valid call to the ministry and delineation of the necessary moral, intellectual and physical qualifications are a rebuke to the casualness with which some enter this sacred calling. His emphasis on the preacher`s personal godliness and keeping of his heart is sorely needed in our age, which values ‘personality’ more than character. Above all, he has practised what he teaches and comes before his students as an experienced preacher and pastor. There is perhaps no more crucial issue in ministerial training than that it should be in the hands of proven ministers, not clever novices or mere theoreticians.

Archibald Alexander is an extraordinarily attractive figure and this account of his instruction exudes warmth and brightness. His rebukes, though penetrating, are gentle. His counsel is instructive and sane and his example is infectious. To absorb it is to be challenged, guided and made joyful, all at once. We are in debt to James Garretson for helping us to a deeper acquaintance with an impressive, lovable man.

Notes

    • Princeton and Preaching

      Princeton and Preaching

      Archibald Alexander and the Christian Ministry

      by  James M. Garretson


      price £16.75
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      A review by Edward Donnelly of James M. Garretson’s Princeton and Preaching: Archibald Alexander and the Christian Ministry.1 Bible colleges, seminaries, conferences and correspondence courses. Doctorates in ministry and professional advice from every point of the theological compass. Ministerial training has become, in our day, an expanding and profitable industry – of varying usefulness. Yet […]

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