On Monday I was with the twelve who met at the John Owen Centre for the Theological Study Group discussion on Ted Donnelly's book Peter Eye Witness of his Majesty. Our chairman was Austin Walker from Crawley. Numbers were slightly up on the norm due mainly to the presence of three LTS students, all on their first day of a three week placement. it was good to have them there. The book, which began as a series of messages to ministers and was published by Banner about 12 years ago is a little more popular in style than our usual fare but none the worse for that. ted looks at Peter as Disciple, Preacher and Pastor and makes a number of important and useful points. We all agreed that it was a fine book that could be commended to someone preparing for ministry as a brief guide or someone in the ministry as a brief refresher. Also, it would be useful for someone not in the ministry to read in order to help them understand better the work of the pastor.
The following quotations may help give something of the flavour of the book:
On discipleship and the close connection between strength and weakness: "There is scarcely a gift that the devil cannot pervert" (31)
On preaching Christ doctrinally and the underestimate often made of Peter in this respect: "We expect him to be vigorous and earnest, but not particularly deep. If this has been our view, we are mistaken." (69) "We must preach Christ theologically" (71)
On bold preaching: "It is so very hard to be direct and, at the same time, gentle and loving." (77) "He must hammer home the nails of conviction" (78)
On faithfulness in the ministry: "all Christian service carries an inevitable price-tag" (106)
On the specialised nature of pastoral work: "it is a mistake to hand over a significant part of the work of the training of pastors to men who have never done the work for which they are preparing others" (114)
We prayed for Ted Donnelly at the end, thankful for his book and conscious of how unwell he is at present. We would love to hear him declare such truths once again.
(The current notice on the church website here reads: Pastor Donnelly became ill in November 2010 and had to spend a number of weeks in hospital. He is now able to attend morning worship services but it is anticipated that his recovery will be a slow process. Please continue to remember our pastor, his wife Lorna and their family in your prayers.)