This is a fine little book. I would happily recommend it to lay people, pastors and elders. It is written with both ordained and lay people in view. The style of the book is conversational rather than academic. The book communicates well and includes a number of catchy phrases and memorable anecdotes. Leeman is clearly a good story-teller. He writes from a Reformed-Baptist perspective, as is evidenced by the majority of the book’s endorsers, citations, and especially his doctrine of the church.
The substance of the book mainly aims at exalting God’s word in the life of the church. Leeman is convinced that much of what has motivated the church (broadly speaking) to engage in some of its current unhealthy practices is a loss of confidence in God’s word. Reverberation is a welcome reminder that God’s word is powerful, active, essential, and especially—sufficient. This last point is perhaps the underlying theme of the book. Leeman makes a number of challenging observations about the church’s beliefs and practices, and responds to them in a biblical, conservative, reformed manner. He makes a number of very refreshing exegetical observations regarding how God’s word works in us, even stringing together individual texts into a beautiful pearl necklace. This is particularly true in relation to his discussion about the word and preaching. Both minister and lay person will likely come away from this book sensing that God is really working through the ministry of the word, even when the evidence is not immediately visible. This is a refreshing reminder! Leeman heartily emphasizes the importance of Christ being at the center of each sermon as an implication of Christ being at the center of scripture and the Christian life. May every Christian and preacher say “amen!”
The book is not without a few minor liabilities. While its strength of style is its accessibility to all academic levels, the book has a ‘blog-like’ feel in that it is written from the first-person perspective and is heavily auto-biographical. But again, some will likely find this a strength and not a weakness. The first half of the book has a concise goal which is raised and addressed clearly and convincingly. The second half of the book seems to quickly broaden to a wider range of topics, often raising questions and issues that some may find unconvincingly settled. Church music and lay counseling are examples of issues that are raised but will perhaps leave the reader with more questions than answers. Leeman does, however, give suggested reading on books that may address the issues he raises. There are a number of quotations throughout the book for which no clear citation is given, thus making it impossible to study the source of the quote. These are certainly minor criticisms that should not eclipse a favorable recommendation of a fine book.
Rev. Eric B. Watkins is senior minister of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Saint Augustine, Florida.