Erwin W. Lutzer. He Will Be the Preacher: The Story of God’s Providence in My Life. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015. See here to buy the book.
Erwin W. Lutzer pastors the Moody Church in Chicago, and he has written a number of books. The title of this particular book, He Will Be the Preacher, comes from something that the wife of the pastor who married Erwin Lutzer’s parents said about Erwin when Erwin was a baby: “Er wird der Prediger sein.”
This book is somewhat of an autobiography. Lutzer talks about his parents’ backgrounds, aspects of his childhood, his time in college and seminary, how he met his wife, his role as pastor at the Moody Church and his challenges there, his children, how he became an author, the times that he interacted with his hero Billy Graham, and the time that he visited Wittenberg in German, where Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses. The last chapter of the book contains reflections on preaching: the call of preaching, and how to be effective at it.
I was hesitant to read this book, at first, probably because I wondered if Lutzer was famous enough to write an autobiography. There are plenty of people who have written books, preached in churches, and been on the radio, but they have not written a book about themselves! But I was in the mood for a spiritual autobiography, and I had read some of Lutzer’s other books. He struck me as a lucid, inviting, and thoughtful writer, so I decided to read He Will Be the Preacher.
The book was good, overall. Lutzer told personal stories, while interspersing them with spiritual reflections and discussions. He saw spiritual significance in many of the stories that he told, and that does give the book substance. Lutzer also shared about how his personal time with God has evolved over the years and his witnessing to others. Occasionally, Lutzer interacted with thorny, difficult questions regarding divine providence or the Christian faith. He talks about how he feels that God did not want him to marry a particular woman and put roadblocks in his path to prevent that, but then he wonders why God allows other people to enter into bad marriages. His personal story about how he asked Christ into his heart and did not feel any differently soon after that is also noteworthy.
The book seemed rather sugary at times, since there were so many things in Lutzer’s life that fell into place, or good things that just fell into his lap. The book perhaps could have been better had Lutzer talked more about attempts to overcome personal flaws: he said that he was shy as a youth, for example, and, as a shy person myself, I wonder how he became less shy. The book also had some name-dropping, and it could be tedious, in places.
Still, to say that Lutzer presents himself as perfect would be a mistake, for Lutzer is candid about the differences he had with his wife and the errors he made as a parent. He does come across as humble in this book. Lutzer in this book also does not shy away from the trials or tribulations of life.
In addition, the book offers sensible advice about evangelism, parenting, and preaching.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.