Stephen C. Shaffer


Our Only Comfort: Daily Devotions through the Heidelberg Catechism

“While Stephen speaks and writes in a way that connects with others, he does so as a pastor and theologian who has a deep well of biblical and theological understanding. His reflections are simple without being simplistic, written with elegance and verve. In doing this, Our Only Comfort is a gift to the church today.”

Dr. J. Todd Billings, author of The End of the Christian Life, from the Foreword

“This is a book for which I have been longing – a biblically rooted, theologically rich, warm and engaging invitation into the Christian faith that I will without a doubt use in my home, share with my church and children’s minister, and incorporate into my teachings on the importance of creative, thoughtful contemporary catechesis.”

Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson, author of “The Justice Calling

“This beautiful piece on ways of utilizing the Heidelberg Catechism in our crazy and mixed-up culture will be a gift to everyone who reads it and a terrific resource for everyone who deploys it in their own home.”

Rev. Dr. Tim Brown, President Emeritus at Western Theological Seminary

How do we transmit the Christian faith?

As I held my son in my arms for the first time, I thought about how God has entrusted my wife and I with the spiritual nurture of this precious boy. I wrote this book to learn how to teach my children the Christian faith. 

Upon entering the Reformed Church, I discovered that there already existed a resource for teaching children and new Christians the basics of the faith: the Heidelberg Catechism. Throughout church history parents, pastors, and Christians of all stripes had been wrestling with how best to teach children the faith. They developed what were known as catechisms, from the Greek katacheo, “to teach orally.” 

The more I read the Heidelberg Catechism, the more I grew to love its theology and its pastoral heart. As I grew to love how simply and clearly it taught what was contained in the Scriptures, I wanted to find a way to help my children to learn Jesus through the Heidelberg Catechism. The result is this book of daily devotions for families. 

Articles & Essays

The Loneliness of the Pastor-Theologian

by J. Todd Billings and Stephen Shaffer

“Jason slid his copy of Athanasius’s On the Incarnation back into his book bag with a sigh. He had hoped this pastors’ group might finally appreciate his desire to slowly study the deep things of God, and his longing for theological friendship. For Jason these desires went hand in hand with his pastoral calling, but he noticed the looks when he arrived, Athanasius in hand. He had seen them plenty of times before: the puzzled and slightly defensive look of the pastor who has read only a handful of books since seminary; the impatient glance of the pastor who wants “to get on with the real work of ministry;” the weary look that says, “If only I had the time.” Even the concerned look, as if reading theology might lead him away from God, deadening his ability to sense the Spirit. Jason vowed to himself to leave his books at home next time…”

Find the full article in Christianity Today, October 11, 2018.

Book Reviews

Review of “Jeremiah, Lamentations” edited by J. Jeffrey Tyler

“In Jeremiah, Lamentations we see how the words given to the melancholic prophet Jeremiah in the aftermath of King Josiah’s reformation spoke powerfully into the European Reformation of the sixteenth century. As optimism that the gospel would sweep victoriously across the known world waned, Jeremiah’s fiery challenge and anguished lament resonated with the struggles facing the Protestant churches. Most modern commentaries are filled with the critical questions of source and form criticism, but this volume wrestles with questions from another age of the church, a time of not only struggle and controversy but also renewal and gospel witness.”

Find the full book review at In All Things.

Review of “Civil Dialogue on Abortion” by Bertha Alvarez Manninen and Jack Mulder, Jr.

“The authors are self-critical about their own movements, citing ways that pro-life and pro-choice advocates have made illogical, unpersuasive, and insensitive arguments. As Mulder says, “there are bad ways to hold a good position.” However, each author presents key challenges to the typical way that their opponent develops his or her arguments.”

Find the full book review at In All Things.

Review of “Echoes of Exodus” by Alistair Roberts and Andrew Wilson

“Authors Alistair Roberts and Andrew Wilson believe that reading Scripture is like taking in a symphony. Every note is important and contributes to the whole piece, and there is a common tune—the exodus—that recurs throughout the Scriptures for those who have ears to hear. In Echoes of Exodus, we are invited to hear the many and varied ways that God’s bringing of his people out of bondage in Egypt is echoed until it reaches a crescendo in Jesus Christ.”

Find the full book review at In All Things.

Review of “Remembrance, Communion, and Hope” by J. Todd Billings

“The problem is not primarily teaching, but tasting. We have narrowed our palate and numbed our taste buds to the good gifts of God. We are like people who have chosen “savory” as our favorite flavor and have since lost the ability to taste anything else. We must taste again the sweetness of God to renew our hunger.”

Find the full book review at In All Things.

Other Publications

Words of Hope Daily Devotional

Words of Hope proclaims the gospel through media in order to build the church in hard-to-reach places.

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