Christian Life and the Unconscious, by Ernest White. Harper, New York, 1955. $3.00.
Writings in the field of psychiatry, especially as that field relates to man’s religious life, must meet two main requirements for the Christian. Such writings must reveal true understanding of scriptural doctrine and must indicate competence and insight into scientific psychology and psychiatry. This book of 190 pages meets both of those requirements to a high degree. Furthermore, these two highly commendable features of the book come together in many satisfying observations on the deeper spiritual issues of life and in much counsel that is biblically oriented and psychologically sound.
The author, a practicing physician with a deep interest in psychiatry developed since 1936, has worked in association with Leslie Weatherhead at the City Temple Clinic in London. He describes and uses accurately concepts like the unconscious, ego, id, super-ego, the collective unconscious, archetypes, etc. He can speak of Freud and Freudian teachings without becoming involved in the frothy pansexualism that the popular mind understands as the teaching of the man from Vienna. He understands the dynamic motivation of behavior, and realizes that such motivation to action belongs “ … rather to instinct and emotion than to intellect” (pp. 19 f.).
White’s main concern is with the Unconscious mind, that large hidden area of the personality that affects all of human life so profoundly. The author identifies the biblical term “heart” with modern psychology’s “mind” in both its conscious and unconscious aspect. He stresses the “unity of the mind” and rejects any notion of the personality in terms of sealed off separate compartments.
It is at this point that stress is laid on the biblical emphasis that salvation is of the whole man and is not just a surface change. And this emphasis can be seen in its proper light when an important doctrinal distinction is observed, namely, that between the new birth and conversion. Keeping his eye on his main concern, the Unconscious, Dr. White describes the new birth as (“… an unconscious process, apart from the will of man, wrought in the spiritual depths of the personality by the Spirit of God” (p. 30). Conversion is a conscious process involving the will of man. True conversion is an outgrowth of the new birth.
In harmony with the central theme of the book, helpful chapters are presented on baptism, Christ in the heart, sanctification, God’s guidance into truth, guidance in daily life, prayer, sin and guilt, and spiritual conflict. In the final chapter, “The Concept of God,” the importance for personal well-being of one’s conception of God is properly signalized.
An illustration of the author’s excellent counsel appears in these principles for guidance: a. knowledge of God’s will comes by daily dedication to him; b. we must not expect some special revelation from God; c. God’s guidance is not always to be looked for in success in achieving the goal sought. Another illustration is found in the thoroughly sound observation that the Christian must not expect his life to be without conflict, an unrealistic impression sometimes conveyed “… in evangelical ministry” (p. 161).
The reviewer wishes to place a question mark here and there in this largely excellent book. The author’s difficulty with God’s demand for perfection because it “… is surely a hopeless quest for anyone in the world,” suggests a failure to understand the meaning of salvation by grace alone (pp. 100 ff.). It is doubtful that we are to understand prayer in Christ’s name in the sense conveyed thus: “Name stands for character, and in so far as we conform to His character, our prayers will find acceptance” (p. 144). In his discussion on baptism the psychologist seems to have carried away the theologian. The discussion seems forced as the author looks for the significance of baptism in the symbolical meaning of water in the unconscious and in myths, “… the crystallized dreams of the racial unconscious” (pp. 71ff.). EDWARD HEEREMA
Calvin and Augustine, by Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Presbyterian and Reformed, Philadelphia. $4.95.
In 1931, the Oxford Press published two volumes of articles by B. B. Warfield, one a collection on Calvin and Calvinism, the other on Tertullion and Augustine. The present volume has been issued to make available the most notable of those articles on Calvin and Augustine, most of which are familiar to students of Warfield.
J. Marcellus Kik describes the book when he says, in his foreword:
To properly evaluate the work of Calvin and Augustine requires unusual gifts. These are found in Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. … Because of his lucid and stately style of writing, his penetrating gift of analysis, his knowledge of the works of Calvin and Augustine, and his firm grasp of Reformed theology, there was no one better qualified to estimate and express the unique place of Calvin and Augustine in the history of the Christian Church.
In this volume we have Warfield speaking his mind appreciatively and critically on the work of those earlier theological giants, particularly in the areas of religious authority and knowledge. There is also a concise biographical article on each, and the article, “Calvinism,” which appears in the Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia, and which is probably the best general statement on the subject in print.
Warfield’s genius lies in the concise but comprehensive way he manages to bring every possible aspect of any given problem into an article presumably dedicated to a treatment of the views of someone else. These articles are not simply what Warfield thought Calvin or Augustine were saying at this or that point–they are masterful treatises upon the basic issues at hand which include the background against which those earlier theologians wrote as well as a critical treatment of the major existing interpretations of their work. Thus the article, “Augustine’s Doctrine of Knowledge,” for instance, becomes a major dissertation on Christian epistemology in which the later interpretations of Augustine are also weighed and evaluated; and “Calvin’s Knowledge of God” becomes a major treatment of the general problem of Revelation, especially as it has been met by theologians of succeeding generations who considered themselves Calvinists.
Throughout the articles Warfield’s own views stand out prominently. And the collection is probably most important as an outline of the Princeton theologian’s views and thus as a portrait of early 20th Century Calvinism. The current revival of interest in the Reformation and especially in John Calvin will produce constructive results only as those who seek to recapture the spirit of the Reformation become fully aware of the ways in which later Calvinism sought, however unconsciously, to improve upon the Reformer. Warfield’s writings are among the best for research in this connection and this book may well be the best brief collection of Warfield’s writings in the area of religious authority and knowledge G. AIKEN TAYLOR
The Epistle of St. James, by Joseph Mayor. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1954, reprinted from the third revised edition (1913). $6.95.
This commentary on the book of James, first issued in 1892, belongs to the “Reprint Classic” series of the House of Zondervan. The precious ore of the epistle is small in size (they are one hundred and eight verses) but the assayer requires approximately six hundred pages to report his findings. It may be taken as some measure of the author’s thoroughness that almost three hundred pages are devoted to introductory explorations of one kind or another.
Assiduous research leads Mayor to the conclusion that the “James” who wrote the epistle was indeed “the brother of our Lord.” The disputed question of date is examined patiently and, with a wealth of evidential detail, the late “daters” such as Harnack and the “pre-Christian” speculators such as Spitta are alike refuted. Mayor concluded that the letter was writ· ten near the end of the fifth decade of the first century. This judgment finds a contemporary echo in J. B. Phillips who, in Letters to Young Churches, says that James was written “possibly early, about A.D. 50, making it the earliest letter of the New Testament.”
From this conclusion with respect to the timing of the epistle it obviously follows that Mayor rejects the anti-Pauline bias that some scholars have attributed to James. He argues in fact that James, so far from reacting unfavorably to Paul’s allegedly extreme stress on “salvation by faith,” has influenced Paul, particularly in certain sections of the Epistle to the Romans.
In the structuring of the book Mayor commits himself to such diverse considerations as (1) the relation of James to the other books of the New Testament and to the non-canonical writings, (2) the grammar and style of James, which are treated with astounding detail, (3) the question of whether the author wrote in Greek or Aramaic, and (4) an analysis of the various manuscripts and versions which provide a basis for textual criticism.
A section follows in which the text of the epistle appears in Greek and in three Latin versions set in parallel columns. This provides an introduction to the voluminous exegetical notes which run on for nearly a hundred and fifty pages.
The concluding section consists of Mayor’s own paraphrase of the epistle and a commentary on the principal topics which James introduces, such as “Temptation,” “Modes of Self-Deception,” “Respect of Persons,” “The Law of Liberty,” “Faith,” “Use and Abuse of Speech,” “Judging,” and “Healing of the Sick by Anointing and Prayer.”
The author’s paraphrase reflects smoothness, and, in certain passages, a delightful simplicity. On the other hand, a stiltedness is introduced here and there which one finds much less frequently in such a free translation as that of Phillips. For example, in chapter 3, verse 6, Mayor gives us: “In the microcosm of man’s nature the tongue represents the unrighteous world.” Whereas Phillips gives the reading: “It (the tongue) can poison the whole body, it can make the whole life a blazing hell.”
In handling the ruling ideas of James the author is careful’ to give varying viewpoints a hearing. Where the ultimate meaning is dubious he is usually undogmatic. Only here and there is the dispassionate tone relieved by touches of moving warmth. A fine instance of this more glowing style occurs in connection with the apostle’s exhortation to “Confess your faults one to another” (5:16) Mayor exclaims:
How much easier it would be to put up with hastiness or coldness on the part of a friend, if we knew that he was himself conscious of his faults and trying to amend them! … Might it not tend to increase the feeling of Christian fellowship, if those who were exposed to the same difficulties, anxious to conquer the same weaknesses and to practice the same virtues, could break through their isolation and confirm themselves in their good resolutions by the knowledge that they were shared by others.
That’s doing right well for a man who, writing half a century ago, knew nothing of psychiatry’s jargon of “empathy” and “interpersonal relations!”
All in all, Mayor on James is massive scholarship, minutely competent and humbly dedicated. PAUL REES
Reformation Writings of Martin Luther, translated by Bertram Lee Woolf. Philosophical Library, New York, 1956. $7.50.
This is the second volume of the Reformation Writings of Martin Luther and is very aptly characterized by the subordinate title “The Spirit of the Protestant Reformation.” We recommend this fine volume, excellently translated into English by a master student of Luther, who is equally at home in Latin and German, the two languages Luther used to spread the Gospel orally and in writing. Eight distinctive subjects are treated in this book: “Fourteen Comforts for the Weary and Heavy Laden;” “Why the Books of the Pope and His Followers Were Burned;” “Three Sermons Preached After the Summons to Worms;” “A Word to Penitents About the Forbidden Books;” “Luther at Worms;” “The Magnificat Translated and Expounded;” “Selected Biblical Prefaces;” “The Lord’s Supper and Order of Service.” These major topics are supplemented and explained by “Introductions” and “Notes” which are designed to help the reader in understanding Luther. The reader will, no doubt, be interested above all in the dramatic events centered about Luther’s famous confession at Worms, but from a pastoral point of view the “Comforts for the Weary and Heavy Laden” and Luther’s excellent “Prefaces” are challenges to pastors as well as laymen to cherish the rich evangelical and Biblical treasures which the great Wittenberg Reformer has left as a precious heritage to evangelical Christendom. In every way, here is a book which should find many students. The translation from the Weimar edition is so ably done that only in rare cases the student is reminded that he is dealing with a version and not with the original. Both the translator and the publishers are to be congratulated on this intriguing and instructive book. JOHN THEODORE MUELLER
A Living Book
The Book of Life (eight volumes), by Newton M. Hall and Irving F. Wood. Rudin, Chicago. Twenty-third edition, 1954.
“In the ordinary printed Bible,” points out the introduction to this eight volume series, “the background is missing. The personality of the speaker, the country of the speaker, the hills of Galilee, the streets of Jerusalem, the great nations which imperilled the life of the Hebrew people ... these are missing.”
To remedy this lack, to bring the “Book of Life” to life for the average reader, this eight volume series reproduces over 900 pictures, including many of the world’s greatest religious art masterpieces; adds introductory and explanatory notes, including illustrated mention of archaeological evidence supporting the claims of Scripture; and brings in related hymns and poems. Volume three, for example, contains selections from the writings of Charles Lamb, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier and Lord Byron.
All of this extra-Biblical material is set off by itself and clearly identified, and the typographic arrangement is such as to give the Scriptures themselves the pre-eminent place.
The eight volumes cover Bible Treasures (including, in this volume, a “First Bible Reader”); Bible Heroes, Pioneers; Bible Kings, Captains; Bible Prophets, Statesmen; Bible Poetry; Life of the Master; Paul, Life and Letters; and Bible Educator (including a unique series of “Courses in Bible Reading”).
While the volumes are not intended to form an exhaustive commentary on every verse in the Bible, and while their place of greatest value is probably the Christian home, their rich background material would undoubtedly be an asset also to the Sunday School teacher who seeks to do for his class what this set seeks to do for its readers: to make the Book of Life itself glow with new vitality and meaning.
Attractively and uniformly bound, the Book of Life merits a place in both home and church library. LARRY WARD
The Story of Hymns and Tunes, by Brown and Butterworth. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, $3.95.
This book is an authentic and comprehensive work which will find ready acceptance with both ministers and laymen who wish to know more about the origin of hymns and gospel songs. In this compilation one may encounter not only brief stories of hymns and tunes, short biographical sketches of authors and composers, but also a great deal of information concerning church history and the lives of the saints who helped to make it.
Commencing with the song of Moses and Miriam, the trail leads through Greek, Hebrew and Latin hymns; the New Testament Magnificat; Gloria and Benedictions; Germanic, English and Welsh Hymnody; up to and including early and modern day American hymns and tunes.
It makes clear the distinction between philosophical poetry and that of the true hymnic character.
Chapter headings are somewhat different, in that they do not deal with the material either chronologically or geographically, but rather emphasize its type and usage. RUTH NININGER
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