Depth Psychology

Theology of Culture, by Paul Tillich (Oxford University Press, 1959, 213 pp., $4), is reviewed by Edward John Carnell, Professor of Apologetics, Fuller Theological Seminary.

Tillich has synthesized German speculation and American pragmatism. Depth psychology, with its roots in the Viennese school, is the key to this synthesis. Freud recovered the symbolism of common grace by accepting people who were unacceptable. Grace communicates a sense of worth. “You cannot help people who are in psychosomatic distress by telling them what to do. You can help them only by giving them something—by accepting them.”

Within this pragmatic climate Tillich dilates the more speculative aspects of his system. Christology, for example, answers to man’s search for self-realization. “There is a power from beyond existence which for us is verifiable by participation. This gives quite a different type of Christology. Christ is the place where the New Reality is completely manifest because in him every moment, the anxiety of finitude and the existential conflicts are overcome. That is his divinity.” To separate the threads of Biblical truth from this skein of speculative error will require considerable patience and theological skill.

Philosophy’S Autonomy

Tillich evacuates Scripture of its dogmatic rights by contending that philosophy enjoys autonomy in “the description of the structures and categories of being itself and of the logos in which being becomes manifest. Any interference of theology with these tasks of philosophy and science is destructive for theology itself.” One could only wish that the matter were this easy. Tillich, it would seem, has made an unfortunate concession to worldly wisdom.

Relieved of dogmatic theology, Tillich seldom misses a chance to depress those elements in Scripture that fall outside his system. The account of the virgin birth, for example, is “a most obviously legendary story, unknown to Paul and to John. It is a late creation, trying to make understandable the full possession of the divine Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth.” This hypothesis may be fashionable in critical circles, but it is void of accuracy. Some enterprising reader ought to send Tillich a copy of J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ. If we neglect the historical elements in Christianity out of a zeal to defend the transcendent elements, we exhibit a very poor understanding of Christianity.

Culture’S Influence

When we ask Tillich why he builds his system on those parts of Scripture that he himself considers important, he replies in a somewhat disarming tone. First, he takes refuge in Protestant liberty. “There is no pope in Protestantism, and if the Bible speaks, it speaks to us. Not only is there no pope, there is no council of bishops, no presbyters, no voting of church members on these matters.” Second, he appeals to the way in which the church has conducted itself in previous cultures. Culture, he believes, dictates the church’s attitude toward the Gospel. “Easter is by far the most important festival of the Russian church. In the medieval church, it was the anxiety resulting from the social and spiritual chaos following the breakup of the Roman Empire which produced the transcendent-sacramental foundation of a hierarchical system to guide society and individuals. In the Reformation it was the anxiety of guilt and the message of justification which was decisive for every formula of all the Reformers. In modern Protestantism it has been the message of a religious cultural unity in view of a more personalistic—and in America, more social—conception of the Kingdom of God as a religious cultural unity.”

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Critical Attitude

For the benefit of readers who are nervously waiting to learn whether Tillich is propagating heresy, a consolatory announcement can be made with dispatch. By no stretch of Christian charity can Tillich’s theology be considered consistently Biblical.

When we place Tillich on the Index, however, have we really accomplished anything constructive? Hardly. Christ did not shed his blood, that we should spend our days as spiritual vultures, feeding on the carrion of other people’s shortcomings.

The fact remains, and no orthodox remonstrance can change a line of it, that cultured people will continue to read Tillich, and with no small profit, either. Tillich, for example, defines sin as estrangement—“estrangement from oneself, from the other man, from the ground out of which we come and to which we go.” At first blush this seems to contradict the confessional definition of sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” But it may turn out, on more careful inspection, that the two definitions are quite friendly. Estrangement is a want of fellowship, and a want of fellowship is sin. Love is the law of life.

Although Tillich prefers speculation to exegesis, he yet is one of the most stimulating thinkers of our day. He is energetically trying to make faith relevant. And that is more than can be said of many who boast possession of the divine oracles.

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Being Accepted

Tillich challenges culture on the analogy between the gift of God’s grace and the expressions of kindness in therapeutic psychology. God accepts people who are unacceptable. “This, of course, includes the reformation point of view, a view which has also been rediscovered by medicine, namely, you must feel that you have been accepted. Only then can one accept himself. It is never the other way around. That was the plight of Luther in his struggle against the distorted late Roman Church which wanted ‘that men make themselves first acceptable and then God would accept them.’ But it is always the other way around. First you must be accepted. Then you can accept yourself, and that means, you can be healed.” The church has been culpably tardy in applying Freudian insights to the biblical doctrines of original sin, common grace, and justification.

Since confessional Christianity tends to be anachronous in its thought forms, Tillich may seem more radical than he really is. In any event, Tillich is here to stay. Even if a critic rejects everything Tillich says—an almost impossible situation—Tillich will nonetheless force the critic to do some very serious searching of soul. And who knows what may come of this? For if the critic were to show a little more concern for Tillich’s truth, Tillich might show a little more concern for Tillich’s error.


Witness To Others

The Gospel in Dispute, The Relation of Christian Faith to Other Missionary Religions, by Edmund Perry (Doubleday, 1958, 230 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by Paul R. Pulliam, Minister of Christian Education, Gray-stone United Presbyterian Church, Indiana, Pennsylvania.

If all the authors writing these days were to handle their material the way Edmund Perry does, fewer books would have to be read. One of the refreshing things about The Gospel in Dispute is that while a mass of information is treated, broad problems and their solutions are never overlooked. Furthermore, it is a book which can be read with great profit whether the reader agrees with Dr. Perry’s theological bias or not.

Quite rightly Dr. Perry begins his book by justifying the need for it. Why raise the question of missions? Perry states: “As much as we may reluct to admit it, the Church in the West is environed and defied by a culture as hostile to Christian faith as any in the world … multitudes … refuse to consider the Christian faith as still in any sense a living option” (p. 4). He further asserts that the Church, in a time of crucial missionary opportunities, is being sapped by inward confusion as to her nature and purpose. Finally, Christianity can no longer rest at ease as the single missionary effort in a pagan-darkened world; she is in competition with indomitable faiths which are unwilling to “take” the blows of Christian missions but are ready to “deal” a few themselves.

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Chapters two and three comprise a perceptive summary of modern biblical theological studies on the message of the Bible. That message maintains that the people of God have in all times and places been called upon to abandon the haunts of their own “native” faith and repudiate those of other peoples; but this has been to the purpose of discovering themselves so related to other peoples that they are not authentically the people of God unless they are first and foremost missionaries! These chapters will make helpful reading for any who will be following the discussion proposed for the forthcoming Brazil meeting of The World Presbyterian Alliance under the theme, “The Servant Lord and His Servant People.” Dr. Perry’s digression into biblical theology has sharp relevance to his conclusion that the nature of our biblical faith will define our motive and method for approaching other religions.

To this method of approach chapter four is devoted, and it forms the most significant contribution of the book. Dr. Perry’s stress is that before we can effectively witness to a non-Christian religion we must understand what makes the non-Christian tick. Until we have vitally entered into an understanding of another religion so that it has had opportunity to lay claim to our own lives, just as it has claimed the lives of its sincere devotees, we cannot honestly witness to it. “We must allow ourselves to be tempted, really tempted, by the claims of their faith.”

Two questions at once arise in this regard. First, how can a Christian seriously consider another religion as an alternative to the Gospel without compromising his faith? Dr. Perry answers that no one can study a religion scientifically who has not already settled the question of ultimate truth to his own soul’s satisfaction. For that reason, the Christian, above all persons, is capable of seriously and sympathetically studying other religions (pp. 83–87). Dr. Perry’s brief analysis of the scientific method in these pages cannot be lightly brushed aside. He reaffirms what Alan Richardson (in his book, Christian Apologetics) and others have suggested that knowledge of immediate and present facts is attained by means of different categories than knowledge of ultimate pattern and purpose. The former comes through the category of the scientific method, and the latter through the category of revelation. “Therefore, the man of Gospel faith for whom, by virtue of his faith commitment, the concern for ultimate meaning and purpose is a settled matter, is the best possible prospect for accomplishing an impartial scientific investigation of religions” (p. 86).

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Secondly, assuming then that a Christian can take another “faith-stance” without compromise, how is it possible for a Western Christian to bridge the great chasm that separates him epistemologically, psychologically, and culturally from Eastern religions? Perry believes it can be done. We need to realize that while our culture gives priority to logical concepts, other cultures give greater credence to psychical experience and concrete relationships. Strange as these approaches sound, they are nonetheless present (though suppressed) in our own culture. We need to rediscover the artistic and mystical outlooks that exist in our own culture and to cultivate these until we can “stand beside the man of that other culture and very nearly share his point of view and his way of viewing.”

Some readers will quarrel with Dr. Perry’s theology. He enthusiastically embraces critical views of Scripture. His acquaintance with existential thought has colored his views of revelation and salvation. Still it is refreshing to hear his ringing affirmations on the absolute uniqueness and necessity of the Gospel. The basic assumption of the book is that “there can be no reconciliation of the Gospel with other centers of faith except as those other centers abdicate and acknowledge the sovereignty of God in Christ” (p. 220). With this conviction as the foundation of his book, and the Gospel as his point of orientation, Dr. Perry has moved into the realm of methodology with his own contributions. Evangelicals will do well to ponder and discuss his conclusions.


Theological Reflections

The Riddle of Life, by J. H. Bavinck (Eerdmans, 1958, 128 pp., $2), is reviewed by Wick Broomall, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia.

This small volume, translated from the Dutch edition into English by J. J. Lamberts, Assistant Professor of English, Northwestern University, is replete with philosophical and theological reflections on the great mysteries of human existence. For fear that such a description will intimidate the timid reader, let me hurriedly add that this book will invigorate the reader’s mind with its scintillating insights on basic problems of human life.

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Understandably, a work that is designed for popular reading will not use the language of the pundit. Nevertheless, though it is simply written, this volume considers and solves some of the great issues that face the soul of man in his transit through time to eternity.

The Bible is rarely mentioned to substantiate a position presented and defended; yet, in spite of this, one feels instinctively that the author is leading him along biblical lines.

The evangelical reader will take few exceptions to the conclusions arrived at in this little volume. There is, however, one instance where the author speaks of “a long course of evolution [that] stretches before us,” a statement which seems to imply a belief in evolution. In view of the agitated state of the Christian mind today on that subject, it is regrettable that Dr. Bavinck did not unequivocally repudiate such a theory.

This book illustrates the fact that a scholar can still write in understandable language. Perhaps a good part of the credit here must go to the translator himself, for the reader would hardly be aware of the fact that he is reading a book originally written in Dutch.


Influence Of Missions

Wai-wai. Through the Forests South of the Amazon, by Nicholas Guppy (John Murray, 375 pp., 28s.), is reviewed by Frank Houghton, Bishop, St. Marks, Warwicks.

Nicholas Guppy studied botany and tropical forestry at both Oxford and Cambridge. He spent four years in British Guiana, and led expeditions into the largely unexplored territory on the boundary of Guiana and Brazil. He acknowledges his indebtedness to the New York Botanical Garden which was the point of departure for at least two of his expeditions. From this fascinating story one gets the impression that Mr. Guppy is a first-rate botanist whose discoveries have added not a little to the sum of human knowledge. One admires the spirit with which he faces incredible dangers and privations for the sake of science. He is an anthropologist as well as a botanist, investigating the conditions under which many small forest tribes are rapidly becoming extinct, and obviously enjoying the company of Wai-Wai, Wapisianas, Mawayans and others too numerous to mention. This reviewer read the book with growing interest and increasing respect for its author. But it is entitled to a review in CHRISTIANITY TODAY because Mr. Guppy met a group of Christian missionaries and makes illuminating, not to say caustic, comments upon them and their work. He regards them, on the whole, as “the most destructive of all those who form the vanguard of civilization.” He sees their coming as the end of artistic productivity among the tribes. If they become Christians, we are told, “the joy goes out of their existence.” The breakdown of tribal laws “often liberates the natives from moral restraint,” and they accept the standards of behavior of many who profess to be Christians. He appears to have no belief in a God who has revealed himself in the Scriptures—“the only reality we can ever know is a model in our minds constructed on the model of our minds.” Of course, if there is no God to whom sin is abhorrent, who has found a way whereby sinners everywhere may be forgiven and find abundant life in him, then the whole enterprise of missions is unnecessary. As one gradually discovers Mr. Guppy’s general attitude to the God of the Scriptures, one wonders if he may not have misunderstood those missionaries of whom he asked the question: “Do you respect these Indians as people?” Thus challenged, they replied (according to Mr. Guppy): “That is completely beside the point. We love them—we love them in Christ. Our object is to save souls. Nothing else matters.” Well, there have been missionaries in other lands than British Guiana who have failed to respect people as people. But surely such failure is uncommon today. One would like to assure Mr. Guppy that our Master loved people as people, and not merely as “souls,” and that we misrepresent him unless we do so too.

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Fading Convictions

The Colgate Story, by Shields T. Hardin (Vantage Press, New York, 1959, 244 pp., $3.75), is reviewed by Frank Farrell, Editorial Associate of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

The story of five generations of one of America’s great families is an interesting one which survives the undistinguished style of this account.

William Colgate (1783–1857), founder of the Colgate Soap Company, was a devout Baptist layman who took a benevolent interest in missions, Bible translation work, and Christian education. He and his progeny gave millions of dollars to Colgate University which was originally a training school for ministers—as were many of America’s great universities. Mr. Colgate’s pastor characterized him as a believer in the “divine authority of the Bible.” Another said, “A pure Bible was as dear to him as his life, and few men have done more to give it to the world.”

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Samuel Colgate (son of William) and his family after him were most generous in their support of the YMCA—the result of a suggestion by Evangelist Dwight L. Moody.

The Colgate Story embodies an unstated lesson. Historian Robert Moats Miller has declared “the tragedy of religion” to be this: “Institutionalized it becomes corrupt; without the churches it dies.” There are so many cases of consecrated men giving large sums to worthy institutions which then live to dissolve the convictions of their founders. Perhaps the tragedy is mitigated somewhat by the accruing deterrent to the worship of institutions and the realization that these, as well as men, are worthy only so long as they derive their life from Jesus Christ.


Ritual And Doctrine

The First Evangelical Bishop, by G. C. B. Davies (The Tyndale Press, 1958, 19 pp., 1s.6d), is reviewed by Talbot G. Mohan, Secretary of Church Pastoral Aid Society, London.

This excellent monograph of 19 pages is the substance of a lecture delivered by the author in Cambridge at a meeting of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research. The appointment of Henry Ryder to the Bishopric of Gloucester was resented by the whole church and illustrates the contemporary attitude towards evangelicals. Any one who attempts to analyze the opposition today must bear in mind that what caused this resentment was the faithful proclamation of the whole counsel of God.

Today there is a much more tolerant attitude toward evangelicals (and in any case the foresight of Charles Simeon and others in securing and establishing patronage has prevented their exclusion from spheres of influence in the parishes). But there are, however, limits even today to this toleration, and those limits are measured by the distance a man is prepared to go with the ritualistic movement of the times. It may be said without fear of contradiction that a clergyman who was not prepared to depart from the rubrical direction of the Book of Common Prayer to stand at the north side of the Table for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, would be considered an unsuitable person to be a diocesan bishop, notwithstanding that he has on more than one occasion in his ministry given a solemn and public undertaking to do so.

Ritual and theology are conveniently believed today to have no relationship to one another, but it was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification by faith which inspired the Reformation bishops (were they not the first evangelical bishops?) in the altered ritual of our Prayer Book. Henry Ryder, the subject of this booklet, expatiated on this doctrine in his Visitation Charge of 1828 taking for his definition the Anglican Articles and Homilies. To him the setting forth of the doctrines of grace was the primary purpose of his ministry. “Believe me,” he wrote, “any little good I may have done at Lutterworth, Claybrook, or elsewhere, has been entirely owing, under God, to my preaching in public and in private the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel.… And the most moral, respectable, and truly valuable parishioners I have ever had have been those who have embraced most cordially and fully the views of our own thorough sinfulness and helplessness, and of our unqualified need of the atonement of Christ, and the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit—the views which I, and more especially those connected with me, have endeavoured to inculcate. The Articles, the Liturgy, Ordination Services, all seem to me to breathe the same spirit and require the same conduct.”

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Fundamentally it is this doctrine which is the cause of the cleavage between evangelicals and those who do not claim this description in this or in any age.


Christology For Pastors

The Trinity, by E. H. Bickersteth (Kregel, Grand Rapids, 182 pp., $2.50), is reviewed by the Rev. Eric Edwin Paulson, Minister of the Lutheran Free Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This book should be required reading for all theological students, and would well serve as a refresher course in Christology for pastors. It furnishes conclusive refutation of Unitarianism, the garbled conclusions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the vacuous verbiage of Christian Science, and the teachings of other cults which reduce Jesus Christ to the status of a created being.

The following paragraph illustrates the author’s originality of expression, clarity of style, and unanswerable logic: “The very texts which most strongly declare the humanity of Jesus are sufficient to refute those who would deny his deity. How could a mere man, without absured presumption, solemnly announce that God the Father was greater than he? How could he be made flesh? How could it be proof of his humility that he was made in the likeness of man?”

A complete index of Scripture references is provided which enhances the value of this book.


Ireland Revival

God’s River in Spate, by John T. Carson (Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Belfast, 1958, 138 pp., 9/6), is reviewed by S. W. Murray of Belfast, Ireland.

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The Revival of 1859 in Ireland had a profound influence on the life of the Northern counties in general and the churches of those areas in particular. The account of the revival now published in the centenary year is a record of the origin and progress of the working of the Spirit of God, compiled for the most part from contemporary sources.

The beginnings of the revival are traced in the country around Ballymena, Co. Antrim from which the work spread into Ballymena and then further afield. Mr. Carson follows the progress of the revival from district to district with well-documented accounts of the effects on communities and churches. He tells, for example, how the new town hall at the port of Coleraine was used first as a place of inquiry by anxious souls following a number of large open-air meetings in the vicinity.

Among the results instanced in the volume are the accession of new members to the churches, social purity and sobriety (a better standard of living following in the families affected), greater sense of responsibility by the ordinary church member, marked increase in the numbers of candidates for the Christian ministry, a new spirit of Christian liberality and a forward movement in philanthropic and missionary enterprise. The use of lay preachers in assisting inquirers, too many for the ministers to handle, had much to do with the tradition of evangelism for which the North of Ireland is noted. The charges against the movement by various detractors are examined, including the physical prostrations which attracted much attention.

The year before the revival, note was taken of the American Revival of 1858, described by one religious editor in these words: “A revival is now passing over the churches in America such as has not been known since Apostolic times.”

A bibliography and an index increase the usefulness of this volume which warms the heart as well as informs the mind.


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