Current Mood Of Our Century: Alienation
Modern Thinkers Series, edited by David H. Freeman (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1960, 8 paperbacks): Nietzsche, by H. Van Riessen (51 pp., $1.25); Sartre, by S. U. Zuidema (57 pp., $1.50); Kierkegaard, by S. U. Zuidema (50 pp., $1.25); Barth, by A. D. R. Polman (68 pp., $1.50); Bultmann, by Herman Ridderbos (46 pp., $1.25); Niebuhr, by G. Brilenburg Wurth (41 pp., $1.50); Dewey, by Gordon H. Clark (69 pp., $1.50); and Van Til, by Rousas J. Rushdoony (51 pp., $1.25), are reviewed by Robert D. Knudsen, Assistant Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Our century has been witness to a profound shift of mood. This shift is not very apparent in public life in America, but it has had a very deep influence on our world of letters, particularly in theology. Generally the newer mentality is spoken of as a departure from the optimistic idealism of the nineteenth century. It involves an unhinging of earlier antitheses, or at least the placing of them in new settings. There has been a change of moral values, and even of the evaluation of morality itself, as epitomized in Nietzsche’s “beyond good and evil.” In place of the feeling of being at home in one’s universe, there has come a sense of alienation from one’s world and from oneself. The innovators take a stance against the Enlightenment and the conceptions of human reason, will, and technical progress which they attribute to it. The shift of sentiment has of necessity involved a criticism, as in Oswald Spengler, of our humanistic Western culture, and of some of its most hallowed traditions. It may fairly be said that today the philosophy of existentialism most clearly expresses this change of mood and that it tries to answer the problems of our time on a level which it feels has yet been little explored.
How is the evangelical mind to assess this shift? This question is especially challenging because the newer mind has itself interpreted the shift as being unfriendly to orthodoxy. For instance, Paul Tillich, who shares this point of view, has associated evangelical thinking with the spirit of the Enlightenment, and in criticizing the latter has set the Reformation in what must seem to the orthodox Christian to be an altogether strange light.
Fortunately the orthodox Christian is not altogether without help in making this assessment. The above Modern Thinkers Series, for instance, in the volumes presently available and those yet in the planning stage, should offer considerable aid. Each of the contributions presently available deals either with a thinker who is symptomatic of this shift or who has wrestled with it.
Professor Van Riessen, of the Institute of Technology in Delft, Holland, vividly portrays the saga of a man, Friedrich Nietzsche, who tried to set himself uncompromisingly against God (“God is dead”) and the bourgeois culture which he thought was the product of the decadent influence of Christianity. Faced with the resulting nihilism, he proclaimed the supremacy of the will to power of the superman as the meaning of life, only to fall into meaninglessness again as his ultimate became the law of eternal recurrence. Nietzsche was a conscious opponent of Christ; nevertheless, he was forced to admit his admiration for him, and he framed a philosophy that has been said to be unthinkable apart from the influence of the man from Nazareth.
In this series the thinker who most closely approximates Nietzsche is Jean-Paul Sartre. Professor Zuidema, of the Free University of Amsterdam, finds in Sartre’s thought a radical freedom philosophy in which man elects himself as sovereign in place of God, and creates himself in negation of the world and of his own past. For this view of freedom, says Zuidema, Sartre must pay the price of isolation and nihilism, eventuating in a philosophy of frustration.
In the two preceding thinkers there is the fruit of a methodical elimination of God. The result is the radical encounter with nothingness or meaninglessness which is one of the hallmarks of existentialistic thinking. In the following treatise, Kierkegaard, Professor Zuidema portrays the so-called “father of existentialism” who sought to incorporate the encounter with nothingness into the experience of God.
Zuidema’s monograph is organized around the question of the relationship between Kierkegaard’s analysis of human existence and the absolute Paradox, God manifest in the flesh. He concludes that in Kierkegaard there is already a secularization of Christian concepts; human existence is understood apart from the revelation in Christ. There is in Kierkegaard himself a point of contact both for the existentialists who desire an existential analysis of man apart from the Incarnation and for the dialectical theologians who desire to elaborate on the revelation in Christ apart from any reference to human existence. Zuidema concludes that as Kierkegaard’s thought moves between these two poles he emerges with an untenable and contradictory synthesis of a distorted Christian faith.
It is, of course, Karl Barth who has increasingly sought to interpret Christianity in Kierkegaard’s spirit without any reference to an existential analysis of the human situation. Professor A. D. R. Polman of the theological seminary of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, Kampen, sets Barth’s Romans in an unusual light and then proceeds to expound and discuss his views on the Word, predestination, and creation, as presented in the Church Dogmatics. Polman sees in Romans a book whose teachings are not simply to be affirmed or denied but whose conscious exaggerations are intended to arouse a lethargic Christendom and to battle immanence theology. After a sympathetic and sometimes even irenic exposition of each of the doctrines under consideration, Polman proceeds to a confrontation of Barth’s views with the Word of God, as understood by orthodoxy. In each case, he discovers that Barth has approached the Word of God with a pre-established framework. Throughout, Polman has an eye for Barth’s actualism, which he discovers as Barth’s attempted answer to nihilism. He could, however, have made this theme more central both in his expositions and criticisms.
It is, on the other hand, Rudolf Bultmann who, of all New Testament scholars, seeks to understand the Christian message in terms of an existential analysis of man’s situation, after having relieved it of the supposedly mythical form in which it has been transmitted to us by the biblical writers. As Professor Ridderbos, Professor of New Testament at Kampen, sees it, the problem for Bultmann is whether a person who no longer thinks in mythological terms can find divine redemptive proclamation within the redemptive act, described in the New Testament as a mythical event, and within the person of Jesus, conceived of as a mythical divine person. In what is one of the clearest expositions of the entire series, Ridderbos presents a respectful analysis of Bultmann’s existential position; nevertheless, he concludes that Bultmann’s reconstruction of the New Testament message is a failure and is itself a greater unlikelihood than the supposed mythical world view he is intent on eliminating.
Another thinker who has busied himself with myth is Reinhold Niebuhr. Instead of relinquishing so-called “mythical” expression altogether, he developed what he earlier presented as a “mythical theology.” Professor Brilenburg Wurth, also of Kampen, traces Niebuhr’s development from his early break with liberalism to his mature theological expression, especially with regard to the redemptive work of Christ and the revelation of the kingdom of God. The monograph concludes with a general evaluation. Wurth finds that Niebuhr lacks a clear-cut biblical starting point, and misunderstands such doctrines as the creation; instead, he is influenced by existentialism, and thinks within the framework of the Kierkegaardian dialectic of time and eternity. In Wurth’s presentation there are lapses in detail; however, he is one of the few who in their evaluation of Niebuhr have subjected the basic dialectical structure of his thought to scrutiny.
The next volume, Dewey, by Professor Gordon H. Clark of Butler University, is of a different genre. It is, first of all, an original contribution to the series, the treatises mentioned heretofore having appeared in Dutch as chapters of a symposium, Thinkers of Our Time. Furthermore, it deals with pragmatism or instrumentalism, which is one of the main objects of attack by the existentialists. But as Clark passes Dewey’s philosophy under review and analyzes his views of science, values, and logic, he concludes that Dewey is also an irrationalist. Dewey eliminates eternal ideals and attempts to base values on a scientific experimental basis. Clark argues that science offers no basis for establishing ultimate values. Thus Dewey’s sense of values must depend upon nothing more than his own personal preferences. Not even the law of contradiction is safe when descending into the maelstrom of Dewey’s philosophy of flux. Clark’s presentation, on his Christian rationalistic presuppositions, is more technical as it gathers momentum; but everything except the last section is understandable for one who does not have a specialized philosophical training.
The last essay deals with one who has set the Christian world and life view sharply against both the older idealism and the newer pragmatic and existentialistic thought. In his essay, Van Til, Rousas J. Rushdoony, minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Santa Cruz, California, and editor of another series in the same International Library of Philosophy and Theology, presents us with a clever chapter, “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” taken from a larger work on the philosophy of Van Til. He has preceded this with an introduction in which he presents a more general approach to the background and the present crisis of Western thought. In contrast to classical Greek thought, modern man has made time central, but failing to see it on the background of God’s counsel and his covenant, it has fallen into irrationalism. With broad and sometimes bold strokes Rushdoony pictures contemporary philosophy as a flight from reality. He is correct that there is a crisis and that this crisis is connected with the inability to solve the problem of reality, to cope with the threat of nothingness; but his discussion throws especially the existentialistic philosophy into a perspective that is somewhat alien to me. He is aware that the existentialistic position demands the encounter with nothingness, if one is to come to himself or to God. He is, however, apparently little aware that for the existentialists nothingness and man’s alienation from himself and from his world are problems with which they start and which they try mightily to overcome. To my mind this is a forlorn and hopeless effort on their part, since they first of all give autonomous man full sway, and then and only then seek to reconstruct a new foundation of meaning beyond nihilism. As Rushdoony points out, the school of Christian philosophy developed by Abraham Kuyper points out a different way which challenges autonomous man at the outset and demands that philosophy be built upon the only true foundation, the message of the Scriptures.
Though brief and necessarily fragmentary in treatment, these treatises should nevertheless provide stimulating reading, especially for the Christian college student who is faced by the need to find his balance intellectually in a perennially difficult world. This is particularly so, since the authors to a man have a high view of the inspiration of the Scriptures and seek, with whatever nuance of approach their particular methods may entail, to found their thinking and their evaluations of contemporary trends firmly on the unfailing Word of God.
ROBERT D. KNUDSEN
From Mary To Titus
Great Personalities of the New Testament, by William Sanford LaSor (Revell, 1961, 192 pp., $3), is reviewed by F. F. Bruce, Faculty of Theology, University of Manchester, Manchester, England.
We give a hearty welcome to this companion volume to Dr. LaSor’s earlier work, Great Personalities of the Old Testament. The New Testament is not a whit behind the Old in biographical interest, and Dr. LaSor makes the principal characters of the New Testament live again before our eyes in these pages.
A preliminary chapter on “The Fullness of Time,” which sketches the historical and cultural setting of the New Testament narrative, is followed by a study of John the Baptist. Dr. LaSor is well acquainted with the new background which recent years have supplied for the ministry of John, but he reminds us of the important features which distinguish him from the ascetics of Qumran.
Three New Testament personalities are sufficiently important to receive two chapters each: one (of course) is our Lord (“Jesus the Son of Man” and “The Triumphant Christ”), the second is the leader of the Twelve (“Simon Bar-Jonah” and “Peter the Rock”), and the third is the Lord’s chief herald among the Gentiles (“Saul of Tarsus” and “Paul the Apostle”). Without the slightest modification of the historic Christian faith about the person of our Lord, Dr. LaSor brings out impressively the reality of His manhood. The chapter-heading “Peter the Rock” reminds us of the New English Bible rendering of Matthew 16:18; Dr. LaSor’s exposition of that text holds “that Jesus was designating Peter as the Rock on which He was beginning the building of His Church” (p. 73). With regard to Paul’s ministry it is good to note the espousal of the south Galatian interpretation: “travel in Galatia will convince all but the most stubborn” (p. 109, n. 2). Dr. LaSor is also undoubtedly right in his view that Paul spent the 10 years of obscurity before Barnabas brought him to Antioch “preaching in the province around his home town” (p. 123).
Other chapters deal with the Virgin Mary, Andrew, the family at Bethany, Stephen, Barnabas and Mark, Luke, Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy and Titus, Thomas, “John the Theologian” (apostle, evangelist, and seer). Each chapter is full of points of interest, frequently occasioning surprise and sometimes disagreement, but always provoking thought and fresh reference to the sacred text. It is a pleasure to commend this book unreservedly.
F. F. BRUCE
Edworth And Oxford
The Young Mr. Wesley, by V. H. H. Green (Arnold, 1961, 342 pp., 35s.), is reviewed by A. Skevington Wood, Minister, Southlands Methodist Church, York, England.
Of books on John Wesley there seem to be no end, and only an author with something genuinely new to disclose can justifiably claim attention. Dr. Green, Fellow and Senior Tutor of Wesley’s own college at Oxford (Lincoln), establishes this right and has, indeed, filled a considerable gap in our understanding of Wesley’s pre-conversion years. He has utilized not only the researches of Léger and Schmidt, which are unavailable in English, but also, and more significantly, Wesley’s unpublished Oxford diaries.
The result is a volume of exceptional interest to the historian, presented in a choice literary style which will appeal to general readers. The background of Wesley’s university career is greatly illuminated by Dr. Green’s specialist knowledge, and the home life of Epworth Rectory is depicted with unusual insight. We are not certain, however, whether Dr. Green fully appreciates what is involved in an evangelical conversion, and it is with evident reluctance that he concedes that this crisis did at least make “some difference to John Wesley (p. 287). His conclusion must rank as a classic understatement.
This failure to penetrate the secret of Wesley’s warmed heart leads Dr. Green almost to regret the concentration of his interests on the God-given mission of evangelism. Leisure and he had parted company, and he no longer possessed either the time or the inclination to pursue the social round in which he had formerly participated. Indeed, what we learn here concerning the pleasure-loving Wesley prior to 1738 points up rather than minimizes the change of direction effected by his conversion, although Dr. Green does not seem altogether to realize this fact.
He comes nearest to it when he speaks of Wesley’s dissatisfaction with his former way of life (p. 80). Yet he suspects such autobiographical confessions, particularly if made under the stress of emotional experience (p. 81), and “too abundant religious zeal, more especially in its extreme Evangelical forms” (p. 171), as likely to produce a lack of balance. It is this basic antipathy which prevents Dr. Green from doing full justice to the work of grace in Wesley.
A. S. WOOD
To Start A Sermon
Proclaiming the New Testament, a series of homiletical comments and ideas covering the New Testament and edited by Ralph G. Turnbull (Baker, 1961, first three vols.): The Gospel of Matthew, by Herschel H. Hobbs (135 pp., $2.50); The Gospel of Mark, by Ralph Earle, (119 pp., $2.50); and The Book of Acts, by Ralph G. Turnbull, (161 pp., $2.75), are reviewed by Charles W. Koller, President, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Each author follows the prescribed pattern for the series and discusses every passage under the following heads: I. Historical Setting, II. Expository Meaning, III. Doctrinal Value, IV. Practical Aim, and V. Homiletical Form.
For the biblical preaching and teaching which the present generation so greatly needs, these volumes offer real help in terms of sound interpretation and stimulating flashes of insight.
The volume on The Gospel of Matthew, by Dr. Hobbs, contains 28 studies, one on each chapter of this Gospel. It is intended to be “neither a commentary nor an exposition, nor a book of sermons, but an aid in sermon or devotional preparation, designed to save many precious hours of research.” To this purpose, the book is admirably adapted. The notes on the “Historical Setting” and the “Expository Meaning” should prove exceedingly helpful along with the doctrinal, practical, and homiletical values. Generally three or four verses are covered in each study. The homiletical hints are fresh and stimulating with occasional instances of slight straining to achieve parallelism in the homiletical phrasing of points.
The volume on The Gospel of Mark, by Dr. Earle, is pleasingly fresh and crisp in style, with no words wasted. It contains 35 studies, with one to four studies based on each chapter of this Gospel. From each selected passage the author takes a text and develops it in the light of its context, with careful attention to exegesis and historical setting. The result is, to a degree, both textual and expository, and provides a good starting point from which the reader may proceed to his own homiletical or devotional development of the passage. It would be an added convenience if the verses included in each study had been expressly indicated. These studies are not intended to be sermons but sermon starters. And since they are not sermons, the thesis, application, and illustrations are generally omitted. Each study is developed around three points, and these, with considerable ingenuity, are brought into alliterative parallelism. As is usual in such a structural pattern, there is, at times, a slight stretching of words to fit the pattern, though not enough to mar the value of the studies.
Dr. Turnbull’s studies in The Book of Acts cover all the 28 chapters. There are 29 studies in all, calculated to stimulate thought, at the same time supplying sound interpretation and helpful flashes of insight. They are more in the nature of expository analysis than sermon outlines; hence, there is generally no expressed thesis or proposition and no transition from the introduction to the body of the discussion. Illustrations are appropriately left for the individual to supply from his own experience, observation, and reading. The “Historical Setting” of each passage is carefully worked out, as is the “Expository Meaning,” with the aid of the Greek text. Persons and places are clearly identified, and relationship explained, along with the circumstances and the timing of events treated. There are many fresh touches, not elaborated but expressed in metaphor or apt phrasing such as will stimulate homiletical thinking.
CHARLES W. KOLLER
Response To Toynbee
The Intent of Toynbee’s History, edited by Edward T. Gargan (Loyola University Press, 1961, 224 pp., $5), is reviewed by C. Gregg Singer, Professor of History, Catawba College.
It was to be expected that a work of such broad sweep and ambitious hopes as Toynbee’s A Study of History would be subjected to searching criticism. But since the appearance of the first volume of this study, Professor Toynbee has been the object of a continuous storm of criticism seldom accorded to the most controversial of historians.
Some of these criticisms have their origin in the deep-seated antagonism of many historians to any attempt to study history as a whole rather than as national states and their political development. Still other historians objected to the details of the plan which Toynbee adopted, and to his use of analogy. They also rightly pointed out that in a work of such magnitude there were errors of factual detail. Another source of criticism lies in the fact that there have been major shifts in Toynbee’s own thinking since he began his work, and, as a result, there are fundamental cleavages between his earlier and later volumes.
This co-operative study of Toynbee reflects these various sources of opposition to his work. But underlying the critical approaches there is, on the part of all the contributors, a genuine appreciation for Toynbee’s tremendous scholarship and his imaginative use of historical data in a serious effort to find meaning in history. Perhaps the two most searching chapters in this work are those by Edward Rochie Hardy dealing with Toynbee’s conception of universal churches, and Eric Vogelein who gives a penetrating discussion of Toynbee’s Study as a search for historical truth. In these two chapters the basic deficiencies of his position are set forth, and all of his writings should be studied in the light of these penetrating analyses. Although Toynbee emphasizes the tremendous role which universal churches play in civilizations, he refuses to accord to Christianity and the Church their unique place in human history; he thus misses the key which makes available the only clues we have to the meaning of the historical process.
C. GREGG SINGER
Criticism In Chaos
The Bible and the Ancient Near East, edited by G. Ernest Wright (Doubleday, 1961, 409 pp., $7.50), is reviewed by Oswald T. Allis, formerly Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary.
This volume of “essays in honor of William Foxwell Albright” was presented to him on his 70th birthday after a lecture which he delivered at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. The presentation was made by the editor.
Most of the essays are by former pupils of Dr. Albright. They are the following: “Modern Study of O. T. Literature” (John Bright); “Biblical History in Transition” (G. E. Mendenhall); “The Hebrew Language in its Northwest Semitic Background” (W. J. Moran); “The Achaeology of Palestine” (G. E. Wright); “The Textual Criticism of the O. T.” (H. M. Orlinsky); “The Development of the Jewish Scripts” (F. M. Cross, Jr.); “The Chronology of Israel and the Ancient Near East” (D. N. Freedman and E. F. Campbell, Jr.); “South Arabian History and Archaeology” (G. W. Van Beek); “Sumerian Literature, a General Survey” (S. N. Kramer); “Formative Tendencies in Sumerian Religion” (T. Jacobsen); “Egypt: Its Language and Literature” (T. O. Lambdin); “Egyptian Culture and Religion” (J. A. Wilson); “Hittite and Anatolian Studies” (A. Goetze). The titles indicate the contents of the articles as biblical and archaeological in varying degrees. The names of the authors are a sufficient guarantee of the superior and expert quality of their contributions. As an appropriate conclusion the volume also contains an essay by Dr. Albright himself, titled “The Role of the Canaanites in the History of Civilization” (first published in 1942), and also a 27-page bibliography of his writings which indicates the amazing productivity of this indefatigable archaeologist.
The first two articles will be of especial interest to the readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. They may be said to set the stage for all that follows since they describe the present state of biblical criticism in the light of archaeology. The authors agree that Old Testament criticism is in a state of “flux” (pp. 13, 27) or even “chaos” (p. 33). We learn that one of the two pillars of Wellhausenism, the Development Hypothesis, has fallen (p. 14), that “Wellhausenism in its classical form has almost ceased to exist (pp. 18, 34), and that the Documentary Hypothesis which underlay it, while widely accepted and generally adopted, has been under severe attack, especially from the Upsala School, and has lost much of its importance. The position of the writers appears to be that progress may be expected along the lines of the Form Criticism, according to which the documents dealing with the pre-exilic period all represent the crystallization of oral traditions the original form of which is dependent on the findings of the archaeologists, among whom they assign Dr. Albright an almost unique eminence. Hence the importance of the essays which follow and form the bulk of this volume.
Like many others, this volume raises quite insistently the question of the relation between the Bible and the Ancient Near East. There are two very different answers. If, as we are told in the first two essays, biblical criticism is in a state of flux which might be called chaos, if the biblical sources for the early history of Israel are late and more or less unreliable, if it is true that “Perhaps the most important gap in the field of O. T. history is the lack of an adequate hypothesis to replace that of Wellhausen” (p. 38), then the Bible student will turn naturally and gladly to the archaeologist for light and leading and will accept his findings, even if they are uncertain, even if they contradict the statements of the Bible. But if he believes the Bible to be the Word of God, if he believes the Pentateuch to be Mosaic, if he believes that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, then, while welcoming all the new light which archaeology has thrown on the history of ancient times and rejoicing that it has slain his great enemy Wellhausenism, he will claim the right to test the present findings of both critics and archaeologists by the Scriptures to determine whether these findings are true. Enthusiasm over these findings, valuable as they undoubtedly are, should not blind us to this fact that it is as idle to try to discover the true history of Israel, that redemptive supernaturalism which is its very essence, by digging in the ruin-heaps of ancient civilizations, as it is for the medical student to seek to discover the soul of man in the dissecting room. The soul of Israel is not to be found within the mounds of ancient cities, but within the pages of that Book committed to Israel as “the oracles of God.”
OSWALD T. ALLIS
Preacher And Theologian
Preaching and Biblical Theology, by Edmund P. Clowney (Eerdmans, 1961, 122 pp., $2.50), is reviewed by William Childs Robinson, Professor of Historical Theology, Columbia Theological Seminary.
Jesus came preaching, the Christian kerygma is a preachable theology. It is a pleasure to welcome this evidence that the Westminster Professor of Homiletics is a theologian, even as we welcomed D. Ritschl’s Theology of Proclamation as evidence that Austin’s theologian was a preacher.
The author shows himself a thorough scholar, at home in current thought as in the Bible, a master of words and sounds, a practical and helpful teacher in his field of service. The first section lays the foundation in great principles the first of which is that God speaks as well as acts, that his written Word is norm as well as source for our preaching. Then in the later sections of the book he brings out the practical application using a deep understanding of biblical theology to give the background for preaching.
The pragmatic pastor or rushed professor of homiletics may get engrossed in this helpful work by first reading the treatment of David and Goliath, of Abraham offering Isaac, of the Good Samaritan, or of Mary’s Anointing of Jesus and then return to the foundations from which such rich ore is quarried.
Professor Clowney insists that Holy Scripture is consistent. We agree that it is consistent from God’s point of view and that we can find rich treasure by recognizing and seeking this consistency. From our viewpoint, some of His wisdom is inscrutable so that we often face paradox and mystery—where reason staggers but faith worships.
WILLIAM CHILDS ROBINSON
For Ethics, Three Pillars
Ethics and the Gospel, by T. W. Manson (Scribner’s, 1960, 109 pp., $2.75), is reviewed by George Eldon Ladd, Professor of Biblical Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary.
Manson finds the fundamental structure of New Testament ethics in a Jewish rabbi, Simeon the Righteous, who taught that the world is based on three things: the law, worship, and the “imparting of kindnesses.” The rabbis taught that proper observance of the law included an undivided loyalty to God and full respect for human personality; and the final governing motivation for all ethical action must be a desire to please God and to do the right for its own sake with no ulterior motive whatever.
These three pillars form the outline of the Sermon on the Mount: the New Law (chap. 5); the New Standard of Worship (chap. 6); and the New Standard of Corporate Solidarity (chap. 7). Jesus’ ethics did not transcend Jewish ethics in their emphasis upon inwardness or motivation but primarily at this point: the quintessence of Jewish ethics was that one should love his neighbor as he loves himself, while the differentia of Christian ethics is that we should love our neighbor as Christ has loved us (John 13:34; 15:12). This alone is completely unselfish love. The same three pillars appear in the life of the earliest Christian community in Acts 2:32—the apostles’ teaching (the law), the prayers (worship), and the fellowship and the breaking of bread (kindnesses).
In the final lecture, Manson makes an interesting use of the claim of form criticism that much of the Gospel material, especially the parables, has lost its original historical setting and has been placed in the setting of the life of the church instead of in the life of Jesus. Parables which historically in Jesus’ teachings were concerned with an imminent eschatological crisis have become parables of good advice for Christian conduct in the church. Manson finds in this process of transformation an important principle. The early Church was not satisfied to retain an accurate historical memory of Jesus’ teachings; rather it was concerned to apply these teachings to its own life and needs.
Manson considers the biblical ethic from beginning to end to be an ethic of the kingdom of God—the ethic of Christ’s reign in the world. The living and reigning Christ will help us through his spirit to understand and apply the will of God today. “The springs of relevation are not dried up. The living Christ is there to lead the way for all who are prepared to follow him” (p. 68).
GEORGE ELDON LADD
In The Pulpit, Peerless
The Making of a Minister, the Autobiography of Clarence E. Macartney, edited by J. Clyde Henry (Channel Press, 1961, 224 pp., $3), is reviewed by G. Hall Todd, Pastor, Arch Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.
Addressing a large company of ministers near the end of his distinguished career, Clarence E. Macartney declared that a minister can learn much as well as discover much that is useful homiletically in every autobiography. His dictum concerning autobiography in general is no less true of this moving document, replete with human interest and manifesting the wide sweep of the author’s reading as well as his interests, the vigor of his theological and moral convictions, and his singular powers of narration and depiction.
Broad is the scope of this life story which commences in ancestral Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Ohio frontier, and describes a boyhood spent on a western Pennsylvania college campus, a southern California college town, and a Colorado ranch. It is a story of education in public and private schools, a Methodist college, a state university, Princeton University and Theological Seminary, with many telling vignettes of his teachers; it is the account of a succession of pastorates, a student ministry in a Wisconsin village, a venerable church in the business section of Paterson, New Jersey, the classic splendor of Philadelphia’s Arch Street Presbyterian Church with a cultivated type of constituency and a long procession of students; the historic and cathedral-like church in downtown Pittsburgh, where he spent a quarter of a century.
Sections of this readable volume are devoted to the author’s role as polemicist and moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly during the stirring days of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy and the Princeton Seminary disruption, and also to his literary and historical activities, especially in the field of Civil War research, his far-ranging travels, and pilgrimages.
Here is his own life story by a man of great reserve yet profound human interest, a peerless pulpit orator, an intellectual who as historian and litterateur could have it commented concerning him as the late Dr. George Johnstone Jeffrey of Glasgow wrote of James Denney that he knew his Boswell quite as much as he knew his St. Paul, and a thrilling and cultured herald of the everlasting Gospel.
The book has been ably edited by Dr. Macartney’s longtime assistant, Dr. J. Clyde Henry who, in a masterful introduction, pens for the reader a delightfully sympathetic and appreciative portrait of a man who was known by most persons solely through pulpit and published utterances.
G. HALL TODD
The Faith of the Christian Church, by Gustaf Aulén, translated from the fifth Swedish edition by Eric H. Wahlstrom (Muhlenberg, 1960, 403 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Ralph A. Bohlmann, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary.
This second English edition of Bishop Aulén’s widely-used textbook in systematic theology has been thoroughly revised. Fourteen of the fifty-two chapters have been either completely rewritten or largely reworked. These include important chapters on the relation between Scriptures and tradition, the communion of saints, the Word of God, and the Lord’s Supper.
Aulén sees the task of theology as the analytical and critical elucidation of the content and meaning of the ecumenical Christian faith. The content of this faith is defined by the act of God in Christ and the message about this event. The necessary biblical validation of doctrine should not take place in a formal or legalistic manner, but rather by the standard of the Christ-event which is central in the biblical message. In Christ, the divine acts of victorious reconciliation and forgiveness have established man’s new God-relationship. God’s love continues today in the Spirit’s activity of creating the communion of saints and remains the basis for the life and hope of the Church.
This extensively-revised edition of Aulén’s significant work will continue to serve English readers as the best guide to understanding the techniques and emphases of Lundensian theology. Careful readers will appreciate the author’s Christocentricity, his keen analysis of the basic motifs of the Christian faith, and his deep sense of the oneness of the Church. But they will often miss the normative use of Holy Scripture which one expects from a Lutheran theologian.
RALPH A. BOHLMANN
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.