The Question Remains
Whither Africa?, by G. McLeod Bryan (John Knox Press, 1961, 157 pp., $3), is reviewed by Francis Rue Steele, Home Secretary, North Africa Mission.
Sometimes a rapid ferment produces positive results; sometimes, explosion and destruction. The question is, “whither, Africa?” And it is this question to which Mr. McLeod addresses himself. During three extensive trips to Africa between 1954–61 he met and interviewed leaders in many fields and many countries. His book, packed with statistics, facts and quotes, attests to that. But a liberal theological bias and a tendency to compare the worst of the West with the best of Africa sometimes colors his analysis and warps his conclusions.
As a scheme for viewing the situation today Bryan has selected what he considers to be the seven main ideologies competing with each other in Africa. They are (in order of treatment): tribalism, Islam, Christianity, nationalism, racism, communism and educationalism. Space does not permit us here to comment fully on each one. A few notes must suffice.
Beginning with Africa’s cultural roots, tribalism is presented as having been ignored and defamed by Westerners in the past so that its true value is only just being recognized. There is much truth in this. But to suggest that “the missionary must … help reclaim and restore the good in the old (African animism) and blend it with the best in the new (Biblical Christianity)” surely overstates the case.
Islam is revealed in a role beyond the understanding of most outsiders. Bryan bluntly states, “the greatest surprise for the visitor who covers all Africa is the activity and extensiveness of Islam” and adds, “Islam is the religion of Africa” (p. 31). Moreover he proves it with facts. Not only North Africa, historically Muslim, but East, West, Central and South Africa as well contain large and rapidly growing Muslim communities. But then Bryan presents what even he terms “a highly debatable thesis” that “Islam constitutes an intermediate position between Africa’s tribal religion and the refinement (his provocative word) of Christianity.” He adds below, “Conversion is progressive, and getting the African to become a Moslem is one step on the way” (p. 39). Then he cites objections to this view. In point of fact, the thesis is fantastic and utterly absurd. It is unfortunate that Bryan entertained it at all.
In the chapter on Christianity Bryan is at his weakest since he tends to identify all missionaries with their worst examples and gives too much weight to African criticism. Against a score of negative criticisms many admittedly “scurrilous” (p. 59), there is hardly a single unqualified positive statement. Rather, he commends among men of “true missionary zeal” Dr. Albert Schweitzer (p. 56) who recently accepted membership in a Unitarian organization! Mr. Bryan’s true colors show most clearly in his statement (p. 52) “the tragedy is that, just at the moment Christianity is awakening to the total cultural challenge of new Africa, more and more mission stations are being … manned by sectarians,” that is, “the soul-saving variety rather than the culture-appreciating.” There is no need for such an alternative but certainly theology takes priority over anthropology.
Regarding nationalism Bryan cites many witnesses to the effect that “Christianity planted the seed of independence” (p. 84). His concern is that, by and large, the Church has remained aloof from politics and thereby lost favor with nationalist leaders. He believes the future hope of African nationalism is the influence and, in part at least, control of the Christian gospel (p. 93).
Racism as defined by Bryan is the European attitude toward Africans. This has been a long-standing and justifiable complaint. Where non-Christians are at fault it is too bad but where Christians err it is tragic. Presently, there is a reverse-racism in Africa which Bryan appears to have overlooked.
That communism is an increasing threat everyone realizes. Bryan feels that most Africans, even leaders, are naïve concerning communism and inclined to follow a line of expediency which can only lead to a rude awakening, disillusionment and possibly disaster. He hopes that Islam and Christianity will support nationalism in resisting communism.
Educationalism in Africa is, according to Bryan, new, secular and unbalanced (p. 153). He argues for giving adequate place to theological training in order to restore balance and ensure stability. But this must be evangelical Christianity or there will be little benefit. Liberal theology largely lacking authority cannot transmit what it does not possess.
Whether or not we agree with all he says, Bryan deserves a careful study. His own findings together with numerous citations from current books provide much thought-provoking material on a pressing question, “Whither Africa?”
FRANCIS RUE STEELE
The Irreversible Decision 1939–1950, by Robert C. Batchelder (Houghton Mifflin, 1962, 306 pp., $5), is reviewed by A. P. Cagle, Department of Political Science, Baylor University.
This thought-provoking book should be read by every literate American. Indeed, the peace of the world could very well be promoted if the pages of this book were pondered by every adult around the globe. The book is well-documented; the author shows no passion or prejudice. Besides being provocative in the field of ethics, the volume rates high as history of the area covered.
First, a review is given of the decision of scientists to make an atom bomb. Many of these people had been driven out of Europe by Hitler and his kind. The decision to make the bomb was born of fear that the Germans were about to make and would use such an instrument of destruction against us. Secondly, the decision is revealed to use the bomb against Japan in order to hasten the end of the war. The actual dropping of the bomb on the Japanese cities is described. Finally the ethical considerations of the bomb’s use are weighed, description being given of how various individuals and groups sought to justify the killing of over 100,000 men, women, and children.
The author agrees that the use of the bomb perhaps hastened the end of the war in Asia. But even if one agrees with the decision to use the bomb when viewed from the standpoint of immediate considerations, one is made to wonder what the future will bring because of its use. Will it mean the loss of respect for America around the globe as a great humanitarian nation? Will the future ultimately support the view of the “frightened men,” the scientists, who see the possible destruction of civilization itself if an all-out war is decided upon by ruthless men, or even if triggered by accident?
The world is indeed awaiting the answers to several of the questions raised as to the right or wrong of this August, 1945, bombing. One wonders if the horrors of atomic warfare will cause men to find a way to peace—worldwide permanent peace. At least will regional conflicts, such as in Korea, be the order of the day and in such will nations refrain from the destructive bombs? Where will the present arms race lead us? In any event, Dr. Batchelder’s plea for a new ethic that will provide relative restraints upon both the ends and means of warfare had better not go unheeded.
A. P. CAGLE
Sermons From Scotland
Free Presbyterian Pulpit (The Free Presbyterian Publications Committee, 1961, 86 pp., 6s 6d), is reviewed by Kenneth D. MacDonald, Assistant Lecturer in Celtic, University of Glasgow, Scotland.
This volume of seven sermons from bygone ministers of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, with brief biographical notices of the preachers, reflects the history and character of the small, mainly Highland, denomination which originated in a secession from the fifty-year-old Free Church of Scotland in 1893.
That the break with the Free Church took place in defence of an undiluted Westminster Confession of Faith is sufficient indication of the doctrinal standpoint of these forthright, unadorned expositions of the Word.
KENNETH D. MACDONALD
Sacraments: A Language of Faith, by Kendig Brubaker Cully (The Christian Education Press, 1961, 83 pp., $2), is reviewed by Robert Paul Roth, Professor of Systematic Theology and Dean of the Graduate School, Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This book is so small and so simple in its style that it is almost deceptive in tempting a cursory reader to brush it aside. With artistic simplicity and scholarly restraint Dr. Cully, professor of religious education at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, has produced a book which should prove valuable for both laymen and pastors.
The author first describes the historical origins of the sacraments as they developed in the experience of the worshipping community. Throughout Christian history different uses and meanings developed. Most of the book is concerned with baptism and the Eucharist, but one enlightening chapter describes the five rites which some branches of Christendom hold to be also valid sacraments. The amazing virtue in this book is its utter fairness to all positions and the absence of any special pleading of a partisan nature. This is not done with clinical objectivity since one can never understand the sacraments as a mere spectator. The sacraments are presented as the language of faith. They are more than symbols. They communicate to us a saving grace as a sign which proclaims the Lord’s death till he comes.
Reading for Perspective
CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S REVIEW EDITORS CALL ATTENTION TO THESE NEW TITLES:
★ Pentecost and Missions, by Harry R. Boer (Eerdmans, $5). A theology of missions built on the New Testament teaching that the Church was created at Pentecost to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ by its very existence and action.
★ Science and Religion, edited by John Clover Monsma (Putnam’s, $3.95). Twenty-three prominent churchmen, several of them contributing editors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, write on a relationship vital for our day.
★ Christ and the Meaning of Life, by Helmut Thielicke (Harper, 1962, 186 pp., $3). Here is vivid preaching on a variety of themes highly relevant to our times by the gifted Hamburg university professor and author.
In conclusion the author offers some practical uses of sacraments both to the Church as the corporate community and to the individual as a member of this body. The personal nature of our faith is demonstrated by the fact that although we stand now divided in Christendom, it is through our common baptism and our common celebration of the presence of Christ that we shall be united.
ROBERT PAUL ROTH
For Marital Disorders
The Healing of Marriage: A Practical Handbook of Marriage Counseling, by William L. Carrington,
M. D. (Channel Press, 1961, 255 pp. $3.50), is reviewed by Glenn W. Samuelson, Associate Professor of Psychology, Eastern Baptist College, St. Davids, Pennsylvania.
The theme of this book is succinctly stated in the author’s introduction. “Sick and broken marriages like sick and broken persons can be healed.”
Dr. Carrington, a former president of the National Marriage Guidance Council in Australia, has developed this fascinating book to show how marriages can be healed through proper counseling. Chapter II is especially stimulating and revealing. It deals with the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and environmental factors of marital disorders.
For people with little or no training or experience in marital counseling, this volume will be most helpful. Ministers, doctors, lawyers and social workers will find it refreshing and a valuable reference source. Colleges and seminaries will discover it to be worthwhile as a companion text in counseling courses.
GLENN W. SAMUELSON
Sacrament, Sacrifice & Eucharist, by A. M. Stibbs (Tyndale Press, 1961, 93 pp., 5s); Reservation, by J. A. Motyer (Church Book Room, 1960, 23 pp., Is); and The Thirty-Nine Articles Revised, by C. B. Moss (Mowbray, 1961, 37 pp., 2s 6d), are reviewed by John Goss, Proctor in Convocation and Vicar of St. Peter’s, Hereford, England.
With an optimism that may be three-parts wishful thinking, the Lambeth Committee on “Progress in the Anglican Communion” declared their belief that “controversies about the Eucharistic Sacrifice can be laid aside.” The three years which have elapsed since that bold declaration have produced nothing to confirm it. Rather has the theological world become aware that this “storm centre of controversy” is likely to remind us of its presence so long as the protagonists of an unscriptural sacramentalism insist on trying to gear liturgical revision in general, and the Communion Canon in particular, to their own interpretation of “sacrifice.”
New writers, and notably Joachim Jeremias, are questioning their presumption and probing their hypotheses, and, with these fuller treatments of the subject, it is good to have a convenient representation of the cardinal facts of Scripture and the principles of the Reformers from the pen of so solid and methodical a scholar as Alan Stibbs, viceprincipal of Oak Hill Theological College. His contribution has been criticized in some quarters as a light treatment of a deep subject, and a rehash of the old polemics, but none can deny that in outlining again the irrefutable arguments against medievalist errors, and confronting every assertion with the plain question “Is this what Scripture teaches?” Stibbs has done a real service to serious enquirers. Where the claim for a sacrifice in the Lord’s Supper in relation to the elements is concerned, he asks, “Can the words ‘Do This’ mean ‘Offer this’?” and shows in detail why the answer must be “No.” In his chapter on Scriptural Administration Stibbs quotes with approval Stephen Neill’s assessment of the intention of Cranmer’s Canon with its central principle of consecration and communion as a single act. “Simple loyalty to this principle” says Stibbs, “makes both Reservation and Godward offering of the consecrated elements alike impossible.”
This question of Reservation is the point at which the “storm-centre” is most likely to burst upon the Church. It has long been realized that the Anglo-Catholics are determined that this practice shall be legalized, and Archbishop Fisher declared more than once that there must be a Canon about it. Any official attempt to restrict the practice to the purpose of communicating the sick is doomed to failure. That has never been anything but a cloke. The real purpose was, and remains, adoration of the reserved elements, and that fact brings us to the logical climax of the “sacrifice” theory in all its crudity’. A few years ago, R. J. Coates did a great service to the defenders of scriptural truth by his “Latimer Day” lecture on Reservation, delivered at the request of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churchmen. As an effective summary of the teaching of Scripture and the Church of England on this matter, it is quite masterly, and both Mr. Motyer and Dr. Packer, themselves scholars of standing, lean heavily upon it in their papers on the same subject.
These papers were delivered at an Annual Meeting of Church Society, a body of clergy and laity of Evangelical and Protestant conviction in the Church of England. The occasion of their delivery has inevitably restricted their scope. Deeper delving into the theological issues would have been acceptable to many, but we are grateful for their bold treatment of the controversy and their insistence that “the very idea of reserving a sacrament is theological non-sense, serving only to obscure the true notion of a sacrament and to foster the false impression that sacraments are essentially material things charged with supernatural potency, and that therefore, adoring the elements is just as valid sacramental worship as receiving them.” There is a revival today of the old Tractarian argument that Article 28 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion does not mean what anyone reading with an unbiased mind would take it to mean when it declares that “The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved.” The feeble attempt is made to draw the sting of this clear statement by holding that it merely remarks that Christ did not order Reservation. This is childish in the extreme, but since the plea is still being made, Mr. Motyer has done well to exhibit once again its ridiculous nature and the fact that this very Article, to say nothing of the whole character of the Communion service, utterly refutes it.
It is not surprising, in view of all this, that demands are being made for the abolition, or drastic revision, of the Thirty-Nine Articles, which must still be assented to on ordination or preferment in the Church of England. Dr. C. B. Moss, a moderate Anglo-Catholic, has now produced a revision which, he claims, removes the “obscurity and ambiguity” of the Articles. It is at once noticeable that the “obscurities and ambiguities” are invariably statements which emphasize the Protestant character of the Church of England. Thus, we are not surprised to find that the proposed replacement for the Article (28) to which we have already referred omits the final paragraph repudiating Reservation. On the other hand, we are given a eulogy on the ‘Five Sacraments’ of Confirmation, Absolution, Ordination, Matrimony, and Unction, and Article 17 “Of Predestination and Election” is omitted altogether.
The Article (19) on The Church has been rewritten because “a congregation of faithful men” is insufficient to describe that unique Society, and the preaching of the Word and administering of the Sacraments are “not necessarily tokens of the presence of the Church.” Such an idea, says Dr. Moss, “has split Christendom into innumerable fragments.” We are not surprised that all reference to and quotation from the Books of Homilies is discarded as “unsuited to this age.” Their solid Protestant and Evangelical principles would doubtless be too indigestible for those who delight in the sweetmeats of medievalist sacramentalism with their garnishings of ornate ritual and ceremonial. Let us, however, be careful to give credit where it is due and commend Dr. Moss for his forthright rejection of the papal claims and his emphasis on the sufficiency of Holy Scripture for salvation.
Evangelical churchmen must be ready to defend the Articles as a bastion of the Reformation and a sally-port for the reclaiming of the large territory now overrun by strange doctrine, but which must at length submit to the overwhelming force of scriptural truth. In this they have an unexpected ally in the person of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ramsey, who feels, with many others, that we cannot and should not, separate ourselves from our historical past. In contrast to many in these days, he would seem to hold fast to the confessional position of the Church of England as an essential part of her character, and to the Articles as effectively revealing that position. “Must not the Articles still have some role, authoritative within certain limits, just because we have not yet jumped out of our historical skin?” What those limits might be, and how far the authority of the Articles can be controlled or balanced by recent liturgical development with its uncertain genesis and unproven assumptions, are points on which the Archbishop and Evangelical churchmen may well find themselves at variance. Nonetheless, it is good to know that we have a Primate of All England who is prepared to discuss such matters and to respect opinions opposed to his own, provided they have their roots in sound theology.
Years Too Late
Theology of Seventh-day Adventism, by Herbert S. Bird (Eerdmans, 1961, 132 pp., $3), is reviewed by Walter R. Martin, Director, Christian Research Institute.
Apart from being somewhat overpriced, ($3 for less than 135 pages of text), Mr. Bird’s book is a sincere man’s effort to offer a critique of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Bird is at his best where he criticizes exegetically Sabbatarianism, the Spirit of Prophecy, Conditional Immortality, Annihilationism and the Investigative Judgment.
Unfortunately as his bibliography reveals, he did not do too much research in contemporary SDA literature or he would have discerned that the Adventists expunged over 15 years ago as unrepresentative his prime examples of their alleged Christological aberrations (pp. 64–93).
It is also worth noting that he seizes upon the infamous Wilcox statement (p. 69) concerning Christ, written in the 1920s and since categorically repudiated in print by Wilcox himself. This fact Mr. Bird would have discounted if he had checked his sources. But he relied here upon E. B. Jones and Louis Talbot, both secondary sources, and in this area still unmoved by the fact of Wilcox’s retraction and apology.
The author draws upon such writers as Canright, Talbot and Van Baalen, apparently oblivious to the prejudices and inaccuracies all too apparent in their writings. Mr. Bird singularly omits analysis of Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse’s writings on the SDA question and ignores completely any and all research work that tends to disprove his main thesis, i.e., that SDA is a revival of the Galatian heresy (p. 129) and “a serious corruption of the Gospel” (p. 130). Just how it is possible for SDAs to be Galatianists, whom God curses (Gal. 1:8, 9) and for there still to be “some of God’s” regenerate people in SDA “and that this need not be questioned” (p. 130), is more than this reviewer can understand as the terms are mutually exclusive in the Galatian context. Apparently SDAs are not heretical enough for hell and not orthodox enough for heaven, hence their relegation to the purgatory of paradox.
Mr. Bird here creates a problem he does not solve and his outdated quotations, particularly on the nature of Christ, tend to distort the true picture of contemporary SDA theology in a marked way.
The value of the book is that it soundly criticizes certain areas of SDA teachings and practices from an orthodox position, but it cannot be said to be either thorough in its research or dependable in its charge that SDA is a revival of Galatianism.
WALTER R. MARTIN
Church And Politics
The Rohe and The Sword, by Kenneth M. McKenzie (Public Affairs Press, 1961, 128 pp., $3.25), is reviewed by C. Gregg Singer, Catawba College, Salisbury, North Carolina.
This very interesting study concerning the relationship of The Methodist Church to American imperialism in the decade of the 1890s is largely based on the editorial opinion of the various Christian Advocates, although there is some dependence on other source material. The very truth of this work is somewhat suggestive of the conclusions of the author. Dr. McKensie clearly brings out that on the whole the leadership in The Methodist Church was very favorably disposed toward the various manifestations of American imperialism in this era. Both the annexation of Hawaii and the exporting of American democracy, and in the minds of quite a few leaders in the church American democracy was loosely equated with the Gospel. In short, imperialism was regarded as a great benefit to the missionary enterprise, but unfortunately in this identification of Christianity and democracy the content of the Gospel tended to be somewhat obscured and blurred.
This work is of real merit to those who are interested in what happens when a church begins to play a political role and takes a position on national policies without always understanding what is involved. It would be helpful if similar studies could be made on other large Protestant groups to see if a meaningful comparison could be achieved between those churches which are prone to become involved in political and diplomatic issues and those which are not.
C. GREGG SINGER
The Fleeing Follower, by Poul Hoffman (Augsburg, 1962, 144 pp., $3). A novel of the Mark who fled his garments on the night of the Crucifixion; not a great literary success.
The Responsibilities of Man, by Rosalie B. Gerber (Public Affairs Press, 1961, 147 pp., $3.25). Author addresses himself to that problem predicted by Dostoevsky and described by Riesman that individual living within powerful organizations with methods of persuasion raised to high degree by technological techniques will succumb to temptation to abdicate his freedom and intergrity.
Brief and to the Point, by Arthur E. Dalton (James Clarke, London, 1961, 263 pp., 15s.). Suggested sermon headings, usually with alliteration, for the whole Bible divided up section by section.
Quench Not the Spirit, by Myron S. Augsburger (Herald Press, Scottdale, Pa., 1962, 113 pp., $2.50). A theology of the Holy Spirit, with special concern for the various sins against the Spirit.
All the Miracles of the Bible, by Herbert Lockyer (Zondervan, 1961, 480 pp., $5.95). An attempt to treat all the miracles of the Bible in terms of a definition of miracle in which creation and the Bible itself are regarded as miracles. Evangelical but unmarked by precision of scholarship.
Steps to Crucifixion, by Paul P. Fryhling (Zondervan, 1961, 117 pp., $1.95). Easy reading Lenten messages.
The Five Books as Literature, by Arthur Wormhoudt (Shakespeare Head Press, Eton, Windsor, Berkshire, England, 1961, 127 pp. 15s.). An attempt to account for the first five books of each Testament in terms of a theory of language and human communication.
But God Comes First, by Dewi Morgan (Longmans, 1962, 96 pp., 6s. 6d.) A meditation on the Te Deum by a well-known popular Anglo-Catholic writer, who is on the staff of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
This We Believe, by Arnold T. Olson (Free Church Publications, Minneapolis, 1961, 371 pp., $4.95). The background and exposition of the Doctrinal Statement of the Evangelical Free Church of America.
Key Texts in the Epistle to the Hebrews, by Marcus L. Loane (Marshalls, 1961, 127 pp., 8s. 6d.). A devotional commentary in which an evangelical bishop from Australia selects and expounds what he considers the key text of each chapter.
God-Centered Evangelism, by R. B. Kuiper (Baker, 1961, 216 pp., $3.95). A God-centered theology of evangelism rooted in the principle that it is the eternal will of the triune God to bring the elect to heaven through the preaching of the Gospel, though, had God so willed, He could have brought them to heaven, apart from the Cross, by divine force alone.
Ructions at Ranford, by Paul White and David Britten (Paternoster, 1961, 156 pp., 6s.). The second adventure in the Ranford series; these stories have a Christian background.
The Children’s Simplified New Testament, by Olaf M. Norlie (Zondervan, 1962, 603 pp., $3.95). A very readable translation of the New Testament, as serviceable for adults as for children.
A Calvin Treasury, ed. by William F. Keesecker (Harper, 1962, 152 pp., $3.50). 535 selections from Calvin’s Institutes arranged under more than 400 key topics. A fine introduction to the thought of Calvin.
Seven Days that Changed the World, by Wallace T. Viets (Abingdon, 1962, 92 pp., $2). Lenten sermons based upon the events of the last week in the life of Jesus and overloaded with illustrative material.
Prisoner of War, by Kurt Molzahn (Muhlenberg, 1962, 251 pp., $3.75). The story of a Lutheran pastor’s three years in prison after conviction for conspiracy in espionage. He writes not to prove his innocence, but to tell a story of humanity “on the inside,” in both its attractive and repellent aspects.
Nation Making, by Lawrence Toombs (Abingdon, 1962, 87 pp., $1). Volume 4 of projected 22 volumes of Bible Guides describes the processes and forces by which the Hebrew people, according to Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, and Judges, were molded into a nation.
Paul and His Converts, by F. F. Bruce (Abingdon, 1962, 88 pp., $1). The reader is led into the mind of Paul as reflected in his dealing with his converts at Thessalonica and Corinth.
Elijah and His Power, by F. B. Meyer (Good News, 1962, 64 pp., $.50). A “one evening” condensation of the book, Elijah: And the Secret of his Power.
New Life in Christ, by P. D. Clasper (Association, 1961, 79 pp., $1). A study of Paul’s theology understood as an explication of the believer’s new life in Christ.
Conversations with Children, by Edith F. Hunter (Beacon, 1962, 192 pp., $2.25). Conversations without Christian orientation or any discernable purpose.
Thoughts for Troubled Times, by W. J. Sullivan (Paulist Press, 1961, 128 pp., $.75). Brief, pithy spiritual booster shots to help Roman Catholics find peace and consolation amidst the downward pull of everyday troubles.
The Psychology of Christian Personality, by Ernest M. Ligon (Macmillan, 1961, 393 pp., $1.95). Book aims at interpreting the teachings of Jesus in terms of modern (published in 1935) psychology.
Historians of Israel (1), by Gordon Robinson, and (2), by Hugh Anderson (Abingdon, 1961, 88 pp. each, $1 each). Volume 5 and 6 of a projected series of 22 books which will seek to present a total view of the Bible. These two deal with the nature and meaning of history as expressed by the biblical historians themselves.
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