Not For The Faint Of Heart
Overkill and Megalove, by Norman Corwin (World, 1963, 114 pp., $3.50), and Hostage America, by Robert A. Dentler and Phillips Cutright (Beacon Press, 1963, 167 pp., $3.95), are reviewed by Earle E. Cairns, chairman of the Department of History and Political Science, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
These books are for those who do not panic easily but want to consider the horrors of nuclear war and the possible alternatives. Neither pessimistic negativism nor optimistic positivism appeals to these authors. They face the possibility of civilization’s disappearing in a nuclear holocaust but suggest a possibility of constructive action to meet the challenge by means other than unilateral or total disarmament, or a mad rush to find the ultimate weapon first. Corwin’s vision is less practical than that of Dentler and Cutright, but both books give evidence of thorough research. Both reduce nuclear warfare to its impact upon particular economic, religious, and political groups, and especially upon the individual.
Corwin’s skills in communications media are used negatively to pillory defenders of nuclear war in savage, satirical, and at times crude, at other times basically religious (pp. 12, 18, 36), poetry. He then develops his positive vision in “Could Be,” originally written for the United Nations, which is a picture of the peaceful constructive use of nuclear power by international cooperative effort. This could become the moral equivalent of war.
The two sociologists, Dentler and Cutright, consider America a hostage to war since the Russian explosion of a hydrogen bomb in August, 1953. This thesis leads them to consider the results, in social and individual terms, of a probable nuclear attack upon seventy urban areas.
After considering five ways in which our theory of deterrence might lead to thermonuclear war, they point out the enormous loss of life and the religious, economic, and political maladjustments that a nuclear strike would bring. They close the first chapter with a statement on the impracticality of civil defense and shelters: an enemy would merely increase the megatonnage needed for destruction of his foe. The necessary 20,000 megatons are already available even if we exclude land- or submarine-based missiles. In the second chapter the authors conclude that panic, anxieties in shelter life, and physical difficulties (with chemical gases, high humidity, and temperatures), as well as the breakdown of leadership, might make life intolerable in the necessary six-month period in the shelter. The third chapter demonstrates poor chances for long-term recovery of the nation in terms of health, the economy, and democracy within five to fifteen years of the attack.
This gloomy picture is offset in the final chapter by their hope for a possible Nuclear Neutralization Pact (pp. 102, 103) to ban production, testing, and use of nuclear weapons or delivery systems. Nations could instead use conventional forces to carry on limited warfare. Pressure by individual citizens could well achieve this.
Dentler and Cutright provide the practical data pointing up the problem of nuclear war; Corwin provides the dynamic and the vision. The former are more realistic in their approach to a possible solution which citizen pressure might bring in the policies of the two nuclear giants. The evangelical, who cannot have a lasting pessimism concerning the future since it is in God’s sovereign control, can yet realistically support the limited goals which Dentler and Cutright suggest. It is more realistic than total or unilateral disarmament or the escalation of nuclear weapons.
EARLE E. CAIRNS
Books with Men Behind Them, by Edmund Fuller (Random House, 1962, 240 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by D. Bruce Lockerbie, chairman of the English Department, The Stony Brook School, Stony Brook, New York.
In Books with Men Behind Them critic Edmund Fuller has written a companion volume to his Man in Modern Fiction, published in 1958. The earlier work established as Fuller’s fundamental premise the Christian view of man “as a created being, with an actual or potential relationship to his Creator,” as “inherently imperfect, but with immense possibilities for redemption and reconciliation with his Creator.”
Books with Men Behind Them differs from its predecessor, although it shares the same vision of man. In his new hook Fuller writes of authors he admires, and except for an unnecessary chapter, “The Post-Chatterley Deluge,” which he hoped would link his two books, he has produced an exceptionally solid and readable study of significant modern writers. Fuller concentrates on seven contemporaries, the latter four of whom have special interest to Christian readers: Thornton Wilder, Gladys Schmitt, C. P. Snow, Alan Paton, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.
Fuller shares the view generally accepted among evangelicals, that Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country is the paramount Christian novel of our time. However most of the chapter on Paton considers his lesser-known novel, Too Late the Phalerope, which Fuller compares with The Scarlet Letter and Crime and Punishment. In his dealings with sin and justification through grace, Paton’s commitment to Christian beliefs is evident throughout both books.
C. S. Lewis is “the Christian spaceman,” and it is the Lewis trilogy of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength that Fuller analyzes. Lewis has suggested, as have other writers before him, that the man in space will not find that God has changed. He will find, in Fuller’s words, that “if, elsewhere, there are other beings who have fallen, before or since man’s fall, it is likely that God will have devised the appropriate means for their redemption, though not necessarily the same as the means for ours.”
J. R. R. Tolkien, to whom Lewis dedicated The Screwtape Letters, and Charles Williams have never acquired the popular reception given to Lewis. Tolkien’s writings are not unrecognized, but that recognition has been held almost clandestinely by his admirers. The Hobbit and the other volumes of his four-part cycle, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, remind Fuller of Wagner’s Ring music drama. Williams, like Lewis, has a mixed audience: he is known as scholar (for his Dante studies), as popular theologian (The Descent of the Dove), and as novelist. These varied skills he combines in fiction such as Shadows of Ecstasy, War in Heaven, and All Hallows’ Eve—works strange enough to evoke from Fuller this oddity: “If you can imagine grafting a Dorothy Sayers detective story onto the Apocalypse of St. John, the resulting fruit might be like a Charles Williams novel.”
Books with Men Behind Them possesses its own merit as criticism, to be sure, but its value is heightened by the fact that the books and the men it spotlights are worthy of consideration.
D. BRUCE LOCKERBIE
For The Long Hike
Hurdles to Heaven, by Brian Whitlow (Harper & Row, 1963, 155 pp., $3), is reviewed by Karl A. Olsson, president, North Park College, Chicago, Illinois.
Dean Whitlow’s book on the seven capital sins uses a trope from the running track or perhaps from a journey to suggest its character. Life is like a race or a pilgrimage, and only he who finishes the course keeps the faith. In a day of what might be called equestrian theology, this is refreshing. We are not given any mad flights to the thunder of hooves or any leaps into the abyss. With Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress we walk or lope. And the temptations we encounter are stiles we climb over on our way.
This pedestrian ethic, and I use the term as a commendation, is directed toward everyman in the Church. It is not without significance that Dean Whitlow has already written a book in which the worship needs of everyman are met. He now faces the persistent problems in our common moral life. No one who reads the book can fail to be impressed by the good gray quality of its diagnosis and its cure.
The author’s procedure is thorough and helpful. After a brief historical account of the origins of the seven sins in the Church, he proceeds to an analysis of each in terms of its proliferations. The assumption is that the seven capital sins are mothers with whole broods of dismal progeny. Dean Whitlow leaves none unaccounted for. He then deals with the Christian foil for the sins, showing how the corresponding virtues stem from the New Testament and particularly from the teaching of our Lord.
In working out the pattern of the sins the author not only ranges widely and perceptively in the world of books (Dostoyevsky, Eliot, Tolstoy, Marlowe, Gregory, Wouk), but also constructs his own parables in which the capital transgressions are given arms and legs and a face and are shown walking about in the world we know. At the end of each chapter are appropriate quotations from Scriptures and sensitively chosen prayers to accompany the Christian sojourner on his way to heaven.
KARL A. OLSSON
The Hemlock and the Cross, by Geddes MacGregor (J. B. Lippincott, 1963, 255 pp., $5.50), is reviewed by C. Gregg Singer, professor of history, Catawba College, Salisbury, North Carolina.
Reading for Perspective
CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S REVIEW EDITORS CALL ATTENTION TO THESE NEW TITLES:
★ Man in the Struggle for Peace, by Charles Malik (Harper & Row, $5). Prominent Christian statesman lays strategy for a distinctively Western revolution which will prepare the world for peace as well as for war.
★ The Christian Mind, by Harry Blamires (Seabury, $3.50). The author urges that there is no longer a Christian mind, but only Christians saturated with secularism.
★ Things Most Surely Believed, edited by Clarence S. Roddy (Revell, $3.95). The faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in a fifteen-voice symposium declares its understanding of and commitment to the great affirmations of the Christian faith.
In this book Geddes MacGregor, dean of the Graduate School of Religion in the University of Southern California, raises once more the great question which Tertullian posed for the Church of his day: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” MacGregor offers to the Church of the twentieth century a very different answer from that which Tertullian gave. In place of the insistence that the Academy and Jerusalem have nothing in common, he insists that they are mutually dependent; and the very name of this book signifies the close relationship which he finds existing between Christianity and humanism. The hemlock signifies the manner in which Socrates, the real founder of humanism, died; the Cross, of course, signifies the death of Jesus Christ. His conclusion is that the humanism which had its origin in the method and teachings of Socrates and the teachings of Christ are virtually wedded to one another and have much in common. “The Cross, in its march through the Mediterranean, could not help picking up bits of the hemlock on its travels” (pp. 131, 132). The result of this process has been an indissoluble wedding between Christianity and humanism, and “indeed there is no reason for wishing to dissolve it.” Such statements are indicative of the spirit of the work.
While MacGregor does not deny the supernatural claims of Christianity, it is quite clear that in his thinking supernaturalism is not that of the Scriptures. There is no recognition of the uniqueness of the Christian faith, or of the authority of the Scriptures. There seems to be no awareness of the fact that even in the ancient Church Augustine set forth a third approach to the problem of classical culture quite different from both that of the school at Alexandria and that of Tertullian, in which he insisted that all human learning must be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ and the Word of God. It is unfortunate, and quite misleading, when MacGregor claims Augustine for his own position.
There is value in this book, but it fails to sharpen our appreciation for historic Christianity and it paints humanism in terms of which it is hardly deserving. In order to achieve a synthesis between the two, Professor MacGregor does justice to neither the Cross nor the hemlock.
C. GREGG SINGER
Bits And Gems
The Place of Understanding, and other papers, by Nathaniel Micklem (Geoffrey Bles, 1963, 177 pp., 16s.), is reviewed by Martin H. Cressey, minister, St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Coventry, England.
“The Gospel is not at all indefinite, but it is to be spiritually apprehended and never conclusively defined” (p. 12); “An undogmatic faith is sure to be invertebrate, and certainly it is not historic Christianity” (p. 45); “the ideals and principles of politics, as I suppose, point to the transcendent, the ultimate, the Being whom we call God” (p. 82).
These three quotations may serve as clues to the many-sided writings of the former principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, represented in this volume by lectures, articles, and portions of earlier books. Here is comment on the religion of Shelley, some plain speaking on the centrality of the figure of the historic Jesus, and some wise discussion of international law and “Politics and Religion.” On this last Dr. Micklem says some things highly relevant to current controversies about the state’s recognition of God, about the difference between “the religion of the religious” (in the West, organized Christianity) and what he calls “the religion of the people.”
The more philosophical writing, including the piece which gives the book its title, are more in the manner of idealism than will appeal to present-day Oxford—but this may not be a bad thing!
MARTIN H. CRESSEY
A Two-Edged Method
Karl Barth’s Theological Method, by Gordon Clark (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1963, $5), is reviewed by Harold B. Kuhn, professor of the philosophy of religion, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.
Evangelicals have not found it easy to survey the works of Basel’s famous theologian with objectivity. Dr. Gordon Clark has in this carefully reasoned volume avoided the tendency to dismiss Barth with a facile: “He is Kantian; he is not Reformed; the truth is not in him.” The work seeks to investigate the method of Barth, rather than his treatment of specific doctrines of the Christian creed. On the positive side, Professor Clark finds Barth to be systematic and logical, although he feels that in the Kircheliche Dogmatik the Swiss theologian restricts unduly the field of the norm of logic (p. 59). He applauds his criticisms of “the immanentism, the optimism, and the humanism” of nineteenth-century “liberal” Protestantism (p. 4). He likes Barth’s rejection of mysticism upon the ground of its irrationality (p. 117) and welcomes his attempt to maintain the integrity of reason as an instrument for the exploration and elaboration of theological truth.
At the same time, Dr. Clark calls many of Barth’s procedures and conclusions into question. He thinks that Barth goes too far in denouncing philosophy as “a game of wits” (p. 84), and that he dismisses unbelief too easily. He feels that Barth’s system does in essence deny the imago dei, and that his method, while asserting logic and rationalism, degenerates into irrationalism as it faces certain vital problems.
Perhaps his strongest objection to Barth’s Dogmatik as a whole concerns Barth’s view of revelation. Allowing that Barth’s theology may rightfully be termed a “theology of the Word,” he yet finds Barth equivocal in his definition of revelation. That is, in his downgrading of all language and verbalization (done in the name of faith) (p. 120), he elaborates an unbiblical form of epistemology (p. 127) and undercuts the factuality of Scripture, rendering it essentially wordless (p. 173).
It seems clear that Dr. Clark is dissatisfied with Barth’s attempts to evade certain questions which ought to be controversial. For example, he dislikes the tendency of the Swiss theologian to substitute the formula “capacity for error” for “fallibility” (pp. 195 f.) and his attempt to substitute the term “saga” for “myth.” Barth seems to him to embed two basic errors in his theology: that of a “wordless religion” and that of an implicit universalism (pp. 220 ff.).
This volume is a wholesome contribution to the literature relating to Karl Barth and his theology. It is somewhat less sanguine than Professor Berkouwer’s The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth. One cannot characterize it as easy reading; but the thoroughness of its conclusions will reward the careful reader. Its appeal to Calvin’s Institutes as normative for theology may seem to some readers too frequent and too thoroughgoing. But many will applaud the author’s loyalty to the historic Christian faith.
HAROLD B. KUHN
Twentieth Century Religious Thought: The Frontiers of Philosophy and Theology, 1900–1960, by John Macquarrie (Harper & Row, 1963, 415 pp., $5) is reviewed by James Daane, editorial associate, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
This book traverses that corridor where the theology and philosophy of 1900–1960 met, touched, and influenced each other. The number of thinkers treated is almost legion, and the number of conflicting answers given life’s deepest problems recalls Tennyson’s “our little systems have their day, they have their day and cease to be.” Though the point is not made, the book is a warning against the folly of becoming a passionate disciple of some latest school of thought. What is modern in thought is not long thought of as modern.
Considering the mass of material to be shaped into manageable limits and within them the difficulty of being both adequate and lucid, Macquarrie, professor of systematic theology at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, has done admirably well. The book is fine for quick reference; but it is more, for it shows movements and alterations of religious and philosophical thinking, particularly as the latter influenced the former in the twentieth century.
The book’s one real weakness stems not from lack of competence but from its accepted canon of evaluation. Macquarrie’s concern is to retain—against encroachments in recent theology—a place for reason in religious understanding. This means for Macquarrie not, as in Brunner, Barth, and their like, the right of reason to exercise itself within a by-faith-accepted divine revelation. Macquarrie insists that this is all too little, and he contends for the right of reason to sift, test, question, and judge the knowledge content of revelation. This rational critique of revelation, according to Macquarrie, must “always” take place “before what is given [in revelation] can be known.”
The current popularity of Barth, Brunner, Cullman, and even Bultmann, is said to stem from their acceptance of an “absolute divine revelation” at the center of theology, which Macquarrie scores as a “returning to a more dogmatic type of theology” and an appeal “to those traditionalist and obscurantist elements in the Church who are only too glad to escape the philosophical problems which contemporary thought poses for the Christian religion.” This reinstatement of an absolute, exclusive, and unique divine revelation at the heart of theology, Macquarrie describes with some passion as an act of “arrogance.”
The author urges that “we must submit it [revelation] to the scrutiny of reason, both theoretical and practical,” and he criticizes Barth and Brunner because, although they “do indeed give a place to reason and philosophy in theology,” they give it “a lowly place which is entirely subordinate to the sovereign word of God.” “In the last resort,” claims Macquarrie, “one is bound to say that the revelation is accepted, after it has been tested in every way, it wins the allegiance of reason and conscience.”
Macquarrie asserts, “We do not think that there is anything in the least impious in our demand that our critical faculties should be directed upon the revelation itself.” Perhaps not. But there is something logically irrational in the attempt to combine his view of the function of critical reason upon revelation with his other views that the knowledge given in revelation is “a gift rather than something that we have gained by our own efforts,” and that “in any revelatory experience, man cannot be other than submissive before the numinous presence.” The experience of knowing God in revelation cannot be both a submissive act of accepting such knowledge as a gift and an experience in which revelation must be sifted, tested, and questioned “before what is given can be known.” This is simply confusion of thought, one which does not lend credence to his insistence that we “must question the revelation itself” to determine whether it really was a “revelation or only an illusion” and that “this questioning must be done by the light of reason and such human wisdom as the man may possess.”
If Macquarrie’s otherwise excellent book demonstrates anything, it is that the theological and philosophical thinking of the last sixty years does anything but suggest that “the light of reason and such human wisdom as (the) man may possess” are equal to the task of finding the truth in a divine revelation which is less than absolute. We may agree with Macquarrie when he resolutely opposes the tendency to undervalue reason (p. 333), but his own book shows the folly of entertaining any hope for a Reason which is not “entirely subordinate to the sovereign word of God.” The only alternatives are either “that the divine revelation puts us in question, so that our attitude must be one of unquestioning acceptance and obedience [which Macquarrie rejects],” or a reason that autonomously behaves in the contradictory, ambiguous fashion his book so clearly portrays as having in fact occurred during the last sixty years.
Meet The Doer
What Jesus Did, by Theodore Parker Ferris (Oxford, 1963, 131 pp., $3.25), is reviewed by John T. Sandlund, minister, River Road United Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C.
This book is to be commended for the gracious way in which it introduces Jesus as a person one would want to know. The author seeks to do this through the actions of Jesus, rather than His words. As an introduction, however, it leaves conclusions that parts of Scripture are more imaginative than accurate reporting and comment. The author believes that Jesus was God incarnate, but his “exercise in devotion” suggests a Christology below the standards of Anglican doctrine. In spite of this serious deficiency, however, we recognize the practical insights and helps, even from unorthodox observations, of this famed preacher whose gifts and graces are so attractive.
JOHN T. SANDLUND
Not By Drill
Teaching Our Faith in God: Methods and Meaning of Christian Education, by L. Harold DeWolf (Abingdon, 1963, 188 pp., $3.75), is reviewed by D. G. Stewart, professor of Christian education, San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California.
This book is a compilation of several papers and lectures of L. Harold DeWolf, professor of theology at Boston University School of Theology. An introductory chapter defines Christian education as the nurture of the Christian life, of which the central point or “magnetic pole” is God. The goal is “relating the pupil to God in glad, obedient faith” (p. 23)—a departure from contemporary content-centered, group-centered, and church-centered emphases.
The Christian life, DeWolf insists, “cannot be taught by any human teacher” (p. 38) or imposed by drill in characteristic habits and attitudes; it is rather “characterized by faith, that is, the total commitment of self to God” (p. 39). Chapter three contains the sequence of instruction by which this is accomplished, with an insistence on presentation of “the whole faith” at every age level. How the author proposes to accomplish this (pp. 47–54) may seem inadequately demonstrated in the relatively short space he devotes to it.
In chapters four through seven one detects a major aspect of the author’s total thesis, namely, that the doctrine of the triune God is the clue to Christian education. It comprises a corrective for doctrinal distortions on the one hand and an adequate summary of the Bible’s message on the other. The chapter on the Holy Spirit is fresh and contributes a much-needed emphasis in Christian education.
The remaining section of the book is concerned with sin, the Church, the world, and the centrality of Christian education. The closing chapter is interesting to the educational reader as a theologian’s point of view. However, the devotion of only a page and a half to “evangelism” as a subject to which Christian education is related seems emblematic of the confusion in which theological scholars find themselves, notwithstanding the fact that Christian education’s primary concern is interpreted as “relating the pupil to God in glad, obedient faith.”
D. G. STEWART
Archaeology and the Old Testament World, by John Gray (Thomas Nelson, 1962, 256 pp., $6.50; 30s.), and Archaeology and the New Testament, by Merrill F. Unger (Zondervan, 1962, 350 pp., $4.95), are reviewed by Bastiaan Van Elderen, associate professor of New Testament, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The two books under review present the reader with the contributions of archaeology to a greater understanding of the Bible and its background. However, they diverge considerably in approach to and achievement of this aim. Not only do these two authors deal with two different parts of the Bible, but they proceed from two distinct and opposing attitudes and stances toward the Bible.
John Gray, lecturer at Aberdeen University, is the author of Archaeology and the Old Testament World. His familiarity with the Ancient Near East and scholarly research in Old Testament well qualify him to attempt this reconstruction of Israel’s historical and cultural environment. Through a study of ancient monuments and texts he describes the institutions and social conventions of the Ancient Near East. Gray has a vast knowledge of the field and penetrating insights, and provides a valuable sourcebook for these areas.
Merrill F. Unger, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has written Archaeology and the New Testament, a companion volume to his earlier Archaeology and the Old Testament. This volume gives the archaeological, historical, and geographical setting of the narrative portions of the New Testament. Unger begins his presentation with a brief but lucid description of the complicated political situation in Palestine from the time of Alexander the Great to the New Testament period. The succeeding chapters follow the New Testament narrative and amplify these accounts with relevant historical and archaeological data. An amazing amount of material has been marshaled in this way, and the documentation in the footnotes shows extensive reading on the part of the author. On the other hand, this work has somewhat of an eclectic nature and shows a heavy reliance on secondary sources. Actually, some chapters are more up to date than others, but usually the latest sources quoted or evidence cited is dated about 1957—the one major exception being the section on the Gospel of Thomas (pp. 92–94), which appears to be a later addition. However, the bibliography lists books as late as 1961, many of which are not cited in the text.
In his opening chapter Unger sets forth the orthodox opinion on biblical inspiration and expresses his agreement with it: “… the New Testament (as well as the Old) is God-breathed and without error or mistake in the original autographa.… Thus Scripture … is inspired in a unique way. The product itself is accordingly unique and on a different plane from any other writing, sacred or secular” (p. 16). No such statement of presupposition is found in Gray’s work, but one soon becomes aware that Scripture for him is neither unique nor on a different plane from other literature, but must be treated and controlled in the same way as any other body of literature. The exact nature of the authority of Scripture is neither explicit nor implicit in Gray’s work. Consequently, he has no difficulty accepting questionable critical hypotheses, such as the Kenite origin of Yahweh worship (pp. 14 f.), Canaanite prototype of the Feast of Tabernacles (p. 18), eclectic nature of Hebrew ritual, thought, and literature (pp. 42 ff., 82 ff.), unique role of Amos in the political and religious consciousness of Israel (pp. 120, 179). Admittedly, there are progression and development to be noted in the Old Testament, but throughout the account the word and act of God are unique, authoritative, and revelatory.
The presupposition with which Unger begins is commendable. However, the problem arises as to the role of archaeology in terms of this presupposition. Unger answers this as follows: “The role which archaeology is performing in New Testament research (as well as that of Old Testament) in expediting scientific study, balancing critical theory, illustrating, elucidating, supplementing and authenticating historical and cultural backgrounds, constitutes the one bright spot in the future of criticism of the Sacred Oracles” (p. 25). An application of this is seen in the preceding paragraph, where Unger writes: “While difficulties still persist, archaeology has in numerous cases vindicated the New Testament, particularly Luke.” The use of the terms “authentication,” “vindication,” or “confirmation” is questionable. At best, this should be considered a secondary role of archaeology, since Scripture does not require such vindication. Confidence in the trustworthiness and faith in the truth of Scripture do not depend upon or await the results of archaeological and historical research. As a result, sometimes Unger seems to overstate his case—e.g., in connection with the identification of the scene of the demoniac’s healing, he writes: “The Revised Standard Version in Matthew 8:28 correctly connects the ministry of Christ to the demoniac with Gadara, but also anomalously and certainly incorrectly connects it with Gerasa (Jerash) in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26 (‘the country of the Gerasenes’)” (p. 141). The RSV is simply reflecting the situation existing in the best manuscripts and surely does not deserve to be impugned in this way, and the evidence hardly warrants Unger’s dogmatic conclusion. The encyclopedic nature of Unger’s work sometimes results in unevenness and mild inconsistency—e.g., on page 22 he refers to the phenomenal discovery of the Bodmer papyri, but in the section beginning on page 331 in which he discusses “more recent New Testament papyri discoveries” he fails to mention these. On page 19 he mentions that there are 63 papyri witnesses to the New Testament text. The first of the biblical papyri in the Bodmer collection (published in 1956) brought this total to 66, and in 1961 P75 appeared in this series (bringing the number to 75). In 1962 the number reached 78 papyri.
In format and quality, Nelson’s publication of Gray’s work is much more attractive than Zondervan’s publication of Unger’s work. The photographic plates which accompany Gray’s text are sharp and clear. The pictures in Unger’s work are usually fuzzy and blurred and perhaps not very helpful. The line drawings, rather well executed, have doubtful value in a work of this nature. However, the end-maps are more useful than the black-and-white maps in Gray’s work. All in all, the quality of workmanship in Unger’s work leaves much to be desired. Typographical errors are rather limited in Gray’s work, but Unger’s is often marred by errors and inconsistent style, especially in the footnotes.
In conclusion, these two works on archaeology and the Bible have limitations which should be recognized—Gray’s as to viewpoint and approach and Unger’s as to workmanship and a tendency to dogmatic finality. In spite of these limitations, these works contain much valuable material and constitute significant contributions to the field.
BASTIAAN VAN ELDEREN
A Case Of Identity
The True Face of the Kirk, by Stuart Louden (Oxford, 1963, 148 pp., $3.40), is reviewed by J. D. Douglas, British editorial director, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Based on the 1961 Cunningham Lectures at New College, Edinburgh, this book by the minister of historic Greyfriars sets out to examine “the ethos and traditions of the Church of Scotland.” Every aspect is covered thoroughly, and some strikingly relevant facts emerge. In the chapter on church, state, and community, we learn that “the Church of Scotland can give no countenance to the view that education is a self-sufficient and autonomous sphere of life; for when the State seeks to become completely secular and neutral, it is already in danger of becoming a monster, as in the totalitarian state of the twentieth century.” Discussing worship, Dr. Louden reminds us that “preaching is not a human art but God’s power unto salvation in Jesus Christ, the Living Word. Preaching is not for the glorification of the preacher or listeners, but for the edification of the flock.” Attacks are launched upon the personality cult among ministers, Roman Catholics (whose intrusion into Scotland has helped to “obscure the face of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in the land”), subjective hymns, and the “historic episcopate” as popularly misunderstood. Dr. Louden calls for reexamination of the place of confession and absolution.
Is it an authentic picture of the Kirk? There are some theologically confusing statements here, such as: “The Scottish view is that the society of the baptized is the Church of God in the land.” (Is it even legitimate to speak about “the Scottish view”?) Elsewhere Dr. Louden laments the infrequence of the Apostles’ Creed, as “token of a prevalently inadequate sense of the congregation in worship.” Is this necessarily so? His use of the word “Eucharist” with its suspect associations will raise some Scottish eyebrows. There is also something unreal in his resorting to the Westminster Confession to support particular points: no one who heard the 1962 General Assembly debates or noted its moderator’s pre-assembly utterances will deny that confession’s fading authority in Kirk circles today.
The chief impression left by this work is of an inordinate repetitiveness in parts and a didactic style which make vast demands on the reader’s concentration. In the opening fifteen lines, for example, the words “Ecclesia Scoticana” appear five times; on page 37 “Presbyterian(ism)” occurs fourteen times; and other words or phrases are conspicuously overworked. A surprising number of misspellings and grammatical inaccuracies have crept in, and it should be noted that the space given to appendixes, gathered footnotes, and the index reduces the actual text to 102 pages. The determined reader will nevertheless find this an authoritative and generally reliable volume.
J. D. DOUGLAS
On Saving History
Salvation History, by Eric C. Rust (John Knox, 1963, 325 pp., $6), is reviewed by Merrill C. Tenney, dean of the Graduate School, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
The continuity of divine self-revelation in history through the acts of God is the main theme of Dr. Rust’s exposition of Heilsgeschichte for English readers. Beginning with a discussion of the relation of revelation, interpretation, and history, the professor of Christian philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary formulates a statement of the plan of salvation in cosmic terms: “The incarnation of the Word in Jesus of Nazareth constitutes the center point of a stream of events in which history is being redirected toward the divine purpose and in which man’s misuse of his God-given freedom is being corrected.” He does not accept a literal interpretation of either the Old or the New Testament; he does not, however, dismiss the historical reality of the person of Christ, although he states that the external facts do not disclose the real meaning of Christ. “The historian … cannot unlock the inner secret of Jesus. As historian he will not find the inner side of the life, death and resurrection of the Lord, even though the enigmatic elements will disturb him. A painstaking historical investigation will not bring us nearer to the heart of Heilsgeschichte.”
Although this approach might easily lead to a skeptical abandonment of all historical verity in the statements of Scripture, or to an unrestrained flight into mysticism, Dr. Rust takes neither of these alternatives. He recognizes that “without some emphasis on the historicity of Jesus, our faith lapses into docetism and the gospel becomes an abstract form of universal truths.” Consequently he adheres to the historicity and uniqueness of the Resurrection, and states that Heilsgeschichte is grounded in actual historical events.
In developing the theme of salvation history Dr. Rust lays great emphasis upon the eschatological element in revelation. “In dying, Christ defeated death, for death was robbed of its prey in the resurrection.” In the person of Christ the eschaton, the end, has centered history.
Unlike some expositors Dr. Rust does not dismiss the parousia of Christ as an apocalyptic dream nor dissolve it completely in “realized eschatology.” He indicates that Jesus did not quote directly from the apocalypticists who had written in the inter-Testamental period, but that He uttered independent prophecies. The author recognizes the elements of eschatological expectation: the future return of Christ, the “man of sin,” catastrophic judgment, and a final consummation in which “the redeemed community will be consummated in a redeemed universe.”
Fluid is the best word to describe this book. It does not adopt the extreme of rationalism which would logically follow from its premises of biblical criticism, nor does it accept fully the implications of a grammatico-historical exegesis of inscripturated revelation. It is an attempt to dispense with literalness, and at the same time to conserve the values of an evangelical theology. It is consequently a compromise in which must remain an unstable equilibrium. The rearrangement of the Old Testament narrative and the treatment of much of it as “mythical” (however that term be defined) alters the entire foundation of revelation and the understanding of the plan of God. If the basic facts are uncertain, the conclusions will be equally uncertain.
This book is aimed for scholars, who will enjoy its breadth and its representative treatment of modern New Testament theology, but it is not satisfactorily definitive of the evangelical position.
MERRILL C. TENNEY
Flames from the Altar, by R. R. Williams (Calvinistic Methodist Book Agency [Caernarvon, England], 1962, 99 pp., 9s. 6d.). The author’s main objective is to refute the common tendency among both American and British writers to regard the Presbyterian Church of Wales as an offshoot of the movement inaugurated by Wesley.
The Empirical Theology of Henry Nelson Wieman, edited by Robert W. Bretall (Macmillan, 1963, 423 pp., $8.50). Nineteen essays by as many authors examine nineteen aspects of the theology of Wieman, who replies to each and supplies his intellectual autobiography. Writers include E. J. Carnell, G. Florovsky, G. Weigel, D. D. Williams, M. Barth. Excellent for the student of Wieman.
Best-Loved Hymn Stories, by Robert Harvey (Zondervan, 1963, 160 pp., $2.50). The stories behind favorite hymns.
God’s Heirs, by Donald Grey Barnhouse (Eerdmans, 1963, 244 pp., $4.50). Expositions of Bible doctrines by the late Dr. Barnhouse, based on Romans 8:1–39. Biblical, solid, instructive.
52 Seed Thoughts for Christian Living, by R. E. O. White (Eerdmans, 1963, 146 pp., $3). These seed thoughts planted in a good mind might bring forth ten- or even twentyfold.
John Calvin’s Teachings on Human Reason, by Leroy Nixon (Exposition, 1963, 276 pp., $6). A historical and philosophical analysis of the role that reason played in the thought of Calvin for the sake of discovering the function it should play in Christian education.
Fundamental Pastoral Counseling, by John R. Cavanagh (Bruce, 1962, 326 pp., $6). Competent and sane; Christian-orientated discussion by a Roman Catholic.
Preaching Week by Week, by David A. MacLennan (Revell, 1963, 158 pp., $3). Ideas for sermon-starters, many without dimension because they are vague and flabby on those cardinal truths which alone give Christianity transcendent character.
The Seasons of Life, by Paul Tournier (Knox, 1963, 63 pp., $2). Sensitive Christian reflections on man’s passage through the seasons of his years, anon imparting refreshment for the one-way journey.
Wooden Chalices, by Kenneth Kuntz (Bethany Press, 1963, 192 pp., $3.50). Short essays on Christian stewardship and its potential for filling life with rich content.
The Word Became Flesh, by E. Stanley Jones (Abingdon, 1963, 382 pp., $2.50). Although the book is devotional in format and content, one theme runs through the whole: why the Word became flesh and not just a word or idea. A reiteration of the basic idea of Jones’s earlier book, The Way.
The Power of Paul, by W. McFerrin Stowe (Abingdon, 1963, 128 pp., $2.50). Haunted by the idea that we ought not to limit the power of God, the author shows how this power transformed Paul’s life. His treatment, however, does not exclude the ideas of giving God a chance, and of a God who waits for us “on tiptoes”—a vein which perhaps accounts for the title.
Preaching to the Contemporary Mind, by Merrill R. Abbey (Abingdon, 1963, 192 pp., $4). An interesting and perceptive discussion about the task of making the sermon meaningful to the hearer.
If I Knew Then, by Debbie Reynolds (Bernard Geis, 1962, 192 pp., $3.95). Debbie is donating her proceeds from this book to charity. Most readers will feel the need for charity as they read this tossed salad of biographical bits, advice to teen-agers on dates and kisses, reflections on morals and religion—all garnished with a bit of sex and pictures of pretty Debbie. Religion apart, her advice is more often sound than profound.
The Pastor and His People, by Edgar N. Jackson (Channel, 1963, 224 pp., $3.50). A “tool” hook to help the congregational pastor deal pastorally with the young, the aged, the bereaved, the child, the shut-in—individually, in groups, and from the pulpit.
Darwin and the Modern World View, by John C. Greene (New American Library, 1963, 126 pp., $.60). An Iowa State University professor shows how Darwinism gradually changed Protestants and Roman Catholics from a literal view of biblical revelation to a lower view, and argues (contra Darwin) that “scientific truth cannot be meaningful when it denies the reality of the spirit—human or divine.”
Faith Is the Victory, by Buell H. Kazee (Eerdmans, 1963, 181 pp., $1.50; cloth, $2.75). Devotional essays. Sequence follows the experiences of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. Overpriced. First issued in 1951.
Race: Challenge to Religion, symposium edited by Mathew Ahmann (Regnery, 1963, 178 pp., $1.65). Papers delivered at the First National Conference on Religion and Race (Jan., 1963), by Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Jews. Eminently worth reading.
Soul-winning Made Easy, by C. S. Lovett (Personal Christianity [Baldwin Park, Calif.], 1959, 79 pp., $1). A rather naïve, superficial prescription for soul-winning which begins by undercutting the value of preaching, and continues by being intermittently sub-biblical.
The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale (Fawcett, 1963, 224 pp., $.60). A first-time appearance in paperback of a book that needs no introduction.
Tell Them in the East (Salvation Army International Headquarters, 1962, 64 pp., 2s.). A very informative book, not only about the extensive work carried on by the Salvation Army, but also about the social, economic, political, and spiritual conditions in which Christians labor in the Orient.
Proclaiming the Parables, by Martin H. Scharlemann (Concordia, 1963, 94 pp. $1.75). Author contends that the parables of Jesus describe the kingdom of God in action, and then interprets five selected parables by this principle.
Christ or Mary?, by Roland H. Seboldt (Concordia, 1963, 60 pp., $.50). A study of the co-redemption of Mary in modern Roman Catholic theology.
The Faith of a Heretic, by Walter Kaufmann (Doubleday, 1963, 414 pp., $1.45). As the title suggests, the book reflects the inversion of both faith and heresy. Under the mandate of honesty the author mercilessly exposes the foibles of modern life and the failures of Christianity in practice. But if beauty is only skin-deep in an anemic, sniveling Christianity, it becomes in the hands of Kaufmann a matter of raw human existence with its entrails hanging out: the tragic becomes great, eternal life unwanted, and death a desirable thing. But even so, the book is exhilarating and rewarding reading. First printed in 1959.
The Lifetime Reading Plan, by Clifton Fadiman (World, 1963, 318 pp., $1.55). A guide to more than 100 books by the great writers of Western civilization, from Homer to Hemingway—one which omits Paul, Calvin, Luther, and many other extremely influential Christian writers. First published in 1960.
Money and the Church, by Luther P. Powell (Association, 1963, 252 pp., $1.50). A fine history of how the Church gets its monies. First published in 1962.
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