Like A Motherless Child
Centers of Christian Renewal, by Donald G. Bloesch (United Church Press, 1964, 173 pp., $3), is reviewed by Hugh A. Koops, professor of church history, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan.
Donald Bloesch has prepared a fine introduction to the evangelical communities that are urging the Church to re-examine her witness in the contemporary world. He defines these communities as “group(s) of persons who are concerned with the renewal of evangelical Christianity and who seek to contribute towards this renewal by living the common life under a common discipline,” and he selects as representative evangelical communities the following eight: Lee Abbey and St. Julian’s in England, Koinonia Farm and Bethany Fellowship in the United States, The Community of Taizé in France, the Agape Community in Italy, the Iona Community in Scotland, and the Ecumenical Sisterhood of Mary in Germany. Denominational as well as geographical representation is widespread, including Anglicans and Southern Baptists, Reformed and Lutheran members. In spite of the fact that these communities vary greatly in size, conditions for membership, rigor of discipline, and nature of worship, all attempt to function as “lighthouses” that speak prophetically to the Church in a ministry to the world.
This book is meant to be a theological analysis rather than a historical or sociological study of these evangelical communities. The structure and the scope of the work, however, preclude a thorough theological critique. Each community is taken in turn, and little opportunity is left for theological analysis after the author has presented the introductory descriptive material. Thus the theological analysis is consistently suggestive but modest. It is generally limited to the theological views of these communities as expressed by their leaders in the community publications. These beliefs may, but also may not, be determinative of the impact the communities are making upon the understanding of the responsibility of the Church in our day. We await a theological analysis of the evangelical communities; we appreciate the commendable introduction to the history and theology of these communities which the author has here made available.
The author underscores the major problem of the evangelical communities: the maintenance of a communicative relationship with the institutional church. The prophetic voice of these communities can be but dimly heard when the distance between the communities and the Church increases. It is regrettable that this distance seems to be greater in America than in Europe. It is the two American communities that were forced to organize apart from the institutional church. Has the historically experimental American church begun to “jell” or “set”? Has commercial success made it impossible for the American church to attend to a plea for more devoted discipleship or meaningful worship? Has success, which spoiled Rock Hunter, now spoiled the Church?
The tentative and experimental steps of devoted Christians on the “new frontier” of the Church have received serious treatment in this study. No longer can the Church play the role of benevolent uncle or outraged father toward these evangelical communities. These are our offspring! We do well to examine carefully the criticism of our discipline in the past and the challenge to our expectation for the future which the evangelical communities bring to us.
HUGH A. KOOPS
Keswick As It Is
The Keswick Story: The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, by J. C. Pollock (Hodder & Stoughton, 1964, 192 pp., 16s; also Moody, $2.95), is reviewed by J. D. Douglas, British editorial director, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Each year in July, several thousand Christians spend a week in the little town of Keswick in England’s Lakeland. They represent many different Protestant denominations, but differences are forgotten at a convention “for the deepening of spiritual life.” In this official history, John Pollock tells in his own racy effective way how it all began in 1875 and how it has continued down the years, with special emphasis on the personalities chiefly involved in it. One single page, for example, recounts how the movement initially caused a difference of opinion between the Presbyterian brothers Andrew and Horatius Bonar, elicited cautious approval from the great Congregationalist leader R. W. Dale of Birmingham, and had the enthusiastic support of Henry Wace, Dean of Canterbury. Times have changed since then (so have deans of Canterbury), but the Keswick Convention now approaches its ninetieth year with the same concern for personal holiness.
In the course of his characteristically thorough preparation Mr. Pollock has been given every facility by the Keswick Council, whose chairman, the Rev. A. T. Houghton, acknowledges in a foreword that here is a candid history that “does not cover up the failings of those whom God has used in the leadership of the Convention.” A refreshing objectivity is evident throughout this account of a movement that has contributed so significantly to evangelical life in Britain and beyond.
J. D. DOUGLAS
Learning At A Humble School
The Mind of Paul VI: Addresses of Cardinal Montini, edited by James Walsh, S. J. (Geoffrey Chapman, London, 1964, 267 pp., 12s, 6d), is reviewed by A. J. Maclean, minister, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Rome, Italy.
The title invites comparison with the Pauline ideal, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” On page 192, in his reflections on modern industry, the writer strengthens the invitation when he says, “It is almost like thinking with the mind of God.” We may well ask, How near does the thought of him who now claims to be Christ’s vicar come to the mind of the Master in the Gospels?
The book is marked by a high standard of sensitive writing through which a gracious gentleness and a firm love of truth reach the reader. When the writer is defining what the church is, in the first section, the thought is arresting in its nobility and alive with beautiful metaphors, “like light over a desk.” Light is clearly shining, especially in the chapters on Christmas and the Epiphany, with their emphasis on unity and universality. The passage on page 21, “Let us love those near by and those afar,” has the quality of First Corinthians 13. Here we have pure religion expressed, as the author says, with a feeling for poetry and prayer.
A wide knowledge of modern philosophy and patriarchal thought is brought to bear in the second section on “the world of today as it spins on its giddy course devoid of the central axis of security, order and peace.” An accurate and helpful analysis of modern life, much of it based on Italy today, where “we must recognize that the number of those [Catholics] not practicing far exceeds those who do practice” (p. 28), gives the impression that the height is being left for the plain. In an effort to confront humanism, existentialism, and materialism with the dogmas of the Catholic Church, the contamination feared earlier (p. 26) of “those who immerse themselves in the ideas of others … who exchange their priest’s cassock for a workman’s overall” delicately draws away this section from the mind of the Master. We finish up “in the hospital of the sick humanity” more certain of the diagnosis than the treatment towards a cure.
The cure applied in the third section reflects the mind of the Catholic Church, with pre-eminence given to assistance at Mass. But the modern evangelical awakening within the Roman church is clearly stated. “He comes to those who learn at a humble school—the School of the Gospels to which we must return” (p. 154). Throughout the book it is clear that the writer is equally at home in the Bible and in papal bulls and edicts. This is essentially a section from which Catholics will draw more benefit than others.
The final short section on “The Council, The Church and the World” ties up many references to Christian unity; but as it mainly outlines the doctrinal and constitutional basis of the councils of the church and the position of the pope with regard to them, it is not of much general interest. The passage on page 225 in which the writer says that “Rome is the City of Christ.… The human city will be transmuted into a city of God. Rome will become Jerusalem,” reveals an extravagant idealism that removes this section more than any other from the mind of the Master. In fact, in this section it is clear beyond doubt that whereas Pope John was careful to present the Good Shepherd, “the restorer of human salvation, Jesus Christ,” Pope Paul is more concerned with the fold and with Catholic conditions of re-entry, through the open door, into Christian unity as he conceives it.
Altogether it is a finely arranged selection of addresses, revealing consistency of Catholic thought in front of all problems of the modern world. Behind the imposing structure of the church, her dogmas, and her ritual, there is a certainty of Christian interpretation that many in these days will find increasingly difficult to accept. And there is also a policy toward Christian unity that must undergo radical change if we are to give, as Pope John said, “value, splendour and substance once again to the human and Christian thought of which the Church has been the depository through the centuries.
A. J. MACLEAN
Lutherans Seek A Solution
Church and State Under God, edited by Albert G. Huegli (Concordia, 1964, 516 pp., $8), is reviewed by William A. Mueller, professor of church history, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana.
A group of competent theologians, historians, educators, and jurists who have worked under the auspices of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod since 1955 here present a comprehensive analysis of the ever-crucial church-state problem.
Because of the complexity of the problem and radically changed conditions, the writers sense that today we face unheard-of conditions in church-state relations. Yet they assert with candor that the “essence of the question as to how church and state must live and work together is clearly set forth in the Word of God.”
CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S REVIEW EDITORS CALL ATTENTION TO THESE NEW TITLES:
● Harfier Study Bible, Revised Standard Version, edited by Harold Lindsell (Harper & Row, $9.95). A serviceable study Bible that is soundly evangelical; complete with outlines, introductions, annotations, marginal references, index, concordance, and maps.
● Jesus and the Kingdom, by George Eldon (Harpcr & Row, $5). A recognized New Testament scholar discusses the concept of the Kingdom within the context of current studies, giving special attention to the role of apocalyptic literature.
● Servant of God’s Servants: The Work of a Christian Minister, by Paul M. Miller (Herald, $4.50). A sober analysis of the task of the ministcr that sees him as more than a religious chore-boy and says many needed things often left unsaid.
The Christian, according to chapter 1, recognizes that both church and state are ordained by God. The church, under the Lordship of Christ, is the fellowship of believers and an instrument of God’s redemptive purpose. The state, though ordered of God, has temporal ends, i.e., justice and human welfare. Christians serve the state under God, intercede for it, show it respect and obedience, and act as its conscience. They are ever aware of the possibility of the demonic perversion and abuse of power in both church and state.
Professor Spitz, with theological depth and historical acumen, details the impact of the Reformation on church-state issues. Luther’s concept of church and state stands out in bold relief. The Reformer, often accused of a servile attitude toward rulers, emerges as a courageous critic of princely pelf and power, as do Zwingli and Calvin in the Reformed tradition. Spitz wisely concludes that in the long run the Reformation made a decisive contribution to the growth of representative government, even though that was not its primary concern. Luther’s clear distinction between churchly and state power, Calvin’s constitutionalism, the Anabaptist insistence on voluntarism, and Roger Williams’s grounding of liberty in predestinationist thinking—these, with the Reformers’ vigorous emphasis on God’s sovereignty, put rulers in their place. Historic developments in the British Isles, in Colonial America, and during the Enlightenment made way for the overthrow of absolutism in government and the emergence of free churches in a free state.
The remaining chapters, dealing with post-Reformation theological expressions of the church-state issue in Spain, France, England, and America, are instructive. C. F. W. Walther, an early nineteenth-century leader of Missouri Lutherans who was at odds with the basic assumptions of American political philosophy, argued strongly for separation of church and state. Bishop Eivind Berggrav (1884–1959) of Norway was a modern Lutheran churchman who, under Nazi pressures, rose up against unjust and perverted secular authority in the name of the Christian conscience.
Professor Carl S. Meyer’s treatment of the “Development of the American Pattern” is very illuminating, showing the constant interaction between church and state since colonial times. The constitutional enactments bearing on non-establishment; the struggle for complete religious liberty after 1776, with Baptists among the outstanding advocates of this tenet; the formation of independent churches in friendly relation to the American government; the attempts to mold America into a Christian community; the veiled and open messianism that often (and to this very hour) tends to identify the Kingdom of God with the American Dream; the growth of Roman Catholicism in the United States and the attendant complications of church-state relations; the emergence of public education in the first half of the nineteenth century—these are all discussed in their wide-ranging complexity.
In the final chapter the editor, Albert G. Huegli, discusses “New Dimensions in Church-State Relations.” With the rise of totalitarian regimes, new questions are posed in an area where tension and conflict will never be completely overcome. For Christians, loyalty to Jesus Christ is uppermost. In a pluralistic society they must be in continuous dialogue with those of other persuasions. In the Christian view, Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed are in basic agreement that both church and state are instruments of God. A renewed study of Holy Writ, an openness to new truth will help Christians to find creative solutions and adjustments for the problems that arise between churches and their governments.
WILLIAM A. MUELLER
The Congregation in Mission, by George W. Webber (Abingdon, 1964, 208 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Robert H. Stephens, pastor, Central Presbyterian Church, Summit, New Jersey.
What might happen if the life of a Christian congregation were organized around Bible study—not the perfunctory pattern of pastor expounding the obvious to the elect circle of the pious, but a bringing of the whole church into serious wrestling (in small groups) with the Living Word? This is the heart of The Congregation in Mission, and in chapter 4 (“The Living Covenant”) Dr. Webber tells how this type of Bible study was developed as the heartbeat of parish life in the East Harlem Protestant parish where he is one of the ministers.
His aim in this book is to analyze the shape of the urban culture in which people live today, to examine the significant failures of present church life, and, through listening to both the Gospel and the realities of the world, to attempt to discover what the shape of the Church must be in our time. Some of his conclusions may be disturbing, some may seem far out; but no one can fail to be stimulated and prodded by his questing. He writes from the viewpoint of the inner city; but “the facts of history demonstrate that we live in an urban world,” and his insights could help us in suburbia and elsewhere to some critical, creative questing.
The chapters on “The Challenge of the City” and “The Church and the City” point up much of what we have been hearing in this field. “The Emerging Theological Consensus” is a helpful survey of relevant theology. Webber suggests “politics” as the “unifying concept that would make clear the relation between the church and the world, between God and his creation”—not politics as we commonly use the word, but politics meaning “the art of making and keeping men truly human,” a definition deriving from Aristotle. “This is precisely what the Christian faith is all about. God, the Christian confesses, is at work in the world to redeem men, to restore them to their true humanity, and to maintain them in this relationship” (p. 49).
The author would set worship at the heart of congregational life, and Holy Communion at the heart of worship. The Christian “ ‘style of life’ will not focus primarily on a new piety, but on preparation for witness and service in a world which has rejected God,” a style of life that may be termed “holy worldliness.” Thus the gathered life of the church will center around two foci: corporate worship and cellular units, the latter involved in Bible study, in developing a laity prepared for dispersion into the world.
It is hard for this reviewer to accept Webber’s views of evangelism (pp. 160 ff.), but they should be pondered as the views of a dedicated man who is spending his life in the world’s hardest mission field, the inner city.
This is an excellent book, lucidly written, enriching, disturbing, stimulating. From it could be born creative renewal of congregational life. It deserves wide reading.
ROBERT H. STEPHENS
For Directors Of Music
Twentieth Century Church Music, by Erik Routley (Oxford, 1964, 244 pp., $5), is reviewed by Robert Elmore, organist, Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
This book is a splendid survey of church music from the beginning of the century up to the present. It is written largely from the British viewpoint, and since much of our church music derives from England, this is not necessarily detrimental. The author does, however, omit much that could be said about American church music.
Beginning with Queen Victoria’s funeral and citing the repertoire for that solemn occasion as indicative of the best church music of the time, Routley moves into the reconstruction begun by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. A very perceptive analysis of the reforms instituted by these composers gives background for later trends in this century.
American readers will be particularly interested in Mr. Routley’s insight into the music of Benjamin Britten, whose genius is as admired here as in his native Britain. The author points out that all of Britten’s church works have been written for specific occasions in particular churches, and that all have become classics. The necessity of writing for definite combinations of voices and instruments in certain acoustical situations has refined the composer’s craft and raised his technical competence to the level of genius. One is reminded of the fact that no less a composer than Bach wrote music for specific occasions, most of which has endured and become classic.
American organists will welcome the author’s discussion of contemporary organ music. His treatment of Messaien, highly favored in this country at present, is particularly perceptive and penetrating.
His remarks on light music in church and particularly on “evangelistic ‘pop’ ” are worth the price of the volume. For a writer of his scholarship and background, he is surprisingly gentle in his discussion of the gospel hymn, pointing out that it is not necessarily “bad” music. He does make the statement that this music is entirely unoriginal “in the sense of owing everything to the musical tradition that surrounds it.” His strongest statement about this music is: “The great error was in presenting the Christian faith as something whose image in music was the second-rate and second-hand.” Many of us would say “Amen!” to this.
This, then, is a book for the serious church musican who is interested in and concerned about church music and has the welfare of music in the service close to his heart.
The Nature Of Truth
A Philosophical Study of Religion, by David Hugh Freeman (Craig Press [Box 13, Nutley, N. J.], 1964, 267 pp., $3.75), is reviewed by Gordon H. Clark, professor of philosophy, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Titles similar to this cover so much ground that a reader unaware of what a particular book includes and omits could easily and unjustly be disappointed. This volume has a minimum on the classical proofs of God’s existence: twenty pages cover Anselm, Aquinas, Hume, and Kant.
On the other hand, well-written sections on Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism provide, not only interesting information to Westerners who know little of the East, but also philosophic contrasts with Christianity that might not otherwise be so clearly noted.
The main philosophic content of the book deals with the definition of religion, the problem of revelation, and, in two solid chapters, the most pertinent modern objections to revealed religion. It is quite clear that the author does not reduce religious language to Ayer’s unverifiable nonsense; nor does he attempt to develop the concept of God out of sensory images, as Mascall does; nor will he allow the gullible college student to rest at ease in a superficial scientism. Positively he argues that God has revealed information that can he rationally understood, with which a philosophy of religion must deal, and without which a true religion cannot exist.
GORDON H. CLARK
Parish Back Talk, by Browne Barr (Abingdon, 1964, 128 pp., $2.50). The Lyman Beecher Lectures in which a minister replies to the critics of the local church.
A Concise History of Church Music, by William C. Rice (Abingdon, 1964, 128 pp., $2.50.) A non-technical discussion of the most important persons and events, representative compositions, instruments, and musical forms in church music from its earliest beginnings. Arranged according to historical periods. Contains a bibliography of additional readings. A handy, indexed reference for busy pastors and laymen.
More Southern Baptist Preaching, compiled and edited by H. C. Brown, Jr. (Broadman, 1964, 165 pp., $2.95). Eighteen Southern Baptist leaders contribute sermons and helpfully describe their methods of sermon preparation.
Her Best for the Master: Selected Poems of Martha Snell Nicholson, compiled by F. J. Wiens (Moody, 1964, 96 pp., $1.95). Particularly good for sick people.
Bible Key Words, Vol. IV, from Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament, by Gerhard Kittel (Harper & Row, 1964, 296 pp., $4.50). A one-volume edition containing two “books”: Law, by Hermann Kleinknecht and W. Gutbrod, and Wrath, by Hermann Kleinknecht, J. Fichtner, G. Stählin, and others.
Open Letter to Evangelicals, by R. E. O. White (Eerdmans, 1964, 256 pp., $4.95). A devotional and homiletic commentary on the First Epistle of John.
Memories of Congo, by J. Hershey Longenecker (Royal Publishers, 1964, 159 pp., $2.95). A biographical account of the missionary-author’s thirty-three years in the Congo.
The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy, by William H. Marnell (Doubleday, 1964, 247 pp., $4.50). An examination of religious freedom in America by a man who believes the First Amendment does not support the recent Supreme Court decisions on prayer and Bible reading in the public schools.
Many But One: The Ecumenics of Charity, by J. H. Jackson (Sheed & Ward, 1964, 211 pp., $4.50).
The Fourth World Conference on Faith and Order: The Report from Montreal 1963, by P. C. Rodger and Lukas Vischer (Association, 1964, 127 pp., $3.95).
Why Not Just Be Christians?, by Vance Havner (Revell, 1964, 128 pp., $2.50). Popular, punchy sermonettes.
Four Northern Lights: Men Who Shaped Scandinavian Churches, by G. Everett Arden (Augsburg, 1964, 165 pp., $3.75).
Hymns of Our Faith: A Handbook for the Baptist Hymnal, by William J. Reynolds (Broadman, 1964, 452 pp., $6). Background information on 554 hymns and tunes, with biographical material on their authors and composers.
Jonah, His Life, Character and Mission, by Patrick Fairbairn (Kregel, 1963, 237 pp., $3.50).
Church and State in the United States, by Anson Phelps Stokes and Leo Pfeffer (Harper & Row, 1964, 660 pp., $12.50). A one-volume abridgment and revision of the definitive three-volume classic, with special attention to the most recent developments in church-and-state relations. Includes substantial additions on public education and a summary of all major court decisions and critical issues.
Unfinished Business, by Maisie Ward (Sheed & Ward, 1964, 374 pp., $5.95). The interesting autobiography of Mrs. Frank Sheed of Sheed & Ward; a competent writing that throws light on the world of her threescore and fifteen years.
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