Uniting The One Church

Anglicanism in Ecumenical Perspective, by William H. van de Pol (Duquesne University, 1965, 293 pp., $6.75), is reviewed by William B. Williamson, rector, Church of the Atonement, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

As the fourth book in the Duquesne Studies, Theological Series, the editors have chosen a work that is both superficially encouraging and profoundly disquieting. On first glance, a non-Roman Christian is tempted to marvel at the freshness and frankness exhibited throughout. The author is one of the “new breed” of Roman Catholic scholars, interested in “renewal” (a word which seems to mean “reform” as Van de Pol uses it), ecumenical activities, and Christian unity, as well as in a position he refers to as “the full riches of the Gospel as they are found in the whole Bible” (p. 253). Significantly enough, Professor van de Pol writes from a background that included twenty-two years as a member of the Dutch Reformed and Lutheran churches and twenty years as a communicant of the Church of England prior to his reception into the Roman (the editor puts the word “Roman” in brackets in his preface) Catholic Church. It is indeed encouraging to find a “convert” who speaks well of his former brothers, with respect for their beliefs and practices. His good will comes through despite a translation that is not always smooth. How the editor who claims that the text was “carefully revised” missed the long, unclear, and poorly structured first sentence could well be discussed by the publisher.

To those who hold a New Testament and thus primitive doctrine of the nature of the Church as a dynamic, inspired institution, the author’s emphasis on the resolution of the right relation between the Church and the Gospel will be welcome. He says, “The Church herself has a place in the Gospel; in other words, her inmost nature cannot be understood except through the Gospel. On the other hand, the Gospel sounds only within the Church.… The Church and the Gospel postulate each other …” (p. 21). Many will agree with Van de Pol that Christian reunion awaits a new and complete “desegregation” of the Church and the Gospel. In addition to the sympathetic treatment he gives to the nature of the Church, the author quite rightly admits to “the positive value of the reformation” (p. 252 f.) and to the need for dialogue not “chained to a priori conditions and restrictions” (p. 223), and notes that “no single church in its isolation can claim to be fully ‘catholic’ ” (p. 238). The reader will find excellent history (Van de Pol claims to be a phenomenologist, but he is in fact a capable historiographer), appreciation of the beliefs and practices of non-Roman Christians, and a healthy beginning toward the public self-criticism and humility which he suggests are criteria for reunion.

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Unfortunately, however, Professor van de Pol’s work reveals some disquieting flaws of language and logic. He seems not to be sure of his use of “catholic” even though he plays with an analysis of the word (p. 238). For instance, he has difficulty in making up his mind on its capitalization, speaking first of “churches of the ‘Catholic’ type” (pp. 164, 232, 233) and then “of the ‘catholic’ type” (pp. 252, 253, 255), and finally dropping the quotes around the non-capitalized word on page 265. It is obvious that he intends “Catholic” to mean Roman Catholic. Of logical interest is the author’s self-contradiction on his “no a priori” criterion for ecumenical dialogue. He establishes this prohibition, but his conclusion reveals that he has at least one a priori prerequisite—a particular (Roman Catholic) concept of the ministry and thus of the sacraments and church discipline (see chapter 9). Furthermore while the author raises some vitally important questions to be considered in ecumenical encounters toward reunion (pp. 190, 270), and a thoughtful “appeal to Truth” (pp. 243, 244), the reader can hardly imagine that Van de Pol expects a serious answer or any action from his own Roman communion. Indeed, even though he agrees that the witness to the Truth is in both Church and Scriptures, he holds that “every individual interpretation of Scripture must be tested by the common faith of the undivided Church” (p. 244). Only the most naïve could fail to identify “the undivided Church” as the Roman Catholic Church in Van de Pol’s prescriptions.

But, of course, Professor van de Pol has a reunion scheme. He sets the stage for it in his sketch of “the Anglican Communion according to Van de Pol.” Describing the Anglo-Catholic sense of Anglicanism as one of “great confusion,” he calls the evangelical (low church) sense “in accord with the real intention of the ‘English Reformation’ and with the actual content of the text and the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer” (p. 107, italics supplied). The author would like an end to the Catholic-Reformed tension (which elsewhere he calls “dynamic” [p. 98] and necessary), and the admission by Anglicanism that it is really a Protestant sect with one happy feature—a ministry that might be acceptable to Rome as a “connecting link between that large Communion and the community of reformational and ‘free’ churches” (p. 274). To accomplish his scheme, Van de Pol would offer that the claim of infallibility, the question of the Petrine office, and non-biblical dogmas, e.g., transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception, and the Assumption, “can be clarified, scrutinized and interpreted” (p. 266). To Anglicans he offers a reconsideration of the Bull of Leo XIII that declared Anglican orders invalid, but he plays with words, e.g., the change of “certainty” to “doubtful” (p. 270). The Van de Pol prescription is simply this, that the “special vocation of Anglicanism” is precisely to “help the reformational and ‘free’ churches find the way to the restoration of a complete apostolic office and the apostolic succession of office … to restore completely the ancient Christian ministry in such a way that the entire unified Church [now in communion with Rome] will be able to accept it” (pp. 267, 268). Obviously, since he claims to give no “answers” nor “personal views” in chapter 9, Professor van de Pol is “putting us on.” Anglicans have often referred to themselves as a “bridge” between Catholic and Reformed traditions; however, a sincere Anglican expects any movement over the bridge to be both ways.

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Glory In Past Tense

Egypt in Color, photographed by Roger Wood, text by Margaret S. Drower (McGraw-Hill, 1964, 160 pp., $25), is reviewed by Frank E. Farrell, adult editor, Gospel Light Publications, Glendale, California.

This book is so good that I must be careful lest I sound more like a salesman than a reviewer. It is an eminently worthy successor to the handsome Greece in Colour, by C. Kerényi and R. D. Hoegler (McGraw-Hill, 1963). The beauty of this second volume’s fifty-nine superb photographs reflects in a measure the glory and grandeur of ancient Egypt. The blue of sky and river, the gold of sun-drenched temple, rock, and desert—these permeate the colorful pages as they range over the familiar landmarks. There is the gigantic hypostyle hall of Karnak introduced by the Avenue of the Sphinxes; Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple blends into towering cliffs; giant figures enigmatically smile down from Nubian temples despite their impending drowning by the High Dam of Aswan.

The text is admirably suited to the photography and points to the close relation of Egyptian art and architecture to religion—“for the whole land of Egypt and its people belonged to the gods.” The use of stone “was the answer to the problem of the search for eternity, the need for a building which would last ‘for ever, like Rê,’ ” the sun-god of Heliopolis. Yet “with their belief in the importance of bodily survival.” the Egyptians came to realize “the melancholy truth that despite all they could do tombs fell into decay or were robbed, and mortuary services were bound in the end to be discontinued.”

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Moral Welfare State

The Enforcement of Morals, by Patrick Devlin (Oxford, 1965, 139 pp., $4 or 25s.), is reviewed by Gordon H. Clark, professor of philosophy, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana.

In England the Wolfenden Committee recommended that homosexual practices between consenting adults should no longer be a crime. Lord Devlin, previously a judge of the Queen’s Bench and now a Lord of Appeal, in the book under review examines the extent to which the law is justified in enforcing morality. He opposes Mill’s libertarian principle that “the only purpose for which power ran be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” This principle is stressed by the Wolfenden Committee, in the words, “There must be a realm of private morality and immorality which is, in brief and crude terms, not the law’s business.”

In defending the enforcement of morality, Lord Devlin, with the detailed knowledge of his profession, notes the peculiarities of English law. Homosexuality between males is a crime, but between females it is not. Adultery and prostitution are not crimes; indeed, prostitutes are relieved of all legal obligation to pay rent on the houses they occupy. Incest became a crime only fifty years ago. With many examples, some of which only a lawyer with a technical knowledge of tort and contract could follow, it is no wonder that the author can conclude, “In law making logic will always be defeated by necessity.”

Jurisprudence, however, ought to exhibit some degree of consistency, and Lord Devlin’s principle, the opposite of Mill’s, is: “There are no theoretical limits to the power of the state to legislate against treason, sedition, and … immorality” (p. 14). He cites the 1961 decision of the House of Lords that “there remains in the courts of law a residual power to enforce … the moral welfare of the state” (p. 88). Again, “Can then the judgment of society sanction every invasion of a man’s privacy, however, extreme? Theoretically that must be so; there is no theoretical limitation” (p. 118).

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Who then determines what morality is? The author answers, Society. Accepting a thoroughly secular viewpoint, he more definitely indicates that the morality to be enforced is whatever twelve jurymen can agree upon. At present, juries cannot be persuaded to prohibit prostitution, they can be persuaded to prohibit homosexuality between males, and they insist that a man must support the wife he divorces for adultery. Furthermore, Muslims residing in England must forego polygamy, and Jews must not open their shops on Sunday. Of course, this does not interfere with the freedom of religion, for there is a sharp distinction between religion and morality, and these moral impositions have no religious basis—they are simply the present decisions of Society.

This theory is, of course, totalitarianism. God is ignored; Society is supreme; individualism is abhorred; morality is relative; and religion, defined by the state, is reduced to a triviality that ought to have no political or social implications. Would it not be highly immoral to vote for or against a candidate on the ground of his religion? England is not the only land in which important judges enunciate the secularism of common opinion. And while in theory Christians may believe that God is supreme, they must in practice recognize that Society has the power, if not the right, to enforce every invasion of a man’s privacy, no matter how extreme. Heil Hitler!


As Seen From The Press Box

The Deacon Wore Spats: Profiles from America’s Changing Religious Scene, by John T. Stewart (Holt, Rinehart and Winsion, 1965, 191 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by James Daane, assistant editor, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

The author of these profiles of American religious life is himself a man of many profiles. An ordained Methodist minister who served Methodist and Congregational churches for more than twoscore years, Stewart also taught English and history in high school and junior college, served as area director of the Farm Security Administration during World War II, and was for many years religious editor of the St. Louis Dispatch. His salty book, brilliantly written, will fascinate anyone interested in America’s religious situation from the turn of the century, when the deacon wore cutaway and spats, until the present.

Stewart claims to write as a newspaper man. “I had to tell it the way it was,” he says, “without fear or favor, and most of this book could not have been written except by the reporter in me. It is all factual. I was there.”

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Stewart’s book is largely factual and fair, though his own—rather liberal—theology shines through, for on his own avowal he is not a man without religious passion. With the color and excitement that came from being there, Stewart presents his personal account of the days of William Jennings Bryan, of the early athletic revivalists and the tobacco-chewing evangelists, of Pike, Fosdick, Peale, Martin Luther King, and many others. He compares Billy Sunday and Billy Graham, and describes the changes that have occurred in both the theology and the pulpits of the American church.

While one could wish for a similar book by a minister-reporter of a more conservative theological turn, many of Stewart’s assessments are worth pondering. After asserting that in the early 1900s preaching was the first business of a minister, he continues, “The ministry becomes more and more specialized, like medicine and advertising copy, and few general practitioners are left who find their chief satisfaction in the pulpit. (This is the biggest change I have seen in the practice of the old profession.) More young men and women are going to theological seminaries, but the seminaries are turning out fewer preachers. And the members of the younger generation of pastors with churches do not really enjoy preaching; they kiss it off as a quaint chore.” Further, “The current movement for ‘more participation by the laity in church life’ really means that ordained ministers are expendable. They may serve but they cannot lead.”

The Blake-Pike proposal, which, says Stewart, covered the waterfront and whose details are as familiar as the ringing of church bells, lost its blaze and by 1962 was already only a flicker. Speaking of the ecumenical movement as a whole, he says, “The movement for church unity is now in the doldrums. The practical difficulties have proved to be a thousand times more formidable than was foreseen in the recent burst of enthusiasm.”

On sermons, Stewart, who heard many as a reporter, says this; “The tragic sense of life is missing from most American preaching.… Expounding Bible texts and themes is not every man’s dish. In too many sermons the argument bogs down in what might be called the fine print at the bottom of the page.… In most city churches, large and small, the religion editor in search of his story finds that, increasingly, the sermon counts for less and less.… Sermons have no cutting edge that might prick an uneasy conscience or balloon of pride. Some I have heard sounded like edited tape recordings of sessions in pastoral counseling. The language was a jargon of amateur psychoanalysis plus Pollyanna.” Stewart then gives examples he took down verbatim and adds, “It would be fun to see a national contest arranged to bring forth new hymns of the Christian faith expressing this gibberish.” A conservative churchman reading Stewart will have a haunting feeling that the kind of theology Stewart appears to be committed to has made a fair-sized contribution to the situation which even he deplores.

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We smile at the cutaway and the spats, but maybe the deacon who had a preacher with a message had something to celebrate. And I suspect that I am here touching an idea that can’t be just kissed off.


The Cross Has Many Faces

The Cross in the New Testament, by Leon Morris (Eerdmans, 1965, 454 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Richard C. Oudersluys, professor of New Testament language and literature, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan.

The immediately impressive thing about this book is the magnitude both of the subject and of the treatment. The author sets for himself the formidable task of surveying the teaching of the New Testament on Christ’s atonement. Beginning with the Gospels and ending with the Apocalypse, Dr. Morris interrogates each book for its contribution to the subject. Along the way he engages in competent discussion with modern scholars and their findings, not hesitating to express courteous, scholarly assent or dissent with their exegetical findings. The expositions are replete with important word-studies, insights into biblical metaphors, and helpful summaries of the conceptual contribution of each New Testament writing.

Equally impressive are the conclusions Morris draws from his exegetical findings. There is in the New Testament doctrine of the Atonement considerable variety as well as substantial unity, and Morris seeks to do justice to both. While he finds the unity in fourteen principal points of agreement (pp. 364–93), full importance is given also to the individual view of the New Testament writers (pp. 394 ff.). He finds considerable more evidence for the substitutionary view of Christ’s death than most modern scholars allow, and he contends that this substitution is at the heart of what the New Testament says about the Atonement (p. 404 f.).

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In regard to theories of the Atonement, Morris contends only for “a decent humility in this matter” (p. 401). Narrow partisans of particular views are gently rebuked. “The atonement is too big and too complex for our theories. We need not one but all of them, and even then we have not plumbed the subject to its depths” (p. 401). The book closes with full registers of authors, subjects, and Scripture references, and a short classified statement of all the New Testament references to the death of Christ, borrowed from Dr. Wilbur M. Smith.

This is the kind of book the evangelical reader has come to expect from Dr. Morris. It is a model of clarity, biblical scholarship, and balanced, conservative theology. Here is unfolded the meaning of the Cross in the New Testament for the Church then and now. One matter of methodology concerns me, and that is this kind of concentration upon the Cross in separation from the Resurrection of Christ. Even in a scholarly study, is it biblical to view the Cross from a pre-Easter standpoint? From his theology of the Cross it is obvious that Dr. Morris does not take such a standpoint, but I found myself wishing that he had stressed more the significance of the Resurrection for the total view of the Atonement, thereby illuminating for us those eschatological perspectives so important to our redemption and to the reality of the Church.


Verse And Verse

Poems of Inspiration and Courage, by Grace Noll Crowell (Harper and Row, 1965, 214 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by Calvin D. Linton, dean of arts and sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, D. C.

In every age there is a body of widely popular poetry that serves a mass need: to say ordinary things better (or at least more memorably) than casual utterance does. There are, loosely speaking, two kinds. Pope spoke of one: “What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed.” This is poetry that gratifies the mind by intellectual agility, rhetorical skill, syntactical competence, verbal felicity. Even more popular is the second kind, poetry that does the same thing for the emotions—what oft is felt but not often so well dressed in imagery, rhythm, rhyme, and so forth. It is almost always a better seller than great poetry, when it is new. (Quarles was much more popular than Milton in the seventeenth century.) It is almost always poetry of “the middle range”—standard prosody, standard rhymes, standard diction, standard values. It is “Trees” (as compared, say, to “Prufrock”). It is decent, quotable (Gray’s “Elegy” is the most quoted poem in the language), and usually quite pleasant. Just like James Whitcomb Riley. It makes no demands the average sensibility is not equipped to supply.

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None of this is meant to be derogatory, simply definitive. The verse of Mrs. Grace Noll Crowell is of the sort described. For example: “I shall store within my soul today/ Some precious sunny bit of cheer/ In case tomorrow’s clouds be gray,/ Its wind blow cold, its leaves be sere.…” Or “We come to God by devious ways,/ And who am I to say/ That the road I take is the only road,/ My way, the better way.” Many of her most popular poems are descriptive, seeking the kind of freshness of vision of ordinary things which reminds one of W. H. Davies. “The poplar tree at the garden gate/ Reaches through moonlight, straight and tall,/ A great star quivering at its tip/ Like molten fire ready to fall.” A good deal is simply metrical exposition: “The preparation of an evening meal/ By any woman, anywhere, may be/ A ceremony beautiful to see.”

The present volume is an anthology of the best pieces contained in some thirty-six of her previous publications. Her many readers will surely, in the words of Faith Baldwin, “be grateful that someone has put in words for them what they themselves must often think.”


Book Briefs

No Rusty Swords, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Harper and Row, 1965, 384 pp., $4.50). A volume of collected writings, both theological and autobiographical, by the author of The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together.

Conquering, by Wesley H. Hager (Eerdmans, 1965, 110 pp., $2.95). Practical, evangelical sermonettes.

Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?: A Lawyer Looks at the Evidence, by Albert L. Roper (Zondervan, 1965, 54 pp., $1.95). A lawyer aims to prove the resurrection of Christ by examining only the evidence in John’s Gospel as it appears in the Amplified version of the New Testament. The jacket claims the author “does not leave it all to faith alone,” and thus “makes the Bible narrative applicable to today.” Well-meant confusion.

Learning to Worship, by Edna M. Baxter (Judson, 1965, 255 pp., $3.95). A book dedicated to what few churches teach, on the assumption perhaps that worship comes naturally. Even if worship is more caught than taught, they who project the influence should know what they are doing. A good book.

Word and Redemption: Essays in Theology 2, by Hans Urs von Balthasar (Herder and Herder, 1965, 175 pp., $3.95). A great Roman Catholic theologian writes theology in the grand style, i.e., with religious passion.

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The Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter R. Martin (Zondervan, 1965, 443 pp., $5.95). Though the author does not believe Seventh-day Adventistism is among the cults, he gives it extensive treatment in an appendix in an effort to do it justice and set the record straight.

Christian Faith and the Church, by H. Jackson Forstman (Bethany Press, 1965, 190 pp., $3.50). An interesting theological writing, some of whose theological supports may be seriously questioned.

Psychology and Religion: An Introduction to Contemporary Views, by G. Stephens Spinks (Beacon, 1965, 221 pp., $4.95). A study of the psychology of religion in this century with special attention to Freud and Jung.

Faith and the World, by Albert Dondeyne (Duquesne University, 1965, 324 pp., $5). A Dutch Roman Catholic probes the significance Christianity ought to and could have in the whole of human life and history. Recommended reading.

Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, by John T. Noonan, Jr. (Harvard University, 1965, 561 pp., $7.95). The first account of the growth of the church’s doctrine from the first century to the present, the forces shaping it, and its potentiality for development.

Gospel Spirituality, by B. M. Chevignard, O. P. (Sheed and Ward, 1965, 183 pp., $3.95). In an age that tends to externalize religion, Father Chevignard shows the meaning of Christianity for the inner life.


Jews and Christians: Preparation for Dialogue, edited by George A. F. Knight (Westminster, 1965, 191 pp., $2.45). Although this assessor must dissent at one or two crucial points, these are brilliant essays (the most brilliant: Jacob Jocz’s “The Advantage of the Jew”) that rightly hold to the thesis that an authentic Christian theology must include a theology of Israel, since this is an essential ingredient of a theology of Christ. Highly recommended to all thinking Christians.

On Edge, by Jim Crane (John Knox, 1965, 80 pp., $1.25). Humorous cartoons with a satirical bite. Most have appeared previously in Motive and the Evergreen Review.

Many Dimensions, The Place of the Lion, and Shadows of Ecstasy, by Charles Williams (Eerdmans; 1965; 269, 206, and 224 pp.; $1.95 each). Unusually perceptive novels of the glory and terror of life, by an extraordinary author who deserves to be more widely known.

Repentance unto Life: What It Means to Repent, by J. Kenneth Grider (Beacon Hill, 1965, 80 pp., $1). Popular and substantial discussion of repentance by a Nazarene Wesleyan Arminian.

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Architecture and the Church, by the Commission on Church Architecture of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (Concordia, 1965, 104 pp., $3).

Creation and Fall and Temptation (one volume), by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Macmillan. 1965, 128 pp., $.95). Provocative reading that will provoke in more ways than one.

The New Creation as Metropolis, by Gibson Winter (Macmillan, 1965, 152 pp., $.95). “The servant Church is the fellowship of those who are conscious of their freedom as men to constitute the future.… The sphere of religious obedience shifts from the religious organization to the historical decisions of mankind.”

Theology for Everyman, by John H. Gerstner (Moody, 1965, 127 pp., $.39). An evangelical, compact systematic theology. Lucid and biblically grounded.

Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, introduction by Clyde S. Kilby (Moody, 1965, 256 pp., $.89). An edition of the famous novel that includes many of the Christian elements found in the original but omitted in later editions.

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