Speaking of God: The Nature and Purpose of Theological Language, by William Hordern (Macmillan, 1964, 209 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Samuel J. Mikolaski, professor of theology, International Baptist Theological Seminary, Rüschlikon-Zürich, Switzerland.

Fortunately the author admits that his book, which takes account of logical positivism and logical analysis as they bear on theology, is a beginning, not a final statement. What he intends as a revision of traditionally accepted ideas is not clear. What is clear is that this book marks a significant alteration of his theological stance, though it is expressed in a confused way.

It is hard to see what advance is made in exposition and argument beyond that of recent essayists like Michael Foster, Thomas MacPherson, I. M. Crombie, Austin Farrer, Ronald Hepburn, C. B. Martin, H. D. Lewis, R. M. Hare, Basil Mitchell, Ian Ramsey, and especially that of the late W. F. Zuurdeeg in this country, upon whom Hordern leans heavily. Too much of the argument moves around uncertainly defined class concepts such as “classical fundamentalism,” “neo-orthodoxy,” “logical positivism,” “logical atomism,” and “analytical philosophy” (especially since writers of the philosophy of analysis refuse to call themselves a school).

While it is commonly known that the philosopher A. J. Ayer decided that all ethical, aesthetic, and theological statements are literally nonsense, it is not true that this is now the center of recent dialogue, as Michael Foster and H. D. Lewis have shown. When Hordern says that “Analytical Philosophy forces us to ask whether statements about God can be meaningful at all apart from special revelation” (p. 165), he misses the point. Recent writers are quite content to allow the meaningfulness of such statements (i.e., that they have a logic of their own) but not their truth. Truth is central to the dialogue, and truth is what Hordern avoids. Thus H. D. Lewis properly begins his now widely known book with this statement: “The claim that a religion is true appears to be a fundamental one which the advocate of a particular religion would find it hard to avoid” (Our Experience of God, 1959, p. 21). If we must leave the discussion swinging helplessly in the circle of language games, then Antony Flew with others has the argument hands down.

By adapting Zuurdeeg’s premise that convictions are sufficient grounds for action, Professor Hordern attempts to make out a case for the decisional character of faith, or its “convictional” base. Thus, he claims, “faith is response to a convictor” (p. 169). But the convictional base of a logic is not new; it is at least as old as Aristotle. Nevertheless, while Aristotle grounded the un-demonstrable archai in an unshakable conviction (pistis), one of three criteria of their validity was their truth: they must be true in fact; they must have an accurate ontological reference (Posterior Analytics)—with which point Hordern fails to grapple.

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Where there is a clash of convictions (p. 103), how does one decide between them? I do not see that falling in love with a woman is quite so similar to the convictional basis of faith as is alleged. To be sure, falling in love involves a conviction that she alone will do (p. 169). But in love she is there (actually, really) in such a way that should I transpose the case to the basis of faith suggested here, the uncertainty of her truly being there and being of such and such proportions would make the experience very flat indeed! The issue of truth or falsity simply cannot be ignored. It just does not do to overlay the problem with a suffusion of sentimental words like “response.” What is wrong with manly words like belief, truth, fact? In the entire range of discussion on the convictional nature of theological language (p. 172–83) there is failure to grapple with the nature and truth of the Gospel as against theistic mystique; failure to acknowledge that not simply historical fact but the truth of apostolically interpreted event is the stuff of the New Testament, and that knowledge (if there is a Gospel) is inseparable from Christian faith. No real resolution of the relation of language games to what is actually the case has been offered.

For example, Hordern says “the Christian has been met by the love of God in the form of Christ on the Cross. Here he finds the meaning of God’s love, and it is a suffering love” (p. 77). Is this true? Why doesn’t the Cross register calloused divine indifference, or the non-existence of God? Must we not grapple with the truth of the apostolic statements—is this not what Scripture intends? Is it true that “in the Cross and the Resurrection God demonstrated his ability to transform evil into good,” or is it true also that in the Resurrection Jesus arose actually from the grave? Thus the concession that the sentence “God is love” must convey truth (p. 157) is at least a hint of the direction in which the argument must move.

In fact, Hordern concedes what he is reluctant to say, namely, that one cannot have the knowledge of God without the knowledge about God. Once this is admitted, the existentialist basis of faith yields to the truth functions of sentences as a part, at least, of what falls properly under the term “revelation.” Thus in discussing the language of personal relations he admits that “since the real self of a person is revealed through his ‘word,’ we must know something of his history in order to know him” (p. 150), and, “to know the purpose of a man we need to have him speak his ‘word’ ” (p. 154). When to this he adds on the same page that “theological answers can be true or false because they are cognitive claims,” we sense the substance of what Scripture as the word of God must be, namely, the truth of God.

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What is said here is old hat. Dr. Kenneth L. Pike, a professor of linguistics, noted similar points in comments on Hordern’s earlier work (see CHRISTIANITY TODAY, “Strange Dimensions of Truth,” May 8, 1961). It remains only to add what I have asked previously in these columns: Does revelation have something to do with truth, and does truth have something to do with language? Unless the answer is yes, we evacuate ourselves from history, for language as a divinely used vehicle is just a part of history.

Gilson’S Fret

The Arts of the Beautiful, by Etienne Gilson (Scribners, 1965, 189 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by Stanley M. Wiersma, associate professor of English, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Is art an interpretation of reality? Self-expression? A work made according to a prescribed tradition and according to specific rules? Communication of mood? These questions are all the proper concern of a book about aesthetics, according to Gilson’s definition. The Arts of the Beautiful is not about aesthetics; rather, it is about man making things. Aesthetics is homo loquens and homo sapiens; art is homo faber.

Homo loquens is mentioned before homo sapiens by intent; all of us now and again approve or condemn works of art without knowing what we are talking about. In effect, we practice aesthetics before we know what art is. Defining what art is (and is not) is Gilson’s task in this work, a prolegomena to aesthetics.

What makes the book on this apparently obvious and undramatic subject unexpectedly subtle and dramatic is Gilson’s consciousness throughout of opponents: Kant and Hegel. The German idealists have persuaded the world that all reality is Mind. Modern man, consequently, confuses being and knowing at every turn. Every modern book attempting to define what art is shifts, without the author’s awareness, it seems, to a consideration of what art does to the beholder. Gilson’s thesis is that “art appreciation is one thing and art another, just as the art of the epicure is one thing and that of the cook is another.”

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While no one would disagree with a distinction so obvious, Gilson’s fret is that the distinction is consistently neglected in our everyday language. Art appreciation, art history, art criticism, and art theory are all legitimate enterprises, and that the boundaries between these “knowing” disciplines should be fluid is not the problem; the problem is that the teacher or student of appreciation, history, criticism, or theory is said to teach or study art. One teaches or studies art, says Gilson, only when one teaches or studies as a practicing artist the craft by which art is made. For instance, teaching creative writing is really teaching literature; teaching Milton’s poems is really teaching literature appreciation.

The confusion between art and aesthetics has led to the Babel of contemporary art-criticism. A work of art is too often judged, not by what it is as art, but by what a given critic knows about it. One painting may be judged by several critics respectively as good realism, bad expressionism, indifferent abstractionism, and excellent social criticism. While each critic has his own set of criteria, he is hard put to evaluate a work of art as art.

That such confusion exists will be no news to church musicians who demand high standards, to building committees in process of urging democratic approval of a sanctuary blueprint, or to Christian novelists who are aware both of the sanctimonious tripe that will yield royalties and of what their art as art ought to be.

In effect, Gilson is testing the current situation in the arts (which all of us recognize) against the Poetics of Aristotle. The Poetics deals only with drama, but Gilson applies the theories of that work to all of the arts. A Catholic and a Thomist (hence his regard for Aristotle), Gilson appends to his seven chapters of analysis according to Aristotle’s principles an eighth chapter entitled “Art and Christianity,” a donum super additum. “Art should be at its best when the cause to be served is religion.” Is not even an artist’s secular work religious? Gilson “redeems” art to rationality by Aristotle’s principles, and then subordinates it to religion.

Gilson cannot, of course, merely parrot a tradition that says so little about the arts. Of all the arts, Aristotle wrote only on drama; Aquinas wrote that “poetic knowledge is of objects which cannot be grasped because they are not true,” and thus dismissed all art from consideration. In spite of the lack of specific guidance, Gilson has so successfully absorbed the spirit of the Aristotle-Aquinas tradition that he can make it relevant to a contemporary situation that would baffle both Aristotle and Aquinas. For instance, Gilson vindicates abstract art in terms of his tradition; when he opposes the German idealists, he has a point of view to substitute for theirs. We evangelicals can learn better from him than from most contemporary scholars that standing in a long tradition need not be limiting, and may indeed be liberating—provided that the tradition is alive.

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Of course, he is part of a misdirected tradition. It will take more than a clean Aristotelean distinction between making and knowing to solve the problems of the arts today. It will take more than subordinating art to religion to make art a significant expression of Christianity. It will take grace and patience for us evangelicals to develop some academic definitions and distinctions of our own. Certainly it is not doing justice to the precision of Gilson’s book to say in criticism of it, “Christ is the answer,” without suggesting the direction in which that Answer points in the arts today.


When Hope Is Gone

Images of Hope, by William P. Lynch, S.J., (Helicon, 1965, 119 pages, $5.95), is reviewed by Orville S. Walters, director of health services and lecturer in psychiatry, University of Illinois, Urbana.

“We have no psychology of hope. This book was written to remedy the deficiency.” The foreword to this book, written by a psychoanalyst, thus states its purpose and theme. The author himself describes the final section of his work as a “metaphysics of hope.” The abstract nature of the subject combined with a somewhat discursive style, makes the whole volume seem more metaphysical than psychological.

Father Lynch writes of hope especially as applicable to the mentally ill. The sick are usually the victims of entrapment in structures of thought, feeling, and action that are rigid and inflexible, and that seem, therefore, to be “absolutes.” The “interior giant” of instinct tends to absolutize everything. For example, if we love, we think we should have no negative feelings. If we hate, we fear that we do not love. The psychiatrist must create or restore the capacity to tolerate ambivalent feelings, making it possible for the patient to love and hate.

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Hope, on the other hand, is always relative to help, offering the fundamental conviction that there is a way out of difficulty, that there are solutions. The sickness is real and painful, but it grows out of a fantasy image of the self. This is to be met by the psychology of the immediate, which maintains that even the sick are human and can love. This view, while it may work slowly, can lead the sick out of their entrapment. To have the image of oneself as human is the beginning of hope.

Central in any understanding of hope is the act of wishing. “When we cannot wish, we are sick.” Christianity itself proclaims the centrality of wishing and hoping. Imagination, the capacity to form proper images of the world, is an essential element in healing, leading out of fantasy and lies into fact and existence.

The book closes with a forty-page supplement that carries a dozen abstracts from psychiatric journals and books that bear upon the author’s theme. There are also extensive references for each chapter and a lengthy bibliography.

This is a valuable contribution to a subject upon which comparatively little has been written.


Mental Retardation

The Gifts They Bring: Our Debt to the Mentally Retarded, by Pearl S. Buck and Gweneth Zarfoss (John Day, 1965, 156 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by Herbert H. Graening, director of religious services and chaplain, Beatrice State Home for Mentally Retarded, Beatrice, Nebraska.

This work is a welcome addition to the increasing number of books on mental retardation published during the last several years. It was written for parents, relatives, and friends of retarded children, and for others who are interested in the mentally retarded. Its approach is new and refreshing. Generally books in this area concentrate on how to “make life more enjoyable and meaningful for the retarded.” This book is “the story of some of the things these children do and have done for all of us, of some of the benefits they bring us, both tangible and intangible.” Indeed, by trying to meet their needs we have learned to meet some of our own.

The portions dealing with “Seeking New Truths,” “Educational Advancement for Retarded,” “Design for Living,” “Care Away from Home,” and “Society’s Responsibility” will be helpful to those who are struggling to do all they can for their retarded one. The final chapter, “Their Gift to Us,” sets forth some of the things the retarded have taught us, such as the ability to love, patience, consideration, the rights of every family member, and respect for the human being. This chapter is the climax to a book that has as one of its aims to help parents to see their problem in the proper perspective and thus to accept without qualm or feeling of guilt “the forever child” God has placed in their family.

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Many readers may be disappointed, as was this reviewer, that the authors make no mention of the religious feelings and spiritual yearnings of the retarded.


Jesus As Israel

The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: The Gospel According to Luke, by E. J. Tinsley (Cambridge, 1965, 217 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Fred L. Fisher, professor of New Testament, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, California.

There is always need for a good commentary. This one on Luke, a part of the “Cambridge Bible Commentary” series on the New English Bible, is well written, well arranged, easy to use, and modern in its approach. Tinsley takes his position (rightly, I think) with modern scholars in believing that the Gospels are theological rather than biographical in nature. Contrary to many other scholars, he finds the central motif of Luke in the phrase: “Jesus—a sign which men reject” (2:34). He thinks that Jesus deliberately enacted the role of Israel in his earthly ministry. Here is food for thought, and a new possibility in our search for Luke’s theology.

His comments on the text are terse and to the point, taking advantage of modern knowledge and resources. Unfortunately, the evidence to support them is not always given, no doubt because of the need for brevity. The Bible student will find help in the comments but should use another commentary to check on the opinions expressed.


No, Not Very

Mental Health Through Christian Community: The Local Church’s Ministry of Growth and Healing, by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. (Abingdon, 1965, 300 pp., $4.75), is reviewed by Gary R. Collins, assistant professor of psychology, Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota.

The author of this book convincingly argues that mental health should be a vital concern of the local church and attempts to present practical guidelines for improving the church’s mental health ministry. After a chapter that distinguishes between a mentally healthy and a mentally unhealthy religion, the major portion of the book discusses ways in which the church can improve the mental health of its members through the worship service, preaching, the prophetic ministry, the church school, the family life programs, small church groups, administration, and the pastor’s counseling activities.

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The author succeeds admirably in presenting a practical guidebook. He discusses such diverse topics as the functions of a good administrator, some criteria for Sunday school teacher selection, the goals of premarital counseling, and some techniques for ministering to the mentally ill and their families. The book is well organized, thought-provoking, clearly written, carefully documented, and supplemented with an up-to-date bibliography and a list of additional resources.

It may be difficult for some readers to overlook the author’s theology. The description of original sin as “a symbolic way of expressing a truth that … neurosis … is passed through the generations,” the suggestion that man’s fall was “a mythological … way of describing the birth of self awareness and conscience,” and the attempt to explain the Lord’s Supper in terms of “conflicts which occurred during the ‘oral’ stage of infancy” are examples of theology that is not very conservative.

For the reader who is not distracted by the author’s theology, however, this book should provide stimulating and helpful reading.


Exciting Book

Religious Behavior: Where Sociology and Religion Meet, by Oliver R. Whitley (Prentice-Hall, 1964, 177 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Glenn W. Samuelson, associate professor of sociology, West Chester State College, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

In recent years a number of books in the area of the sociology of religion have been rolling off the nation’s presses. This new one, Religious Behavior, joins such others as Protestant, Catholic and Jew, Christ and Culture, The Noise of Solemn Assembly, The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, and The Church as a Social Institution.

Oliver R. Whitley, professor of sociology at Iliff School of Theology, endeavors to bring about an increasing dialogue between sociologists and religionists, both of whom are concerned with understanding religious behavior. He is trained and experienced in both theology and sociology, and his stimulating volume will capture the attention of theologians, sociologists, and ministers.

The titles and subtitles of the seven provocative chapters give an overview of the content and contributions of the book: “The Improper Study of Man and His Gods: The Possibility of a Sociology of Religion”; “Men at Work: The Current Situation of the Sociology of Religion”; “The Church: Divine Fellowship or Human Organization”; “Is God a Livin’ Doll?: Some Sociological Reflections on the So-called Religious Revival”; “Suburbia: Demi-Paradise or Babylonian Captivity for the Church”; “The Coordination of the Saints: Denominations, Polity, and Power in the Organizational Society”; and “Who and What Is a Minister?: The Changing Role of the Protestant Minister.”

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Whitley agrees in part with Gibson Winter about the “suburban captivity of the churches,” saying: “The case for regarding the suburban church as a kind of middleclass pep rally, with the ministers leading the cheers and urging the reluctant to get on the bandwagon with the other decent, respectable, and right-thinking people, seem quite compelling.” He also thinks, however, “that the image of the suburban church is the truth, but not the whole truth, [which] is illustrated also in the tendency for the statements about this image to minimize the existence of a genuine religious searching amidst all the blasphemy, banality, and bewilderment.”

Religious Behavior is an exciting book.


In The Devil’S Grip

John G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides, an autobiography edited by James Paton (Banner of Truth Trust, 1965, 524 pp., 21s.), is reviewed by George H. Stevens, vicar of All Hallows, Middlesex, England.

Although written nearly eighty years ago, this missionary classic is as thrilling to read as ever. The moment when a cannibal invited Paton to sit beside him and then held a huge knife a few inches from his heart, and the time when some traders deliberately introduced a plague of measles that decimated the population and made Paton’s task much more difficult, are but two of the incidents in the volume that stand out in the memory.

Paton was utterly devoted to his Lord and to the task to which he had been called. Soon after his arrival in the Hebridean islands his wife and child died; yet he never even considered the abandonment of his mission. Some critics might feel he was narrow-minded and intolerant. Certainly he did not regard animism and witchcraft as picturesque survivals providing fascinating material for the anthropologist! To Paton the people on the islands were in the grip of the devil, and the master of lies had deluded them.

Though the way was often hard Paton never compromised his message, and he lived to see fruit from his years of labor. In Fiji alone 70,000 cannibals heard him preach the Gospel. An American marine, landing on the islands during the last war, was so well treated by the descendants of the cannibals that he wrote home: “Because of the missionaries we have been feasted here instead of being feasted upon.” Paton would have corrected him and said: “Because of the Lord Jesus Christ,” to whom he gave all the glory.

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To read this book is a refreshing experience, and the Banner of Truth Trust is to be heartily thanked for reprinting it.


A Stranger Still

The Stranger Inside You, by Edward V. Stein (Westminster, 1965, 144 pp., $3.75), is reviewed by E. Mansell Pattison, instructor in psychiatry, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle.

This book was written to help the mythical average American live with his boss, children, wife, and self—a big job for 145 pages! The author, a seminary professor of pastoral psychology, writes out of his teaching efforts to integrate psychological abstractions into pastoral tasks; “from where I live,” he says, “I hope it reaches you where you live.”

Stein succeeds admirably in writing a warm, intimate, earnest introduction to the personal problems of identity, one’s unconscious self, determinism and freedom, sex, aggression, and conscience. Yet beneath its urbanity this is a disturbing book, because the author is uncritical in his sincerity, enthusiastic without discrimination, and syncretistic instead of integrative.

The author’s dedication to self-awareness is reflected in a psychotherapeutic style of writing, in testimonials to the virtues of psychotherapy, in the suggestion that if you experience unhappiness, depression, hostility, or anxiety you should seek counseling help, and in his recommendation that all professional helpers should at least have a training analysis. But this commendable therapeutic enthusiasm must be tempered by professional reservations that the field of pastoral psychology often ignores. Teaching is not psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is not a panacea for the problems of living. And psychoanalysis is neither essential nor advisable for most psychotherapists.

Stein’s stress on self-knowledge as the goal of most psychotherapy is uninformed. Consider that recent studies found that people in emotional distress sought ministers for comfort and encouragement but avoided psychotherapists because they did not want to change themselves. Further, the psychoanalyst Hartmann aptly points out that psychoanalysis can provide synthesis but not goodness, knowledge but not guidance!

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This leads, then, to the theological thrust of the book. Stein’s concept of man is based on outmoded psychoanalytic instinct theory, which is unfortunate because he ignores the real opportunity for a Christian perspective that psychoanalytic ego psychology does afford. But more serious is his dubious equation of theological and psychological concepts. Sinner equals narcissistic personality. Morality equals responsibility. Faith equals trust in basic power. A personal God is rejected in favor of a “ground-of-being.” Christ is to be found inside oneself. But this is surely not a Christian view of man and God. The stranger inside you described by Stein remains an enigmatic creature, for Stein does not accept the God outside of self who informs our understanding of the imago dei.


A Good Work

The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: I and II Corinthians, by Margaret E. Thrall (Cambridge, 1965, 198 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Robert Campbell, dean and professor of New Testament, California Baptist Theological Seminary, Covina, California.

The author of this most recent commentary on Paul’s Corinthian Epistles is a lecturer in biblical studies at the University College of North Wales, Bangor. The work is necessarily brief, covering two of Paul’s longest letters in less than 200 pages, while including the full biblical text and a topical index. Within these pages, however, are obvious strengths. The work reflects balance both in coverage and in viewpoint. The essential argument of both letters is clearly presented. The temptation to expand selected details is scrupulously avoided, but of course the reader will find many questions unanswered. The commentary proceeds with a logical segment of the biblical text, a general statement on the significance and meaning of the entire section, and a discussion of the contents in further detail (though rarely by individual verses). A critical introduction is brief and lucid, and Miss Thrall studiously refrains from committing herself to any questionable positions.

The reader who seeks a thorough critical and exegetical commentary will be disappointed. But one who wants an introductory understanding of the Corinthian letters under the tutelage of a competent scholar who reflects the latest scholarship and stands in a framework of academic orthodoxy will find that this is the volume.


War And Natural Law

The Just War in Aquinas and Grotius, by Joan Tooke (SPCK. 1965. 337 pp., 63s.), is reviewed by Frederick O. Bonkowsky, graduate student, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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The title of this book is not an accurate description of its contents. Though concerned extensively with Aquinas (and with Grotius for one chapter), the book is primarily a survey of Christian thinking about war and natural law.

Half of the work is a discussion of what Christians, mainly from the first through the sixteenth centuries, have thought about the ethics of armed conflict. By necessity, the survey is cursory. It does catch the high points, though, and is readable and understandable. Miss Tooke has therefore rendered a service, for there are few works that introduce the Christian, layman or theologian, to this important area.

The Just War is strong on providing short summaries of various men’s ideas on war and related topics. The major structural failure is the lack of a thesis that would hold the entire work together. One does not know precisely what the author is trying to tell us. This does not mean that she does not raise important questions. Jesus’ pacifism and his “interim ethic” are discussed in the section on pre-Aquinian Christian war ethics. The reader is brought to rethink his position on the Old Testament’s “God of War” and the New Testament’s “God of Love.” This obviously raises the issue of the evolution of religious thought in the Old Testament.

The chapter on Aquinas’s understanding of revelation and Scripture is quite good. It also discusses ancient and modern Roman Catholic and recent Protestant thought. The study of such verses as “I came not to bring peace, but the sword” is helpful. Many Protestants will be surprised by what Catholic theologians have to say about Scripture, tradition, and conscience. Some will agree more with the Roman Catholics than with Miss Tooke.

The sections on natural law can also be commended. The surveys are well written, and the definitions for the most part are clear. For example: “Generally, then, the canonists agreed that natural law is essentially the integrating and harmonizing principle of reason, which includes, while it controls, the instinctive, and animal tendencies, and reverences as its criteria the divine laws” (p. 89). The relation of reason to morality is lucidly set forth. Miss Tooke also discusses Troeltsch’s suggestion that natural law is the “real ecclesiastical doctrine of civilization.”

Discussion of the just war often goes off in two directions. For example, whether the United States should be in Viet Nam and whether nuclear weapons should be used there are often part of the same argument. The ancients remind us that we must differentiate between ends and means in discussing the just war.

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Miss Tooke thinks that there is a growing lack of personal issues in war (e.g., “thou shalt not kill”) and an increased concern for objective and subjective justice at the state level. She bemoans this trend, being hesitant to separate personal from social ethics.

The book contains extensive footnotes and a long bibliography. It could use a clear introductory statement of the author’s preferences and values, particularly in regard to war. It appears that she tends toward pacifism and believes war to be essentially sinful.

One agrees and disagrees with what this book says, but at least one is made to think. And not only about ethics. Miss Tooke’s uncritical acceptance of modern biblical criticism will be challenged by some. This reader found particular fault with her treatment of Aquinas. At times the writing lacks clarity. More importantly, the author is too content to base her arguments on secondary sources. Her criticism of Aquinas sounds somewhat like a compilation of criticism she has read.

The Just War, then, is spotty. The reader gains much from particular paragraphs, pages, and even chapters. But this reader failed to find the thread that might have unified the book.


Classical Or Contemporary?

The Word and the Spirit: Essays on Inspiration of the Scriptures, by Regin Prenter, translated by Harris E. Kaasa (Augsburg, 1965, 163 pp., $4), is reviewed by Gordon R. Lewis, professor of systematic theology, Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.

Can problems in contemporary theology be made intelligible to “a modern public”? This readable translation of nine essays originally published in Denmark in 1952 succeeds reasonably well in making some vital issues meaningful for theological students and “educated persons interested in fundamental questions of faith.”

Professor Prenter, an accomplished theologian who teaches at Denmark’s Aarhus University, has published thirteen books and numerous articles in Scandinavian, German, English, and French periodicals. In this volume he speaks out on the de-mythologizing of the Gospel and on the Word and the Spirit.

Prenter was an active member of the resistance movement in Denmark during the German occupation, and one of his chapters is on the authority of the Bible in political and social issues. He has also been active in Lutheran and ecumenical churchmanship since 1936, and he relevantly discusses preaching and the biblical text, the concept of sanctification, the doctrine of prayer, Luther on the Word and sacrament, and “Does the Church Need a New Reformation?”

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The varied use of terms in contemporary theology is vividly illustrated by the title and subtitle of this book. One might well expect a book on the inspiration of the Bible, but no treatment of that subject appears. And the title of the book, taken from the first essay, refers not to the Bible and the Spirit but to Christ and the Spirit.

Prenter also purports to represent classical Reformation theology. Luther and Calvin exalted the living Lord, but did they refuse to say as well that “the Bible is the Word”? Did classical Protestantism denounce as biblicistic the doctrine of the Bible as “a collection of inerrant truths about God, the world, man and salvation”? What other kind of revealed truth did it know? Nevertheless, Prenter’s points regarding human interpreters of the one infallible Book are well taken. No person can give an infallible interpretation of the Bible. Indeed, Scripture and the Spirit must not be separated.

Does Prenter not also go beyond classical Protestantism when he asserts that the Word can never be heard, nor the Bible read aright, except in the church? The individual Christian “cannot read it alone.” It is difficult to imagine Luther, who was called upon to stand against the Church of his day, saying that “only in the church” does the Christian “receive guidance” to read Scripture aright. Could one ever say, “Here I stand, I can do no other,” without coming under Prenter’s strictures of dogmatism and lack of toleration?

What then shall we preach? Neither abstract truths nor subjective experiences. Preaching, according to Prenter, is a sacramental invitation to holy communion. It calls the disciples to conform to the risen and crucified Christ. It is human testimony to the historical Jesus. And Jesus appears yet today as a poor man with no evidences of deity. Faith in him involves risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Preaching from biblical accounts also involves the constant uncertainty and anxiety of historical exegesis. Is this classical or contemporary (post-Kierkegaardian) theology?

Prenter offers penetrating criticisms of Bultmann’s attempt to demythologize the Bible’s world picture. Consistently carried out it leads, he argues, either to metaphysics or to psychology, to rationalism or to pietism. Either course eliminates the Christian kerygma. Forgiveness of sins must be understood, not as an attempt to realize one’s own authenticity, but as a divine act of love toward man. It is a real event. No advantage is gained, Prenter adds, by replacing a picture of God with a concept of God. However, must we not know which God acts in forgiving? While demythologization has its limitations, some conceptual knowledge seems indispensable to classical Protestant theology.

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With Bultmann. Prenter rules out any general ethical or political principles such as the moral law; he affirms that we know the good or the right only by a God-given insight in a concrete particular situation here and now. This, it is claimed, does not lead to anarchy. But it does mean that we must always be open to divine intervention in our humanly formulated laws. Is this the Reformers’ view of the law?

We must conclude that Prenter has been far more successful in writing relevant contemporary theology than in introducing classical Protestant theology.


The Roots Of The Matter

The Secret of Christian Family Living, by Ralph Heynen (Baker, 1965, 162 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by Leslie R. Beach, associate professor of psychology, Hope College, Holland, Michigan.

The reader must approach this book for what it is: a series of articles that originally appeared in a weekly church periodical. This causes some unavoidable problems of repetition and lack of continuity.

Emotional or mental health is, indeed, a “family affair,” and the author gives many gems of sound, practical guidance and some tried and proven answers for everyday problems of Christian family living. Exhortation, advice, and the many “oughts,” “shoulds,” and “musts” are probably a function of a brief column in which depth in psychological and mental health principles could not be offered. A great asset of this book is the explanation of underlying causes of common emotional problems. It is regrettable that the author has not discussed more of the established adjustment techniques for handling these problems; this would be valuable for the reader who has developed new insight. While there are shades of the “prophet of doom” and “moral decay” emphases fashionable in Christian writing today, this author is more fair and positive than most.

Dr. Heynen is practical and realistic, and his words are relevant to our world and our time. He appears unusually wise in avoiding extremes and common oversimplification of complex human problems. He combines sound mental health principles with a vital, working faith and scriptural truths. The sincere Christian who reads this book with an open mind and searching heart cannot but profit greatly. The shoe will often fit—even if a bit uncomfortably.

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Book Briefs

From Tradition to Mission: An Old Church Discovers the Secret of New Life, by Wallace E. Fisher (Abingdon, 1965, 208 pp., $3.50). The story of how an old Lutheran church came alive to our day without ceasing to be a church. Has many perceptive observations.

Dedication Services, by S. W. Hutton (Baker, 1964, 79 pp., $1.95).

Catholics in Colonial America, by John Tracy Ellis (Helicon, 1965, 486 pp., $10).

The Heritage of Christian Thought: Essays in Honor of Robert Lowry Calhoun, edited by Robert E. Cushman and Egil Grislis (Harper and Row, 1965, 243 pp., $6).

The Question of Alary, by René Laurentin (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965, 161 pp., $4.50). A discussion of Mariology and its place in Roman Catholic worship, with consideration given to objections of Protestants and to the problem the Marian doctrine creates for ecumenism.

Luther’s Works, Volume 7: Lectures on Genesis Chapters 38–43, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan (Concordia, 1965, 406 pp., $6).

Guide for Referral of Families to Community Health and Social Services, prepared by the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Harvard School of Public Health (1965, 164 pp., $3.15). Very valuable for the pastor (or doctor) who needs the help of other agencies in solving pastoral problems of a social and legal nature but does not know what agencies exist or where they are.

Sons of Abraham: Jews, Christians, Moslems, by James Kritzeck (Helicon, 1965, 126 pp., $3.50). An authority on Islam argues for a dialogue between Jews and Christians that will include Moslems.

Conquest by Suffering: The Process and Prospects of Nonviolent Resistance, by Harvey Seifert (Westminster, 1965, 208 pp., $4.50). The author probes the subject of suffering love and its potential for setting life right.

Irony in the Old Testament, by Edwin M. Good (Westminster, 1965, 256 pp., $6.50). An examination of the concept of irony in the Old Testament and the role it plays in faith.

Young People’s Bible Dictionary, by Barbara Smith (Westminster, 1965, 186 pp., $4.50). A good children’s dictionary with clear definitions. Includes maps.


The Anatomy of Anti-Semitism and Other Essays on Religion and Race, by James Daane (Eerdmans, 1965, 84 pp., $1.45). An examination of racial prejudice against Jew and Negro in the light of biblical teaching, particularly in the light of God’s election of Jesus Christ. The author argues that racial prejudice is a sinful, secularized version of divine election and can be rightly assessed only from the biblical perspective of God’s dealings with Jew and Gentile.

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But for the Grace of God: Divine Initiative and Human Need, by Philip E. Hughes (Westminster, 1965, 95 pp., $1.25). A book that has more sound theological learning than many three times its size. Recommended for both ministers and laymen.

The New Reformation?, by John A. T. Robinson (Westminster, 1965, 142 pp., $1.45). The Bishop of Woolwich is here very interesting reading. He projects much truth about the Church on a theological platform, sometimes orthodox, sometimes flimsy, and sometimes worse. As is true of Sören Kierkegaard, his corrective value is often better than his theology. If this sounds inconsistent or logically impossible, let the reader remember that people—including the Bishop of Woolwich—are both. Recommended reading for those who are theologically sophisticated enough to need his corrective influence. Such readers will understand his very explicit denial that he is a latter-day Martin Luther.

When Iron Gates Yield, by Geoffrey T. Bull (Moody, 1965, 254 pp., $.89). The dauntless story of a British missionary (Geoffrey T. Bull) in Tibet, captive in Chinese Communist hands for three years.

Aspects of Biblical Inspiration, by Pierre Benoit, O. P. (The Priory Press, 1965, 127 pp., $2.45). From a Roman Catholic’s viewpoint.


Daniel and the Latter Days: A Study in Millennialism, by Robert D. Culver (Moody, 1965, 224 pp., $3.50). The author’s thesis is that premillennialism is the best eschatology to express the thought of Daniel. First published in 1954.

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