Christianity’S Prodigal Son

Christianity in World History, by Arend Th. van Leeuwen (Scribners, 1966, 487 pp., $8.50), is reviewed by John H. Kromminga, president, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This book, which Hendrik Kraemer called an “event,” is a big book indeed. Subtitled “The Meeting of the Faiths of East and West,” it does deal with that theme in admirable fashion. But it is at the same time an approach to a theology of history, a critique of mission methods, and a consideration of the global problems faced by Christianity in a technological age.

If anyone wishes to sample the flavor of this book before investing his time in it, I suggest that he turn not to the end, which when taken by itself is somewhat vague and uncertain, nor to the beginning, which sometimes plods, but to pages 34 1–48. Here he will find a series of brief characterizations of Communism as “The Islam of the Technocratic Era.” The section contains such pithy and challenging statements as the following:

Communism is a Christian “heresy” which has achieved independence and stands, as it were, on its own authority.… When Christianity stoops to a sterile anti-Communism, at once defensive and aggressive, it does indeed show itself to be that very caricature of the prophetic, biblical message … which Communism has rejected with justifiable indignation.
Now, however, Christianity finds itself up against an ideological power armed with a messianic consciousness of an infallible and universal truth and proclaiming its belief in the victory of an atheistic technocratic society.… Christianity is thrown back upon the naked weakness of the Gospel or on the naked force of its own latent but extremely virulent technocratic atheism.
This Communist ...
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.