God In The Mists

Exploration into God, by John A. T. Robinson (Stanford University Press, 1967, 166 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Carl F. H. Henry, editor ofCHRISTIANITY TODAY.

There is “a crisis in theism, that is, in the traditional case for belief in the existence of a personal God,” writes the Bishop of Woolwich. He offers Exploration into God, lectures given at Stanford, as a guide to what 1968-minded intellectuals can believe.

Bishop Robinson is at his best as a theologian fashion-model, parading recent styles in religious thought with a flair for holding public interest. His book is highly readable. But as serious theology it is disappointing.

As an opener Robinson lifts the curtain on his own theological pilgrimage, noting a debt to medieval mystics (mystery), Kant (autonomy), Kierkegaard (subjectivity), Buber (I-Thou), Brunner (encounter), and many others. One is left with the feeling that the bishop likes many of the things he samples but has yet to coordinate them into a compatible meal, let alone a permanent diet.

He opposes Bultmann’s “undue historical scepticism” and “heavy” reliance on Heidegger’s existentialism, the tendency of left-wing extremists to equate the meaning of God with statements about man, Tillich’s reliance on a Platonic ontology, and the secular erosion of evangelistic outreach. He sympathizes with Bonhoeffer’s detachment of Christian faith from a religious apriori, Bultmann’s translation of personalistic language about God into personal relationship detached from the biblical cosmology, and Tillich’s desire to find an option between supernaturalism and naturalism, between theism and atheism. But this is a long way from an articulate theology.

The central Christian emphasis, as Robinson sees it, is that the personal is the ultimate reality in life, the deepest truth about all relationships and commitments, the controlling category for interpreting everything.

By no means, however, is this to be equated with the Judeo-Christian insistence on a personal supernatural God who exists independently of the world as its transcendent creator and immanent preserver. That view, contends the bishop, poses a needless barrier to modern belief; indeed, it is, on his authority, dispensable. For one abreast of modern enlightenment (and Oriental theology), it is in fact—or rather, presumably—intellectually impossible. What survives the dismissal of the objective existence of God as a supernatural Person, we are assured, is “the reality” that biblical theism sought to safeguard: “the God-relationship as utterly personal and utterly central.”

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Since interpersonal relationship is inherent in the definition of personality, the concept of a supernatural God existing independently of man and the world is said to be excluded. Nowhere is the reader told that in orthodox theology a social relationship within the triune God fulfills this requirement independently of the universe.

Robinson proposes to mediate between recent theories of secular salvation (Gogarten, Cox, Van Buren) and of cosmological salvation (Whitehead, Teilhard, Tillich) by offering a “creative synthesis,” a “both-and” rather than an “either-or.” He shares their common rejection of the supernatural; their insistence that no dimension of transcendence can be accommodated outside immanent natural process; their dismissal of ontological knowledge of God; their repudiation of the antitheses of faith and unbelief, church and world, good and evil, redemption and judgment.

The 1968-brand theology shares the recent modern forfeiture of intelligible divine revelation. Not only does it defect from Reformation theology; it also signals the collapse of the Barthian emphasis on the supernatural Creator and Redeemer whose personal disclosure defines his nature and deeds. The neo-orthodox emphasis on divine self-revelation gives way to human exploration, and the self-manifested God is lost in subjective postulation.

Robinson would hesitate to admit he is writing theological fiction, but he warns us not to expect literal truth about God. God statements are statements about God-in-relation to us; “literally nothing can be said about him without falsification”; we speak of God directly only “as if.” We have no conceptual knowledge of the supersensory.

But, in an apparent attempt to escape the illusory and to convert the postulatory into the veridical, Robinson wavers between Kant and Schleiermacher. The term “God” designates a relationship to personal reality. God is “the within of things.” He writes, “The need to speak of ‘God’ derives from the awareness that in and through and under every finite Thou comes … the grace and claim of an eternal, unconditional Thou who cannot finally be evaded by being turned into an It.”

Yet not even Robinson’s semantic skill is adequate to quasi-universalize and quasi-objectify the existential and subjective. The divine-personal may supply the unity that makes sense of the diversity of our experience, but does this rise above postulation? The evasion of the metaphysical objectification of God as a free personal supernatural Being, in the interest of a concept of God as a subject outside me that imposes obligations on me, has Kantian overtones; it recalls Kant’s notion that the practical moral reason gives laws to itself.

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If, on the other hand, God is really in all, and all is in God (panentheism)—as Robinson contends—then no absolute distinction remains between good and evil. On this premise, we must look for the divine in Hitler and Buchenwald, and in Communism.

In some writings Bishop Robinson has significantly contributed to biblical studies. But in this latest book he manipulates the Bible in a noteworthy way. He voices concern because Van Buren seems not to be saying about God “what was intended by classical Christian theology and Christology”; against the secular destruction of the entire dimension of transcendence he appeals to the “whole witness of the Bible as interpreted by the Christian Church.” Yet, beside recasting John’s Logos-passage to support a view unknown to the apostles, he makes the Hebrew reluctance to use God’s name to imply God’s ineffability, while he invokes the Old Testament use of various divine names to encourage freedom in the use of God-language that presumably says nothing meaningful about God outside or beyond man’s God—relationship. He appeals to the text, “If we love one another, God abides in us,” in his attempt to replace the view that God is a personal supernatural being with another view of ultimate reality at its deepest level. The Bible’s extension of the attitude of worship to the whole creation is made to support the view that all reality is a Thou. The divine command against image-making is turned against those who view God as a supernatural personal Being. The New Testament reference to God “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28) is said to teach that in Christ panentheism is already a reality.

Whatever merit this work has in articulating modern theory, it has little value as a reliable reflection of the religion of the Bible. And as a contemporary statement, it lacks not only creative originality but theological lucidity and precision. If Van Buren abandons the concept of God as misleading and superfluous (because he refers the divine to a different “reality” than the historical Christian faith), does Robinson’s retention of the concept not mislead his readers? If the biblical doctrine of God must be so radically changed to become acceptable to the modern mind, would it not be more candid for Robinson to abandon his attempt to find scriptural support for the revised theory—and to admit with linguistic theologians that the language of divinity has here been reduced to functional significance only?

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Bishop Robinson’s exploration halts short of a third heaven, and is grounded by fog and poor visibility. In the current crisis over the reality of God, evangelical Christians will recognize his views as part of the problem rather than as a pointer toward solution. Where the modern crisis in theism demands precision in theological content, the Bishop of Woolwich offers us only the promise of still another book.

Shotgun Approach On C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis: Defender of the Faith, by Richard B. Cunningham (Westminster, 1967, 223 pp., $5), is reviewed by Joan Kerns Ostling, writer-editor, United States Information Agency, Washington, D. C.

Four years after C. S. Lewis’s death, books about him continue to dribble from the press, attesting both to the loyalty of Lewis’s fans and to the convenience of his writings for those who need to satisfy doctoral dissertation committees. Richard Cunningham, now a faculty member of California’s Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, admits that his study evolved out of the latter by “cold calculation” when he was a Th.D. candidate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Using a shotgun approach rather than aiming at a thematic target, Cunningham concludes that “Lewis himself is his finest Christian apology” in his expression of “Sorge,” care or concern. Cunningham, though he obviously is entranced by Lewis’s imaginative writings and takes his didactic works seriously, views this “Sorge” as a quality that transcends even his wit and scholarship, and that also rises above his “inexcusable neglect of the results of the best Biblical scholarship,” his “occasional theological weakness,” and his “sometimes too simple approach to difficult problems.”

After reworking the now familiar materials of intellectual biography, the author touches on Lewis’s view of the contemporary apologetic scene by brief treatments of philosophy, psychology, natural science, education, government, and society. He notes especially Lewis’s “penetrating psychological insight,” though he faults him for overstating his case against liberalism and for painting issues in black-and-white terms.

Stressing reason and imaginative understanding as the preliminary underpinning for Lewis’s apologetics, Cunningham provides a competent discussion of his author’s approach to epistemology. He evaluates Lewis’s theology and apologetic arguments as traditional and orthodox, defending him against charges that he held to a Docetic Christology and a Manichean moral theology. He correctly interprets Lewis’s bibliology as broader than the views of conservative evangelicals (“fundamentalists,” in his terms) and shows how the insights of a great literary critic can be applied to the principles of biblical interpretation.

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In his assessment of Lewis as prose artist, Cunningham prizes his brilliant use of the vernacular to clothe old religious ideas in new language and his stylistic mastery of communication through use of metaphor, analogy, allegory, and myth. He criticizes Lewis’s occasional substitution of bludgeon for needle, presentation of forced choice without alternatives, and violation of technical rules of logic in such famous arguments as Mere Christianity’s “if the universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.”

But most of this territory has been covered by previous Lewis writers—especially by Chad Walsh in C. S. Lewis: Apostle to the Skeptic (an excellent book, but written while Lewis was in mid-career and now out of print), and in Clyde S. Kilby’s The Christian World of C. S. Lewis and in several unpublished Ph.D. dissertations.

Where Cunningham’s book is the “original study” promised in the preface, it betrays his “chronological snobbery.” Sneering at Lewis’s concept of timeless eternity as “a boy’s approach to difficult problems,” Cunningham suggests Lewis might have been well advised to read Cullmann or the later Barth. But Lewis’s view of time is firmly rooted in the Augustinian tradition.

Sympathetic to Lewis in contrast to Bultmann on myth, Cunningham nevertheless judges Lewis’s concept as incapable of dealing with “such borderline events of the incarnation” as the resurrection and ascension, events that the New Testament records as “open only to the eyes of faith.” This reflects the author’s own critical perspective, as does his charge that Lewis’s failure to distinguish between John and the Synoptics weakened the thrust of Miracles—though Miracles was written as a philosophical defense for the possibility of miracles, not as a work of biblical criticism.

The Cunningham study adds little that is new to an understanding of Lewis.

Reading For Perspective


• The Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Missions, edited by Burton L. Goddard (Nelson, $25). The faculty of Gordon Divinity School has compiled an abundance of information on Christian missionary agencies throughout the world.

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A Question of Conscience, by Charles Davis (Harper & Row, $6.95). A brilliant English priest-theologian sensitively but forthrightly gives his personal, theological, and ecclesiastical reasons for yeaving Roman Catholicism.

• The New Testament from 26 Translations, Curtis Vaughan, general editor (Zondervan, $12.50). For every phrase of the King James New Testament, the editors provide several variant readings from twenty-five later translations to help clarify the meaning of the text.

The Natives Are Restless!

The Protestant Revolt, by James De-Forest Murch (Crestwood Books, 1967, 326 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Benjamin E. Sheldon, minister, Sixth Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C.

James DeForest Murch has given us a factual, heavily documented survey of what he calls the “revolt” against domination by the “liberal establishment” in the major American denominations and particularly in the National Council of Churches.

Taking each major denominational grouping separately, he presents certain historical facts that show the involvement of that group in the trend toward liberalism and control by the “liberal establishment.” Then he shows how individuals, institutions, and movements within these denominations have rebelled against this. The historical data is accurate and up to date, and it is helpful to have it all here in one place.

But the effort to show the emergence of a strong grass-roots revolt is somewhat unconvincing. I believe Dr. Murch is grasping at straws when he identifies the “revolt” with some of the splinter and separatist groups like the Circuit Riders and Carl McIntire’s American Council of Christian Churches. Furthermore, the fact that Southern Baptists and Missouri Lutherans are now outside the NCC is not real proof of a revolt, for there is evidence within these bodies of an increasing tendency to move closer to conciliar connections.

However, I do think that the “revolt” is coming. The pressure of COCU and the current mood of extreme social activism are fanning the sparks of dissatisfaction and restlessness among the rank and file in the major denominations. Dr. Murch’s book may be a preview of this revolt, and I hope he will be able to give us the story of it when it comes.

Ways Of Being In The World

The Structure of Christian Existence, by John B. Cobb, Jr. (Westminster, 1967, 156 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by Jerry H. Gill, assistant professor of philosophy, Southwestern at Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.

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This book is presented as “an inquiry into what is distinctive in Christianity and into its claim to finality.” Rejecting the more traditional method of presenting the uniqueness of Christianity by comparing it with other religious and/or intellectual systems, Cobb focuses his attention on various modes of existence—ways of being in the world.

After laying out definitions of such terms as “structure,” “existence,” and “psyche,” Cobb delineates various historical existence structures along two lines: the chronological and the modal. From primitive existence, which was characterized by mythical symbolism and the dominance of the unconscious, there was a slow but steady progression through civilized existence to axial existence, in which rationality and reflective consciousness dominate. Although this was a chronological development, it is important to bear in mind that no age or group of people is wholly devoid of characteristics of the other forms of existence. Cobb agrees with Jaspers in placing the emergence of axial existence in nearly every civilization between 800 and 200 B.C. With this emergence came the full awareness of individuality and freedom.

Since the dawn of the “axial age,” mankind has developed a variety of modes of existence, which, though different, are all forms of axial existence. Cobb considers Buddhist existence, (which seeks to overcome the identification of the self with rational consciousness by denying individuality), Homeric existence (which seeks to objectify outward reality by means of rational categories), Socratic existence (which seeks to objectify inner reality by identifying the self with reason), prophetic existence (which seeks to understand all reality in relation to a transcendent deity), and Christian existence (which seeks to combine the idea of a transcendent deity with an awareness of his present immediacy). Cobb sees the distinctiveness of the Christian style of life in the radical freedom, responsibility, and love that it both demands and makes possible.

Once again rejecting the more customary approaches to the finality of Christianity, Cobb argues that Christian existence is able to fulfill prophetic, Socratic, and Buddhist existence in a way in which none of these are able to fulfill it themselves. The core of this claim is the possibility for self-transcendence inherent in the structure of Christian existence. Although he realizes that this claim will always be contested, Cobb remains convinced of its truth.

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This book is stimulating and clearly reasoned. That it is nearly devoid of footnotes and of scholarly debate with other thinkers will be considered a strong point by laymen and a weak point by professionals. For my part, I found the chapters dealing with non-Christian existence the most illuminating and thought-provoking. Those on Christian existence are not especially helpful or original. In short, the book is better as an analysis of various forms of human sensibility than as an explication of Christian existence.

Death By Default

The Premature Death of Protestantism, by Fred J. Denbeaux (Lippincott, 1967, 155 pp., paper, $2.25), is reviewed by Gerald B. Hall, pastor, National Evangelical Free Church, Annandale, Virginia.

With his title Fred J. Denbeaux, professor of biblical history at Wellesley College, suggests his disapproval of the death-of-God theology, that form of contemporary Protestantism which denies its historic past and seeks to gain acceptance from the world through polemics. To him, the Church has abandoned its distinctive function, that of remaining an eccentric voice proclaiming that God has inseparably joined himself with man in human culture. In trying to make itself marketable in the secular world, he says, the Church has resorted to an empiricism that rejects the validity of its historical legacy. It attempts to identify with its culture and in so doing denies its responsibility to remain distinct from, and yet an influence upon, that culture.

At the other extreme, he criticizes the Protestant tradition that assumes that the Church and civilization must exist in rigid separation. He asserts that “the church cannot be truly the church if it either isolates itself from or identifies itself with civilization.”

Denbeaux develops what he considers the mediate position. He distinguishes between the “world” and “civilization.” According to Genesis, he says, civilization is the product of man’s God-given ability to “make.” Every person is a “maker,” and the collective exercise of this ability is civilization. “Worldliness” is man’s turning his creative ability against God and toward himself. Innocent “making” is good, but when making becomes the object of his trust, man becomes worldly, and “isms” develop. Although Professor Denbeaux does not specifically state it, he implies that the process of making civilization will consummate in a healed society in which no worldliness exists.

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The task of the Church is to encourage innocent making. It is to criticize society when it becomes engaged in worldly making, but it must never condemn it for exercising its God-given ability to make. The Church is to assert that God and his transforming power are present here and now, and that God has entered the world so that “man might make the world just and true and beautiful,” a world “whose destiny is to become the kingdom of God.”

Most of the book is occupied with the application of this thesis to problems of culture that confront the Church today. In discussing politics, Denbeaux applies the “making” of justice to capitalism and Communism. In the realm of sex, he calls for the “making” of a meaningful order out of the sexual chaos brought upon us by two extremes—Victorian moralism and the modern reduction of man to a glandular morality. He discusses the metaphysics of pleasure and the nobility of man’s humanity with fresh and stimulating insights.

One weakness of Denbeaux’s synthesis is his failure to define clearly his key terms, such as “church” and “legacy.” He uses terms of historic Christianity in a misleading way. A casual reader would not realize that a radically different theology lies beneath the familiar terminology.

Denbeaux condemns the use of a polemic but has added his own to the rapidly growing reservoir of humanistic criticism of Christianity. He claims the Bible for his source, but his hermeneutic eviscerates it of any firm meaning. “The Bible does not have a fixed doctrine of the world,” he says. “It does not even have a fixed doctrine of the church. The Bible has no frozen logic. Rather it has a voice, a word which speaks to every man who hears while he tries to thread the needle of life.” He speaks of the need to retain the “legacy” of the Church but censures the “crypto-Calvinism of CHRISTIANITY TODAY which attempts to make a monument of a fluid legacy.” If what he says is right, if we are dealing with truth in only a personal or subjective framework, how can truth be communicated at all? lust what is the legacy of the Church if it is not principles or doctrines?

The author’s selective use of biblical quotations to buttress his views is praiseworthy in that it shows recognition of some form of authority in Scripture. But it is an example of the too common practice of viewing the Bible as a smörgasbord from which one may choose whatever suits his taste. Denbeaux’s incipient universalism, vague conception of redemption, and disregard of the pronouncements of Scripture against sin and the eventual judgment of corrupt civilization simply reflect a theology fashioned by something other than the Scriptures.

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A Plea For Soviet Christians

Christians in Contemporary Russia, by Nikita Struve, translated by Lancelot Sheppard and A. Manson (Scribner’s, 1967, 464 pp., $7.50), is reviewed by Blahoslav S. Hrubý, managing editor, “Religion in Communist Dominated Areas,” New York City.

Publication of this English edition of a book that won wide acclaim in France is a great service to the American Christian community and also to the general public. At a time when confusion and superficial knowledge about the religious situation in the Soviet Union abound, this scholarly and fascinating account is most welcome.

Nikita Struve, grandson of the economist Pierre Struve, is a member of the Russian émigré community in Paris, where he teaches at the Sorbonne and edits Le Messager Orthodoxe. He based his book on official documents, anti-religious publications in the U. S. S. R. and also the very few religious ones, and Soviet literature. These sources were supplemented by private letters from Soviet citizens and reports from Western tourists (Struve took care to confirm the authenticity of all these).

He begins with the October Revolution of 1917, traces the years of harsh persecution and schism that nearly brought an end to the organized Orthodox Church, and tells of its sudden “resurrection,” as he calls the time of Stalin’s change of attitude toward the church after Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. After Stalin’s death in 1954 there was a brief period of relative freedom. This ended abruptly in 1958, and in 1959 the Soviet government began another drive to liquidate the church.

Struve analyzes the external relations of the Moscow Patriarchate with the Orthodox and other churches and with such bodies as the World Council of Churches, the Vatican, and the (Prague) Christian Peace Conference. He sees a paradox in the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate’s external affairs have increased at a time when its internal activity is practically paralyzed. Readers of this well-documented presentation can easily conclude that in facilitating the external relations of the Orthodox and also of the Baptists, the Soviet government shows itself eager to create abroad an image of good church-state relations while at home the fight against religion goes on as before.

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There is a wealth of valuable information on other vital subjects, such as theological schools and studies, secret Christians, anti-religious propaganda, and recent trials (evidence of new persecution and harassments). Five valuable appendices contain the most important documents on religion in the Soviet Union: (1) historical documents on church-state relations, (2) legislative documents, (3) a list—provisional and incomplete—of Russian Orthodox bishops, who have been martyrs for their faith, (4) information on the formation and situation of Russian émigré churches, (5) two Moscow priests’ protest against harassment of the Orthodox Church.

The author’s inquiry into the position of Soviet Christians concludes on a somber note. He does not share the naïve optimism of some “instant” experts who, after spending a few days in the Soviet Union, without knowing the language, return saying that churches are full and that Communism is no longer a problem. Struve addresses a few probing questions to Western Christians about their silence on the grave situation of Christians in the Soviet Union. His plea should be heard throughout the world:

And yet Russian Christians beg, sometimes with tears in their eyes, those Western tourists whom they meet, to tell those at home what circumstances are really like and to pray for them. For long, for too long, the West has remained silent. The establishment in Paris in February 1964 of an information committee on the position of Christians in the U. S. S. R. and the ecumenical meeting held on the 11th March at the Palais de la Mutualité are the first signs of some awakening of public opinion. ‘Christ is in agony in Moscow; we cannot sleep while it continues.’ It is greatly to be hoped that this appeal by Francois Mauriac will be heard throughout the world [p. 337].

Unfortunately, this voice was not heard in the United States, and at the end of 1967 there was still no American ecumenical committee on Soviet Christians (and Jews and other religious groups). One hopes that this book will challenge freedom-loving Americans to awaken from complacency and take an active part in the movement of solidarity with those who struggle for freedom of religion and the human spirit in the Soviet Union.

The Dignity Of Matter

A Theology of Things, by Conrad Bonifazi (Lippincott, 1967, 230 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by William W. Paul, professor of philosophy, Central College, Pella, Iowa.

At the beginning of the third volume of his Systematic Theology, Paul Tillich mentions that there is a great need for a “theology of the inorganic,” one that would speak to the problems raised by philosophical naturalism and relate the material world to other dimensions of existence. A Theology of Things attempts to meet this need.

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A strong tradition in Christian theology that is centered in a concern for the salvation of man’s soul has led some Christians to a desire to escape the imperfections of material existence and to enjoy the glories of the supernatural world. Conrad Bonifazi, who teaches at the Pacific School of Religion, means to correct this by arguing for the polarity between mind and body and for a genuine interplay between persons and things. Emphasis is placed upon an ecology that sees man’s freedom and cultural development as very much influenced by the prescriptions of his natural environment. He apparently wants to keep a pluralistic or multi-dimensional view of reality rather than reducing existence to either the materialistic or idealistic position. With Husserl and the Greek thinkers, Bonifazi defines “phenomenon” as “that which displays itself,” though “the display is for those who experience it.”

Actually it is not always easy to determine just what his position is on philosophical and theological issues. The book is full of quotations; many are provocative, but most are presented without context or critical evaluation. The reader gains a feeling for the author’s orientation rather than a sense of clear argument. For example, a few lines selected from such thinkers as Augustine, Ambrose, and Luther are used to justify Feuerbach’s sweeping judgment that in the history of Christian thought “nature, the world, has no value, no interest for Christians. The Christian thinks only of himself, and the salvation of his soul.” Then Bonifazi suggests that there is a hint of a “Christian estimate of the dignity of matter” to be found in men like Anselm and Aquinas. With some pains the reader may discover that to achieve this “Christian estimate” is to learn to think creatively about all existing things and to bring the “truth” of their reality into one’s own experience.

The modern writers who appeal most to Bonifazi are men like Marx, Engels, Herder, Nietzsche, Sartre, Unamuno, Buber, and Teilhard de Chardin. Consider, for example, the Nietzsche of the Dawn of Day. “His good news is to accept the world in its totality, together with man—even in his irresponsibility.… His formula is amor fati, love of ‘that which has been spoken by the gods.’ ” Now, it is good for readers who have thought of Nietzsche only as a voice of pessimism and nihilism to be reminded of his occasional “joyous affirmation of the world.” But again the crucial questions are not discussed. What does it mean for Nietzsche to accept the world? Shall we love uncritically and remain indifferent to evil and irresponsibility? Even the philosopher wishes to transvalue all human value systems. What does it mean to love things “spoken by the gods” when there are, according to Nietzsche, no eternal facts, absolute truths, or sovereign, divine purposes in the world?

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If the author’s main point is that the material and personal are inseparable in experience, a spokesman like Unamuno serves him well: “Through love we get to things with our own being, not with the mind alone, we make them fellow-beings.” I suppose that what the Spanish philosopher meant was that as we seek out the intrinsic value in things and come to love or participate in it, in some sense we make those things a part of ourselves. Bonifazi seems to sense this interpretation but then confuses the reader by claiming that “genuine love of the world means that the world is loved for its own sake.”

But enough of ambiguities. The book has an excellent point to make: that when we consider the universe as “personal,” we will no longer merely conform to it nor seek to exploit it:

If material things cannot be liberated from man’s parasitic interest and stupid infatuation, and from the frenzy of his accelerated productivity, he himself shall not taste freedom.… A personal universe demands that we treat the world in such a way that our thinking about it and our handling of it release within us the power of becoming human, and elevate the status of things themselves through the treatment they receive [206].

This is a significant thesis for a philosophy of things, a thesis that should have led the author in two directions, one practical and the other theological. On the practical side, it must be said that the book contains no depth study of the problems raised by modern man in his treatment of his physical environment or of the issues that comfort him in a technological age. And if “theology” implies a distinctively Christian view, its presence in this book’s title is hard to justify. Bonifazi makes some appeal to “biblical tradition addressed from our present-day Weltanschauung,” but generally he is concerned with a “personalistic” mood rather than theological content.

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A theology of things remains to be written (though as I pointed out this author has provided an important thesis for it). To develop the theme from a practical point of view, one might consider the position taken by Emil Brunner in Volume II of Christianity and Civilization, Leslie White’s treatment of technology and religion in The Evolution of Culture, and Harvey Cox’s contention in The Secular City that the secularization of man is the work of God. Bonifazi mentions none of these writers. Nor does he mention Calvin, who gives attention to the different ways in which the Bible talks about the “world” and opposes both license and abstinence with an acceptance of the goodness of the material and cultural world, with an attitude of gratitude and stewardship (Institutes, III, 19). To Bonifazi’s thesis we might add the following one from Henry Van Til’s The Calvinistic Concept of Culture (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1959, p. 195):

God’s world, the created universe, is an object of love and joy. This is the place where God wants man as his cultural creature, and man has no right to shun the world or to hate it, for he would thereby deny his calling and be a rebel. For God has placed his creature here to be his co-worker in fulfilling the law of creation and the creative purposes of the Master Artist.
Book Briefs

We Jews and You Christians, by Samuel Sandmel (Lippincott, 1967, 146 pp., $3.95). The noted Jewish biblical scholar examines historical attitudes and events that have traditionally separated Jews and Christians, and points out fertile areas for future understanding.

The Salt of the Earth, by Carlos Monterosso (Prentice-Hall, 1967, 156 pp. $4.50). This novel draws a contemporary portrait of Jesus from fictionalized accounts by John the Baptist, Judas Iscariot, and Thomas the Doubter. Monterosso sees Jesus as a cunning revolutionary but distorts Scripture to arrive at the portrait.

Protestant-Catholic Marriages Can Succeed by Paul and Jeanne Simon (Association, 1967, 122 pp., $3.95). A married couple—he’s a Missouri Synod Lutheran, she’s a Roman Catholic—draw upon their own experience to show that in God’s grace marital unity can be achieved despite denominational division.

I Offered Christ, by Franz Hildebrandt (Fortress, 1967, 342 pp., $5.50). A scholarly study of the Lord’s Supper from the stance of classical Protestantism.

Know Why You Believe, by Paul E. Little (Scripture Press, 1967, 96 pp., $1.25). Little wades into key issues of Christianity—existence of God, deity of Christ, the Resurrection, reliability of the Bible, possibility of miracles, relation of science and Scripture, the problem of evil—and offers satisfying, biblically sound answers.

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The Bible Through the Ages, by H. Thomas Frank, C. William Swain, and Courtlandt Canby (World, 1967, 246 pp., $15). A beautiful book that traces the development of the Bible and its transmission through the centuries; a treasury of information and of 175 Bible-related illustrations and art reproductions.

The Layman’s Bible Commentary: Volume 1, Introduction to the Bible, by Kenneth J. Foreman, Balmer H. Kelly, Arnold B. Rhodes, Bruce M. Metzger, and Donald G. Miller; Volume 19, John, by Floyd V. Filson; and Volume 20, Acts of the Apostles, by Albert C. Winn (John Knox, 1967, 171, 155, and 136 pp., $1.75 each). New large-print editions of these commentary volumes; an excellent resource for students of Scripture.

Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, by Friedrich A. Hayek (University of Chicago, 356 pp., $6.50). A Hayek anthology, including some previously unpublished essays; this distinguished economist’s criticism of reigning prejudices in political and social science merits wide reading.

Jesus, Persons, and the Kingdom of God, by Royce Gordon Gruenler (Bethany Press, 1967, 224 pp., $4.95). An example of how existential presuppositions both illuminate and distort biblical Christology, anthropology, and eschatology.

Psychology and Personality Development, by John D. Frame (Moody, 1967, 191 pp., $3.95). A Christian doctor uses case studies to help individuals understand the implications of personality development in the Christian life.


Fifty Key Words in Theology, by F. G. Healey (John Knox, 1967, 84 pp., $1.65). Succinct and enlightening explanations of fifty important topics in theology such as “existentialism,” “immanence and transcendence,” “myth,” “predestination,” and “trinity.”

The Case for Creation, by Wayne Frair and P. William Davis (Moody, 1967, 96 pp., $.95). Pertinent arguments to show that the “fact of evolution” cannot be proved by present available evidence. Designed for laymen and students.

Forever Triumphant: The Secret of Victory in the Christian Life, by F. J. Huegel (Bethany Fellowship, 1967, 86 pp., $1). The Christian becomes “more than conqueror” over the world, the flesh, and the devil by surrendering to Christ, who has already achieved the ultimate triumph.

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