Three Views Of Vatican Ii

Ad Limina Apostolorum, by Karl Barth (John Knox, 1967, 79 pp., $1.50), Vatican Council II: The New Direction, by Oscar Cullmann (Harper & Row, 1968, 116 pp., $6), Ecumenism or the New Reformation?, by Thomas Molnar (Funk and Wagnalls, 1968, 208 pp., $5.95), are reviewed by David H. Wallace, professor of biblical theology, California Baptist Theological Seminary, Covina.

Professors Karl Barth and Oscar Cullmann, who have brought such distinction to the theological faculty of Basel University, were invited to attend Vatican II as Protestant observers. Owing to illness Barth did not attend, but Cullmann was present at all sessions of the council. Barth journeyed to Rome after recovery to visit with several leading Roman Catholic figures and assess the council from a Protestant standpoint. Both theologians wrote down their evaluations of Vatican II, and both reports are characterized by sober theological discrimination, irenic criticism, caution about future prospects, and expressions of charity towards Roman Catholics in their renewal today.

Barth’s opening remarks are a salty, humane description of his encounter with Pope Paul. He confesses that he returned to Basel just as evangelical as he was upon leaving. “Any optimism about the future is excluded,” he says. “But calm, brotherly love is called for.…” Barth raises a number of probing questions about the declarations of Vatican II. Concerning the schema on freedom, Barth asks why no recourse to Scripture was sought on this issue, and then he reproaches Rome for its diplomatic concordats with civil governments that have suppressed Protestant freedoms. While Vatican II professed to stand in the tradition of Trent and Vatican I, it nevertheless assigned a higher priority to Scripture as a source of revelation than did the earlier councils. But a sharp contradiction appears in chapter 2 of this declaration; here Scripture and tradition are placed on a par, a decision Barth holds to be a “great fit of weakness.”

At the close of this brief report, Barth replies to an anonymous Roman Catholic theologian who had sent him a lecture on Mariology, asking for a critique. His peaceable disposition shines nowhere so brightly as here, and at the same time his firm Protestant refusal to acknowledge the cult of Mary is likewise evident. Knowing the restlessness of so many Catholics on this issue, Barth ventured to predict that “you will not deliver this lecture again, as interesting as it is.” Again, on the same page he writes, “The Catholic Church does not stand or fall on its Mariology.”

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Cullmann’s opening chapter is a review of Heilsgeschichte (salvation history), which he urges as a foundation for a trans-confessional theology for Protestants and Catholics. Like Irenaeus, today’s theologian must resist all Gnostic substitutions of ideology for revelation-event. The schema De Divina Revelatione is criticized for its retention of Mariology, which Protestants must reject because it is not rooted in the canonical Scriptures.

Central to the book is concern for a decent balance in viewing Vatican II. Pessimists feel that nothing of any significance was achieved, and optimists see more accomplishment than the facts justify. In Cullmann’s view, one of the striking advances lay in the restoration of the Bible to a critical place in Roman Catholic theology, a development that means the diminution of scholasticism. Like Barth, Cullmann shows that the gains of Vatican II were made only within the limitations imposed by Rome’s tradition. Both warn against glib, facile evaluations that imply that rapprochement is just around the corner, for such notions are doomed by the hard realities of the dogmatic differences separating the two wings of Christendom. The task of the entire Church is not finally reunion but sincere penitence and true renewal.

Molnar’s book, published by a non-Catholic press and bearing no episcopal imprimatur, is one of the most flagitious, disgusting, testy, and vulgar books I have read in many years. Superficially a review of Vatican II by a Roman Catholic, it is a prolonged shriek of rage, resentment, frustration, hostility, derision, and studied vituperation bordering on the pathological against all modernizing, “Protestantizing,” Marxist, atheistic contaminations of the medieval purity of the Catholic faith as represented by the Council of Trent. Scholars are wont to rebuke themselves for not writing books. This volume is eloquent testimony that a worse fate is possible: to write a book like this.

The solitary virtue of the book is Molnar’s passionate commitment to the absolute centrality and finality of God’s redemptive act in Jesus Christ. However, even his “orthodoxy” is rendered grotesque by its sole appeal to the tradition, not Scripture, of the Roman church and is compounded with unbridled bitterness toward Protestantism. The Bible plays no role in his discourse.

At the outset it is clear that the Roman Catholic Church has nothing to recant, retract, review, or repent of; in its pure form it springs directly from the divine intention of Christ, nothing more or less. Therefore any criticism, from within or without the Roman communion, of its confession, theology, structure, practice, or tradition is animated by the devils of worldliness, power lust, publicity, socialism, Communism, and Protestantism. Inquiry, whether by Catholics or by anyone else, is absolutely unallowable; it can stem only from the pernicious will to disbelieve. Heresy, one of Molnar’s chief preoccupations, is a Hydra-headed monster; it begins or ends with sex; it traces to a special claim for gnosis; it rises from inattention to (Roman Catholic) history; it begins with false accusations. Molnar grasps the nettle repeatedly. Galileo was rightly excommunicated for his failure to understand Einsteinian physics, which Cardinal Barberini tried to help him perceive. “The Church authorities never asked more of the great astronomer than just this recognition.”

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Three groups can be discerned as objects of his invective. His contempt for “Church-intellectuals” like Teilhard de Chardin, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, and Hans Küng knows no limits. Lured into abandoning their “Mediterranean” and “Greco-Latin heritage,” slavishly following the “metaphysical underpinnings of Nordic-Protestant societies,” these false prophets are seduced by the scientific-technolosical-capitalist Protestant ethos. In addition, they are addicted to the Hegelian-Heideggerian-Marxist philosophy and are really Communists at heart. “It is noteworthy that all these Church-intellectuals are so completely sterile and unoriginal that their position is indistinguishable from that of secular sloganeers.” He is not reluctant to call them Christ-haters.

The second group is Protestant Christianity, which owes its existence to Gnosticism. After a garbled discussion of Barth, Bonhoeffer, Niebuhr, and Tillich, Molnar assures us that “the central Protestant thesis is that for one reason or another man cannot count upon God.” His logic is astounding. Bultmann is a Protestant; Bultmann demythologizes the New Testament; therefore all Protestants demythologize the New Testament. He is persuaded that the sole responsibility of Catholics in dialogue with Protestants is to offer them “the light by which to leave their darkness.” The Greeks had a word for this: hubris. His undiscussed assumption is that to be in the camp of Luther or Calvin is prima facie evidence of demonic apostasy. Protestantism, the “poison in the body” of the church, is the subject of the book’s finale, where he equates it with the gates of hell that shall not prevail against the (true) church.

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Last, the Jews also feel his scorn. Their atheism is ineluctably implied in this sentence: “Hence the Church-intellectual’s real aim is dialogue with atheism for which the one with the Jews represents a convenient passageway.” Doubtless the most outrageous and slanderous material in the book appears in a passage in which he states that the church’s only sentiment towards the Jews has been a charitable desire to help them to the truth. He then observes that although Jews in the past may have died for their faith, the six million Jews who perished in Hitler’s holocaust were “devoid of any religion; desacralized and disintegrated, they died for nothing.”

But enough now of this vile book. It remains only to be said that the Roman Catholic Church today deserves a far better spokesman than this son of Torquemada.

New Studies In Matthew

The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel by Robert Horton Gundry (Brill, 1967, 252 pp.), and The Theme of Jewish Persecution of Christians in the Gospel According to St. Matthew by Douglas R. A. Hare (Cambridge Press, 1967, 204 pp.), are reviewed by William W. Buehler, associate professor of biblical studies, Barrington College, Barrington, Rhode Island.

Doctoral theses do not enjoy the reputation of exciting reading. Nor do they usually deal with problems of concern to a wide audience. Fortunately, these generalizations do not entirely apply to the dissertations at hand.

In an attempt to bring some order out of the plethora of theories about the source of Matthew’s quotations, Gundry calls for a re-examination of the material and in so doing opens up a fresh and provocative path in gospel studies. He holds that allusive quotation of the Old Testament was a conscious literary device and that these citations must be included in any study of Matthew’s sources. Earlier studies are faulted for their treatment of the formula-quotations in Matthew as a textually distinctive group. In a careful 176-page examination of the text-form of Matthew’s quotations, Professor Gundry comes up with some instructive results: “First, the formal quotations in the Marcan tradition are almost purely Septuagintal. Second, a mixed textual tradition is displayed elsewhere—in all strata of the synoptic material and in all forms (narrative, didactic, apocalyptic, etc.).”

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From these two conclusions flow implications. The Septuagintal form of Mark’s formal quotes suggests a Hellenistic background and conforms with the tradition of a Roman origin. Matthew appropriates these quotations and thus gives evidence of his dependence upon Mark, but the mixed textual tradition apparent in the other Synoptic quotations points to a common tradition behind all three Gospels, a phenomenon that cannot be explained by any of the previous theories.

For Gundry, the only hypothesis adequate to account for the data is that of a body of loose notes standing behind the Gospels. Here he aligns himself with Goodspeed’s theory that Matthew took notes during the earthly ministry of Jesus upon which the bulk of the apostolic tradition was built.

This book makes a positive contribution to gospel studies. It serves as a needed corrective to the pessimism of the radical form critics, for it leaves one with a greater appreciation for the historicity of the Synoptic tradition.

Professor Hare approaches the theme of Jewish persecution of Christians in Matthew’s Gospel intent on determining whether Matthew exaggerated the severity of the persecutions and to what degree his theology was affected. The treatment is thorough and stimulating, and a sixty-page survey of the data of Jewish persecution of Christians found in sources other than Matthew is especially valuable.

Hare concludes that the persecution occurred primarily within the Jewish community and was directed against Christian missionaries rather than against the Christian church as a whole. Matthew (an unknown writer—not the tax collector) is seen to exaggerate at one point only: “His charge that the Pharisees are primarily responsible for the death of Christian missionaries must be regarded as without foundation in view of the available evidence.”

As to the influence upon Matthew’s theology, the persecution is primarily responsible for his pessimism concerning Israel’s place in the divine plan and for the redirecting of the Church’s energy toward the Gentiles (Matt. 28:18–20).

The least satisfying feature of the book is the author’s confidence in Redaktions-geschichte as a tool for solving problems of historicity. The result is more skepticism than this reviewer shares over what we can know about the words and actions of Jesus in the First Gospel.

Reading For Perspective


The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven, by Wilbur M. Smith (Moody, $4.95). This significant work draws together scriptural teaching and scholarly judgments on many facets of a glorious but often neglected doctrine. Recommended.

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Who Was Who in Church History, by Elgin S. Moyer (Moody, $6.95). A new revision of a helpful volume of thumbnail sketches of seventeen hundred people whose vital lives influenced the course of the Christian Church.

God in Man’s Experience, by Leonard Griffith (Word, $3.95). A Toronto minister offers perceptive expositions of twenty-one selected Psalms “written in the ink of personal experience” that will stimulate readers to study these profound hymns of faith in greater depth.

A Gold Mine Of Information

Patterns of Religious Commitment, Volume I, American Piety: The Nature of Religious Commitment, by Rodney Stark and Charles Glock (University of California, 1968, 230 pp., $6.75), is reviewed by Harry Yeide, Jr., associate professor of religion and assistant dean, Columbian College, George Washington University, Washington, D. C.

This first part of a trilogy will be followed by volumes on the sources and consequences of religious commitment. What we have here and the previews of what is to come lead me to hope that the trilogy will soon be completed. For while many will challenge the authors’ analyses, the lack of empirical data on American piety make unarguable their claim that “in terms of sheer description and empirical generalization we can hardly fail to make some important contributions.”

Using mainly data from a survey of 3,000 church members in northern California, supplemented by more broadly based information, the authors extend two points they have urged in other works. The first is that people are religious in different ways; they present widely varied mixtures of beliefs, methods of communal and private worship, religious experience, knowledge about religion, and involvement in church groups and friendship patterns. The authors attempt to express these differing modes of religious commitment in mathematical terms. Second, they also try to measure what everyone knows but sociologists often forget: that there are vast differences among Protestant groups not only in average social status but also in the kind and degree of religious commitment. Thus while 99 per cent of the Southern Baptists agreed that “Jesus is the Divine Son of God and I have no doubts about it,” only 40 per cent of the Congregationalists gave that answer. Other Protestant groups and Roman Catholics range between the two in an often repeated pattern on a large number of questions.

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Readers of this journal will be interested in the assertion that conservative church bodies are suffering a net loss of members to liberal bodies. One must examine both the ability to hold members and the ability to recruit switchers. Although conservative groups do well on holding members in comparison to the liberal groups, they do very poorly in recruitment from liberals: “people who change their church tend to move from more conservative bodies to theologically more liberal ones.” The authors, aware that they contradict membership figures published by the National Council of Churches, offer reasons for believing that the NCC statistics are incorrect and/or misleading.

Glock and Stark link their findings to the larger thesis that the shift in membership in the liberal direction is but a step on the way out of the Church as we enter the post-Christian era. They are tentative in turning from description to prophecy but feel the Church must liberalize to survive. This they regard as unlikely. But they ask: Even if the Church could liberalize, would the final product be identifiably Christian?

This prognosis depends upon certain premises that flaw much of the diagnosis as well. Their idea of “orthodox” Christianity is constructed upon their perception of nineteenth-century rural American piety. Is it really surprising, then, that the Southern Baptists and certain sects consistently score highest? Does it not seem more strange, at least to Presbyterians and Lutherans, that orthodox beliefs are measured with no reference to justification by faith?

Similar questions are in order about their notion of “liberalism,” which seems at times to include any departure from their model of “orthodoxy.” Thus points of view understood by some Christian groups for centuries as orthodox can appear as signs of liberalism. On the basis of two questions on the necessity to salvation of “doing good for others” and “loving the neighbor,” the authors, noting the lower scores for some of the groups they judge as conservative, conclude that higher scores are more liberal and that liberal groups are more ethical than orthodox groups; they fail to perceive that some denominations, while encouraging “good works,” have insisted that they do not contribute to salvation. Other groups have, of course, regarded as orthodox the contribution of good works to salvation. Differences between Christian groups on such questions may have no relation to liberalization.

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I suspect that the authors had difficulty perceiving such issues because of their natural sympathy for liberalization, a suspicion nourished by such an extravagant statement as: “It is not philosophers or scientists, but the greatest theologians of our time who are saying ‘God is dead,’ or that notions of a ‘God out there’ are antiquated.”

Whatever its flaws, however, the book merits widespread study as a gold mine of information and a challenge to the churches.

Elihu’S Lesson In Counseling

Dialogue in Despair, by William E. Hulme (Abingdon, 1968, 157 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Richard Allen Bodey, Sr., professor of practical theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi.

“The man who shook his fists at God and got away with it!” Slip that one into your next Bible quiz. Chances are nobody will come up with Job for an answer. But then, what pastor ever recognized himself in Eliphaz, or Bildad, or Zophar, Job’s uncomforting comforters and unfriendly friends?

Exegetes and theologians traditionally prize the Book of Job for its theological value: it wrestles with the problem of why the righteous suffer. William Hulme, professor of pastoral care at Luther Theological Seminary, takes a different but complementary approach. He finds in this ancient drama a biblical resource for pastoral care. “It presents the dynamics of suffering and healing within the framework of the pastoral relationship.” Indeed, it attacks the enigma of human existence with “the reckless abandon of the modern existentialist.”

Confident of his self-righteousness, Job the counselee clings tenaciously to his integrity above the security of his relationships: human and divine alike. Bold, reckless, defiant, he dares to call God to account. His angry outbursts and stubborn self-acquittals threaten his friends’ philosophy of life. Insensitive to his personal need, and under pretense of defending God against Job’s assaults, they vainly try to bludgeon him into confessing that his plight is just punishment for his guilt. They typify the defensive counselor who substitutes reaction for response.

Happily for Job, a fourth and wiser counselor, Elihu, enters the conversation. Although he repeats much that the trio before him said, his attitude and timing are different. Meeting Job with empathy, he leads him to a deeper level of insight and action. Elihu’s counseling method is as up-to-date as Hulme’s book: identification, acceptance, restatement, confrontation. By challenging Job to develop a wider vision and see God’s redemptive purpose in his trial, Elihu paves the way for Job’s direct encounter with God. He then quietly exits.

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Elihu’s role as mediator and his counseling techniques set the pattern for every pastor who wants to lead people out of the darkness of despair into living contact with the God who kindles faith and justifies hope. In his presence—which always has an element of mystery—they, like Job, may not learn the why of their trial. But they discover the who, and so are able to accept the how.

Pastoral commentaries threaten to become a fad in this day of the pastor-counselor. This one pushes to the frontiers of incisive, relevant biblical interpretation. It even furnishes suggestions, drawn from its pastoral perspective, that can be used to counsel Job’s literary critics on their inadequate understanding.

Atonement: Limited Or Unlimited?

The Death Christ Died: A Case for Unlimited Atonement, by Robert P. Lightner (Regular Baptist Press, 1967, 151 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by Norman Shepherd, associate professor of systematic theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In deliberately putting a book by a four-point Calvinist into the hands of a five-point Calvinist, CHRISTIANITY TODAY doubtless expected something other than hearty endorsement. Any five-pointer would need at least 150 pages to unravel the fallacies he finds woven into its fabric. Lacking that, this one will just outline briefly why he remains unrepentant.

It is not, of course, simply a question of one point more or less. Lightner finds that “strict Calvinism,” with its particular atonement that secures all the benefits of Christ for the elect, makes faith unnecessary. In effect, he is saying that Calvinism is deterministic and determinism makes history meaningless. The remedy proposed is a large dose of indeterminism in a form oscillating between myraldianism (Lightner uses only the expression “moderate Calvinism”) and Arminianism. But then the problem is to show how one can have any faith or history at all. Having charged Calvinism with the one extreme, he is saved from the other only because, as a sincere believer, he subjects himself to the infallible authority of Scripture. In point of fact, the Orthodox Calvinist is not deterministic because he shares that same commitment. The question is, Where does Scripture lead?

The crux of the matter is that the substitutionary atonement in which Lightner believes is efficacious. He virtually admits this when he approvingly cites Walvoord to the effect that “Christ’s death constituted an act of purchase in which the sinner is removed from his former bondage in sin by payment of the ransom price.” Here, quite properly, cross and consummation are seen in the light of each other. But all this is denied when Lightner contends that the same sinner may well enter into eternal condemnation. J. Miley and H. O. Wiley are much more consistent when they adopt the governmental theory of the atonement in order to universalize it.

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Lightner is worried lest the Calvinists deprive us of the universal offer of the Gospel. He does not see that a redemption that does not redeem and a propitiation that does not propitiate leave us with no Gospel to offer anyone.

The author has gone into print without allowing himself to feel the full impact of what he opposes. As a result, his analysis lacks depth of penetration and his exegesis tends to be cavalier. Spurgeon’s argument has not been answered: “God will not punish twice for one thing.”

Calling A Dog’S Tail A Leg

The Secular Saint, by Allan R. Brockway (Doubleday, 1968, 238 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Robert L. Reymond, visiting lecturer and administrative assistant, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.

This book is aimed at those “who have the suspicion that God is not dead, but can see no logical alternative,” according to its author, a Methodist clergyman and editor of Concern magazine. Its hero, the Secular Saint, is a “religionless Christian” interacting with both individual and corporate lifestyles.

The world is in transition. In our century we have already moved from the automobile and atomic-power ages into the age of space exploration. Change can produce various anxieties, but because transitions are now occurring so quickly, man has built up a resistance to the social shock produced by change. In this sense, the world of transition is also a steady-state world. This strange, new world, furthermore, is urban and leisurely, external (looking outside rather than inside man’s mind for the meaning of life and of the universe itself), and religionless. This is, for Brockway, the world of the Secular Saint.

Ancient Christian symbols must be reinterpreted for this new world. Orthodoxy’s stop-gap and escape-hatch God will suffice no longer. God, for Brockway, now becomes the absolute limits and impossible demands that confront a man; Christ is the possibility of receiving these limits and demands as good and for one’s good; and the Holy Spirit is the decision to receive the Christ possibility as the operating mode (Lord) of one’s life, the promise always to receive life as good, and the active reduplication of this decision and this promise in historical existence. Sin is rebellion against God so understood; it is the refusal to admit an absolute limit to one’s desires, power, and will. The Secular Saint is the man who in the “Christ response” refuses to receive the events of his life as threats to his significance and decides to entrust his own significance to the very limits and demands that threaten his sinful self.

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Any man who so acts is a Secular Saint, whether he is aware of it or not. His individual life-style is one of freedom (from all allegiances and “causes” and toward death, even his own) and responsibility. He “joys in every little bit of life, worships and studies whenever he encounters another Secular Saint.” But there is another life-style: knowing that alone he cannot make the Christ possibility known to all parts of the world in relationship to himself, he supports the Corporate Saint, the organizational life-style whose purpose among other organizations is to make the Christ possibility available to society as a whole.

Brockway has, of course, committed the one basic error of all those who repudiate orthodoxy. He believes, autonomously, on the basis of his research and his experience, that his calling a dog’s tail a leg makes it so! Actually, his Secular Saint and Corporate Saint are not saints at all. They are simply reflections of Brockway’s humanism cast in traditional religious language.

Frankly, the orthodox Christian grows a little weary of the secularist’s use of Christian language that has become freighted with power by biblical usage and tradition to make the case for his non-Christian thought. Brockway’s God is of his own construction, and his Christ, as the possibility of choosing freedom and responsibility, speaks of two human categories incapable of definition and proper balance apart from the biblical revelation of Christian theism. The world, as Brockway says, is in transition; it has been since the creation. But man’s basic spiritual needs—redemption and restoration—have never changed, not since Adam’s fall.

The Kernel And The Shell

Jesus and the Christian, by William Manson (Eerdmans, 1967, 236 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Stanley A. Ellisen, professor of biblical literature, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oregon.

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This book by William Manson, Edinburgh giant of New Testament studies of the past generation, is a posthumous compilation of his lectures and articles published in various journals between 1925 and 1957, arranged by T. F. Torrance. Here we see Manson’s concept of “depth exegesis” in relation to Christian living and the world mission of the Church. This exegesis moves from a clarification of Jesus’ ministry to the significance of that life and ministry for the Christian and then to its significance for world evangelism.

True to his concern for exegetical foundation, Manson first establishes the reliance of the New Testament sources and the solidarity of its witnesses, especially Jesus and Paul. Although he accepts many of the higher-critical findings on both Testaments, he renounces the methods and conclusions of form criticism as superficial and conjectural. And, assuming the priority of Mark, he pursues the essence of Jesus’ ministry through precept and event.

Jesus’ first coming was the eschatological event foretold by the prophets. The time of the eschaton had come. But, although Jesus came to fulfill the Messianic prophecies, he did not come to fulfill Old Testament expectations in their “external garb.” He came to clarify the true nature of the Kingdom, to strip off the “shell” and reveal the spiritual “kernel.” Manson says the parables demonstrate this; in them Jesus demythologized the reign of God for the faithful and spiritual. The passing of the Law involved also the passing of any claims to an Israel-centered eschaton. The spiritual enclave of the Church constitutes the “Israel of God” in the fullest sense. This interpretation is the product of Manson’s “depth exegesis.”

His greatest contribution doubtless lies in his treatises on the Christian life. His wholesome mysticism in regard to the believer’s life “in Christ” is fresh and challenging. He stresses the verticality of the Christian experience and implies that much Christian experience is of the “shell” rather than the “kernel.”

All these concepts of eschatological Christian living are brought to focus on the program of world missions. While there is a “realized eschatology” in Christ’s ministry, says Manson, there is yet an unrealized eschatology that motivates the Church in its gospel witness. The prophecy that world blessing would come through Israel is fulfilled in the Church’s world mission, he says, and indeed is the Old Testament impetus for this task.

Many points in this “depth exegesis” call for evaluation. While Manson offers some profound insights, a host of his assumptions lack verification. While there is a coherency in his theological structure, the “ex” is not always prominent in his exegesis. While he pleads for the Church’s proper expectation of the parousia and of Christ’s reign within the historical plane, he vaporizes the millennial content of that reign. While he seeks to demythologize the Old Testament prophecies, he mythologizes both the patriarchal covenants and the eschatological promises. In this, one suspects an “overplussage” of consistency. Having been deprived of the “shell” of biblical eschatology, which God vouchsafed by his solemn oath, one is hard put to find satisfaction in the uncertain meat of the existential kernel.

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This outstanding book is a scholar’s manual and is certainly a work to be reckoned with, as was Manson’s Jesus the Messiah.

Protestantism Through A Prism

Spectrum of Protestant Beliefs, edited and compiled by Robert Campbell, O. P. (Bruce, 1968, 106 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by E. S. James, editor emeritus, “Baptist Standard,” Dallas, Texas.

This unusual book seeks to present five distinct Protestant viewpoints—fundamentalist, new evangelical, confessional, liberal, and radical—on twenty-one significant topics. These topics include the Trinity, the Bible, the Virgin Birth, original sin, heaven and hell, premarital sex, racial integration, anti-Semitism, the ecumenical movement, Communism, and the Viet Nam war. Many readers will find it hard to classify themselves in any of the categories on the basis of the thought advanced by some of the spokesmen. The compiler-editor selected well-known persons to represent the varieties of Protestants as he sees them: Carl F. H. Henry (new evangelical), John Warwick Montgomery (confessional), James A. Pike (liberal), William Hamilton (radical), and Bob Jones, Jr. (fundamentalist). But, in my opinion, the division of thought on doctrine and social issues is much too narrow.

Although Carl F. H. Henry has voiced well the views of the millions of Bible-believing evangelicals, I see no reason to call his viewpoint new evangelical. There is nothing new about it, since from their beginnings nearly all Protestants who have thought of themselves as evangelical Christians have believed essentially what he expresses concerning the Scriptures, and today millions of them agree with him on social issues. One could wish that John Warwick Montgomery’s position were representative of all confessional groups, but it clearly is not. James A. Pike is too radical for many liberals to claim him. And William Hamilton’s “God is dead” theory is too far-fetched and removed from scriptural teachings, its followers too few, to be considered a basic category in this survey. Bob Jones voices what seems to be the general opinion of a group that designate themselves fundamentalists; yet he is not representative of the millions who believe every fundamental truth of the Bible but refuse to speculate on prophecy and abhor the idea that God is responsible for the spirit of racism.

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The book is well arranged, readable, concise enough to be read at one sitting, and enlightening. But it does not, in my opinion, live up to its title. A spectrum shows all the colors. The viewpoints covered in this book are too limited to be called the “Spectrum of Protestant Beliefs.”

Book Briefs

The Righteousness of the Kingdom, by Walter Rauschenbusch, edited by Max L. Stackhouse (Abingdon, 1968, 320 pp., $5.95). Today’s theological crusaders for social change will find much to agree with in this newly discovered, previously unpublished book written seventy-five years ago by “the father of the social gospel.”

Speaking in Tongues, by Laurence Christenson (Bethany Fellowship, 1968, 141 pp., $2.95). A charismatic Lutheran pastor appeals for renewal of the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Modern Theologians, Christians and Jews, edited by Thomas E. Bird (University of Notre Dame, 1967, 224 pp., $5.95). Short essays that introduce such contemporary theologians as Buber, Murray, Hromádka, Schillebeeckx, Robinson, Hick, and Heschel.

God’s Answer, by W. Herbert Brown (Scripture Truth, 1967, 256 pp., $3.95). Brief but perceptive analysis of the verses throughout the Bible that refer to the Holy Spirit.

Christianity & Humanism, by Quirinus Breen, edited by Nelson Peter Ross (Eerdmans, 1968, 283 pp., $6.95). Students of a retired University of Oregon professor have collected and published some of his significant writings relating to Greek and Renaissance philosophy and Christian theology.

The GodB Within, by W. Farnsworth Loomis (October House, 1967, 117 pp., $5.95). A Brandeis University professor of biochemistry sets forth a naturalistic view of “God” and man. “God A” made a world ready for the evolution of man; “God B” was born in man circa 15,000 B.C. when Cro-Magnon man demonstrated his creative ability (as seen in the Lascaux cave paintings). In the foreword, Bishop James Pike lauds the thoughts of Loomis. The book is a glaring example of a scientist’s forsaking science for scientism.

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And the Greatest of These, by George Sweeting (Revell, 1968, 128 pp., $3.50). The pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church writes about the power of Christian love. Well worth reading.

My Flickering Torch, by E. Jane Mall (Concordia, 1968, 176 pp., $3.50). A Christian woman’s victorious story of her experience after her chaplain husband died and she was left with five adopted children.


Learning to Love God, Learning to Love Ourselves, and Learning to Love People, by Richard Peace (Inter-Varsity, 1968, 63 pp., 61 pp., and 73 pp., $1 each). Booklets to help new Christians become established in their faith through simple, inductive Bible studies.

Science and Religion, edited by Ian G. Barbour (Harper & Row, 1968, 323 pp., $3.95). An interesting collection of current essays with varying perspectives on religion and evolution, scientific method, and technology.

Between Christ and Satan, and Day X, by Kurt Koch (Evangelization, Berghausen/Bd., West Germany, 192 pp. and 128 pp., 1967). A German evangelical discusses (1) fortune-telling, magic spiritism, occult literature, and miraculous healings, and (2) the return of Christ.

The Seven Great “I Am’s”, by Archibald Campbell (Christian Literature Crusade, 1968, 133 pp., $1.50). Instructive and inspiring studies of the seven “I am’s” and seven miracles in the Gospel of John.

A Time to Embrace, edited by Oliver R. Barclay (Inter-Varsity, 1967, 61 pp„ $.60). A practical, biblically sound booklet on courtship and sex for today’s Christian young people.

From Call to Service, by Glenn E. Whitlock (Westminster, 1968, 122 pp., $1.85). An experienced counselor of ministerial candidates offers a sensible discussion of the ministerial call, candidates’ backgrounds and motivations, and the Church’s means for helping men fulfill their ministries.

Protestant Agreement on the Lord’s Supper, by Eugene M. Skibbe (Augsburg, 1968, 143 pp., $2.50). Shows how Anglican, Lutheran, and Reformed Christians are coming closer together in their understandings of the Eucharistic doctrine.

Understanding the Book of Hebrews, by Robert L. Cargill (Broadman, 1967, 133 pp., $1.95). Readable, devotional, inspirational.

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