Focal Point: Resurrection

Jesus—God and Man, by Wolfhart Pannenberg (Westminster, 1968, 415 pp., $10), is reviewed by Leon Morris, principal, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia,

For some years now Rudolf Bultmann and his disciples have dominated the theological scene. Bultmann’s demand for “demythologizing” first captured the attention, but his school of thought has retained its influence on other grounds. It has made popular the view that the Gospels tell us little about Jesus of Nazareth, though much about the faith of the early Church.

Now, however, the Bultmannian approach is being challenged. Wolfhart Pannenberg, a noteworthy thinker, rejects categorically many of the typical Bultmannian. positions.

For instance, Bultmann regards the resurrection as a legend, but Pannenberg does not hesitate to call it a historical event. He points out that the resurrection appearances and the empty tomb are independent of each other. After examining the evidence for both, he concludes that both should be accepted. He is firmly convinced that the Church’s belief in the resurrection of Jesus is very well founded.

Indeed, so well founded does he find this belief that he makes the resurrection the center of his understanding of Jesus. It is only on the basis of the resurrection that he can perceive the divinity of Jesus. As the title of the book indicates, Pannenberg sees Jesus as God. But he never regards this as self-evident. Nor does he see it as something that could have been discerned up to the time of the crucifixion. It is the resurrection that shows Jesus to be divine.

Pannenberg makes a good deal of the thought that the resurrection is retroactive. Jesus’ union with God is decided retroactively only from the resurrection. The whole of his life is to be seen in the light of the resurrection. Pannenberg accepts the sinlessness of Jesus but characteristically relates this, too, to the resurrection:

As in the light of his resurrection Jesus is the Son of God in the whole of his existence, so, too, he is sinless, precisely because with the flesh he also took upon himself the sin of humanity and submitted to the death that set the purity of his mission free from all ambiguity.

This emphasis on the factuality of the resurrection is refreshing. And it is interesting to see the substitutionary character of Jesus’ death strongly affirmed. Pannenberg’s view of Christ’s death as vicarious penal suffering is unusual these days.

But it must not be thought that the professor from Mainz is simply returning to a conservative point of view. He insists over and over again that the virgin birth is a legend. And he goes along with Bultmann and his followers in asserting that the titles that express Jesus’ divinity were originated by the early Church and read back on to the lips of Jesus. Moreover, it is doubtful whether by “substitution” he means what conservatives have usually meant. Pannenberg is just as critical in his methods as Bultmann—which makes his firm upholding of the historicity of the resurrection all the more impressive.

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This is a very important book. Although a good deal in it is speculative, and much must be rejected by those who take the biblical revelation seriously, there is also much that is soundly based. Pannenberg has made it exceedingly difficult for any modern critic to retain the Bultmann skepticism toward the resurrection, and this is a great gain.

Untangling A Tangled World

Into the World: The Need and Limits of Christian Involvement, by J. N. D. Anderson (Falcon, 1968, 112 pp., 9s. 6d), is reviewed by Sherwood E. Wirt, editor, “Decision,” Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In April, 1967, the National Evangelical Anglican Congress, meeting in Keele, England, issued the following declaration: “We believe that our evangelical doctrines have important ethical implications. But we confess to our shame that we have not thought sufficiently deeply or radically about the problems of our society. We are therefore resolved to give ourselves to more study of these crucial issues in future.”

In this spirit, with emphasis upon study rather than programs for immediate action, J. N. D. Anderson, dean of the faculty of law at the University of London, has brought forth the first post-Keele monograph on the question: should evangelicals do something about the tangled world in which they live? It is an excellent study and properly concludes that involvement is mandatory for the Christian. When a learned and dedicated British Christian turns his attention to a particular field, as a rule the reader is in for a treat; and this investigation is no exception.

While the ground covered matches some of what I treated in The Social Conscience of the Evangelical (our books appeared within a month of each other), there are important differences. As some reviewers have suggested, these differences stem from transoceanic differences in perspective. For example, he tends to have a permissive attitude toward homosexuality, in keeping with recent British legislation; whereas we American evangelicals in the main have reacted unfavorably toward moves in that direction, on the basis of Romans 1.

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On a deeper level, Professor Anderson feels that “the Bible approaches questions of social responsibility primarily in terms of the doctrine of creation, and not primarily in terms of incarnation [and] redemption.” In America, the doctrine of creation or “creationism theology” has been widely used to undergird the “new morality” through an insistence that, as a general principle, whatever is to be found in the world must be good. (One is reminded of the drunken Indian who interrupted John Eliot during an early Massachusetts Bible class, shouting, “Who made sack, Mister Eliot? Who made sack?”) The result has been that certain of our seminaries appear more Epicurean or Falstaffian in moral outlook than Christian in the traditional sense. Professor Anderson makes it clear, of course, that man’s capacity as a rational and moral being has been affected by the fall—but in a more limited context, perhaps, than most evangelicals would say that Scripture teaches.

In various chapters the author looks at work and leisure, culture and learning, international relations, and the welfare state, not as an expert, but as a concerned Christian who believes that these are areas in which evangelicals ought to be thinking and acting. He is at home and at his best in the field of social justice and the law. With considerable acuity he discusses the command of Christ, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” pointing out that it implies the duty “not only to give passive obedience but actively to participate—to some degree, at least—in the processes of government and lawmaking.” Scores of equally fruitful insights are scattered through the book.

Although Americans will wish that the author were a bit more decisive in some of his conclusions, they cannot deny that he is courageously breaking new ground for evangelicals. Yet he does so with attractive reticence, acknowledging his unfamiliarity with some of the issues under consideration. His book will be widely studied and may well prove to be a watershed in years to come, not only among Anglicans, but among those everywhere who love their Lord and are just beginning to realize what it means to follow him.

Don’T Put Out The Fire

Spirit of the Living God, by Dale Moody (Westminster, 1968, 239 pp., $6), is reviewed by J. Murray Marshall, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Flushing, New York.

Will there be renewal within the Church? This question arises with ever greater frequency and urgency, stimulated by the evidence of decreasing church membership, decreasing interest among remaining members, and a demoralized ministry. Meanwhile the Church at large divides over such issues as activism in social affairs, ecumenism, and the charismatic movement. But still there are signs of hope, signs of renewal.

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Both individuals and congregations continue to tell of their discovery of new, dynamic life in Christ. The persistent interest in the charismatic movement, especially within the major denominations (the United Presbyterians at their 1968 General Assembly ordered a major study on glossolalia), indicates both an awareness that something is happening and a hunger for something presently unrealized. All this points to the place of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And when the Church begins to inquire about the Holy Spirit, it is driven inevitably to the Scriptures. Hence the timeliness of Dale Moody’s book, Spirit of the Living God.

Reading For Perspective


A Place for You, by Paul Tournier (Harper & Row, $4.95). The Swiss psychiatrist writes to help people find “a place” that will dispel loneliness, re-establish lost security, and be a base for launching new spiritual pilgrimages.

The Pattern of New Testament Truth, by George Eldon Ladd (Eerdmans, $3.75). Contending for the unity of New Testament theology, this professor shows that the Synoptic writers, John, and Paul share a common view of God.

Black and Free, by Tom Skinner (Zondervan, $2.95). Negro evangelical Skinner relates his rise from gang leader of the Harlem Lords to his calling as a Christian evangelist and offers candid comments on black power, Dr. King, Negro evangelicals, and the curses of racism.

Dr. Moody senses the urgency of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He observes, “So much modern religion is just more go-go with no glow in it at all. As artificial logs, twirling with the twinkle of a low-watt bulb, are substituted for hickory logs giving forth real warmth and light, so now the ‘planned program’ takes the place of the spiritual glow that creates zeal and hope.” “Protestantism” he says, “is in a state of ‘deadness due to a taboo of the Spirit.’ ”

His approach, however, is not to bemoan the present lack but to work as the careful scholar, collecting, examining, cataloguing, and interpreting the biblical data. He has done his work well. This is a balanced book that neither confines the Spirit as a topic for scholarly speculation nor ignores the need of the Church for the touch of the Spirit’s presence. Indeed, Moody says that “careful scholarship and the charismatic community can be united.”

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This balanced evaluation is seen in the parts of the book as well as in the whole. The author makes it plain that the Holy Spirit works not only in individuals but also through the Church as an institution. He cautions church leaders not to “pour cold water on charismatic fires” but then adds immediately, “This does not mean that the church is to accept all claims of inspiration.” He seems also to have a balanced view of polity, seeing in the New Testament more than a congregational polity. (He has been pastor of Baptist churches and now occupies a chair in systematic theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.) His conclusion is that “the great majority of references in the New Testament use church to mean all the Christians in a city, even though they meet in many places.”

Moody covers the entire Bible in this survey, giving one chapter to the Old Testament, and seven to the New. Eâch section is analyzed and cleverly outlined, but never is the text strained to fit an outline. The book will be of help to preachers determined to make their preaching biblical as well as timely. To be sure, some will challenge specific points of interpretation, such as the textual criticism of John 3:5; but these small matters in no wise detract from the value of the book as a whole.

It is clear beyond question that the Spirit of the Living God was active in the program of redemption; Moody demonstrates this from each section of the Scripture. The proper deduction is that the Spirit is at work today, and woe unto twentieth-century Christians if the Spirit be quenched. Christians will find in this study of the work of the Spirit in Scripture both an incentive to wait upon the Spirit to work now and a benevolent corrective for renewal attempts already under way.

Collision Course In Africa

A Leopard Tamed, by Eleanor C. Vandevort (Harper & Row, 1968, 218 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Thomas Howard, teacher of English, St. Bernard’s School, New York, New York.

One of the questions to be asked about a narrative is whether it is, in its own terms, a paradigm of human experience—that is, whether the events, people, conflicts, and movement of the story describe a “case in point” of what is true for all of us. If they do, then it does not really matter whether the scene is Troy (The Iliad) or Logres (Arthur) or a whaling ship (Moby Dick) or Yoknapatawpa County (The Sound and the Fury). We may have no experience at all of the geography, customs, or time of the narrative. But if the tale is told well, we see into the special world in question with the eyes of the storyteller; and if the storyteller is truly a poet, these are eyes that see more than the subjects themselves. For they see the string of events that the subjects enact, not as mere hap, but as part of a pattern that can be superimposed on common human experience, and that elicits significance from that experience. This is what we mean when we say we “identify” with the hero: his struggles remind us of our own. When we read about Odysseus sailing past the Sirens, the story is much more to us than merely an account of events that took place in the Mediterranean some eons ago. We say to ourselves, “How terribly true that is.” And we find that our own capacity both to appreciate and to cope with experience is enlarged to the extent that we have a new way of uttering it: we can speak of temptation as a “siren-song,” and the figure suggests to us a whole world of intensity and subtlety that no analytic description could equal.

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Such a story is A Leopard Tamed. For it does the two things that the narrative must do if it is to rise about mere diversion. First, it beguiles us by creating a world and by leading us into it; and second, it sees in that particular world questions that must be asked of our own.

First, then, it creates a world. To be sure, the events take place on the same planet where we live. But the similarity ends there. Despite colonial empires and commerce and literacy programs and radios, there are peoples on this planet whose consciousness seems hardly to have changed at all during the centuries in which Western man has placed himself increasingly in thrall to the things he invents. The Nuer tribe in the southern Sudan is like this. They are quaint subjects for anthropological studies, and natural objects for missionary attention. To this tribe there went a woman, like thousands of other women, as a Christian missionary. This was a woman whose allegiance, like that of her missionary colleagues of all time, was to the God announced in the Christian Gospel. But, with her Gospel, she also took the eye of the seer and the curiosity of a heart that approaches other people, not as objects, but as fellow beings. She spent thirteen years in their grasslands with this stork-like, coal-blue, pastoral people, and she has told us a story about it. She leads us into a world that has little to do with our own—wet seasons and dry seasons (we have umbrellas and irrigation), cattle (we have bank accounts), clay pots (we have Tupperware), superstition (we belong to the Enlightenment), initiation (we do have Bar Mitzvah and baptism), birth and death (we have them, but we disguise them). But this is not one more breathless account of How Fascinating Life in Africa Is. The tale is told with a delicacy and perspicacity that reminds one of that great bard and sorceress Isak Dinesen, who wrote of Kenya. If it were nothing more than Miss Vandevort’s description of Nuer life, we would be enchanted.

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But it is more. It is a tale of microcosm of the macrocosmic African-Western collision, and more, of the animist-Christian collision. The Westerner believes that there are ways of doing things that are better than other ways, and he is prepared to insist that Western man has discovered the better way, and to disseminate the knowledge of that way to all tribes, willing and unwilling. Similarly, the Christian believes that there is a Way that is the Way for all men, and that it ought to be promulgated. He has, apparently, the promises of his God that success will follow this promulgation. What, then, if no such thing occurs? What if this Way makes no more sense to a people than television and macadam and polyethylene? What if the response is at best an amiable blankness? We are familiar with tales of success. A Leopard Tamed is not one. The Leopard in question is a young Nuer man named Kuac (Leopard) who becomes a Christian, and finally a minister. The conflicts that arise between his Nuer-hood and his faith are staggering, and we are not comforted with a happy ending. The last thing in the book is a letter written to the author, who was deported and, along with the other Christian missionaries, declared persona non grata by the Arab government of the Sudan, by Kuac, who is himself in exile: “Our country is full of rumors and troubles. Plead with God for us as you did when you lived here, my sister.”

But the story is more even than a highly intelligent and sensitive probing of the anthropological and religious collision. It is the account of a faith that has, like Job’s, been asked to sustain the collapse of all the props with which faith is ordinarily shored up. There is a certain pique among American Christians now about various books that do not seem to take for their slogan “On the Victory Side.” And yet, a careful reader of these books (in this case, of A Leopard Tamed) will discover an affirmation of faith that is far, far more substantial than the sort of thing that commonly gushes from our pulpits and journals.

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A noteworthy feature of the book is the extraordinarily arresting pen-and-ink sketching by James Howard.

Freudian View Of Religion

A Dynamic Psychology of Religion, by Paul W. Pruyser (Harper & Row, 1968, 367 pp., $10), is reviewed by R. S. Brinkerhoff, special instructor in psychology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

This book by Paul W. Pruyser will be of interest to CHRISTIANITY TODAY readers: (1) his main focus is on Protestantism, in particular American and conservative forms; (2) the work reflects knowledge of both classical and current theological sources; (3) he shows a wide and sensitive appreciation of the Bible; (4) his whole discussion is from a psychoanalytic and/or Freudian perspective.

The psychoanalytic view emphasizes human needs and the conflicts that arise between these needs. Conflicts typically involve parents and “loved ones.” Pruyser attempts to show how particular religious (especially Christian) doctrines and practices help a person handle these intrapsychic conflicts. In this discussion his interpretation of the theories of the Atonement is central, but he also deals with such matters as the significance of particular hymns and the psychological meaning of constantly volunteering to wash dishes at church. Yet he does not reduce religion to a psychological mechanism: he gives extensive attention to the concepts of Rudolph Otto and argues that “something more” (the Deity) is really there.

Although the book is not aimed at the lay audience, Pruyser writes clearly, without unnecessary technical jargon, and uses excellent illustrations. He speaks from a particular perspective within psychology (psychoanalytic) and does not do justice to the varied perspectives of the field (no mention is made of Mowrer on guilt, of Kohlberg on moral development, of Frankl on man’s search for meaning). A number of types of religious behavior (e.g., speaking in tongues and demon possession) are treated very briefly. Yet all in all the book is an excellent systematic introduction to the psychology of religion.

How Mass Media Affect You

Morality and the Mass Media, by Kyle Haselden (Broadman, 1968, 192 pp., $2.50), is reviewed by Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr., producer-director, Valley Forge Films, Inc., Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

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This is the most important book yet written on the subject. Reading it will be a valuable and exhilarating experience for ministers, writers, teachers, and others whose stock in trade is communication and whose concern is people.

Haselden works thoroughly. He knows that to discuss morality properly he first must provide us with a look at the genuine article. But morality is not all that visible on the surface of society today. So for two chapters he digs, scraping away encrustations of legalism and the clay of situation ethics until he uncovers what he calls “authentic morality.” In “Morality and the Sense of God’s Presence” he summarizes: “Authentic morality has its focus in people, its objective in the transforming of people into persons, its habitat in freedom, its criterion and energy in love, and its source in God.”

He performs a similar service in showing what the mass media of communications are and how they function and affect us. His background material, surveys, studies, and daily contact with the subject as editor of the Christian Century provide him a significant vantage point from which to view the history and current state of both the mass media and morality.

The first part of the book is an excellent primer on the subject. He liberally quotes other explorers in the territory; he names names and places; he takes on McLuhan, Playboy, the FCC, censors, Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and a host of others.

The book is chock-full of ideas that will interest the theoretician, the sidelines enthusiast, and the day-to-day practitioner of the arts and wiles of mass media. An example is his opinion that “the more important the subject is to the consumer, the more likely it is that his opinion will be changed by indirection rather than by direction, by impression than by preaching.…” He doubts that the appearances of Martin Luther King (whom he admired) on television changed many racial attitudes or racial behavior, but he believes that “Negro actor and humorist Bill Cosby, in his heroic and highly sympathetic role in TV’s ‘I Spy,’ in which he has a free and easy relation with a white companion and other whites, will gradually change many racial prejudices.”

The philosophy of the book is so valuable and enriching that we can afford to overlook Haselden’s occasional lapse into vitriol in certain matters about which he has prejudice. He convinces us that a free, open, uncensored society is best, but then he blows his cool and seeks to restrain the rights of some members of our society to tell it like they think it is. Yet he proves his humanity in these passages and convincingly reinforces the argument for freedom of expression and interchange that he so brilliantly presents in his ethical thesis.

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Each reader, no matter what his place on the theological or political spectrum, will find ideas in this book to make him cheer and to make him hiss. That’s the kind of book it is and that’s the kind of subject it is. Haselden has contributed a fascinating book on a powerful topic the Church must consider.

Book Briefs

William Styron’s Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond, edited by John Henrik Clarke (Beacon, 1968, 120 pp., $4.95). A collection of stirring essays from the black intellectual community contradicting Styron’s depiction of Nat Turner in his dramatic novel.

The Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude, by Michael Green (Eerdmans, 1968, 192 pp., $3.95). This new volume in the “Tyndale New Testament Commentaries” stresses the “faith once delivered to the saints” as the pertinent message of these two epistles. Helpful outlines and sound exegesis make this a profitable book for study.

Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, by Ethelbert W. Bullinger (Baker, 1968, 1,104 pp., $14.95). This extensive study, first published in 1898, adds depth to the meaning of the Word through detailed explanations of figures of speech that are “the key to the interpretation and elucidation of the Scriptures.”

Ephesians, The Mystery of the Church, by William MacDonald (Shaw, 1968, 144 pp., $3.50). Each chapter of Ephesians is thoroughly considered to reveal a “wonderful truth”—the unity of believers in Christ.

Beggar to King, by Walter Duckat (Doubleday, 1968, 327 pp., $5.95). This fascinating survey of more than 200 occupations—from prophet and procurator to pawnbroker and prostitute—mentioned in the Bible offers a glimpse of the social, economic, and cultural life in ancient days in the Holy Land.

John XXIII and American Protestants, by Eugene C. Bianchi (Corpus, 1968, 287 pp., $6.95). A reminder of Protestantism’s response to renewal of the Roman Catholic Church under John XXIII and a survey of current efforts toward Christian unity.

The Experience of Love, by Jules J. Toner (Corpus, 1968, 219 pp., $5.95). Philosophical thought pointing to spontaneous response as the unifying element in the total human experience of love.

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Christ Manifested, by John Fletcher (Rule, 1968, 96 pp., $.80). The letters of a leader in the eighteenth-century “Evangelical Awakening” illustrate the reality of divine revelation through man’s personal encounter with God.

The Inescapable Calling, by R. K. Strachan (Eerdmans, 1968, 127 pp., $1.65). An entry in the “Christian World Missions” series that emphasizes evangelism as a crucial responsibility of the Church in its community.

Do You Hear Me, God?, by Ruth and Arthayer Sanborn (Judson, 1968, 80 pp., $1.95). A powerful and expressive series of prayers revealing man’s search for meaningful life and for communication with God through prayer.

All Loves Excelling, by R. Pierce Beaver (Eerdmans, 1968, 227 pp., $2.95). Describes the dedication and influence of American Protestant women in mission service.

Help … I’m a Camp Counselor, by Norman Wright (Regal, 1968, 228 pp., $.95). Along with aspirin, mosquito repellent, and fagots to throw on campfires, this book should be stashed in a camp counselor’s pack.

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