A Time Of Sifting
The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–45, by J. S. Conway (Basic Books, 1968, 474 pp., $10), is reviewed by C. George Fry, assistant professor of history, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.
“Verily a time of sifting has come upon us,” stated Pastor Martin Niemöller in 1934, for “God is giving Satan a free hand, so that he may shake us up and so that it may be seen what matter of men we are!” That testing of the German churches under Nazi tyranny is described in this well-researched book by Professor John S. Conway of the University of British Columbia. He shows that “the true story of the Church in Germany is not an unrelieved epic of faith and courage; it is to a large extent a sad tale of betrayal, timidity and unbelief. Even amongst those most faithful to the gospel, there were ‘none righteous, no, not one.’ ”
Although some 6,000 items about the church struggle had been written in German by 1958, relatively little has appeared in English. William Shirer, for example, gave only seven pages to the topic in his massive history of the Third Reich. Dr. Conway has met the need for a fair and balanced English-language study of the German church-state conflict. He has scrutinized the major sources, including the “archives of Hitler’s Reich Chancellery, the various German government records, the Nazi Party archives, the papers of individual Nazi leaders and the files of documents produced during the Nuremberg trials.” Viewing church-state relations from “the other side of the hill,” Conway analyzes “the various factions within the Nazi Party, the considerations they adopted, and policies they advocated toward the churches” because “the initiative lay with the Nazis” while the churches assumed a “passive position.”
What was the Nazi attitude toward the churches? There was no consistent program. The party wavered between subordination and suppression of the churches, while Hitler himself was “activated solely by motives of political opportunism.” The sub-ordinationists, largely “German Christians,” wanted “to make the church a part of the State’s machinery, to be dedicated to National Socialism and to be directed by Nazi leaders.” With the slogan, “The Swastika on our breasts, and the Cross in our hearts,” they confessed, in the words of one Protestant pastor, that “Christ has come to us through Adolf Hitler.” Other Nazis condemned this approach because they were convinced that Nazism and Christianity were competitors. Loyalty could not be shared between party and church, they said:
We want all.
Your hearts are our goal,
It is your souls we want.
They worked, therefore, to eliminate Christianity through intimidation and persecution and replace it with Nordic neo-paganism. Nazi liturgies of praise and prayer, like the following table grace, rose to the new savior-god, Hitler:
My Fuehrer, my Fuehrer, sent to me by God,
Protect and maintain my life;
Thou who has served Germany in its hour of need
I thank thee now for my daily bread.
Oh! Stay with me, Oh! Never leave me,
Fuehrer, my Fuehrer, my faith and my light.
Hitler alternated between these tactics as political necessities dictated, though his “final solution” for the Christians would probably have been extermination.
What was the churches’ attitude toward the Nazis? A minority of “German Christians” were total collaborationists. A remnant in the Catholic and Confessing churches resisted and “produced men whose readiness to suffer for their faith saved the Church from total apostasy.…” Most Christians were confused—torn between love for Christ and love for country. Too late they confessed, “We accuse ourselves for not witnessing more courageously, for not praying more faithfully, for not believing more joyously, and for not loving more ardently.”
Why did it happen? Could it happen here? Conway offers some challenging conclusions. The Nazi terror is “a horrifying warning to mankind as a whole that it is possible for men to create non-pagan idolatries out of secular ideologies,” even in a predominantly Christian country.
The Jerome Biblical Commentary
The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Volumes I and II (bound together) edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, and Ronald O. Murphy (Prentice-Hall, 1968, 1,526 pp., $25), is reviewed by Daniel P. Fuller, dean, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.
The publication of Pius XII’s encyclical, Divino Afflante Spiritu, in 1943 has led to significant changes in Roman Catholic biblical scholarship. There is now explicit encouragement to go behind the Latin Vulgate to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The emphasis is upon finding a biblical author’s intended meaning by recourse to the commonly accepted methods of literary and historical criticism. Roman Catholic scholars today are very open to the results of non-Catholic exegesis.
Many articles and books have described these changes with reference to some aspect of the Bible, but The Jerome Biblical Commentary is the first work to which the student can turn to see how these changes affect the study of the whole Bible. The commentary is appropriately named after Jerome, “the foremost Scripture scholar among the Church Fathers, a pioneer in biblical criticism.” A highly commendatory foreword is by Cardinal Bea, one of the leading “progressives” in Rome, who fought to make the mood of Divino Afflante Spiritu regnant at Vatican II.
Fifty Roman Catholic scholars from the United States and Canada have joined to produce the eighty articles included in the work. Sixty of these articles comment on each of the books of the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament. Unlike previous Catholic commentaries, the words selected for study are not lifted from an English translation of the Latin Vulgate but are those that represent the original language well and are generally in line with the primary modern translations, both Protestant and Catholic. The other twenty articles cover such topical subjects as “Introduction to the Pentateuch,” “The Synoptic Problem,” “Inspiration and Inerrancy,” “Canonicity,” “Aspects of New Testament Thought,” and “Pauline Theology.”
These concisely written articles provide an excellent introduction for a study of the biblical books and of almost every major biblical theme. Bibliographical material on recent works in the major scholarly languages is found at the beginning of and throughout each article.
One slight obstacle to the use of this commentary is the rearrangement of the biblical books from the usual canonical sequence to a purportedly historical one. For example, the reader will have to consult the table of contents to find Jonah (at the end of the first volume, covering the Old Testament and the Apocrypha) and Second Peter (at the end of the New Testament volume).
The article on “Hermeneutics” by the chief editor, Raymond S. Brown, is of unusual interest. Brown suggests that the “new hermeneutic” helps Roman Catholics safeguard the teaching of the Roman church while they apply the literary-historical method to the study of Scripture. The “new hermeneutic” (among Protestant proponents of it in the United States are James Robinson and Robert Funk) stresses that a writer’s original, intended meaning will always be modified by the historical context of the present-day reader and that this contemporary meaning is gained only by that reader who occupies the correct “hermeneutical place.” Brown suggests that the Roman church is the “hermeneutical place” where the contemporary meaning of the biblical books is most clearly heard. For the Catholic, this contemporary message is very close to the teaching of the church; but since the contemporary meaning differs from the orginal meaning, it follows that the Roman Catholic biblical scholar cannot jeopardize the contemporary meaning by applying literary-historical criticism to determine the original meaning.
Protestants who seriously adhere to the Reformation principle of sola scriptura will reject the “new hermeneutic” and will equate God’s Word with the intended meaning of the biblical writer. But since this work was written to set forth that intended meaning, the Protestant will find this a very valuable critical commentary.
A Solid Foundation
A Place to Stand, by Elton Trueblood (Harper & Row, 1969, 128 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by Wick Broomall, pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia.
This slender but significant volume is the product of more than forty years of search for “a concrete faith which, for lack of a better term, may be called Basic Christianity.” Trueblood hopes his summation of a viable faith will help readers—and particularly young people—find “something solid” in the midst of a perplexing world. He believes that a “new day is dawning for Christian intellectuals who will prepare themselves for the arduous and much-needed task of helping their fellows to cut through the fog and confusion that mark the climate of current opinion.”
Five chapters reflect “the order of thought” in the author’s spiritual pilgrimage from hesitant doubt to A Place to Stand. Excerpts from the first, entitled “Rational Christianity,” were published in the February 14 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. This chapter sets the pace for the book and really ought to be published separately as a tract for the times. Trueblood decries the modern tendency among popular preachers to “stay very close to social problems and avoid involvement in the problems of ultimate faith.” The mantle of J. Gresham Machen, a former disciple of what Trueblood describes as “tough-mindedness in matters of belief,” must have fallen upon the author as he wrote this first chapter. Subsequent chapters on “A Center of Certitude,” “The Living God,” “The Reality of Prayer,” and “And the Life Everlasting” demonstrate that the basic truths of Christianity have a reasonable foundation.
Although this book may not be as strong at some points as conservatives would like it to be, it is undoubtedly one that may lead some unbelievers from the swamps of doubt to the mountaintop of new life in Christ. And who could be a better guide on such a pilgrimage than Elton Trueblood, who combines a philosopher’s love of certainty with the believer’s love for Christ and the Bible?
Adventist View Of Vatican Ii
Vatican II: Bridging the Abyss, by Bert Beverly Beach (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1968, 352 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Robert G. Clouse, associate professor of history, Indiana State University, Terre Haute.
The purpose of this book is “to paint with Adventist brushes, against a background of Bible prophecy and within the framework of scriptural doctrine and teaching,” a picture of Vatican II. It accomplishes that goal. But for the many of us who do not look at religious developments through the narrow, literalistic, apocalyptic, Ellen G. Whitetinted glasses of the Seventh-day Adventists, the book is rather difficult to appreciate.
Bert Beverly Beach, the author, was a reporter for the Review and Herald at the Vatican Council. He seems to be a capable man who knows the European languages. In fact, he was raised in Europe, where his father was a missionary, and he earned a doctorate from the Sorbonne. During Vatican II he was the Adventists’ educational secretary for Northern Europe, a post he still holds.
His book opens with a historical summary of church councils within the Roman Catholic tradition. After providing us with an eyewitness account of the opening of Vatican II, he moves to an analysis of the council decisions. Among those he discusses are the statements on the Scriptures, the Church, collegiality, the role of bishops and laity, the church’s relation to the world, religious liberty, the Jews, and ecumenism. Also included are appendices on the council’s membership, its observers and guests, and the treatment given to the press. There is a very helpful glossary of terms for non-Catholic readers.
It is a pity that Beach could not have approached his subject with a more loving spirit. To him, the ecumenical changes that Pope John XXIII and Vatican II have brought to Catholicism are only an indication that the Catholics feel the ecumenical movement “offers Rome new and unexpected opportunities for reaching those who are not ‘yet’ members of the Roman Catholic Church.” For, as Ellen G. White has taught, the evil nature of Rome never changes. “ ‘Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today.’ The formula may change, expressions may vary, but ‘the doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held.’ ” Despite temporary kind actions, the role of Rome as Apocalyptic Babylon continues. This old-time Protestant historicist interpretation of the Revelation of St. John constantly warps the analysis.
If one wishes to learn about Vatican II, he would do better to consult The Documents of Vatican II (with notes and comments by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox authorities), edited by Walter M. Abbot.
Last Of A Trilogy
Contend with Horses, by Grace Irwin (Eerdmans, 1968, 283 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Nancy M. Tischler, associate professor of English and humanities, Pennsylvania State University, Middle-town.
“If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?” These words of Jeremiah 12:5 form the theme of Grace Irwin’s latest novel, which is—theologically, at least—a delight for the conservative Christian reader. The problems faced by the hero, Andrew Connington, are the problems of the wayfaring Christian. His trials, in his later years, are not the vividly outlined and dramatically fought battles between good and evil but rather struggles to “run with the footmen.”
Miss Irwin’s delight in Scripture, in the great Christian writers, and in the lives of the saints makes the book a feast for the modern reader weary of fictional anti-heroes in a barren world of diminished faith. Miss Irwin’s God is one who concerns himself with individuals, who answers prayers, who renews men’s hearts, who chides his wayward children, and who performs miracles. Her faith is one that involves learning and humor and reality. Unfortunately, though, the book is not likely to be widely read or appreciated—partly because of its clearly doctrinal appeal, partly because Miss Irwin’s bias against liberalism is so explicit, partly because she dares—in our world of ecumenical fuzziness—to state precisely the perils of interfaith marriages, and partly because the novel suffers from the usual problems of a sequel.
The preacher-hero, who appeared in two earlier books in this trilogy—Least of all Saints and Andrew Connington—is a virile, eloquent, loving man who could easily tempt the indulgent novelist to follow him into his mature years. But he will have little appeal to readers who have not known him in his younger days, when his battles seemed more heroic and his love more robust. The book begins with the death of his wife and ends with an affirmation that his relationship with this woman has been a central blessing in his human existence. But since the unitiated reader knows Cicily only through flashbacks, she is understandably less vital than the attractive widow who tries fruitlessly to win the pastor’s attentions through her good food and good works. The children, interesting largely because they are young and emotional, have not their father’s stature nor his conflicts. Their worries over proper mates and suitable professions seem somehow pale beside their father’s earlier epic struggles. And the most exciting section of the book, a murder mystery of sorts, seems barely organic to the central theme of marriage and the life in Christ.
Still, for those who will not worry about the niceties of organic plotting and who are willing for a love story to climax in a sermon, the book is a pleasure. For those who do not demand violence or sex of their fiction and who are eager to hear a few kind words about premarital chastity and Puritan history, the novel is enormously satisfying. But even they will enjoy Andrew’s old age more if they take time first to acquaint themselves with his youth.
Christian In The Making
A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography, by E. Stanley Jones (Abingdon, 1968, 400 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by James D. Robertson, professor of preaching, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.
E. Stanley Jones takes his title from Psalms 120–134, which are called “Songs of Ascents” because they were sung by the people as they went up to Jerusalem to worship. At eighty-three, Dr. Jones writes: “I shall sing my song of the pilgrimage I am making from what I was to what God is making of me.… The best I can say about myself is that I’m a Christian-in-the-making.” The note of jubilant song sounds throughout his story of his life—from the time of conversion and calling to service, through the long years of labor in India and America, until now. The theme may be summed up in the phrase, “Jesus is Lord,” and the story is that of one man’s response to the Gospel—a total response. The twenty-five chapter headings point to landmarks in this spiritual pilgrimage. A sampling: “The Aftermath of Conversion,” “Adjustments—How Far?,” “I Sing of Failures,” “What Life Has Taught Me So Far.”
Here is a man whose awareness of Christ is distilled into all he writes. The work is more than a spiritual autobiography. It is also a forceful treatise on how to resolve personal problems and conflicts in matters of faith and conduct. The beleaguered Christian may well sit at the feet of this apologist of the Christian faith. Here is rich spiritual insight and an understanding of contemporary man. The whole is an eminently readable account of the spiritual pilgrimage of a man who, as J. K. Mathews says in a foreword, found the Christian life movement largely among the outcastes and left it at the center of India’s life, who found this movement mostly alien and Western and left it more naturalized through the Ashram movement, and who found evangelism largely personal and left it personal and social—a total way of life.
Goodbye, Jehovah, by William Robert Miller (Walker, 1969, 206 pp„ $5.95). Surveys the thinking of representatives of the “new theology” (e.g., Cox, Fletcher, Boyd, Altizer) and contends that Christianity in our day must see as its major goal the making of men who are fully human.
No Orthodoxy but the Truth, by Donald G. Dawe (Westminster, 1969, 185 pp„ $5.95). A review and evaluation of the developments within Protestant theology from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century.
Ecumenism … Free Church Dilemma, by Robert G. Torbet (Judson, 1968, 127 pp., $3.95). The dilemma: Free churchmen are reluctant to embrace a superficial union that belies doctrinal differences but do desire genuine Christian unity. Suggests principles for continuing study and dialogue.
Do We Need the Church?, by Richard P. McBrien (Harper & Row), 1969, 248 pp., $6.50). A Roman Catholic theologian sees the meaning and place of the Church to be the most urgent issue facing Christians today. He believes the Church is needed but requires drastic change.
Religious and Anti-Religious Thought in Russia, by George L. Kline (University of Chicago, 1969, 177 pp., $7.50). Surveys the views of ten Russian thinkers who represent various positions in the history of religious and anti-religious thought in Russia.
Environmental Man, by William Kuhns (Harper & Row, 1969, 156 pp., $4.95). An analysis of the interaction between man and his technologically influenced environment.
The Medieval Papacy, by Geoffrey Barraclough (Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968, 216 pp., $5.95). Shows how the success of the medieval papacy in building up its authority and its legal and administrative machinery militated against its claim to spiritual leadership.
MBI: The Story of Moody Bible Institute, by Gene A. Getz (Moody, 1969, 393 pp., $5.95). A well researched and thoroughly documented history that not only deals with the institution itself but also covers significant persons connected with Moody and the variety of ministries that have grown out of the school.
We’re Holding Your Son, by Gordon R. McLean (Revell, 1969, 160 pp., $3.95). Graphically described case studies of juvenile lawbreaking in the United States. Offers counsel for those who deal with youthful offenders and sees the ultimate solution to the problem in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prayers from an Island, by Richard Wong (John Knox, 1968, 79 pp., $3). Brief prayers by a Hawaiian minister that were originally written for broadcast on a popular disc jockey’s radio show.
Protestants, Catholics, and Mary, by Stephen Benko (Judson, 1968, 160 pp., $5.75). A survey and comparison of the Roman Catholic and Protestant views of one of the most difficult issues in the contemporary interfaith dialogue.
Religious Liberty and Conscience, by Milton R. Konvitz (Viking, 1968, 116 pp., $4.50). A legal scholar investigates the many complex questions surrounding church-state separation.
Good Marriages Grow, by Irene Harrell (Word, 1969, 102 pp., $3.95). Warm personal glimpses from the author’s own experience will be helpful to those who seek fulfillment and joy in the home.
Him We Declare, by Cuthbert Bradsley and William Purcell (Word, 1968, 145 pp., $3.95). Directed toward those who have difficulty accepting what the Church has to say to them today, this volume affirms that it is possible to know personally the Christ whom God sent into the world.
The Word Comes Alive, by Wayne E. Ward (Broadman, 1969, 112 pp., $2.95). Contends that the Bible is not a dull, lifeless book, as some think, and suggests methods for making it live in teaching and preaching.
Intrigue in Santo Domingo, by James Hefley (Word, 1968, 184 pp., $3.95). The exciting story of Howard Shoe-make, a U.S. Baptist missionary in the Dominican Republic.
Run Today’s Race, by Oswald Chambers (Christian Literature Crusade, 1968, 92 pp., $1.25). A collection of quotations from Oswald Chambers arranged for reading each day throughout the year.
The Book of Books: The Growth of the Bible, by Klaus Koch (Westminster, 1969, 192 pp., $2.65). Traces the development of the biblical writings and discusses how the Bible came to be put together in its present form. A quote: “Scholars … have also shown that the doctrine of verbal inspiration by no means represents the biblical writers’ own self-understanding.”
Conquest of Inner Space, by Lambert T. Dolphin, Jr. (Good News, 1969, 64 pp., $.50). A porpourri of articles on science and the Bible originally written for Vision magazine.
The Books of the New Testament, by Herbert T. Mayer (Concordia, 1969, 133 pp., $2). A brief survey of the background and contents of the New Testament books that sees the New Testament as the “story of the creation of the new Israel, the pilgrim people of God.”
The Politics of Religious Conflict, by Richard E. Morgan (Pegasus, 1969, 155 pp., $1.95). An analysis of the source, nature, and consequences of current church-state conflicts in America.
A Conflict of Loyalties, edited by James Finn (Pegasus, 1969, 287 pp., $1.95). Examines the moral, philosophical, political, and legal aspects of selective conscientious objection.
Evolution and the High School Student, by Kenneth N. Taylor (Tyndale. 1969, 56 pp., $1.00). In language and format especially designed for teen-agers, this and a companion volume, Creation and the High School Student, offer a critique of evolution and a defense of creationism.
Preaching from Paul, by R. C. H. Lenski (Baker, 1968, 247 pp., $2.95). Reprint of a 1916 work that includes sermons, sermon outlines, and “homiletic hints” based on texts pertaining to the Apostle Paul.
The Go Gospel, by Manford Gutzke (Regal, 1968, 183 pp., $.95). Studies in the Gospel of Mark emphasizing its application to daily life.
Christian Living from Isaiah, by Fredna W. Bennett (Baker, 1968, 114 pp., $1.50). Applies the truths of Isaiah to the challenges of Christian living.
How We Faced Tragedy, by William J. Krutza (Baker, 1968, 74 pp., $1.50). Stories from the Scripture Press take-home paper, “Power for Living.”
On the Other Side, by the Commission on Evangelism of the Evangelical Alliance (Scripture Union, 1968, 190 pp., 7/6). Report of an Evangelical Alliance commission that was given the task of investigating thoroughly the whole question of evangelism in modern Britain.
Joshua—Victorious by Faith, by Theodore Epp (Back to the Bible, 1968, 259 pp., $1.50). Studies originally given as messages on the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcast.
Islam, by Caesar E. Farah (Barron’s, 1968, 306 pp., $1.95). A distinguished Near Eastern scholar offers a concise, comprehensive analysis of Islam as a religion, not merely a system or ideology.
Isaiah—A Study Guide, by D. David Garland (Zondervan, 1968, 115 pp., $.95). A helpful study guide examines the meaning of Isaiah for Bible students today.
According to John, by Archibald M. Hunter (Westminister, 1969, 128 pp., $1.65). A new look at the Fourth Gospel in the light of modern Johannine scholarship. Concludes by affirming the “authority and abiding relevance” of John’s Gospel.
Worthy of the Calling, by Clifford V. Anderson (Harvest Publications, 1968, 146 pp., $1.50). Emphasizes the vital role of the layman in the work and witness of the Church.
Crime in American Society, by Richard D. Knudten (Concordia, 1969, 125 pp., $1.25). A criminologist explores from a Christian perspective the problems of crime, law enforcement, and rehabilitation of criminals.
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