The Reality of Faith: A Way Between Protestant Orthodoxy and Existentialist Theology, by H. M. Kuitert, translated by L. B. Smedes (Eerdmans, 1968, 213 pp., $5.50), is reviewed by Fred H. Klooster, professor of systematic theology, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, now on sabbatical leave at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Dr. Kuitert is professor of ethics and dogmatics at the Free (Reformed) University of Amsterdam, where he is an associate of Professor G. C. Berkouwer. Lectures delivered to groups of Dutch ministers were expanded into book form and are here presented in English translation. The main part of the book consists of an analysis of the anti-metaphysical thrust of existentialist theology and is intended primarily for students and pastors as a guide through the labyrinth of contemporary theology. The new subtitle in the English translation highlights the final chapter of the book, in which Kuitert outlines his suggested new “way between protestant orthodoxy and existentialist theology.” Since Kuitert has become something of a controversial “Hans Küng” within Reformed circles at home and abroad, this chapter is likely to receive special attention from many readers.

Although the problems Kuitert considers lie primarily in the area of introduction to theology, the question of “the reality of faith” is so basic that it affects one’s entire understanding of Christianity and theology. Since the word “God” can be substituted for objectivity and the word “man” for subjectivity, it ought to be clear that every struggle between objectivity and subjectivity is abortive.

Kuitert devotes his attention mainly to an exposition and evaluation of existential theology as a reaction to metaphysical theology. His major representatives of the two wings of this anti-metaphysical theology are Bultmann, Ebeling, and Fuchs on the one hand and H. Braun and P. van Buren on the other. To present these theologians as reacting to metaphysical theology primarily in the form of Protestant Scholasticism without reference to Hegelian idealism or Barthian neo-orthodoxy is highly questionable, but at least it enables the author to present a sharp contrast of theological types.

Kuitert treats the existential theologians with great sympathy and charity and seeks to engage in constructive dialogue with them. Considering this theology a necessary reaction to the objectivism of metaphysical theology, he applauds its motivation, its hermeneutical concern, and its effort to give the subject (man) his rightful place. Nevertheless, he regards the prime error of existentialist theology to be its view of man rooted in post-Kantian subjectivity, and he regards its hermeneutics as an attempt to justify its anti-metaphysical stance. His basic critique of this theology is negative; its assault on metaphysical theology has ended in a cul-de-sac. In existential theology “the reality of faith” has become simply a subjective genitive; the fides quae has been replaced by a fides qua; theological statements have no reality behind them other than the subject himself. There is much valuable material in Kuitert’s analysis and critique of existentialist theology, and students will probably find this the most satisfactory part of the book.

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Kuitert’s treatment of metaphysical theology is less satisfactory. Despite an adequate definition, his use of the term throughout is highly ambiguous and seriously affects the clarity of the book as a guide. “The heart of the metaphysical conception of truth,” he states, “was the conviction that a divine being exists outside of our world, a being whom we can know and describe in conceptual terms.” While this definition rightly contains an ontic or ontological element (the reality of God and the supernatural world) as well as a noetic or epistemological element (our ability to know and talk about God and the supernatural world), Kuitert stresses mainly the noetic element in his discussion and thus distorts the total picture.

Under metaphysical theology Kuitert includes the whole of pre-Kantian theology. While this is legitimate, he tends to select the worst traits from Thomism and Protestant Scholasticism, especially on the noetic side, and he then represents this as generally characteristic of metaphysical theology. This results in the kind of caricature of metaphysical theology that is common among existentialist theologians. Luther, Calvin, and “Reformational theology” are apparently excluded from this metaphysical theology, but unfortunately Kuitert does not develop this point. Furthermore, the charity he expresses toward existential theology is largely lacking here, and the dialogue he considers a sine qua non for theology is all but absent.

An adequate exposition of metaphysical theology is simply not given, and the author refers to this theology throughout in a pejorative sense, frequently dragging in a reference to it for another rebuke. This leads to such overstatement or caricature as the following: “Without Aristotle there would have been no Reformed orthodoxy”; “metaphysical theology is a theology of mastery”; “orthodox Protestantism has frequently been fearful of the historical dimension of Christianity” (this in a context discussing the resurrection of Jesus!); a theology “incarnate in unchangeable formula.”

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Unquestionably there is warrant for these accusations in some historical forms of metaphysical theology. But to have the whole of pre-Kantian theology thus caricatured is regrettable. We have become accustomed to hearing this from the neo-orthodox and existentialist theologians, but we had hoped for better things—especially in a guidebook by a Reformed theologian. Furthermore, there is a crying need in our day to bring out the fundamental issues more clearly. Kuitert’s procedure here has led to confusion on precisely the key issue of the reality of the living God as the heart of the attack upon metaphysical theology. In fact, Kuitert would serve his own cause well were he to engage in the urgent dialogue needed at this point, since his own theology (in spite of certain concessions) would still be catalogued as “metaphysical theology” by the existentialist theologians.

The metaphysical theology Kuitert thus describes (apart from its historical accuracy now) is one that is wholly objective, has only a fides quae (with little or no place for the believing subject and genuine history), and considers its theological statements universally valid, timeless, and unchangeable. Against that kind of objectivity, the subjectivity of existentialist theology has been salutary. But Kuitert states that he objects equally to metaphysical theology and to existentialist theology.

Against this background he suggests that we “proceed in a quite new direction, hoping thereby to find a way that stays clear of metaphysical theology without lapsing into existentialist theology.” This “way between protestant orthodoxy and existentialist theology” is one which “extracts the elements from both … that belong to the inalienable province of theology” and thus is able “to speak in a personalist as well as in an ontological way.” He states that one must begin with tradition (by which he means “the biblical witness”) and learn to take history seriously. “The historicity of our faith statements provides support for the ‘is’ character of dogmatics, that is, for the reality to which appropriation and transmission is bound.”

The reality of faith, according to Kuitert, is an objective genitive that demands a subjective genitive—a true and genuine act of faith. “Further than this we cannot go, either in Christianity generally or in theology particularly; that there is a reality corresponding to our statements about God is a fact that Christians believe.”

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There is much to applaud in this sketchy and incomplete chapter. While Kuitert elsewhere calls into question the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis (a subject not touched upon in this volume), he strongly emphasizes the history of Jesus of Nazareth, his cross, and his physical resurrection from the dead. Over against the existentialists, he insists that true interpretation of the biblical text may not conflict with that given by the writers themselves. But there are a number of questions one must put to Dr. Kuitert in order to stimulate the dialogue he recommends.

What is the real significance of beginning with tradition (“the more phenomenologically tinted word”) when he means thereby “the biblical witness”? Is this simply an apologetic procedure or is the authority of Scripture, not simply as witness but as genuine revelation, at stake? And how does his reference to the trinitarian answer to the hermeneutical question really avoid a modalistic view of the Trinity, as is so common in contemporary existentialist theology? Is his emphasis upon history itself something of a reaction that faces the danger of historicizing everything in such a way that only responses of faith are possible and not genuinely historical revelation? How is the position he proposes related to Luther and Calvin and what he calls “Reformational theology”? Is it really new, or has he done injustice to his forebears? And if it is really new (at least in part), is its newness not the synthesis type suggested by the subtitle and his procedure of selecting what he regards as the valid elements of both existential and metaphysical theologies? This reviewer is left with the vexing question whether that which is good in this book is really as new as the author claims, and whether that which is really new in it is not in danger of being more of a synthesis, not with Aristotle, but with the motifs of existentialist theology.

Christi An-Education Guidebook

Leading a Church School, by Ralph D. Heim (Fortress, 1968, 358 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Howard G. Hendricks, professor of Christian education, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

Some church-school administrators are like parental Santa Clauses on Christmas Eve, struggling with the foreign instructions for assembling the imported bicycle. All the parts are there; they just aren’t used correctly.

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Dr. Ralph Heim of Gettysburg’s Lutheran Seminary comes to the rescue with a compendium of know-how for church-school planners. His book is obviously not written as a motivational text; the 358 small-type pages are virtually a library of resource information, helpful chiefly to those with considerable background in the content and methodology of the educational work of the Church.

To set the stage for the practical discussion, Heim surveys Christian-education history and theory, from a generally conservative theological viewpoint. One could wish for a stronger biblical and exegetical orientation. Having set the stage, the author moves on to tell when, why, and how to do what is to be done. He examines leadership. Curriculum comes in for exhaustive analysis and comment. In a section on the place of the Bible, the factual and the functional use of the Scriptures are distinguished. Pupil activities are treated at length. Group dynamics, physical facilities, and financing are among the many other facets considered. A provocative section on ways to check progress specifies how to collect data and use it.

This is not a pioneering volume, and it will not appeal to those seeking to jettison traditional structure. One looks in vain for fresh, creative ideas. Rather, it is a thorough guide from the institutional and/or denominational standpoint.

The Question Of Celibacy

Married Priests and Married Nuns, edited by James F. Colianni (McGraw-Hill, 1968, 230 pp., $6.95), and The Most Defiant Priest, by Anthony Girandola (Crown, 1968, 277 pp., $5.95), are reviewed by Stuart P. Garver, editor, “Christian Heritage,” and director, Christ’s Mission, Hackensack, New Jersey.

In the introduction to Married Priests and Married Nuns, the editor asserts: “Now that the whole concept of priestly celibacy is being seriously and publicly called into question by Catholics, there are many married priests anxious to abandon an earlier reticence and desire for anonymity. They wish to make a positive contribution toward a more fruitful debate by publicly revealing the personal experiences and attendant insights that are uniquely theirs.” This book provides a platform for such a contribution. Some of the writers propose drastic changes in church law. Several former priests and nuns tell why they decided to abandon their religious communions in order to get married. A former Brooklyn priest and a former teaching sister describe how they fell in love while under vows and decided to leave the church and marry.

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Much light is thrown on these various experiences by Archbishop Thomas D. Roberts of England, who discusses the need for a speedy review of the celibacy requirements. The Rev. Peter Riga investigates the implications of Pope Paul’s 1967 encyclical on celibacy, Sacerdotal Celibacy, and Ruud J. Bunnik, a noted Dutch theologian, explores the structural changes in the priesthood demanded of a modern church.

The Most Defiant Priest is an account in detail of one priest who married. Although Father Girandola has been excommunicated and suspended from his priestly duties, he still considers himself a priest within the fold of the Church of Rome. He insists that according to the teaching of the Roman church he is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, that an indelible sign of the priesthood was impressed upon his soul, and that no one can take away the priesthood from him. He celebrates mass privately, in his own home.

Father Girandola gives us an intimate account of his inner struggles: compulsive sexual drives during seminary days and in the priestly life, his dating, his love affairs, and so on. While all this was going on he continued to carry on his priestly duties, relying on the advice of superiors and confessors that eventually grace would prevail. But he was continually plagued with doubts, misgivings, and dismal forebodings. Finally, he decided to seek a dispensation from the priesthood and reduction to the lay state.

Freed from his duties in the church, he worked as a newspaper reporter and advertising writer while he awaited a decision from the Vatican. In time he married a Catholic nurse—a recent convert from Methodism—whom he had met at a psychiatric hospital where he had been sent by Archbishop (now Cardinal) Shehan of Baltimore to undergo treatment.

Always filled with the idea of his priesthood, he eventually decided to exercise his sacerdotal office independent of church authorities, and he organized a church in St. Petersburg, Florida, primarily for excommunicated Catholics. At first, success seemed certain. But in time help from well-wishers petered out, and Girandola was constrained to abandon his project. He is now admissions director at a college in New England.

These volumes offer interesting insights into the feelings and experiences of those who have faced the problems of the celibate life.

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Realistic Christian Fiction

The Adjustable Halo, by Ken Anderson (Word, 1968, 303 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Henry W. Coray, pastor, Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Glenside, Pennsylvania.

There is a trend among writers who have been nurtured in Christian homes and Christian schools to overreact against a calcified legalistic form of fundamentalism and to move into the dangerous smog of relativism. One can understand their disenchantment without excusing the overcorrection. It is refreshing, therefore, to come across Ken Anderson’s latest novel.

This is the story, told in the first person, of Jerry Pew, a Midwesterner exposed to a smug, brittle evangelicalism, to a liberal education in a state university and a liberal form of morality, and to a hideous tour of duty in Europe during World War Two. After the war he returns to small-town Phariseeism, a treadmill existence in business, an unhappy marriage, and a moral testing comparable to that of Joseph in the house of Potiphar. He is still unawakened to righteousness. It just so happens that he meets the right representative of the Kingdom at the right time under the right circumstances, and begins his pilgrimage toward Zion—on, of all places, the golf course!

Ken Anderson writes good Christian fiction. He narrates simply and smoothly, and shuns sentimental idealism. Even down to the wire, for example, Jerry’s marriage to Vaneta, who has become a believer also, is a composite of lights and shadows—not the idyllic pre-fall situation sometimes portrayed in fiction. Humor, pathos, adventure, tragedy—it adds up to an interesting blend.

Love In Action

Tough Love, by Bill Milliken with Char Meredith (Revell, 1968, 160 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by C. Russell Bowers, pastor, Cave City Christian Church, Cave City, Kentucky.

“If any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17, 18).

The Church is complacent. Often it is content to confine itself within the walls of beautiful buildings. To its shame, more Christian love has been preached than put into action.

Tough Love is the fascinating story of Bill Milliken, who “in deed and in truth” shared the love of God with his brothers in need on New York’s East Side. Working in the ghettos, he reached out to help the downtrodden. Each chapter deals with the experience of some person who was confronted with Christ and the love of God. The reader sees the conflict that goes on in the mind and heart of one challenged to accept the Christ-way of life.

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The subtitle of this story of Bill Milliken might well be: Christian Love in Action.

Pastor’S Healing Ministry

Do You Want to Be Healed?, by John Sutherland Bonnell (Harper & Row, 1968, 159 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by J. Murray Marshall, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Flushing, New York.

John Sutherland Bonnell throughout his long pastoral ministry (twenty-seven years at New York’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church; he is now president of the New York Theological Seminary) has been zealous both in the practice and in the propagation of the pastor’s healing ministry. For this book he calls upon the experience of some eight thousand pastoral sessions, personal consultations on the subject with religious and medical leaders in several countries, and a wide acquaintance with the literature in the field. His conviction is that “spiritual laws operate where physical laws are powerless to intervene,” and that the pastor is the key figure in the utilization of this premise.

The title, unfortunately, is misleading. It implies that the book is directed to the afflicted person who seeks healing. It is not. Rather, Bonnell as a pastor speaks to pastors and others connected with the-healing process, discussing healing as it relates to prayer, forgiveness, hope, and faith. Nowhere does he suggest that healing is an inherent right of all Christians; instead he feels that the dimension of spiritual power is too often neglected in the healing process. He makes it clear that the disposition of today’s scientific fraternity is open to such a view: “No reputable scientist today would for a moment claim that the teaching of modern science is inimical to spiritual concepts.”

Of special interest is Bonnell’s account of his critical investigation of the shrine of Lourdes. While he accepts the sixty-two cases of attested healing as “incontrovertible facts,” he notes that the explanation of these facts leads to a wide variety of interpretations. He adds that “the chief product of Lourdes is spiritual uplift and renewal.”

The strength of this book is that it is written not simply as theory but as the tested experience of a pastor. It reflects disciplined judgments of a scholar in this field activated by Christian compassion—a combination many of us in the pastoral ministry could well emulate.

How To Do Expository Preaching

Preaching from Great Bible Chapters, by Kyle M. Yates (Word, 1968, 209 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Frank Bateman Stanger, president, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.

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This widely heralded book was first published over a decade ago. Its author, Dr. Kyle M. Yates, who for twenty years was an Old Testament professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is now at Baylor, is convinced of the relevance of Bible preaching. Through such preaching, he says, men and women will come to know Jesus Christ. Knowing him will lead to a commitment to him. And this commitment will open the door to answers to the problems confronting churches and individuals and society.

In this volume Yates’s desire is to help preachers do expository preaching. The sermons collected here are on thirteen Bible chapters that he considers to be the best in proclaiming God’s message to man: Ephesians 2; Psalm 23; First Corinthians 13; Psalm 51; Matthew 5; Isaiah 53; Luke 15; Isaiah 55; Romans 8; First Peter 1; Ephesians 4; Philippians 1, and Ephesians 3. Yates explores each verse to find in it spiritual truth and meaning. He does not hesitate to discuss the root ideas of words from both Hebrew and Greek origins. At all times he is careful to point out the application of the scriptural truth to contemporary Christian life.

The book is a model of expository preaching and a compendium of the evangelical doctrines of grace and salvation. It is homiletically rewarding in its creative scriptural insights, its apt illustrations, and its inescapable applications to everyday life. It reveals both the authority of the Holy Scriptures and the authority of Bible preaching. Renewal of the Church depends upon the renewal of preaching. Renewal of preaching depends upon the renewal of the preacher. And all this is inextricably bound up with the rediscovery of the authority of the Word of God.

Book Briefs

The Reformation in Germany, Volumes I and II, by Joseph Lortz (Herder and Herder, 1968, 902 pp., $22.50). This classic Catholic contribution to Reformation history, which first appeared in Germany in 1939 and 1940, is now available in English. These volumes have been generally received as a work of solid scholarship and fair evaluation.

I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God, by Marjorie Holmes (Doubleday, 1969, 121 pp., $3.95). Written especially for women, these heartfelt discussions of a variety of topics—from housework to heartache—express feelings and thoughts that almost every woman has experienced.

Safe in His Arms, by H. E. Wisloff (Augsburg, 1969, 94 pp., $3.95). Both the content and format (large type) make this an especially valuable devotional companion for the elderly.

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The Living Word Commentary, Volume 4: Romans, by Richard A. Batey, and Volume 13: Thessalonians, by Raymond C. Kelcy (Sweet, 1969, 189 and 182 pps., $3.50 each). Additions to an evangelical commentary based on the RSV Bible and written by ministers and scholars of the Church of Christ.

The School of St. Matthew, by Krister Stendahl (Fortress, 1969, 249 pp., $6.75). This well-known work in Matthean research, now made available in English starts with the premise that the early Church produced the Gospels because it needed them.

A Pastoral Counseling Casebook, by C. Knight Aldrich and Carl Nighswonger (Westminster, 1968, 224 pp., $5.95). Based on discussion in a seminar-workshop at the chaplain’s office of the University of Chicago Clinics, this work offers helpful case studies and suggests resources available to the pastor from psychiatry and other disciplines concerned with the welfare of troubled persons.

The Judgment of the Dead, by S. G. F. Brandon (Scribner, 1969, 273 pp., $6.95). A historical and comparative study of the idea of the judgment of the dead as it has found expression in various religions.

Words to Live By, by Edward L. Hayes (Moody, 1968, 254 pp., $3.50). Brief daily devotional readings based upon selected words of Jesus as recorded in John’s Gospel.

My Greatest Challenge, by Bill Glass (Word, 1968, 182 pp., $4.95). A look at the world of pro football through the eyes of a dedicated Christian who plays defensive end for the Cleveland Browns.

Horae Synopticae, by John C. Hawkins (Baker, 1969, 222 pp., $6.95). Reprint of a standard work dealing with the Synoptic problem.

The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, by Robert Law (Baker, 1969, 422 pp., $6.95). Reprint of a classic study of First John.

Neither to Laugh Nor to Weep, by Abraham H. Hartunian (Beacon, 1968, 206 pp., $7.50). A moving account of the Turkish campaign to exterminate Turkey’s Armenian minority (beginning in 1895 and continuing for twenty-seven years) sounds the following warning to our day: “When governments forget that they are dealing with human beings, not abstract problems, the results can be horribly unhuman.”

Spectrum of Catholic Attitudes, edited by Robert Campbell, O.P. (Bruce, 1969, 191 pp., $4.95). Seven well-known Catholic writers (including William Buckley and Marshall McLuhan) express widely divergent attitudes on a variety of current religious and social issues.

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Love Not the World, by Watchman Nee (Christian Literature Crusade, 1968, 88 pp., $2.25). Deals with the problem of maintaining a balance between separation from the world and involvement with the world to reach it for Christ.


Reformation Today, by Klaas Runia (Banner of Truth Trust, 1968, 147 pp., 5s). Considers the relation of evangelicals to the ecumenical movement and shows the inadequacy of various theological trends that have been substituted for the true Gospel in this century. Calls for the formation of a united evangelical church.

Tongues, Healing, and You, by Don W. Hillis (Baker, 1969, 63 pp., $1). Includes an open-minded examination and evaluation of the tongues movement, emphasizing the fact that our interest in the Holy Spirit “must be secondary to our desire for his fellowship and fulness.” In the discussion of healing the author cautions about “making much of that of which God makes little.”

Life in One’s Stride, by Kenneth Hamilton (Eerdmans, 1969, 91 pp., $1.45). This brief introduction to the life and thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer contends that many proponents of a “secular Christianity” who have claimed him as their inspiration have contradicted both the letter and the spirit of his teaching.

A Look at the Book, by Manford Gutzke (Regal, 1969, 148 pp., $.95). Instruction about the Bible and guidance in Bible study presented in the form of daily devotions.

It All Depends, by Fritz Ridenour (Regal, 1968, 234 pp., $.95). An examination of the “new morality” and the “Playboy philosophy” in the light of biblical teaching. Especially appealing to youth.

Existentialism, by Wesley Barnes (Barron’s, 1968, 245 pp., $1.75). A concise survey of the historical, philosophical, and literary aspects of existentialism. Traces the main tenets of the movement and shows its principles working through the writings of various authors.

Issues in American Protestantism, by Robert L. Ferm (Doubleday, 1969, 418 pp., $1.95). The basic issues in American Protestantism from John Winthrop to the present day are presented in the form of documents written by advocates of contrasting views on each issue.

Paul and Philippians, by James P. Berkeley (Judson, 1969, 62 pp., $1.50). A brief, readable commentary on Philippians.

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