Inside 475 Riverside Drive

The Liberalization of American Protestantism, by Henry J. Pratt (Wayne State University, 1972, 303 pp., $15.95), is reviewed by David E. Kucharsky, managing editor, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

The title is somewhat misleading. Don’t expect a study of American Protestantism, except as it relates to the National Council of Churches, because the NCC is what this book is really about. Pratt, an able political scientist, explores the means by which this voluntary organization has tried to achieve its social objectives. By “liberalization” he refers primarily to the NCC’s substitution of political activism and support of increasing government intervention for its original approach, namely, education in a broad sense.

Generally speaking, the book presents a fairly accurate and penetrating analysis—indeed, an unusually candid interpretation—of the NCC.

Unfortunately, Pratt as a political scientist does not correlate developments in the NCC with theological changes that have influenced NCC member communions. The result is that the reader does not get the whole story, and he is not told why the NCC concentrates on some social issues to the neglect of others (except to be told that “the NCC is generally passive, allowing external events to order its priorities”).

Despite all the NCC’s propagandizing for politically liberal causes, however, most of its staff and budget are still occupied with matters quite unrelated to politics. Pratt surely knows this; yet he gives the reader the impression that little other than lobbying goes on at 475 Riverside Drive.

Conservatives owe it to themselves to read this book, for it tells how a minority element seized and continues to hold control of the NCC. The impotency of conservative churchmen, Pratt concludes, “is partially attributable to the skill of council leaders in countering criticism and isolating opponents.”

Pratt purports to be dispassionate, but he could not suppress the inclination to describe the NCC’s increasing pressure on government as a progressive trend. Unfortunately, however, for the church to try to tell the state what to do is nothing new. The methodology is more sophisticated today, but the practice is an old one, and one that has been held in some disrepute.

In The Journals

Four denominations in the Wesleyan tradition (Nazarenes, Brethren in Christ, Free Methodists, and Wesleyan Church) now jointly sponsor The Preacher’s Magazine. Other evangelical ministers and theological libraries should consider subscribing. (2923 Troost Ave., Kansas City, Mo. 64109; $2/year, monthly.)

Article continues below

Down Under continues to provide stimulating articles by evangelicals in Interchange. The latest issue, number 11, looks at “War and Christian Responsibility,” asks whether science is a contemporary god, asks the meaning of “the body of Christ,” and three other topics. (Room 1, 2nd Floor, 405–11 Sussex St., Sydney 2000, Australia; U. S. $4 for 4 issues.)


Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton (Doubleday, 160 pp., $1.25 pb). Reprint of a splendid, wonderfully refreshing piece of Christian apologetics, by one of the most brilliant Catholic literary figures of this century. Should never have gone out of print.
From Parent to Child About Sex, by Wilson W. Grant, M.D. (Zondervan, 183 pp., $3.95, $1.95 pb). Helps Christian parents lead children toward healthy sexuality. Competent, practical, highly readable treatment of what to say and when to say it, from infancy to late teens.
The Soul Afire: Revelations of the Mystics, edited by H. A. Reinhold (Doubleday, 480 pp., $1.95 pb). A well-arranged, extensive collection; primarily of writing by Christian mystics, but including related Scripture and poetry. Mysticism, an attempt through contemplation and self-surrender to order one’s self totally with God and to “know” him beyond earthly knowledge, has provided rich devotional insights. An excellent book.
A Survey of Bible Doctrine, by Charles Caldwell Ryrie (Moody, 191 pp., $2.25 pb). Simple introduction to topics such as God, the inspiration of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, angels, man, the Church, prophecy. By the professor of systematic theology at Dallas Seminary.
Dedicated Poverty, by Philip F. Mulhern (Alba House, 246 pp., $5.95). A Dominican scholar presents a well documented discussion of positions regarding voluntary poverty in Scripture and throughout church history. Recommends statements of Vatican II that regard poverty as an effective sign of voluntary Christian commitment.
Do and Tell: Engagement Evangelism in the 70’s, by Gabriel Fackre (Eerdmans, 106 pp., $1.45 pb), and Evangelism For Today’s Church, by Leslie Woodson (Zondervan, 159 pp., $1.25 pb). Both center on what’s needed in contemporary America. Fackre is a United Church seminary professor who prescribes social action along with telling the story of God’s actions to an experience-oriented culture. Woodson is a Methodist pastor who clearly maps out steps for a church to take in performing its most important mission.
You and Youth, by Lawrence O. Richards (Moody, 128 pp., $1.95 pb). Focuses on understanding and meeting needs of teenagers; emphasizes student-teacher communication with chapters on developing attitudes toward Scripture, class structuring, and how to encourage response to God. Very helpful, practical guidelines.
Article continues below
Your Mind Matters, by John R. W. Stott (Inter-Varsity, 64 pp., $.95 pb). Another good book by the well-known preacher and author. Shows clearly the indispensable place of the intellect in the Christian’s life. Very timely.
Genesis to Deuteronomy, by C. H. Mackintosh (Loizeaux, 912 pp., $10.95). Originally published in six volumes nearly a century ago, this widely acclaimed devotional commentary has been continuously in print. It is now newly typeset into one convenient easy-to-read volume, and will undoubtedly continue to be much in demand.
Will All the King’s Men, by James Olthuis et al. (Wedge [229 College St., Toronto 2B, Ontario], 255 pp., $3.95 pb). A unified group of seven essays by six men. The body of Christ, the “ecclesia,” exists not only for collective worship but also for all community functions, such as political, economic, juridical. Restricting the modern “church” to collective worship limits mutual support among Christians and prevents significant influence on the culture of our age.
The Person of Christ: The Son of God and the Word of God in the Setting of John’s Gospel, by Brash Bonsall (Christian Literature Crusade [201 Church Road, London, S.E. 19, England], 256 pp., £1.75, £1.05 pb). An engagingly readable and yet highly learned treatment of the relation between Jesus Christ and the Word of God; offers an astonishing wealth of historical detail and psychological insight. An unusual offering, with something to interest everyone, from a versatile evangelical.
Hegel’s Dialectical Method, by William Young (Craig, 135 pp., $4.95 pb). Hegel’s dialectic has influenced theology tremendously: most recent theologians are either molded by it or in reaction against it. Likewise, Hegelian thought dominates political theory, thanks to his Marxist successors. Young offers an amazingly clear and brief explanation of this exceedingly difficult thinker.
Raising Your Child, Not by Force, But by Love, by Sidney D. Craig (Westminster, 190 pp., $5.95), and The Future of the Family, edited by Louise Kapp Howe (Simon and Schuster, 378 pp., $8.95). Craig approaches child-rearing with the Golden Rule in mind. He treads a fine line between permissiveness and responsible firmness; his ideas are well worth considering. Howe’s collection of essays considers the various trends in American families. While the essays ignore the biblical approach, the volume helps the Christian parent know the influences alive today.
Article continues below
Hereafter, by David Winter (Harold Shaw [Box 567, Wheaton, Ill. 60187], 91 pp., $1.25 pb). A very helpful booklet giving biblical perspectives about death, heaven, and eternal life.
Successful Biblical Youth Work, by Elmer L. Towns (Impact [1625 Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee 37202], 375 pp., $5.95). An updated version of Successful Youth Work with twelve new chapters discussing identity crisis in teens and other aspects of a church youth ministry. Intended as a textbook.
How to Be a Winning Loser, by Jim Macholtz (Warner, 112 pp., $2.50 pb). Discussions on all aspects of sports, plus sections of the New Testament paraphrased for the athlete. Points to Christian values in competition and is aimed at teen-agers.
The Reformation of Journalism: A Christian Approach to Mass Communication, by Jon R. Kennedy (Craig, 144 pp., $2.95 pb). Argues that the essential function for the Christian journalist is to proclaim the total message of Christ, including its social implications, to all segments of society. To do so he must stand apart from the world order such as in new Christian institutions, e.g., schools, political parties, and especially newspapers.
A Symposium on Creation: IV, edited by Donald Patten (Baker, 159 pp., $2.95). Eight essays from creationist perspectives on such topics as instinct, blood, flood traditions, and botany.
Right With God, by John Blanchard (Tyndale, 137 pp., $1.25 pb). Written for the “genuine seeker” after God. Outlines basic principles on God, man, the Bible, and the solution for man’s sin and separation from God. Adequate, but there are other books of this character that are better.
This Fellow Jesus, by Louis Cassels (Warner, 93 pp., $.95 pb). Jesus’ life and teachings as reported in the Gospels engagingly summarized in contemporary language for interested inquirers.
The Wheelbarrow and the Comrade, by Irene Hanson (Moody, 187 pp., $3.95). A Presbyterian missionary who was “adopted” by a Chinese family and traveled by wheelbarrow teaching throughout Shantung province reminisces about twenty-five years in her beloved China.
Out! In the Name of Jesus, by Pat Brooks (Creation House, 238 pp., $4.95). A book based on the author’s experiences in confronting and ending demonic possessions. Easy reading. Some points of doctrine are arguable.
Article continues below
Shalom: The Search For a Peaceable City, by Jack Stotts (Abingdon, 224 pp., $5.95). A major treatment of theological, sociological, and symbolic aspects of peace as reality and as concept. The author, who teaches ethics at McCormick, draws heavily on biblical and patristic material as well as on modern theologians, but does not develop a distinctively biblical approach.
Amos the Prophet: The Man and His Background, by Hans Walter Wolff, (Fortress, 100 pp., $2.95 pb). This well documented, scholarly investigation of the cultural and literary background of the Old Testament prophet is a useful tool for the discerning advanced student.
The Letter and the Spirit, by Robert Kahn (Word, 94 pp., $2.95). Rabbi Kahn explains many of the Old Testament laws and principles (in such areas as business, sex, personal relations, and ecology). Easy and enlightening reading on a portion of the Bible that few Christians have really studied. Highly recommended.
The Soul, the Pill, and the Fetus, by John Pelt (Dorrance [1809 Callowhill St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19130], 130 pp., $4.95). Beginning with the biblical view of man as a unity, an evangelical theologian gives a balanced and compassionate treatment, coming out clearly for a distinctively Christian stand in personal morality and for the right of the unborn to life. Well documented and comprehensive.
Ecclesial Cybernetics, by Patrick Granfield (Macmillan, 280 pp., $8.95). Applies cybernetic analysis to the Catholic Church, advocating more democratic procedures at each level of interaction.
Revival Fires in Canada, by Kurt Koch (Kregel, 102 pp., $1 pb). An interesting, chatty account of recent revival activity in various portions of Canada. Includes some of the background and some general principles on evaluating and participating in revivals.
Translation and Exposition of the Epistle of Jude, by George Lawlor (Presbyterian and Reformed, 151 pp., $3.95 pb). A New Testament professor at the Baptists’ Cedarville College in Ohio offers a thorough, scholarly commentary.
An Introduction to the Baptists, by Erroll Hulse (Carey Publications [5, Fairford Close, Haywards Heath, Sussex, England], 118 pp., 75 pence pb). Worldwide survey from the sixteenth century to the present of one of the largest Christian movements. Focuses on key individuals. Written by a leader in the current attempt to revive moderate “Calvinism” among Baptists.
Jesus Spells Freedom, by Michael Green (Inter-Varsity, 126 pp., $1.50 pb). A smoothly written, easily understandable book written primarily for collegian and adult. Outlines frivolous, modern use of the term “freedom” (of love, of thought, etc.) and shows how true freedom is grounded in a belief in Jesus Christ. It won’t “win” souls, but the book should provoke serious thinking among non-Christians while building up Christians.
Article continues below
An Urban Strategy For South America, by Roger S. Greenway (Baker, 282 pp., $4.95 pb). A study of biblical patterns of missions, considered in a framework of recent South American social and population trends. Highlights the best ideas used (most often by the younger, more aggressive Pentecostal churches). The author’s smooth style, objectivity, extensive research, and experience (several years as a missionary in Ceylon and Mexico; now Latin American area secretary of the Christian Reformed Church) combine to produce a very valuable book—both to the layman and to the missions expert; the observations are applicable far beyond South America.
Lamps Are For Lighting, by Louise A. Catton (Eerdmans, 123 pp., $2.45 pb). A biographical history showing how two Baptists, Helen Montgomery and Lucy Peabody, pioneered the interdenominational women’s foreign-missions movement at the turn of the century. An inspiring example of female achievement.
Between Hammer and Sickle, by Michael Wurmbrand (Tyndale, 172 pp., $1.95 pb). The son of the Jewish-Christian evangelist (formerly of Romania and now head of “Jesus to the Communist World” mission) tells his own life story. He echoes his father’s plea for Christians imprisoned in Communist lands.
The Responsible Campus: Toward a New Identity for the Church-related College, by Charles S. McCoy (United Methodist Board of Education [Box 871, Nashville, Tenn. 37202], 168 pp., n.p., pb). Of interest to leaders of denominational colleges.
The Prophet Ezekiel, by Arno Gaebelein (Loizeaux, 346 pp., $4.25). A long-out-of-print work by a leading Bible teacher early in this century is again available.
Don’t Call Me Preacher, by Phil Barnhart (Eerdmans, 188 pp., $1.95 pb). A white minister’s candid reflections on problems of personal growth relating to racial tension, economic injustice, and church renewal in a downtown Atlanta neighborhood. Moving.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.