Perfect Love
A Theology of Love: The Dynamic of Wesleyanism, by Mildred Bangs Wynkoop (Beacon Hill, 1972, 372 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Kenneth E. Jones, professor of theology, Warner Pacific College, Portland, Oregon.

The professor of theology at Trevecca Nazarene College has given us a ground-breaking study of the theology of John Wesley and his spiritual heirs. “The thesis of this book is that love is the dynamic of Wesleyanism.… Rather than Wesley representing a theology of holiness it would be more faithful to his major emphasis to call it a theology of love.” The book does not seek to set forth a systematic theology but rather to lay the foundation for one. This it does not only by studying Wesley’s thought but also by reviewing the biblical teaching, carefully defining terms, studying presuppositions, and tracing out some of the implications of this perspective in theology.

All students of John Wesley have seen that he defines holiness in terms of “perfect love,” and that he puts a major emphasis on the kind of love manifested in Jesus Christ. But the major contribution of this book is the way in which Wynkoop spells out the results, in the various aspects of theology, of making godly love—agape—central. Naturally the emphasis is on theological anthropology and soteriology. There is careful analysis of all the major ideas and words so dear to Wesleyan theologians, and an exposition of the basic presuppositions of theology—both false and true.

In all these definitions and analyses, the author seeks above all to be biblical both in terminology and in concepts, giving a biblical meaning to such basic terms as love, sin, holiness, and perfection. In so doing she clearly shows that if one accepts her basic thesis, then he must admit that some of the most common uses of these words in theology are inconsistent or unscriptural, or both. In severely criticizing certain modern forms of “Wesleyanism,” the author states that they are based on three wrong and unscriptural assumptions: “(1) the Greek versus Hebrew concept of man, (2) the substantial versus relational concept of sin, and (3) the magical versus moral concept of salvation.” Speaking particularly of the second assumption she states:

A materialistic interpretation of the self, sin, holiness, even of the Holy Spirit, robs men of a basis for an understanding of all aspects of redemption as moral relationship with God and men.… The danger is that the language of the Bible, so thoroughly and wholesomely spiritual and psychological, may be hardened by the just demands of theology into nonpersonal categories submitting to nonmoral, even magical manipulation.

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In barest outline, the author concludes that holiness is a personal relationship with the holy God, initiated by him. Sin is personal rebellion against God, which shatters that relationship. Redemption is the restoration of the relationship by God. Christian perfection is not perfectionism: “perfection is not, principally, the absence of all that is less than perfect, but the presence of love with all the dynamic meaning of love.”

Non-Wesleyans may find that in reading this book they come to understand both themselves and Wesley better. All of us who consider ourselves “Wesleyan” in theology owe it to ourselves to study this book very carefully. Wynkoop challenges us to do more careful biblical exposition and to be more scriptural in terminology. She points the way out of some of the confusions and inconsistencies into which many of us have fallen at times, even while we were most earnestly seeking to be biblical. She puts the Calvinist-Wesleyan controversy in a new perspective.

It seems to me that Wynkoop has brought to this book a welcome maturity of thought. In her years of teaching theology to college and seminary students she has sharpened her terminology and hammered out her logic. Despite the sketchiness of some of the exegetical studies (probably for reasons of space), this is the fullest and most persuasive exposition of “relational” holiness theology yet published.

Diminished Usefulness

Violence: Right or Wrong?, by Peter W. Macky (Word, 1973, 210 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Harold O. J. Brown, associate editor,CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

Violence, Macky reminds us, is an immensely complex phenomenon. He examines it from four perspectives: linguistic, behavioristic, biblical, and church historical, and on three levels: individual violence, group violence, and international violence. In a concluding chapter he proposes “The Cure for Violence,” offering suggestions for attitude, communication, education, and political and social action.

Despite his attempt to define the term clearly, Macky’s concept of violence remains elusive: he wants it to cover “establishment” and “institutional violence” as well as overt acts of personal and corporate aggression, but he addresses himself primarily to overt violence, such as war and revolution. In these areas, the book offers an impassioned restatement of the traditional views of Christian pacifism. Macky is original and creative in his suggestions for reducing violence, and many of these will be recognized as useful even by those who do not share his optimism about the non-violent resistance he advocates.

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Macky’s approach to “Violence in the Bible” will not appeal to evangelicals, inasmuch as he presupposes most of the so-called results of higher criticism and, after designating as violent the policies of God pictured in the Old Testament, goes on to tell us that “it is likely that most of these atrocity stories never happened.” He is on surer ground in rejecting S. G. F. Brandon’s thesis that Jesus was a would-be revolutionary.

His approach to church history is slapdash—e.g., he describes the Jehovah’s Witnesses as one of the two best-known remaining advocates of Christian pacifism and overlooks the Mennonites. He seems unaware that some religious “pacifists,” such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, oppose only the world’s wars, and in this resemble the religious warriors (e.g., the Münster Anabaptists), who thought they were fighting God’s war.

His approach to secular history is impressionistic. Believing that Americans see their history as a series of noble triumphs in war and that this predisposes them toward violent solutions to conflict, he reinterprets that as a sordid tale of bloody oppression and enslavement of despised racial groups. In so doing he completely overlooks the fact that this is the common experience of nations and that therefore it hardly explains what he considers a peculiar penchant for violence in the United States.

This tendency to overstate grossly a valid point also mars his views on the “gun culture.” High levels of violence in the majority community are due to the gun mystique and a selfish concern for defending their affluence; admittedly still higher levels of violence within the black community are due to white discrimination and oppression. His idea that Americans are taught to love violence and to glory in their military history may have a certain validity, but it appears näive in a world in which universal military service and the cult of military heroism are far more evident elsewhere.

In short, Macky’s historical and psychological observations are drawn more from current rhetoric than from current reality. Although he sets out to present “the arguments pro and con” on capital punishment, he begins, “As a particularly striking example of this violence against criminals which produces more social damage than their crime did, we can look at the judicial homicide commonly called capital punishment.” His subsequent conclusion that capital punishment is abhorrent will not astonish. This pronounced tendency to present strongly held partisan opinion as objective observations, combined with his low view of Scripture and his surrealistic approach to history, diminishes the book’s potential value to Christians trying to know and obey God’s will in a world of violence and conflict.

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The Basis Of Canonicity

The Formation of the Christian Bible, by Hans von Campenhausen (Fortress, 1972, 342 pp., $10.95), is reviewed by F. F. Bruce, professor of biblical criticism and exegesis, University of Manchester, Manchester, England.

A work on the early history of the Christian canon of holy writ by the distinguished professor of ecclesiastical history at Heidelberg would be welcome at any time, but it is especially welcome in the present situation. Some fundamental questions about the very idea of a written canon have been posed, to the point where Professor Christopher Evans of London has asked: Is Holy Scripture Christian? (The issue that he invites his readers to face is whether the very freedom of the Gospel, to which the New Testament writings bear witness, may not be imperiled by the canonization of those writings.)

Professor von Campenhausen’s study, which first appeared in German in 1968, is a contribution to historical theology rather than to biblical introduction. He too asks fundamental questions, and gives them positive answers—answers based on historical certitude. What is implied in the Christian acceptance of a written canon, comprising first the Old Testament and then extended to include the New? How did the early Christians square their retention of the Old Testament as Holy Scripture with their conviction that the Mosaic law, or a subsantial part of it, had no binding force for Christians? (This is a more important question than we might at first blush realize; von Campenhausen devotes the first three chapters of the book to various aspects of it.) How did the concept of a New Testament canon take shape, and what were its implications for the existing Old Testament canon? What pressures led to the emergence of the complete Christian canon and what forms of resistance obstructed it? What was the outcome of these controversies and what the theological bearing of that outcome—in the early Church and today?

For the earliest Church the Bible was simply the Old Testament canon—the Old Testament canon, to be sure, understood in the light of its fulfillment by Christ. The first man to introduce a New Testament canon introduced it not as a supplement to but as a replacement for the Old Testament; that man, according to von Campenhausen, was Marcion. Here two things need to be said: one, that we must agree on our definition of “canon” in relation to the New Testament, and the other, that we must bear in mind the limitations of our knowledge of the second century.

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For von Campenhausen the idea of a “canon” implies not only divine authority, not only a collection of writings invested with such authority, but such a collection that is, in theory at least, a closed collection. If before Marcion’s time a beginning had been made with the collecting of writings that were in due course to be included in the New Testament canon—such as the gospel collection and the Pauline collection—that did not yet amount to a gospel “canon” or a Pauline “canon.” If “canon” be defined in Professor von Campenhausen’s terms, then Marcion is the first man whom we know for sure to have promulgated a New Testament canon: his canon was not only a collection of Christian writings but a collection of Christian writings that, in his eyes, bore divine authority in an exclusive sense, and therefore it was a completely closed collection. It was the promulgation of Marcion’s canon that challenged churchmen who disagreed with him to promulgate the New Testament canon as they accepted it.

But while Marcion is the first man whom we know for sure to have promulgated a New Testament canon, can we be certain that none of his predecessors or contemporaries attempted such a thing? What about Valentinus? According to Tertullian, Valentinus (by contrast with Marcion) “seems to use the entire Testament (instrumentum).” Does this mean that Valentinus acknowledged the New Testament canon as a canon? The use of documents, we are reminded, need not imply their canonical recognition. Besides, von Campenhausen thinks that while Tertullian says “Valentinus,” he really means the Valentinians. Confirmation of Tertullian’s statement with reference to Valentinus himself was found by some scholars (e.g., W. C. van Unnik) when the Gospel of Truth, one of the Nag Hammadi texts, was first studied. According to Professor van Unnik, the author of the Gospel of Truth, whom he believes to have been Valentinus himself, “used practically the same books as constitute our present New Testament Canon” and “the manner in which he treats these documents proves that they had authority for him.” But von Campenhausen says that the supposed allusions to the New Testament in the Gospel of Truth “are not remotely so clear as is often alleged” and takes issue with van Unnik on this score.

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The only course to follow in this situation is to examine the evidence for oneself and reach one’s own conclusions. Happily, von Campenhausen provides his readers with much as the evidence; his footnotes are replete with primary quotations, and he does his readers the courtesy of reproducing the original Greek or Latin texts, so that they are not reduced to depending on someone else’s translations. His study has thus special value for students.


The Church and the Tribulation, by Robert H. Gundry (Zondervan, 224 pp., $5.95). Best current treatment of the post-tribulation position; the author is a Westmont professor who was raised in a staunch pre-trib environment. Pretribs should not read it if they don’t want to be disturbed, though scholars who are pretribs will doubtless be able to counter Gundry’s exegesis.

Drugs: Why Unconcerned Parents Should Be Concerned, by Walter S. Krusich and Ralph Bradbury (Moody, 112 pp., $1.95), and Drugs at My Door Step, by Art Link-letter (Word, 186 pp., $5.95). Both books call for parents to become educated to the recognition, realities, and rehabilitation of drug-users. The first is from a physician’s viewpoint and stresses detection and other medical aspects. The second is far more experiential, but does offer some practical suggestions for prevention.

Creeds of the Church, edited by John H. Leith (John Knox, 597 pp., $3.95 pb), and Assembly at Westminster, by John H. Leith (John Knox, 126 pp., $2.95 pb). The first is a reprint of a useful sampling. of creeds from earliest times to the present with introductions and comments. The second is a specific look at the Westminster confession and its influence. Both books demonstrate how creeds unavoidably define doctrines in terms of the times in which they are written.

Comparative Religion, by Michael Pye (Harper & Row, 248 pp., $5.95). A look at the similarities and dissimilarities among various religious beliefs. This is not a book on one religion after another, but rather a study of social and psychological comparisons. Rather technical in places.

The Pentecostal Reality, by J. Rodman Williams (Logos, 108 pp., $1.50 pb). Articles and lectures by a former theology professor at Austin Presbyterian Seminary who now heads the charismatic Melody-land School of Theology.

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Children and Dying, by Sarah Cook (37 pp., $1.95 pb), and Caring for the Dying Patient and His Family, edited by Austin Kutscher and Michael Goldberg (72 pp., $9, $3.95 pb), both published by Health Sciences Publishing Corporation (451 Greenwich St., New York, N.Y. 10013). This publisher is bringing out many books that can be helpful to pastors and other counselors. Of course the evangelical has to draw upon other insights also.

The God I Don’t Believe In, by Juan Arias (Abbey, 200 pp., $5.95). English translation of a European best-seller. Attempts to disclose more fully the real nature of God, and refute the common images of a God figure. Readable presentation of the character of God with some interesting interpretations of Christ’s words.

Renewed Saints, by Ernest Emurian (Upper Room [1908 Grand Ave., Nashville, Tenn. 37203], 72 pp., $1). Inspirational reflections on biblical information about saints—that is, ordinary Christians.

The Bible Today Reader (Liturgical Press, 424 pp., $4.85 pb). Anthology of fifty-one essays from the first ten years of The Bible Today, a periodical designed to acquaint Catholic laymen with the Scriptures.

A Special Kind of Man, edited by Gary Warner (Creation, 236 pp., $1.95 pb). Collection of forty-four articles from The Christian Athlete.

Goals For Social Welfare: 1973–1993, edited by Harleigh Trecker (Association, 288 pp., $12). Because of the Church’s historic concern for the poor and others on society’s periphery—a concern growing out of clear biblical precepts—the profession of social work, though now secular, is one in which Christians should be particularly interested. Several prominent members of the profession discuss various aspects of its future roles and in the process give a good overview of what the vocation entails.

Faith Healing: Finger of God? or Scientific Curiosity, compiled by Claude A. Fraizer (Nelson, 192 pp., $5.95), and We Are All Healers, by Sally Hammond (Harper & Row, 272 pp., $5.95). While both deal with the experience of healing, the belief systems are drastically different. The first is the testimony of doctors from all over the country to the healing power of Jesus Christ in their patients’ lives. The second is an examination of the psychic healings taking place today through the power of mediums.

Prophetic Problems, by Clarence E. Mason, Jr. (Moody, 254 pp., $4.95). The Scofield Professor of Bible at Philadelphia College of the Bible examines various views before advocating his own on such topics as two kingdoms in Matthew, the resurrection body, the day of Christ, and Gog and Magog.

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Nine Public Lectures on Important Subjects in Religion, by Nicholaus Zinzendorf (University of Iowa, 138 pp., $6.95). Translation of lectures given in 1746 by the great Moravian leader whom the editor, George Forell, calls in his introduction “the most influential German theologian between Luther and Schleiermacher.” Lengthy bibliography.

Born to Love: Transactional Analysis in the Church, by Muriel James (Addison-Wesley, 203 pp., $5.95). Psychological approach to healing a church’s problems through self understanding. Of some help but basically man centered. Sin is explained as ego assertiveness.

Contemporary Theology Series II (five volumes, Concordia, 46 to 62 pp. each, $1.95 each pb). Brief essays on abortion, ecumenicity, form criticism, the Lord’s Supper, and Marxism. One wonders why they (and the five in the first series) were not issued in one binding for a far more reasonable price.

A Man for Now, by John Beevers (Doubleday, 192 pp., $5.95), and Holy Man, by Gavan Davis (Harper & Row, 293 pp., $8.95). Both are biographies of Damien de Veuster, a Catholic priest who in the mid-1800’s voluntarily worked in a leper community in Hawaii. Facts are the same but the approaches differ considerably: the first is a typical glorification of a “saint,” the second a balanced portrayal of faults as well as virtues.

Peter in the New Testament, edited by Raymond E. Brown and others (Augsburg and Paulist, 181 pp., $1.95 pb). An attempt by a panel of eleven Lutheran and Roman Catholic scholars to agree on the place of the Lord’s “chief apostle” in the writings of the New Testament. The critical presuppositions of the book are generally those of radical biblical criticism, with only the slightest reference to the views of conservative scholars.

The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions, by William P. Woodward (E. J. Brill [Leiden, Netherlands], 392 pp., n.p.). A somewhat mistitled record of the disestablishment of Shinto by the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers, written by the former head of the Religious Research Unit. The policies and edicts of SCAP relating to religion in Japan are dealt with fully. However, Woodward does not attempt to discuss the effect of the occupation on Japanese religion.

Pillars of Faith: Biblical Certainly in an Uncertain World, edited by Herman O. Wilson and Morris M. Womack (Baker, 280 pp., $4.95 pb). Fourteen essays by Church of Christ college professors addressing such questions as: Does the Bible have a message for modern man? Is the Bible scientifically reliable? Can faith survive in an age of doubt? Can the Bible influence man’s conduct?

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Sexual Freedom and the Constitution, by Walter Barnett (University of New Mexico, 333 pp., $10). Explores and attacks certain “moral” statutes such as bans on fornication, adultery, and homosexual activity. Useful for those involved with legal procedures and principles who wish to understand an increasingly held viewpoint.

To Prod the “Slumbering Giant,” edited by Robert Carvill (Wedge [229 College St., Toronto 2B, Ontario, Canada], 189 pp., $3.95 pb). Seven essays that call the Christian community to provide Christ-centered education for elementary and secondary students. Presents a strong, though not unanswerable, case for Christian schools in view of the problems of public schools.

Handbook of New Testament Greek, by William LaSor (two volumes, Eerdmans, 560 pp., $8.95). Learn Greek grammar and vocabulary from reading Acts in the Greek rather than memorizing endless charts. Classroom-tested method of inductive learning. Study aids included. Can be used for private study.

Salvation Today, by Arne Sovik (Augsburg, 112 pp., $2.95). Discussion of the place of salvation; an outgrowth of the recent World Conference on Salvation Today held in Bangkok under World Council of Churches auspices.

Peace and Nonviolence, edited by Edward Guinan (Paulist, 174 pp., $4.50 pb). Fifty-one excerpts from thirty-six divergent sources such as Erasmus, George Fox, Gandhi, Bonhoeffer, and the Berrigans.

Beyond Right and Wrong, by Harry K. Girvetz (Free Press, 306 pp., $8.95). A thorough exposition of the view that what one intends to do is far more significant, from the perspective of ethics, than what one does. Presents various moral theories, but in the end sticks with Kant’s.

Come Fly With Me, by Lane Adams (Regal, 117 pp., $1.25 pb). Graphic and entertaining parallels between principles of flight and the spiritual life. Culled from the flying and ministerial experiences of the author, a former associate evangelist with Billy Graham.

Becoming One in the Spirit, by Larry Richards (Victor [Wheaton, Ill. 60187], 128 pp., $1.25 pb). While designed to explore the biblical teaching of unity, this volume seeks to direct the reader beyond mere facts into the experience of unity through principles developed from Scripture. Intended for use in group study.

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The Theology of the New Testament, by Werner Georg Kummel (Abingdon, 350 pp., $14.95, $4.95 pb). An exposition of the message of the Synoptic Gospels, Paul, and John by a distinguished German scholar. Although the author lays greater stress on the diversity of the New Testament documents than many evangelicals would wish, he is firm in his commitment to the conviction that Jesus Christ is the focal point of the New Testament and that these writings are “normative for the belief of the Christian.”

The Humanist Alternative, edited by Paul Kurtz (Prometheus, 190 pp., $8.95, $3.95 pb). Following up on a brief “Humanist Manifesto II” released in August (see editorial, September 28 issue, page 40) is this collection of thirty essays edited by the philosophy professor who drafted the manifesto. Essays include “Heretical Humanism,” “Zen and Humanism,” “Behaviourism Is a Humanism,” and “Humanistic Theism,” as well as many general attempts to define this viewpoint.

The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin, by Dave MacPherson (Heart of America Bible Society [5528 Lydia St., Kansas City, Mo. 64110], 123 pp., $4 pb). Staunch defense of the disputed view that pretribulationism originated not from biblical exegesis but from a prophetic revelation in the high-church Pentecostal Irvingite movement in Britain.

The King Is Coming, by H. L. Willmington (Tyndale, 237 pp., $1.95 pb), and Outline Studies on the Rapture Question, by Ed Sanders (Biblical Research Institute [Box 367, Albion, Mich. 49224], 31 pp., $1 pb). Diametrically opposed studies of the Rapture. The first is a pre-tribulation outline of the entire topic of the Second Coming. The second is a brief study guide of the Rapture from a post-tribulation perspective. Both provide scriptural support for their position.

Revolution and Church, by Hans Maier (University of Notre Dame, 326 pp., $10). Thorough survey by a political scientist of the involvement of Catholicism in politics in nineteenth-century Europe. Focuses on forerunners of the modern Christian Democratic parties.

While he does not set out to deal with the problem of the canon today, he points out the contemporary relevance of the problem as it confronted the early Church. He agrees with Dr. Ellen Flesseman-van Leer that “it would certainly not be ‘legitimate’ to support the traditional Canon with arguments which played no part in its formation.” Yet, if (as he agrees) “the Scripture, read in faith and with the aid of reason, still remains the canon, the ‘standard,’ ” and if much early Christian argumentation concerning it is no longer acceptable, our persuasion of its abiding validity must be defended with arguments that are admissible today. At least it is still true that the basic principle of canonicity is the witness borne to Christ—prophetically by the Old Testament, historically by the New.

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The Responsibility Of Christian Journalists

The Reformation of Journalism, by Jon R. Kennedy (Craig, 1972, 130 pp., $2.95 pb), is reviewed by Russ Pulliam, reporter, Associated Press, New York City.

This book is a welcome introduction to the largely unexamined area of the Christian journalist’s responsibility, particularly in secular areas such as politics and government. Kennedy, who heads the Center for Christian Studies adjacent to Stanford University, makes no attempt to be definitive in this short book. Rather than providing his own ideas, he generally weaves together the thoughts of others. The reader is sometimes left wondering what Kennedy’s own conclusions are, and several topics need more elaboration. But it is a beginning exploration of a neglected field. Kennedy starts with the premise of a radical, biblical Christianity that is rigorously and thoroughly applied to every phase of life, including science, politics, and journalism. He cites Francis A. Schaeffer as the leading contemporary proponent of this radical Christian philosophy. He also considers the historical movement of this kind of Christianity, especially in journalism.

Kennedy draws heavily on the works and life of Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch Calvinist theologian, journalist, and political leader of a radical Christian party in Dutch politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He draws an interesting contrast between the deep impact Kuyper and his reformation had in the Netherlands and the more superficial impact of the revivalists in the United States in the same time period who partly because of anti-intellectual tendencies neglected politics and the universities.

Kennedy analyzes American journalism, unfortunately, in a rather superficial manner. He misses the point of one of the best characteristics of American newspapers, the goal of objective, balanced reporting that attempts to look at all sides of a situation. Kennedy does not bother to assess this effort, nor does he consider the value of crusading efforts of newspapers from a biblical Christian point of view. Instead he holds out no hope for secular American journalism because it is motivated by profits or an unchristian democratic civic faith. Kennedy and others are seeking “a distinctive faith,” a well-defined philosophy that will motivate all the reporting in a publication.

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He reveals that most American newspaper editors and reporters are not very conscious of their own motivation or goals in journalism. Those in journalism in the United States are generally activists, not philosophical thinkers with a conscious value system. Although they may be crusaders within the system, journalists unconsciously accept the system, since they haven’t stopped to consider their own values. The unconscious acceptance of the status quo is one of the main weaknesses of American journalism. Whether or not a book like this one serves any other purpose, it may begin some needed dialogue on the lack of conscious values behind journalism.

But this book offers even more. It challenges Christian journalists to analyze the entire world from a thoroughly developed biblical perspective that is not synthesized with other popular world views such as humanism. The task Kennedy suggests is almost overwhelming and frightening in its implications, calling for a complete change in thinking.

One needn’t be a journalist or a follower in the radical biblical Calvinist tradition to benefit from the book. This tradition challenges all Christians to realize that their commitment to Christ applies to every area of life:

We have reduced the Good News to the personal, individual, private, cultic aspects of our lives.… Evangelical Christians have lost the ability to witness to Jesus Christ’s redeeming power—save on an individualistic and personalistic basis [p. 101].

Kennedy has provided an initial step to help us gain that ability to apply the biblical perspective to all of life.

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