Refreshing Experience

The Holy Spirit, by Billy Graham (Word, 224 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Amanda Langemo, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Just as the author describes the writing of his book as a “personal spiritual pilgrimage” for him, so the reading will surely be an intimate, refreshing experience for anyone seeking to understand the Person of the Holy Spirit better.

While the complex doctrine of the tri-unity of the Godhead challenges the comprehension of even the most sincere Christians, because of our humanness we have less difficulty relating to the Father and Son concepts than we do to that of the Holy Spirit. Creator and offspring, fatherhood and sonship, and even dominion and sacrifice are, after all, within our earthly experience. On the other hand, to apprehend the mystery and to realize the presence of the Holy Spirit demands broader vision and deeper insight than our finite minds can of themselves conceive.

We are greatly helped and encouraged by Billy Graham’s clear interpretation of Scripture, his direct answers to basic questions, and, not least, by his empathic attitude toward all fellow Christians who, like himself, are continuing to inquire into biblical truth and probe the substance of revelation. His explanations are exploratory rather than dogmatic. They confront readers with individual pursuits and spur them on to embark on private pilgrimages to know the One who can activate and endow them with power.

The last several chapters provide a remarkably rewarding study of the well-known “gifts of the Spirit” passages, Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:8–10; Ephesians 4:11. What is meant by “gifts of the Spirit”? What gifts have we been given? How do we recognize them? Why have we been so endowed? How should we use them? Which, if any, of these gifts are regenerative? What does the “fruit of the Spirit” passage mean? (Galatians 5:22–23). Do all gifts produce the same fruit in everyone? Is it possible for anyone to be in full and permanent control of all the aspects these fruits comprise? As we are invited to reflect on these and a host of similar questions and to search the Scriptures for answers, we grow in faith and spiritual maturity. We discover within ourselves a source of assurance, inspiration, and power that we never knew before.

For every Christian, Christmas and Easter have always been celebrations of great joy and triumph. Billy Graham’s The Holy Spirit makes us aware of Pentecost as well, as an essential component of the Christian gospel. In our yearly church calendar of festivities, Pentecost follows the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. Therefore it, too, is an occasion to commemorate, celebrate, and glorify.

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People Helping People

The Promise of Counseling, by C. W. Brister (Harper & Row, 210 pp., $8.95), People to People Therapy, by John Drakeford (Harper & Row, 140 pp., $7.95), How to Help a Friend, by Paul Welter (Tyndale, 317 pp., $4.95 pb), and Training Christians to Counsel, by H. Norman Wright (Christian Marriage Enrichment[8000 E. Girard, Denver, CO 80231], 227 pp., $10.95 pb), are reviewed by Lawrence Crabb, Jr., clinical psychologist, Boca Raton, Florida.

People who want to practice Christian counseling are confronted with so many different models, each claiming biblical warrant, that it’s understandable if they’re confused. Perhaps the most significant debate raging among evangelical counselors today revolves around the question, “Who is qualified to counsel?” One camp emphasizes the need for professional training and a clear understanding of psychological dynamics. Another group insists that nonprofessionally trained Christians represent a largely untapped source of great potential for ministering to troubled people. Personal problems, say this second group, yield less often to professionally sophisticated therapy techniques than to genuine love coupled with an understanding of biblical principles of living.

The four books under review share the perspective of the second group. If you haven’t quite decided which philosophy you accept, reading these volumes may sway you toward their viewpoint. Drakeford, in particular, spends a great deal of time documenting the healing potential of laymen helping laymen, especially in a group setting.

I am convinced that gifted Christians equipped with some training can counsel effectively through the local church ministry, and I welcome works written from this perspective.

Paul Welter’s How to Help A Friend is warmly and nontechnically written, full of relevant personal illustrations, and, in my judgment, psychologically and biblically sound. His convictions are well summarized in these comments: “There is a need today to prepare more people so they can help their friends. We need to have competent persons ‘at the scene of the accident.’ … Helpers can provide psychological first aid, but they can do far more than this—they can make a long-term positive difference in the lives of the persons they help.” Of the four, Welter’s book is the one I would most want to put in the hands of a friend who was trying to help me.

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Welter suggests that people respond to life on four “channels”: feeling, thinking, choosing, and doing. A sensitive friend will notice how you handle each of these areas of functioning, and will tune in to weak spots where he may be able to help you. An impulsive person who doesn’t think through consequences may be helped by a caring friend to consider more carefully the results of his actions that will improve his “thinking lifestyle.”

Medical model theorists who believe that insight into deep unconscious motivations and conflicts is prerequisite to significant change will regard Welter’s book as naïve. I lean toward Welter’s position that “… for the great majority of people, it is not necessary, in order to change behavior and lifestyle, that either the person helping or the person being helped know why he is the way he is … Most people change their lifestyle, not by detective work, but by hard work and courage, and with some help from their friends.” How To Help A Friend is a gold mine of practical, usable suggestions for helping your friends effectively. I personally would rather be counseled by a friend who had mastered Welter’s book than by many professionals I’ve met.

In Training Christians to Counsel, Norman Wright shares with Welter the assumption that laymen can effectively counsel. He builds on this assumption by offering exactly what the book’s subtitle implies: “A Resource Curriculum Manual.” Step by step, Wright outlines a curriculum and format to equip a mature Christian to organize and teach a course in Christian counseling. The book has a number of strong points that make it an excellent source book for someone teaching such a course: (1) detailed instructions for conducting classes, even to the point of including charts to be transferred to overhead transparencies; (2) extensive recommended readings, both to help the teacher familiarize himself with the field of counseling and to aid the student in gaining broader perspective; (3) a stimulating selection of articles that are reproduced in the manual.

Although I am not familiar with actual efforts to conduct a course relying exclusively on this manual, I would suspect that it would take a sensitive and seasoned counselor/teacher to put together a program to produce a successful training experience. If you’re a pastor or a church leader who wants to equip some lay people to counsel, try this book.

Drakeford, in People to People Therapy, continues this emphasis on group work as the strategy of choice when using laymen to help laymen. He recommends that we arrange group experiences in which people openly share weaknesses and learn to assume responsibility for changing them. Much of Drakeford’s ideas reflect the theories of O. Hobart Mowrer (who influenced Jay Adams in his early thinking). Mowrer contends that emotional distress results from living deceitfully, from hiding our irresponsibilities behind protective façades of blaming others, excusing ourselves, denying weaknesses, etc. The solution for both Mowrer and Drakeford is integrity, openly confessing our failures to others who are concerned, and commiting ourselves to living responsibly.

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Drakeford begins with an introduction titled “Here Come the Nonprofessionals” in which he argues convincingly on behalf of the lay counseling position. Then he discusses the roots of the lay group movement, spending most of his time sketching John Wesley’s fascinating experiences with groups. The middle third of the book looks at the principles of “integrity group counseling,” and the last third outlines the procedures of setting up and managing groups. Church leaders who puzzle over how to inject meaningful dialogue into dull Wednesday night meetings may want to evaluate Drakeford’s thinking carefully.

The Promise of Counseling by C. W. Brister was a disappointment. The jacket cover compliments Brister for preserving “… intact the theological basis that renders ministerial counseling unique and restorative.” However, typical of Brister’s thinking is this comment: “How does a counselor inspire hope in spite of dire circumstances? Not by argument, for hope is more relational than rational.” Although I appreciate the fact that cold rationality apart from intimate relationship is empty, I sense in Brister’s writing a shift away from absolute dependence on the truth of God as propositionally revealed. I regard Christian hope as the product of grasping certain facts in the context of a relationship with the Fact-giver. Although there are some helpful, specific illustrations of the counseling process, I found the other three books to be much more practical and useful.

The World’S Three Churches

The Coming of the Third Church, by Walbert Bühlmann (Orbis, 419 pp., $12.95 and $6.95 pb) is reviewed by Irving Hexham, assistant professor of philosophy of religion, Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.

David Bosch in reviewing this book for the authoritative journal Missionalia said that it was one of those rare books he would make “required reading for everybody.” Karl Rahner was equally enthusiastic when he described the first German edition as the “best Catholic book of the year” in 1975. After reading these comments I approached it with eager anticipation. Unfortunately, I cannot share their views. It is indeed a very important book, but it is not one that will enthrall the general reader, nor is it easy reading even for people familiar with the field.

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Bühlmann sees three churches in the world today. The “first church” is the Eastern one, which is very largely orthodox; the “second church” is to be found in the West; the “coming third church” exists in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. The arrival of the third church demands a change in thinking for western-oriented Christians that many will find very difficult to make. Yet, he argues, in world terms the focus of Christian activity is shifting from the West to the third church. This argument is backed up by a bewildering array of statistics that tend to swamp the reader, but one fact stands out. In 1900, 85 percent of Christians were to be found in the West. By the year 2000, only 42 percent of Christians will be westerners; the majority of the world’s Christian population will live in the lands of the third church. In presenting this information, Bühlmann provides a valuable corrective to popular but essentially ill-informed missionary propaganda.

One of my problems with the book was that it is a profoundly Catholic one. To a very large extent Christianity is identified with the Roman Catholic Church. This identification does not undercut the force of his basic arguments, but it does require the reader to be familiar with Catholic thinking, doctrinal statements, and history. As a result, much of the impact of his message could be lost through a lack of adequate background information.

In the course of his discussion, Bühlmann deals with many pressing missiological problems. He looks at church growth, liberation theology, the structure of the church, dialogue with non-Christian religions, the role of the laity, faith and magic, family life, education, the mass media, and many other issues. Few readers will agree with all he says, many will disagree profoundly with his conclusions and theological bias, but all will benefit from his posing of questions most of us would like to ignore.

Although not for everyone, this is a book for every serious missionary and student of missions. It is often a struggle to read it, but it challenges all serious minded Christians to enter into a debate about the future of the church and its relation to the rest of the world.

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The Ministries Of Women

Our Struggle to Serve, by Virginia Hearn (Word, 191 pp., $7.95), Womanpriest, by Alla Bozarth-Campbell (Paulist, 229 pp., $9.95), and Breakthrough: Women in Religion, by Betsy Covington Smith (Walker, 139 pp., $7.95), are reviewed by Richard Quebedeaux, visting lecturer in the history of religion, Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California.

Books on “Christian feminism” abound. Women’s lib has caught on, not only among Protestant liberals and Catholics, but among evangelicals as well. These three books approach the issue of women in religion from different theological perspectives. But the authors of all of them come to the same conclusion in support of full equality for women with men both in church and in society.

Virginia Hearn’s collection of spiritual autobiographies written by fifteen evangelical women, married and single, ordained and lay, is probably the best book dealing with Christian feminism for conservative evangelical readers yet published (the moving essay by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott alone is almost worth the price of the book). Our Struggle to Serve is a first-rate collection of stories, consistently interesting and well written, that compliments the skill of its editor. I couldn’t put it down.

Would you like to help the members of your congregation understand the “heart” of women’s liberation from a truly biblical perspective? Then this book is for you; you’ll be able to pass it on even to those in your church who think feminism is a tool of Satan. While Our Struggle to Serve in many ways deserves a much longer review than is provided here, the stories are simply too good to give away. Read the book—soon!

Womanpriest is the autobiography (“a personal odyssey”) of Alla Bozarth-Campbell. She is one of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” the first women ordained as priests in The Episcopal Church, in a service presided over by three retired bishops acting without the authority of their church as a whole (thus, the ordination was “irregular,” but not “invalid”). After a great deal of fuss, however, the church’s General Convention finally approved the ordination of women to the priesthood beginning January 1, 1977.

Like most American feminists, Bozarth-Campbell is white, well-educated (Ph.D., Northwestern), and upper middle class by social status (in fact, she descends from the Russian aristocracy). Profoundly influenced by Catholic and Orthodox mysticism, Alla’s story begins—really—with her decision at the age of fourteen to dedicate her life to God in “full-time Christian service,” as evangelicals would say (she wanted to be a nun). The saga continues with her unsuccessful attempts to enter a religious order and her eventual entrance into the women’s movement and egalitarian marriage.

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Bozarth-Campbell’s prose is elegant, and her story (whether or not you agree with her feminist views) is beautiful, if not inspiring. Among evangelicals, the book will have special appeal to those women and men who, in their own spiritual pilgrimage, have embraced Catholic, sacramental spirituality.

Betsy Covington Smith is a freelance writer. In Breakthrough: Women in Religion, she shares the stories of four ordained women—two Episcopal priests, a Jewish rabbi, and a black Methodist minister—and a Roman Catholic nun who have sought to serve God. These are powerful accounts—including that of Jeannette Piccard, whose ordination was recognized by The Episcopal Church as “regular” the day after her 82nd birthday (she had wanted to be a priest since the age of eleven!), and Patricia Green of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (“You don’t have to be young or old, white or black, American or foreign, to bring someone to Christ”). Heartwarming reading for all who have even the remotest interest in the role of women.


Crux was published off and on from 1962 to 1978 by a Toronto-based group of evangelical scholars. Effective with the March 1979 issue it is under the auspices of Regent College in Vancouver. The first such issue gives promise not only of a more regular appearance, but it also contains several stimulating articles. Now is the time for all theological libraries to begin subscriptions to Crux if they haven’t already; liberal arts libraries and individuals should subscribe also. The purpose is “to relate the teachings of Scripture to a broad spectrum of academic, social and professional areas …” Among the six articles in the March issue: “Dogmatic Theology and Relative Knowledge” by Bruce Waltke, and “Chance and Necessity” by Mark Henkelman. $8/year (4 issues). 2130 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1W6.
Anakainosis (the Greek word for “renewal”) was launched in September 1978, as an informal quarterly journal and newsletter of “reformational thought.” It is related to the Toronto-based Institute for Christian Studies, a major center for applying biblical teachings to all of life, especially the academic disciplines. Summaries of dissertations are included and a representative article is “Transcendental Method in Dooyeweerd” by Robert Knudsen. Theological libraries as well as interested students should subscribe. $10/year (4 issues). 229 College St., Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R4.

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