Is Your Church Energy Efficient?

The Energy-efficient Church by Douglas R. Hoffman, editor (The Pilgrim Press, 1979, 86 pp. $4.95 pb).

In these days when the energy crisis has moved from being simply a monetary problem to a moral one, it is heartening to note that the church has become interested in discovering what it can do to help.

Douglas Hoffman has produced a handy, practical guide that will enable churches to set an example for the community in energy efficiency—and save money to boot. This book is not a complicated treatment of theory, but a practical handbook on how to get the job done, complete with easy to understand illustrations.

Hoffman makes four basic points. First, churches should act as good stewards of creation by using energy wisely. Energy conservation means saving energy and saving money. Second, churches have unique opportunities to save energy. Third, the best energy conservation measures vary from building to building, but as a rule, they embrace three main strategies: (a) Don’t send it up the chimney. Increase the efficiency of heating and air conditioning systems. (b) Use it when and where you need it. Reduce the demand for heat by reducing the temperature difference between inside and outside and by controlling ventilation. (c) Keep it where you want it. Increase the resistance to the flow of heat between inside and outside.

Fourth, strategies (a) and (b) usually save more and cost less than strategy (c). Therefore, investigate (a) and (b) first, even though insulation, storm windows, and other (c)-type measures generally come to mind first when energy conservation is mentioned.

An appendix on how to calculate cost/saving and a topical bibliography conclude the work.

Every church board ought to look closely at this book and then follow the sane advice it offers. That would not only be a good testimony, but good business as well.

Education That Is Christian

Are Textbooks Harming Your Children? by James C. Hefley (Mott Media, 1979, 223 pp., $3.95 pb); Blackboard Tyranny, by Connaught Coyne Marshner (Arlington House, 352 pp., $11.95); Christian Day Schools: Why and How, by D. L. Kranendonk (Paideia, 1978, 118 pp., $3.95 pb); The Purpose of Christ-centered Education, edited by David B. Cummings (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1979, 133 pp., $4.50); Religion, Education and the Supreme Court, by Thayer S. Warshaw (Abingdon, 1979, 99 pp., $4.95); Sex Education—In the Classroom? by Dr. and Mrs. J. C. Willkes (Hayes, 1979, 159 pp., $4.95); Aesthetic Dimensions of Religious Education by G. Durka and J. Smith (Paulist, 1979, 235 pp., $8.50), are reviewed by Norman E. Harper, dean of the Graduate School of Education, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi.

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The issues in education today are numerous, complex, and deeply felt. Anyone doubting this need only consider the number and kinds of books now being published on the subject.

I knew there were serious problems with school textbooks but I did not realize how serious until I read James C. Hefley’s Are Textbooks Harming Your Children? originally published in hard cover as Textbooks on Trial. In a moving account, Hefley tells how Mel and Norma Gabler struggled with the educational establishment to restore Judeo-Christian values to the textbooks used in the public schools of Texas. We see in some detail how these concerned parents, at considerable sacrifice to themselves, learned to work within the system to accomplish their objectives. The book reveals the mindless way in which textbooks are often adopted without being read by anyone in authority. Illustrations are given of books that contain offensive language, excessive violence, and relative value systems. The Gablers conclude, however, that these things are but the logical outgrowth of publishers’ bias toward secular humanism.

The book is well written and sufficiently documented to accomplish the author’s purpose, which is to create sufficient public awareness of the problem to motivate people to act.

Addressing some of the same concerns is Blackboard Tyranny, by Connaught Coyne Marshner. The author rightly contends that much of today’s public education policy has been formulated with total disregard for the public will. For example, busing has been forced on the community by the courts, and as a result the local neighborhood school has been broken up—much to the dismay of both black and white parents. Textbooks are selected by state textbook committees far from the watchful eye of the parent whose children will have to use them. Prayer has been banned in the classroom not by public mandate but by order of the U.S. Supreme Court. In this connection Marshner says, “God has been not only removed from the public curriculum, but replaced by a vigorously pursued antitheism.”

Although the author holds out little hope for changing the system, she believes the concerned citizen is obligated to make the attempt and, if that fails, to work around the system. With this end in view, guidelines are provided for the parent activist, whom the author defines as “a concerned parent who recognizes that if he doesn’t do something, nobody else will either.” One suggestion for working within the system is that parents may lobby for alternative schools that are publicly financed and individually adapted to each ethnic, religious, or special interest group. This book gives a helpful analysis of the problem, but for the Christian parent it falls short in its proposals for solution.

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Many evangelical Christians are convinced that the problems in public education are so fundamental in nature that the concerned parent has no alternative but to work for the establishment of Christian schools. D. L. Kranendonk’s Christian Day Schools—Why and How takes this position. “All education,” he declares, “is religious education. The idea that the basis, purpose, methods, and principles of education can be neutral is a myth.” The author defends the sphere sovereignty idea that all institutions—state, church, and family—are unique but interrelated, with each having “its own primary task for which it receives authority-responsibility directly from God.” On this basis, he argues against the control of schools either by the state or the church and for control by Christian school societies made up of parents and others who share their commitment.

Not every reader will agree with all of Kranendonk’s conclusions, but evangelicals as a whole will applaud his concern for the development of schools that are honoring to God. The book is all too brief, however, considering the foundational issues with which it deals.

The Purpose of a Christ-centered Education, edited by David B. Cummings and sponsored by an organization called Christian Education Association, is intended to be one volume in a series of publications designed “to assist Christian educators and concerned parents in the task of teaching their children.” Each chapter is written by an author well known to the Reformed community. While the book is somewhat lacking in coherence, as is often the case in volumes with multiple authorship, the belief that the Scripture must comprehensively and pervasively direct the total educational process (pupil, parent, and teacher) is a theme that runs throughout its pages. Unfortunately, it is not hard to tell that the book was written mostly by Bible scholars and theologians rather than by Christian educators recruited from the ranks of elementary and secondary schools. Perhaps this is one reason why it is more helpful in the area of sanctification than in the application of a biblical world-and-life view to the teaching-learning process.

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For those Christian educators and parents who choose to work within the public school system, Thayer S. Warshaw’s Religion, Education and the Supreme Court will be a helpful source of information. Landmark Supreme Court decisions related to the role of religion in education are presented chronologically. The facts of each case along with the most relevant aspects of the majority opinion are given, followed by the author’s own commentary. Warshaw’s purpose is not to come down on one side or the other but simply to answer the question, “What does the law of the land forbid and what does it permit?” The appendixes greatly enhance the use of this little book as a reference tool.

Few programs in elementary and secondary schools have aroused more public outrage than sex education courses. Should the school teach about human sexuality? According to Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Willkes in their Sex Education—In the Classroom? the answer depends on what is meant by sex education. They go to some lengths to show the failure of those approaches that try to reduce sexuality to the biological facts, what they call “non-value type programs.” On the other hand, the authors are convinced that if human sexuality is taught in the context of wholesome values and attitudes it should have a place in the curriculum. The Willkeses give detailed suggestions from their perspective on how to develop a sex education program in the school. What the authors advocate is certainly more palatable than programs sponsored by such organizations as the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS); but from the point of view of the Christian parent, their book leaves much to be desired. The real difficulty for me is their basis for making value judgments. They appeal not to a transcendent standard but to “broad society preserving norms,” which in reality is a pragmatic, not a Christian, view. For example, premarital sexual relations are to be discouraged because those who engage in such experiences “have the least happiness and poorest sexual life after ten years of marriage.”

Aesthetic Dimensions of Religious Education, edited by Gloria Durka and Joanmarie Smith, was written in the belief that the aesthetic is not an optional matter. “Unless the process is aesthetic, the editors say, “it is not education and it is certainly not religious.” Much of the book is based on the theory that the left side of the brain directs the intellectual and analytical approach to reality, while the right side controls the intuitive and aesthetic approach. Completely aside from the right lobe/left lobe research, any thoughtful observer would have to agree with the basic concern of the writers that there has been a great neglect of the aesthetic dimension of education. Evangelicals may not agree with some of the views of this work, but many will find it thought provoking.

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Significant New Reprints

Publishers continue to make available out-of-print books that will reopen old worlds for the pastors and scholars of this generation. These are appearing in increasing number, testifying to the growing awareness of their value on the part of the reader.

Theology. Baker Book House, in its Summit Books series, has reprinted The Table Talk of Martin Luther, introduced and edited by T. S. Kepler. This is Luther at his pungent, witty best. The Beauties of Thomas Boston (Christian Focus Publications, Henderson Road, Inverness, 1V1 1SP, Scotland) is the 1831 collection of this seventeenth-century Scottish divine. Topically arranged, there is some choice material here. A full set of Boston may be obtained in 12 volumes from Richard Owen Roberts (205 Kehoe Bl., Carol Stream, Ill.). The Primitive Baptist Library (107 Elm Lane, Streamwood, Illinois, phone: 312-837-5314) has three new offerings: A Body of Divinity (from the 1815 edition) and The Cause of God and Truth (from the 1855 edition) both by John Gill (1697–1771), beautifully bound and printed; and A Defense of the Doctrine of Eternal Justification (from the 1732 edition) by John Brine. You may have a copy of this excellent 80-page book free, believe it or not, by writing or calling The Primitive Baptist Library.

W. H. Griffith Thomas’s standard. The Principles of Theology (with an introduction by J. I. Packer), and J. C. Ryle’s Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots have both been reprinted by Baker Book House. The early sermons of Karl Barth and Edward Thurneysen, Come Holy Spirit (the 1933 collection), have been made available again in paperback by Eerdmans.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich offers two stirring books by Thomas Merton in paperback, The Waters of Siloe and The Sign of Jonas. Although perhaps not technical theology, the three books of The Crosswicks Journal by Madeleine L’Engle, reprinted by Seabury, A Circle of Quiet, The Summer of the Great-grandmother, and The Irrational Season, are spiritual reading at its best.

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Old Testament. Nelson has beautifully done the Matthew Henry/Thomas Scott Commentary on the Holy Bible (3 vols.). Of Henry, C. H. Spurgeon said, “Every minister ought to read it entirely through once at least.” In Baker’s Twin Brooks Series one can find The Unity of the Book of Genesis by William Henry Green, and The History of the Religion of Israel by J. H. Raven. Both books will serve a new generation well. The incomparable R. S. Candlish’s Studies in Genesis (1868) is reprinted by Kregel Publications. Spurgeon said of it, “we characterize this as the work on Genesis. It should be in every biblical library.”

New Testament. Kregel has made available some valuable and impressive works. The Nichol’s edition of William Gouge’s (1578–1653) Commentary on Hebrews is available in one massive volume. Three of Frederic Godet’s invaluable commentaries are also available again, Commentary on John’s Gospel, Commentary on Romans, Commentary on First Corinthians, as is J. Armitage Robinson’s Commentary on Ephesians. Those who have used these books know of their abiding worth. Baker Book House has put us in their debt by reprinting John Eadie’s five commentaries on Paul’s letters: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. B. F. Westcott’s St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, the Greek Text with Notes (Baker) is also available again.

Two much older works are now available once more, thanks again to Baker Book House: John Lightfoot’s (1602–1675) timeless Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (4 vols.), and Martin Luther’s 1535 Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

Explaining Conversion Experience

Religious Conversion and Personal Identity, by V. Bailey Gillespie (Religious Education Press, 1979, 246 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Lewis R. Rambo, professor, San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union.

With the resurgence of evangelical Christianity and the notoriety of the new religious movements, many scholars have become interested in the phenomenon of conversion.

The fundamental argument of Gillespie’s book is that there are many parallels between the formation and structure of personal identity and the process of religious conversion. He explores the definition of conversion, the various factors that effect the change process, and formulates a normative view of the nature and development of identity. Concluding chapters make explicit the parallels between conversion and identity and also give suggestions for fostering an optimal conversion experience and nurturing the individual through an identity crisis toward maximum psychological maturity and spirituality.

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Gillespie formulates a four-fold normative definition of conversion, which is his paradigm for comparison with identity processes. First of all, he believes that conversion fosters a unification of the self; second, conversion gives the individual various positive experiences, such as a feeling of freedom and ethical energy; third, there is an intense and vital commitment to a world view; and fourth, there is a moment in which the person makes a conscious decision to commit himself or herself to a particular world view and way of life.

The concern of this reviewer is that Gillespie’s book continues the biased belief that conversion is primarily an adolescent phenomenon. Furthermore, Gillespie does not deal significantly with theological issues, and neglects the theology of conversion advocated by particular groups, which has an impact on the conversion experiences of individuals within that group. The book also could have been more interesting had he used more case studies to illustrate his theoretical points.

The Evils Of The New Apocalypticism

Jesus Against the Rapture: Seven Unexpected Prophecies, by Robert Jewett (Westminster, 1979, 147 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by David E. Aune, professor of religion, Saint Xavier College, Chicago, Illinois.

Robert Jewett, professor of religion at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, regards the contemporary belief in the imminent return of Jesus with less relish than parents do the chicken pox. Though this doctrine is not to be found among the teachings of Jesus, he asserts, it crept into primitive Christianity very early (1 Thess. 4:16–17), and has continued to exercise an insidious influence on Christian life and thought ever since. Rather than face contemporary realities with creative openness, the author charges, adherents of the New Apocalypticism (an apt designation for fundamentalists and evangelicals preoccupied with the imminent Rapture) have “copped out” by banking on a miraculous rescue in the final reel by a Jesus who functions as a macho superhero of cartoons and comic strips.

Professor Jewett takes the novel tack of using a number of prophecies of Jesus to refute the beliefs and attitudes that appear to him to characterize this New Apocalypticism. For example, he juxtaposes Jesus’ statement “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32ff.), with Hal Lindsey’s claim that the end will come “within forty years or so of 1948.” This neat contrast, however, is vitiated by the Markan depiction of Jesus predicting the end of the age within his generation (9:1; 13:30), in a manner not unlike that of Lindsey. Each of the remaining six prophecies selected by the author is similarly used to refute one or more of the unwholesome features of the New Apocalypticism.

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Though I greatly value the author’s contribution to NT studies (and there are many), I find a number of features of this popular work objectionable. Halfway through the book it dawned on me that I was actually reading a book of sermons in which the historical-critical interpretation of selected sayings of Jesus was being generously layered with homiletical imagination. I shall try to outline some of the major problems I found in the book.

First, it is apparent that Professor Jewett regards each of the seven sayings of Jesus that he uses in the book as genuine because of the principle of dissimilarity.

Second, the author distinguishes the authentic teachings of Jesus from what he regards as the illegitimate development of falsification of those teachings, both within the Gospels themselves (Mark 13 and parallels), as well as throughout the remainder of the New Testament (e.g., 1 Thess. 4:16–17; Revelation). The result is a kind of canon within the canon in which the teachings of Jesus are elevated above those of the New Testament authors. Jewett never really comes clean on the issue, but it appears that he regards the early Christian expectation of the Parousia of Jesus to be a post-Easter development.

Third, the author is critical of those who claim to be on God’s side, like the Pharisees whom Jesus criticized as a brood of vipers. This notion is, in fact, a leitmotif which pervades the book; those confident of possessing a special, privileged relationship to God are invariably smug, complacent, vindictive, or at the very least aloof and indifferent.

My fourth observation is simply a different way of stating some of the points already made above: the book is a fairly blatant, even anachronistic, attempt selectively to fashion the teachings of Jesus so that they agree in a most remarkable manner with the opinions of the author.

Fifth, though Jewett deals with a potentially fascinating subject, the popularity of the New Apocalypticism, he does so in a generally superficial manner. He provides little analysis and commentary to enable those of us who are not part of the movement to understand it religiously, psychosocially or culturally.

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Finally, it is apparent that the author writes about the New Apocalypticism, and indeed about fundamentalism-evangelicalism, as an outsider who knows the literature but not the reality. He castigates the smug aloofness and self-satisfaction of Christians waiting for God to blast their spiritual enemies to smithereens, but never once considers the correlative emphasis on missions and evangelism that characterize fundamentalism-evangelicalism. One can only specualate why or to whom Jewett addressed this book.

Briefly Noted

Ronald Enroth has written a very helpful introduction in The Lure of the Cults (Christian Herald). A revised What the Cults Believe (Moody) by I. Robertson briefly explains the basic cults of today. A sympathetic, yet critical look at neopaganism is Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (Viking) by Margot Adler.

There are four recent books on Mormonism. Walter Martin takes a critical look in the revised edition of The Maze of Mormonism (Vision House). A shorter but also helpful book is The Mormon Illusion (Gospel Light) by Floyd McElveen. An attempt to understand Mormonism as a part of its time is Mormon Answer to Skepticism: Why Joseph Smith Wrote the Book of Mormon (Clayton Publishing House, Box 9258, St. Louis, Mo.) by Robert Hullinger. The best and most exhaustive treatment is The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody), by Jerald and Sandra Tanner.

Jesus and Jim Jones (Pilgrim) by Steve Rose takes a look at the horror of Jonestown. Victor Paul Wierwille and The Way International (Moody) by J. L. Williams is a careful exposé of that cult.

Escape (Accent, Box 15337, Denver, Colo.) by Rachel Martin is the gripping story of breaking away from “Brother Evangelist” Jim Roberts. Come Into My Parlor (Logos) by Avril Flinn tells of a spiritualist who was freed from satanic power. Moon-Struck: A Memoir of My Life in a Cult (Morrow) by A.T. Wood, and Hostage to Heaven (Potter) by Barbara and Betty Underwood, are accounts of being in and getting out of Moon’s Unification church, but not necessarily to turn to Christian faith.

Recent Books On Old Testament

A new printing (the forty-second) of H. I. Hester’s standard survey, The Heart of Hebrew History, has been made by Quality Press (Liberty, Mo.). The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament: Vol. I/Genesis-Deuteronomy (Zondervan), edited by J. R. Kohlenberger, is now available and will prove very useful. Ernst Wurthwein’s The Text of the Old Testament (Eerdmans) will be invaluable with its excellent text and illustrations.

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Margaret Fromer and Sharrel Keyes have revised their two study guides to Genesis: Genesis 1–25: Walking with God and Genesis 26–50: Called by God (Harold Shaw). Liberating Limits (Word) by John Huffman is a look at the Ten Commandments for today. Ezra and Nehemiah (InterVarsity) by Derek Kidner is an excellent, short commentary on these two books. The Anchor Bible Series continues with I Samuel (Doubleday) by P. Kyle McArther. A devotional work is A Year With the Psalms (Word) by Eugene Peterson. Isaiah II: An Exposition of Isaiah 40–66 (Northwestern, 3624 W. North Ave., Milwaukee, Wis.) by August Pieper is a massive conservative work on the Hebrew text. Laura C. Pleming offers a devotional, poetic run through Job in Triumph of Job (R.H. Sommer, 27 Blanvelt Dr., Harrington Park, N.J.). A new study guide to Habakkuk is Just Living by Faith (InterVarsity) by A. T. LePeau, P. J. LePeau, and J. D. Stewart.

David Bakin argues that a matrilineal family structure was replaced by patriarchy in And they Took Themselves Wives: The Emergence of Patriarchy in Western Civilization (Harper & Row). Fortress Press has produced two major scholarly works in The Promises to the Fathers: Studies on the Patriarchal Narratives by Claus Westermann, and Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel by Robert R. Wilson. William Dyrness has written a very helpful Themes in Old Testament Theology (InterVarsity).

A major source book containing original texts regarding Messianic speculations that are difficult to locate is The Messiah Texts (Avon, 959 Eighth Ave., N.Y.) by Raphael Patai.

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