The Genuine Christian School
Who Educates Your Child? A Book for Parents, by D. Bruce Lockerbie (Doubleday-Galilee, 1980, 192 pp., $8.95), is reviewed by Larry M. Lake, English teacher and department chairman, Delaware County Christian School, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.
What are the goals of education? How can we achieve those goals? What can parents do to be sure their children receive the best education possible?
Bruce Lockerbie, writer and educator at the Stony Brook School, suggests answers to such questions. In the first three chapters, he surveys the essense of education as the shaping of character, the building of self-discipline, and the inculcation of Christian ethics. He next analyzes the deterioration of U.S. public education, explains parents’ privilege in choosing schools for their children, and offers guidelines to evaluate the quality of education a school offers. He then surveys the history of Christian education and key shortcomings of schools that claim roots in that tradition, and describes the major features of a genuine Christian education. In the final chapter he describes what a responsible school expects of parents, and what God expects of parents. A valuable appendix of education terms and a helpful guide to further reading follow.
Lockerbie’s warnings about some aspects of the Christian school movement are extremely important. He argues, “A school—any school—is a very special place. It has specific responsibilities not pertaining to other institutions, chiefly academic responsibilities. So a Christian school must not confuse its identity or be confused with, say, a Christian camp or a Christian orphanage!… Parents who are looking for something other than a place of academic learning—whose children may need psychiatric treatment or restraint for incorrigible behavior—must be honest themselves and not expect a school to do the work of a clinic or penitentiary.”
But most of his energy and concern are reserved for a defense of what a Christian education should be. He identifies the goal of education as integration: wholeness. While other schools may excel intellectually and have first-rate programs in physical development, while they may even acknowledge the importance of religious experience and teach an altruistic concern for others, the genuine Christian school knows, as Erasmus said, “All studies … are followed for this one subject, that we may know Christ and honor him.”
In a day when there is increasing confusion about the goals of education, the declining quality of public schools, and the conflicting claims of educators, ministers, and parents, this book can be an important guide to careful thought, fervent prayer, and effective decision making.
Growing Old In Christ: A Survey Of Books On Aging—Part I
Books on Aging are reviewed by David O. Moberg, professor of sociology, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In 1960 Henry Jacobson stated that older people were beginning to receive the attention they deserve from everyone except the Christian church. Happily, the situation now is better.
Publications mentioned here are a sampling of the better works currently available on the subject. They are like the aging themselves: each unique in orientation, purpose, intended audience, scope, and style. Yet most are similar in three respects: flawed by occasional dubious or questionable statements, lacking in indexes or containing incomplete and sketchy indexes to help retrieve choice passages and topics. And, except for textbooks and specialized studies, they are based to a considerable extent upon personal or professional experiences in relating to or working with aging people.
General surveys.The Fullness of Life (Lutheran Church in America), edited by Cedric W. Tilberg, covers the topic well, integrates the role of the church and religion into all chapters, and includes an exceptionally good list describing films on aging. Florence M. Taylor’s You Don’t Have to Be Old When You Grow Old (Logos) has 26 chapters reflecting upon a variety of experiences and ideas she has confronted in her post-80 “winter years.”
Based on his extensive reading and experience, the late theologian-minister, Robert Worth Frank, wrote between ages 75 and 88 a stimulating series of sermonettes, meditations, and reflections on aging: Talks on Old Age (Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia St., Denver, Colo. 80220, enlarged edition, 1978). Participation in a senior adult retreat and observations as a pastor’s wife led Pauline E. Spray to write The Autumn Years: How to Approach Retirement (Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City), a smoothly written compendium of wholesome counsel for people in the retirement years. It consistently integrates Christian perspectives into discussions of mundane as well as spiritual topics.
The Fourth Generation (Augsburg), by John M. Mason, is based upon decades of leadership and consultation in church-related agencies and programs in aging. His thoroughly informed and passionate revelation of the dehumanization confronted by the elderly—partly as a result of well-intended governmental regulations designed to protect them—contributes significantly to his goal of producing constructive action in churches and society. Perhaps the best overall textbook on the subject remains The Church and the Older Person (Eerdmans, rev. ed., 1977), by Robert M. Gray and David O. Moberg.
Retirement planning resources. There is some very useful material here among retirement planning books. Except for an almost total neglect of religion, Looking Ahead (American Association of Retired Persons), by the staff of Action for Independent Maturity, and The Complete Retirement Planning Book (Dutton), by Peter A. Dickinson, are probably the best overall guides to retirement planning. Both cover major areas for consideration with helpful questions, suggestions, and information. On matters of income, medical costs, taxes, and other financial topics, the best single guide available for preretired and retired people and the professionals who work with them is probably Consumer Guide: Get More Money from Social Security, Government Benefits, Medicare, Plus … (Publications International, 3841 W. Oakton St., Skokie, Ill. 60076), by Peter A. Dickinson and the editors of Consumer Guide.
Sunbelt Retirement (Dutton), also by Peter A. Dickinson, is a guide to each state and many specific communities across the southern strip of the U.S., from North Carolina to California and Hawaii. It includes such useful information as temperatures by seasons, housing costs, quality of medical care, recreational and cultural attractions, services for senior citizens, and cost of living. But it gives no guides to “houses of worship” or religious values, leaving their exploration up to each individual.
Three excellent action-oriented books for aging people deserve special mention. John Warren Steen’s Enlarge Your World (Broadman) shows senior citizens a wide range of constructive ways to express their Christian faith by using their “senior adult power” correctly and profitably in society and the church. The Forty Plus Handbook (Word), by David Ray, on “the fine art of growing older” is a guide to retirement planning and living. It clearly places spiritual wholeness at the center of all plans and activities. Oren Arnold’s The Second Half of Your Life (Harvest House) has the same goal and is filled with humorous and anecdotal materials that increase reading interest; at only a few points is its commonsensical advice of dubious quality.
Problems of “middlescence.” Herbert B. Parks has built his counsel in Prime Time (Nelson) upon personal experiences of “the turbulence of middle age,” during which he almost ran away from a fruitful ministerial and educational career. His book is like a collection of sermons linking contemporary experiences with biblical characters and passages.
Similarly, Jim Conway has provided an excellent resource as a result of his own personal crisis plus pastoral counseling and study of the subject. He touches upon all areas of personal, family, and professional life and reveals both inner and external sources of help in Men in Mid-Life Crisis (David C. Cook). Gerald O’Collins, S.J., The Second Journey (Paulist), also covers “spiritual awareness and the mid-life crisis,” drawing particularly upon literary and historical resources and emphasizing his personal belief that we find ourselves when we are found by Christ and his community.
The marital and family crises of middle age are the focus of Elof G. Nelson’s Keeping Love Alive (Augsburg). It draws upon Christian values to show how to find fulfillment during the middle years of marriage. Shirley Cook shows married women how to face their midage crisis as Christians in Building on the Back Forty (Accent Books). All of these midlife crisis books weave spiritual values and perspectives together with earthly experiences and trials, and include at least indirect recognition that coping satisfactorily is good preparation for old age.
Jerusalem, The Golden
Jerusalem, City of Jesus, by Richard Mackowski (Eerdmans, 1980, 224 pp., $29.95).
Not everyone can make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. But everyone can read this book, which is as good a second choice as could be made. This is an extremely well-researched, well-written, and beautifully illustrated volume that makes the Holy City live in a way few books do.
Mackowski begins by circling the city looking at the roads, hills, and valleys. History comes to life as he recounts the events preceding Jesus’ life. The walls, gates, and water supply are then discussed in detail, emphasizing what archaeology has shown. Written in 1977, the book unfortunately does not include some of the most recent information, such as that regarding the possible Essene Gate on Mount Zion. The fortress and the temple are nicely handled.
The events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection are reverently and accurately handled, in my view. It is a bit odd, however, that the chapter about the resurrection should be called “The Garden Tomb”—with a picture no less—when Mackowski explicitly rejects the theory that the so-called garden tomb was the place where Jesus was buried.
The photographer, Garo Nalbandian, is to be commended for his fine work in this volume. Altogether, it is a magnificent and valuable work that will be welcomed by everyone interested in the life of Jesus and the city of Jerusalem.
The Best In Biblical Geography
Student Map Manual: Historical Geography of the Bible Lands (Pictorial Archive, 1979, 167 pp., $29.95 [distributed by Zondervan]).
Many years have gone into this atlas/manual, produced under the leadership of James Monson and directed by Richard Cleave. The results are staggering in the wealth of detail they contain. Two wall-size maps (1:275,000) are divided into 15 sections (1:215,000) with a west-to-east orientation, containing a color-coded historical and archaeological atlas. The perspective (W to E) takes some getting used to, but it does reflect more accurately the orientation of the Bible.
The following section contains all the known archeological sites of the Holy Land from Chalcolithic to late Roman and Byzantine times. This is conveniently arranged by time period. Seventy-eight maps follow, going through the same periods of time, and giving in minute detail the place names, locations, wadis, international roads, local Roman roads, historical events, biblical references, and references to secular writings, where known.
A special section on the archaeology of Jerusalem is the most current and best available anywhere. The diagram is color-coded to indicate what is certain archeologically and what is merely probable or conjectural. This section alone makes the work worth having. An index of 865 names summarizes all that is known about this area.
It would be hard to find fault with this labor of love that makes such a stupendous amount of information available. It is definitely not for the intellectually indolent, however; when you read it, be prepared to learn something about the Bible.
Does God Exist?
How to Think About God: A Guide for the Twentieth Century Pagan, by Mortimer J. Adler (Macmillan, 1980, 175 pp., $9.95), is reviewed by Troy D. Reeves, associate professor of English, Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas.
The audience for How to Think About God is identified by its subtitle, “A Guide for the Twentieth-Century Pagan.” Defining a pagan as “one who does not worship the God of Christians, Jews, or Muslims; an irreligious person,” author Adler makes it clear that he does not intend the term in a derogatory sense. In fact, the author identifies himself as a pagan: a lapsed orthodox Jew who has embraced no religion but has devoted his life to the philosophical pursuit of truth. Adler’s thesis is that the existence of God can be demonstrated on the pagan’s own terms—through use of natural reason alone, without appeal to revelation.
Adler, who is chairman of the board of Encyclopedia Britannica, sets out first to refute the traditional proofs of God’s existence advanced by Christian apologists. He maintains such apologists have never successfully proved God’s existence by use of pure reason because their faith has consistently predisposed them to foregone conclusions. The most famous traditional proof, the argument of First Cause, illustrates the problems. The First-Cause argument assumes that time is a finite creation. But, if time is, in fact, infinite, one need not look for a First Cause; one may track back causes without ever reaching a beginning. Adler also finds unsatisfactory “the best traditional argument,” Aquinas’s argument to necessary being.
Having disposed of traditional arguments and defined the mode of philosophical thought, Adler sets forth what he calls a new and original “cosmological” proof of God’s existence. While conceding that radical contingency may not be accorded any particular existence, Adler argues that it may be accorded the cosmos. There is no reason to think the cosmos could not exist in forms other than the one in which we observe it to exist. And if the cosmos does not have to exist in its present form, then it is contingent and must be kept from existing in some other form by a necessary being apart from itself—namely, God. Adler speculates on the nature of this being, and distinguishes between the God of Christian faith and the anthropomorphic gods of superstition.
Though clearly phrased and devoid of obscurantism, Adler’s book suffers from two deficiencies: faults of logic in the refutations of traditional arguments, and lack of originality in the exposition of a “new” argument. Faulty logic is evident in his insistence that nothing is radically contingent because nothing is ever annihilated. Adler equates one type of Aristotelian cause, material cause, with existence per se. In fact (to pursue Adler’s example), if a chair is reduced to ashes it ceases to exist as a chair. To equate material cause with particular existence is to deny the radical diversity of existence and to make all existence univocal.
But more disappointing is the lack of originality in Adler’s “new” cosmological proof. This is merely an adaptation of Aquinas’s argument to necessary being, demanded not by insufficiency in Aquinas’s logic (which Adler does not fault) but by the author’s insistence that only the cosmos is radically contingent. He fails to explain how the cosmos differs, except in size and complexity, from other existence. Nor does he prove that the cosmos is not part of a larger whole and thus comparable to other existences.
The success of this book does not depend upon the originality of the cosmological argument. Despite its weaknesses, it succeeds because Adler achieves his primary goals: (1) to prove the existence of God can be demonstrated through use of natural reason; and (2) to show the reader how to think about God. What Adler does best of all is set the reader onto the high road of philosophical thought.
Home Of The Centauri
Alpha Centauri, by Robert Siegel (Cornerstone Books, 1980, 255 pp., $9.95; an excerpt is printed on pp. 30–33).
A veritable explosion of fantasy books has taken place, ignited by Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams. Few of them burn very brightly, but Alpha Centauri thus bursts in the sky like the Fourth of July, brilliant to behold.
A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee English professor, Robert Siegel, has woven a nicely textured story that grips the heart and imagination from start to finish. Although intended primarily for young people, no one will want to put the book down until it’s finished.
It is the story of Becky, who is drawn back in time through the “Eye of the Fog” to the age of the centaurs. They are locked in mortal conflict with the Rock Movers, and the story is told of how Becky enters into their struggles. An unexpected mission is thrust upon her as she realizes she is the fulfillment of some ancient prophecies. She also finds an integral part of her mission is a faithful horse, Rebecca, which becomes a constant and comic companion during her trials. The ancient seer had said: “Then trust the horse to know the rider/And through the night and fog to guide her.” Events move swiftly as the forces of evil tighten the net around the dwindling centaurs.
High adventure, drama, self-sacrifice, courage, a bit of romance—it is all to be found in this well-written and beautifully illustrated tale. The ending is no great surprise, but that is probably because the Christian contours of the story shine through so clearly.
This is a fine work and a joy to recommend. Books like this don’t come along very often.
STUDIES IN MISSIONS.Religion Across Cultures (William Carey) by Eugene Nida is a primer in how to communicate the gospel cross-culturally. Cultural Anthropology (Zondervan) by Stephen Grunlan and Marvin Mayers provides a Christian analysis of basic human institutions; reading this prepares people to communicate cross-culturally. Many new books deal with specific aspects of the missionary enterprise: The Unresponsive: Resistant or Neglected? (William Carey) by David Liao looks at the homogeneous unit principle in a Chinese village; All Nations in God’s Purpose (Broadman) by H. C. Goerner is a study of missionary themes in the Bible; Let’s Quit Kidding Ourselves About Missions (Moody) by James M. Weber is a hard-hitting statement about American evangelicalism’s failure to take missions seriously; A. J. van der Bent raises more questions than he answers in his critical study, God So Loves the World: The Immaturity of World Christianity (Orbis); Orlando Costas is more positive in The Integrity of Mission (Harper & Row); Michael Collins Reilly, S.J., provides a historical, theological, and cultural study in Spirituality for Mission (Orbis); Mario Di Gangi offers a biblical look at the church’s outreach in I Believe in Mission (Presbyterian and Reformed); and Christ and Caesar in Christian Missions (William Carey), edited by Edwin Frizen and Wade Coggins, looks at problems of church and politics. Two interesting reprints are Key to the Missionary Problem (Christian Literature Crusade) by Andrew Murray, and Student Mission Power, Report of the First International Convention of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1891 (William Carey). Roger Bassham has written a volume that is a must for students of contemporary missions history: Mission Theology (William Carey). Mission Trends No. 4: Liberation Theologies (Paulist and Eerdmans), edited by G. H. Anderson and I.F. Stransky, is a series of articles on advanced to radical views. The Indigenous Church and the Missionary (William Carey) by Melvin Hodges is a practical discussion of a difficult problem. In the Gap (InterVarsity) by David Bryant is a well-written handbook on being a “World Christian.”
ACADEMIA.Readings in Dynamic Indigeneity (William Carey), edited by Charles Kraft and T. N. Wisley, is a very helpful selection of top-flight articles on missions theory. Bibliografia Missionaria, Anno XLII–1978 (Pontificia Universita’ Urbaniana, 00120 Citta’ del Vaticano) lists over 2,500 books and articles pertaining to missions for the year 1978; an absolute must. Paternoster Press (3 Mount Radford Crescent, Exeter, U.K. EX2 4JW) makes available the Evangelical Review of Theology, a twice-yearly theological journal that contains excellent articles on missions (e.g., “Christianity As an African Religion” by Byang Kato) and much more. It is well worth subscribing to.
ASIA. An interesting book is Christian Art in Asia (Rodopi) by W. A. Dyrness. Needless Hunger (Institute for Food and Development Policy, 2588 Mission St., San Francisco, Calif. 94110) outlines the plight of Bangladesh. Beyond Ideology (Cornerstone) by Won Sul Lee is an excellent, evangelical assessment of the sociopolitical conflict in Asia. The Theology of Change (Orbis) by Jung Young Lee is a less traditional discussion of God in an Eastern perspective. Mindanao Mission (Seabury) by Edward Fischer and Lady of the Tboli (Christian Herald) by Doris Fell tell of mission work in the Philippines.
AFRICA.Africa Christian Spirituality (Orbis), edited by Aylward Shorter, is a valuable collection of readings. Equally valuable is Salvation in African Tradition (Evangel Publishing House, Box 28963, Nairobi, Kenya) by Tokunboh Adeyemo. Leroy Fitts has written a biography of the first black missionary to Africa in Lot Cary (Judson Press).
ISLAMIC WORLD. Helpful books are: We Believe in One God (Seabury), edited by A. Schimmel and A. Falaturi; Dialogue and Interfaith Witness with Muslims (distributed by Moody Books, 469 E. Sullivan St., Kingsport, Tenn. 37660) by Ray Register; The Mutual Effects of the Islamic and Judeo-Christian Worlds: The East European Pattern (Brooklyn College Press), edited by A. Ascher, T. Halasi-Kun, and B. Kiraly. G. H. Jansen in Militant Islam (Harper & Row) probably overstates the case of militancy.
SPECIAL MINISTRIES. David Seal offers Challenge and Crisis in Missionary Medicine (William Carey); Paul Freed writes of missionary radio in Towers to Eternity (Sceptre Books); Leona Fear in New Ventures (Light and Life Press) tells of Free Methodist Mission work from 1560–1979; and Dieter Hessel edits a very helpful book in The Agricultural Mission of Churches and Land-Grant Universities (Iowa State University Press); I Will Build My Church (team, Box 969, Wheaton, Ill. 60187) by Vernon Mortenson is a nicely written and illustrated overview of The Evangelical Alliance Mission’s work around the world.
PRACTICAL HELP BOOKS.The Overseas List (Augsburg) by D. Beckmann and E. A. Donnelly is a valuable collection of opportunities for living and working in developing countries. Here’s the place to look if you want to go elsewhere. You Can So Get There From Here (MARC, 919 W. Huntington Dr., Monrovia, Calif. 91016) is a handy guide to the problems of becoming a missionary. Passport to Missions (Broadman) by W. Guy Henderson, and Mission: A Practical Approach (William Carey) by D. C. Hardin, are both helpful treatments of what is mission.
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