Marxism Unmasked

Barbarism with a Human Face, by Bernard-Henri Levy (Harper Colophon Books, 1980, 197 pp., $3.95 pb), is reviewed by Lloyd Billingsley, a writer living in Ponway, California.

I believed in revolution, a faith that came from books, no doubt, but all the same I believed in it as a good, the only one that counted and was worth hoping for. Now, feeling the ground give way and the future disintegrate, I wonder not if it is possible but even if it is desirable.”

Bernard-Henri Levy, French leftist and participant in the 1968 student riots in Paris, thus charts his personal odyssey. Writing at a furious pace he challenges the reader with a rare, incisive attack on socialism. Levy feels that while capitalism and the West often censure themselves, socialism never does so. Barbarism with a Human Face attempts to even this imbalance.

Transcending mere political polemics, Levy detours into history, philosophy, and even theology. Indeed, one of the main thrusts of the book is that Marxism is “the religion of our time” and “the opium of the people”—charges that will surely burn all bridges to the European Left. Other quotable broadsides are: “Apply Marxism in any country you want and you will always find Gulag in the end,” and “Socialism is, in many respects, a sham and a deception. When it promises, it lies; when it interprets, it is wrong.” These conclusions were reached with help from Solzhenitsyn, from whom he has learned more “than from many erudite commentaries on totalitarian languages.”

Those who read this work looking for a simplistic defender of capitalism will be disappointed; Levy sees no salvation there at all. In fact, he sees capitalism as part of a soon-coming “strange political Siren with Capital for a body and a Marxist head; a new kind of Pax Romana.” Faced with this, he declares himself “without compass or charts.” The question of East versus West or socialism versus capitalism are meaningless when “the worst is possible, even on the horizon.” It is evident that Levy sees the situation clearly, all the way to its ultimate, logical conclusion. Eschewing false optimism, he predicts a neobarbaric age rather than a neoutopian one of Marxist creation

Faced with this stridently pessimistic situation, Levy’s most valuable advice is something Christians can share: “No matter where it comes from, resist the Barbarian threat.” In addition to that, Christians have their “compass and charts.”

Barbarism with a Human Face deserves the careful study and attention of all thinking people. It has the power and vitality to change the mind of a generation.

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The Unique Character Of Preaching

The Ministry of the Word, by D. W. Cleverlev Ford (Eerdmans, 1980, 256 pp., $12.95), is reviewed by Elmer G. Homrig-hausen, dean and Charles R. Erdman professor of pastoral theology emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.

The author of this significant volume is a well-known English preacher and educator, the senior chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury, a chaplain to Queen Elizabeth, and a former director of the College of Preachers. In this book he shares his lifetime of accumulated wisdom and experience on the ministry of the Word.

This kind of book has been awaited for a long time, and will provide us with a “classic” in the field. Cleverley Ford believes in preaching on the basis of study and experience, maintaining that the unique character of preaching is not its method but its content: the Word of God. To be sure, there are similarities between preaching and other forms of discourse, “nevertheless, preaching in the context of a congregation of people of faith worshipping God as known in Christ as Lord in the presence of Divine Spirit stands in a class by itself.”

Ford is quite aware of the obstacles to preaching in our time: it is a monologue; it is contrary to educational processes; it is authoritarian; it runs counter to the inductive and egalitarian climate of our times; it is indoctrination by an authority. He looks at these accusations against preaching in all honesty, but concludes that no substitute exists for the sermon as part of the regular program of worship in the church.

The heart of this volume is its study of the preaching of the Word in the Old and New Testaments, including the ministry of Jesus; the theological discussions on the Word and Spirit, the Word of God, the Word and the sacraments, the incarnate Word, the Word and words; and in its illuminating insights on the word of the Cross, the word of the Resurrection, the word of judgment, the word of hope, the word of justice, the word of wisdom, and the word in worship.

Ford covers a vast waterfront. While his attempt to cover the history of preaching in one chapter is rather ambitious and somewhat unsatisfactory, he does it very well. But he misses a few preachers and book titles that might have strengthened and sharpened the chapter.

The reader will be delighted, challenged, and edified by what Ford writes concerning the power of words when communicated through the authority of a committed man of God infilled with the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about a sense of the presence of God through Jesus Christ in the context of the church and the world.

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While the author is an Anglican, his treatment of preaching of the Word is indeed ecumenical. It speaks to the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and various Protestant traditions, and combines the strengths of each in the hope of giving preaching its crucial and proper place in the total life and ministry of the church.

Five Who Came To Know Jesus

LuLu, by Lulu Roman (Fleming H. Revell Co., 1978, 173 pp., $6.95); Home Where I Belong, by B. J. Thomas (Word Books, 1979, 144 pp., $6.95); The Comeback, by Jay Robinson, as told to Jim Hardiman (Chosen Books, 1979, 245 pp., $9.95); In the Morning of My Life, by Tom Netherton, with Marie Chapman (Tvndale House, 1979, 262 pp. $7.95); This I Believe, by Lawrence Welk, with Bernice McGeehan (Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1979, 197 pp. $8.95), are reviewed by Bettye Quinn, assistant professor of education, Belhaven College, Jackson, Mississippi.

These autobiographies by entertainment personalities are testimonies to the Christian way of life. Four of them build to a concluding description of the teller’s conversion experience. The exception is Welk’s book, which is essentially his idea of how to achieve success. For B. J. Thomas, Lulu Roman, and Jay Robinson, becoming a Christian ended a fight with the drug habit and a life of rebellion. Netherton, always the boy next door, found in his “good” way of life a need for something more to fill his “empty, lonely” heart. All of the books are written in a conversational style and are easy reading. Their appeal will be mainly to fans of these performers.

Lulu, the stout star of “Hee Haw,” tells in elementary fashion of her life as an orphan. Her mother and grandmother, although professing love for her, committed her to “the great white house” at the age of four. Starved for love, she found comfort in eating and being the clown of the group. In the manner of a child’s diary she recounts unappetizing meals, deplorable living conditions, and cruel punishments. Her release to the real world was the gateway to a self-indulgent, undisciplined life. The climb to television fame, which began as a joke in a local nightspot, did not satisfy her heart. The fortune that came from her appearances on national television was quickly spent in lavish apartments, fancy cars, and parties for the friends who introduced her to drugs. The emptiness of it all was finally impressed upon her and she found what she was looking for in Christ.

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In many ways, B. J. Thomas’s self-description is a lot like Lulu’s; he could not handle pressures of fame and fortune either. In vivid detail he recounts the agonies of his drug addiction, revealing how this led ultimately to his loss of family, friends, and even his own self-esteem. When all was gone, he found Christ and life took on meaning again. Home Where I Belong contains suspense, surprises, and a happy ending.

Perhaps the best written of these books is The Comeback. A child of a broken home and anxious for love and attention, Jay Robinson set his heart on becoming a famous actor. Early in life he achieved this goal. He had several parts in Broadway productions and by age 19 had captured a leading role in the movie, The Robe, as Caligula. When he finally reached the top, and money, fame, and popularity, he built a Roman-style mansion and attempted to live in the style of Caligula. His tragic decline culminated in drug problems that led him to poverty, disgrace, and prison. The events of his life are skillfully recounted and his careful descriptions graphically illustrate the depths of his sinful despair. Interestingly, it was not an evangelistic message but a role in another movie, Born Again, that led to his conversion. This is a gripping story, well told.

In The Morning of My Life is a boring account of the life of a typical, successful American teen-ager of the sixties in the midwest. Tom Netherton includes not only the unusual events of his early life, but also such mundane matters as which television programs he watched. Though there is little excitement in the story, one does get a twinge of feeling as the small-town boy becomes nationally acclaimed. It shows splendor in the ordinary; teen-agers could profit by adopting Netherton’s philosophy of life.

Welk’s newest book. This I Believe, is written in the same staccato style that characterizes his speech on television. The sentences are short and simple, and his ideas are repeated several times over. The book is not a story; it is rather an essay on Welk’s activities, and he even surprises himself by his work schedule at the television studio. Space is reserved for a glowing account of the newest members of his cast (complete with unique discovery story), but highest honor is given to hard work—his answer for most problems. Welk fans will enjoy the inside stories, but others will probably wonder what all that has to do with what he believes.

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The grace of God is a marvelous thing and these autobiographies show that God is at work in all walks of life.

Galilee Of The Nations

Galilee from Alexander the Great to Hadrian, 323 B.C.E. to 135 C.E., by Sean Freyne (University of Notre Dame Press, 1980, 512 pp., $27.50), is reviewed by J. Julius Scott, Jr., Department of Theological Studies, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois.

Judea, Perea, and Galilee were the only areas of Palestine populated primarily by Jews during Jesus’ lifetime. So pronounced were the regional differences among these three that one historian (Emil Schürer) suggested that in certain respects they were virtually “different countries.”

Galilee was the most distant from Jerusalem and the most open to non-Jewish influences. As the scene of Jesus’ youth, much of his ministry, and the homeland of the majority of the first Christians, it is natural to assume that Galilean distinctives left their mark on early Christianity.

Sean Freyne, professor of New Testament studies at Loyola University in New Orleans, has accomplished a major breakthrough in making readily available what can be known of the historical and cultural distinctives of Galilee. The difficulties he faced in doing so were large. The data are incomplete, scattered, and subject to diverse interpretation, but Freyne has collected, analyzed, and interpreted this masterfully, carefully distinguishing between hard facts, conjectures, and interpretations.

The volume surveys the geography of Galilee and then delves into an examination of the history of the region during the “intertestamental” and New Testament periods. A second section focuses attention on the economic and social structure and examines the effects of the introduction of Hellenistic culture in Galilee. Freyne suggests that the area was neither as “Gentile” nor as revolutionary as is often thought.

The author’s third major concern is the religion of Galilee. He believes evidence shows that the population of the region remained loyal to the temple as long as it stood. This explains the relatively slight influence of the Pharisees in Galilee prior to A.D. 70 (a fact reflected in the New Testament by the infrequent reference to Pharisees outside of Judea). The concluding chapter, “Christianity in Galilee,” confirms that solid information about Galilean Christianity is scant, yet Freyne provides information that could lead to further investigations in this area.

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Serious students are becoming increasingly aware of the need for solid knowledge about the history, culture, institutions, and thought of the first century world as foundation from which to interpret the New Testament. Freyne’s book on Galilee provides a scholarly, accurate, carefully documented, yet readable study of the northern section of Jewish Palestine. Scholars, ministers, and laymen who are serious about studies of this area will profitably read this work for general information and then consult it frequently for reference.

The Ministry Of Healing

Basic books on the ministry of healing are reviewed by Nancy S. Duvall, Rosemead Counseling Service, Rosemead, California.

With numerous books on healing, on medical as well as on psychological and spiritual aspects, it is difficult to keep current, and to take the time to reflect on its meaning.

From two chaplains, a medical doctor, and a cancer patient, we have four books about specific medical problems. Let the Patient Decide, by Louis Shattuck Baer, M.D. (Westminster), is a thought-provoking book that challenges the reader to assess the pros and cons of being medically maintained and kept alive by machines. It has enough illustrations to make the point that we need to decide beforehand where we want doctors to draw the line in medical help—prior to reaching the point of incapacity when faced with making a decision. Baer acknowledges that each person must make an individual decision, and he gives examples of how a patient can use specific directives. David Belgum’s book, When It’s Your Turn to Decide (Augsburg) also deals with making medical decisions, although it covers a wider range of decisions, such as organ transplants, human experimentation, and abortion. It considers the ethical decision-making process and indicates that a decision is often made by default. In The Cardiac Patient, by George W. Paterson (Augsburg), a hospital chaplain writes about persons with heart disorders. It is an informative book, which discusses prevention as well as recovery and surgery. There is also a chapter on children as patients and a chapter on living with heart problems. Orville E. Kelly’s Until Tomorrow Comes (Everest House) has a similar approach for cancer patients. The author is himself a cancer patient and founder of “Make Today Count,” a self-help group for cancer patients, and he writes a feeling account. While informative, its strong point is the feeling element it conveys about the struggles of a cancer patient. While the book is not completely up to date (it does not have the 1980 American Cancer Association guidelines for checkups, and there is no mention of Interferon), it provides realistic support and encouragement for cancer patients and their families.

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In books dealing with emotions and healing there is often a strongly stated or an implied understanding of the interrelatedness between bodily functions and psychological and spiritual well-being. Burton Seavey’s book Why Doesn’t God Heal Me? (Creation House) addresses this issue, reckoning that our relationship to God, both in attitude and behavior, influences healing. He indicates that God has rules of healing concerned with forgiveness and confession of sin, and implies that if God does not heal us it is due to motivation and lack of faith. He believes it is God’s will to heal every born-again believer, “when the conditions are met.” He seems to stand on shaky theological ground: God has to heal when the right buttons are punched. He would seem to be going against such well-known faith healers as Katherine Kuhlman, who, when asked why God heals some and not others, replied, “The only honest answer I can give you is: I do not know; and I am afraid of those who claim they do know. Only God knows; and who can fathom the mind of God?”

In Feeling and Healing Your Emotions, by Conrad Baars, M.D. (Logos), there is much food for thought. He deals in a question-and-answer format with information that would appear in a psychiatry textbook or an abnormal psychology book, yet descriptions are for the lay person. He uses little traditional terminology, rather describing in simple terms what he feels is the heart of the difficulty. For example, he talks of the obsessive-compulsive as a “fear neurotic,” and coins the term “deprivation neurosis” for those who haven’t been affirmed. While many professionals will recognize truth in his descriptions, I suspect he will have little or no impact in the professional realm. He provokes thought at many levels, talking about “premature forgiveness” and “emotional junk food” (such as conditional love or smothering love).

Inner Healing: God’s Great Assurance, by Theodore Elliot Babson (Paulist Press), is a solid book on the dynamics of inner healing. The author has both experienced inner healing and been involved with well-known persons in this field. It is thorough and contains solid principles; for example, healing is a process that may take time, and we often need security and love before we can reach out to give to others.

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Vernon J. Bittner’s You Can Help with Your Healing (Augsburg) is more simplistic. It takes the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as an outline for spiritual recovery.

The Spirit of Synergy, by L. Robert Keck (Abingdon), looks at some of the newer concepts of healing. Its theme is that aligning our power with God’s power is a forceful thrust for healing. The author, troubled with severe physical pain, discovered the power of imagery and meditative prayer to eliminate pain.

The Sacrament of Suffering, by James Aylward Mohler (Fides-Claretian), is an attempt to deal with the meaning of pain and suffering. It is essentially a book of readings by such persons as Bonhoeffer, Ghandi. Simone Weil, and C. S. Lewis. There is no attempt to unify the writings, so the strength is in the merits of individual writers. The strongest and most succinct probably is C. S. Lewis.

From Edith Schaeffer comes Affliction, (Revell), her attempt to look at the meaning of suffering and to ask the question, “Why?” Mixing personal experience and examples from people she has known with scriptural illustrations, she makes a strong point: we are in the refining process, and while God is the ultimate victor over affliction, we may not directly experience that in this life. However, God’s purposes are larger than our immediate comfort and we are to learn in our affliction.

At the end of Divine Healing of the Body (Zondervan), J. Sidlow Baxter also addresses the meaning of illness and suffering. He deals first with physical healing in his usual scholarly and thorough manner, and looks at healing historically, then investigates our understanding of Scripture. He concludes generally that while preaching that advocates divine healing is often based on a wrong interpretation of Scripture, healing is operative in our age. He gives several powerful examples of divine healing, including those of himself and his wife. Baxter makers a sharp distinction between present-day public healings and the ministry of healing in the local church. Concerning suffering, he also concludes that there is often a larger meaning to our pain than immediate relief, which involves spiritual education. This is a thorough, scholarly approach to the subject of healing.


Christian Education. Four new books deal with the theory of education from a Christian perspective. Educating for Eternity (Tyndale), by Claude Schindler and Pacheco Pyle, argue the case for Christian schools. You’ve Got to Start Somewhere … When You Think About Education (InterVarsity, 38 De Montfort St., Leicester, LEI 7GP, UK), by Charles Martin, admirably analyzes higher education. Introduction to Christian Education (Standard Publishing), by Eleanor Daniel, John Wade, and Charles Gresham, is a full-blown discussion and could be the best available on the subject. Christian Religious Education (Harper and Row), by Thomas Groome, is more theoretical, but it is unquestionably a work of first importance.

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An interesting look at the teaching of the Bible in a secular setting (here the United Kingdom) is The Bible in Religious Education (Handsel/Columbia University Press), by Robert Davidson.

Two perceptive works on Christian colleges are: How Church-Related Are Church-Related Colleges? (Board of Publication, Lutheran Church of America), by Richard Solberg and Merton Strommen, and Church Related Higher Education (Judson), edited by Robert Parsonage. The latter is especially helpful.

Teaching Today (Westminster), by Locke Bowman, examines the teaching ministry of the church and rightly argues that all Christians are in some degree teachers. A masterful series of essays by D. Elton Trueblood is The Teacher (Broadman).

John Dobbert explains How to Improve Your Child’s Education (Harvest House) in simple, forceful language. Raymond S. and Dorothy More, et al., provide massive buttressing for Dobbert’s stress on the parent model in School Can Wait (Brigham Young Univ. Press). Warren Wilbert takes a penetrating and helpful look at grown-ups in Teaching Christian Adults (Baker).

Two well-argued books, although not specifically Christian, need mention. The Great American Writing Block (Viking) examines “the causes and cures of the new illiteracy.” and Neil Postman, in Teaching As a Conserving Activity (Delacorte), takes a fresh, and often witty, look at the abuses of “permissive” education.

Ethics. Two important new resource works have appeared. The Concise Dictionary of Christian Ethics (Seabury), edited by Bernard Stoeckly, and the indispensible Bibliography of Bioethics, Vol. 6 (Gale Research), edited by LeRoy Walters, covering some 1,800 documents published between 1973 and 1979.

A sizeable number of books deal with basic Christian ethics from various points of view. Decide to Live (Westminster), by William Charland, is a look at why people make choices, and at value clarification. The Moral Choice (Winston Press), by Daniel Maguire, is now in paperback to reach a wider audience with his penetrating analysis of what morality is. F. Philip Rice writes a guide for Christian parents in Morality and Youth (Westminster). Doing the Truth (Univ. of Notre Dame), by Enda McDonagh, is a splendid series of essays attempting to work out a moral theology. Paul Ramsay’s basic, if controversial, textbook, Basic Christian Ethics (Univ. of Chicago), is now available in paperback. Very different is R.E.O. White’s Biblical Ethics (John Knox). This could be the best single volume available on the moral teaching of the Bible. Milton Rudnick writes an excellent introduction to ethics from an evangelical point of view in Christian Ethics for Today (Baker). A studied attempt at comparison and dialogue is Protestant and Roman Catholic Ethics: Prospects for Rapprochement (Univ. of Chicago), by James Gustafson. A challenging look at the inner dynamics of Religion and Morality is Struggle and Fulfillment (Collins), by Donald Evans.

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Two excellent academic studies are: Moral Development, Moral Education, and Kohlberg (Religious Education Press), edited by Brenda Munsey, and Kant’s Theory of Morals (Princeton Univ.), by Bruce Aune.

Several works have appeared under the broad heading of social ethics. A very helpful survey of human rights worldwide is The Moral Imperatives of Human Rights: A World Survey (Univ. Press of America), edited by Kenneth W. Thompson. A vaguely disappointing book is Corporation Ethics (Fortress), edited by George Forell and William Lazareth. Of great value is Justice in the International Order (Calvin College), which contains the papers and proceedings of the Second International Conference of Institutions for Christian Higher Education. A very positive statement is Evangelicals and Social Ethics (InterVarsity) by Klaus Bockmühl. Finally, a very good survey of the whole topic is Christian Social Ethics (Baker), edited by Perry C. Cotham.

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