Book Reviews The latter reviews are not completed!
ON BEING HUMAN: Essays in Theological Anthropology by Ray S. Anderson, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Paper, $9.95 (1982).
Andy Rooney, CBS's contemporary Mark Twain, has observed that "Writers don't often say anything that readers don't already know unless it's a news story. A writer's greatest pleasure is revealing to people things they knew but did not know they knew." It was with considerable agreement with Rooney that I began to read this work by Ray S. Anderson. My confession, after careful reading, and in some sections, rereading, is that the author has reviewed felicitously and explicitly not only what is known by those of us in theistic/ anthropology but has added much new information regarding what it is to be human within a biblical and evangelical world view.
As I pondered the subtitle, "Essays in Theological Anthropology," I recalled a work by the psychologist Elton B. McNeil, of the University of Michigan, with the title Being Human: The Psychological Experience, and thought it would be both interesting and relevant to compare as an anthropologist the two approaches, that of an evangelical Christian theologian and that of an articulate humanistic psychologist. However, since my initial reading of Anderson's writing was during field work in Amman, Jordan, and my copy of McNeil was in my home library, I had to delay such comparison until my return home. Furthermore, since I read Anderson while engaged in research related to Christian mission in the world of Islam, the assignment to review Anderson was cast into a context of cross-cultural application; that is, my evaluation was colored by another world view, albeit one with a monotheistic perspective having historical affinities with Judaism and Christianity.
Hence upon returning home, I pulled from the shelves a copy of McNeil and attempted a rough parallelism between the two as they addressed themselves to such problem areas as human sexuality, family relationships, abortion, and death. True, they both seek for answers for these pressing issues as they gaze into what seems to be a likely scenario for humankind. The exercise became a poignant review for me of how, whereas empirical data can be used to address crucial issues, yet how the approach of naturalism-the stance of McNeil's inadequate to provide the imperative answers which are found outside the human experience; although it is of course pertinent to mankind in the past, present, and future.
In essence, then, this comparison brought into sharp relief the theistic viewpoint, that of biblical and evangelical Christianity as held by Anderson, particularly with regard to such questions as What does it mean to be human? How does a right understanding of personhood affect decisions on critical life situations? What implications does a biblical perspective on personhood have for the pastoral ministry of healing and hope?
Of course, Anderson's initial premise for the quality of "being human" is that man is made "in the image of God"-a premise which is not found in McNeil's evaluation-and one which quickly establishes a strikingly different focus. In elaborating on this basic postulate, Anderson pursues the question: "What is at stake?" (pp. 70-73) which he summarizes in four points as follows:
(1) It is essential to recognize and define the correspondence between human being and the being of God while at the same time preserving the absolute difference.
(2) The intent of Scripture seems to be that no matter how one understands the correspondence between the "man" and the "image," the image is a gift or an endowment which occurs in the concrete and particular existence of each person.
(3) if the "image" is present as a particular and concrete instance of human being, it can only be present as an 11 embodied" imago Dei.
(4) Since the "image" is present in human beings only as embodied in human persons, and since Anderson views the person in a state of sin (from the Fall) as being fully human, we can only account for the continuity of humanity as a continuity of the imago Dei in what becomes virtually a negative form.
Thus the stake here and throughout the work becomes the meaning of regeneration and renewal of humanity through the supernatural grace of God through Christ with regard to our concept of personhood. The issue of course is one of continuity, though necessarily in somewhat existential terms. If, according to Anderson's argument, we hold that the sinner remains human (made in the image of God) even when in a state of sin, does the sinner as an existing self remain the same person through the process of moving from "death to life" in what the Scriptures call the new birth? With considerable audacity, Anderson asserts that the regenerative experience includes all that was affected by sin. Such an assertion goes beyond the concept of salvation as a purely "spiritual" experience (as reflected by such terminology as "soulwinning" or "saving souls") to one which recovers persons in a wholistic sense. Logically, such a line of thought leads Anderson's theological anthropology to a form of "theology of liberation" as it takes seriously redemption through Christ as historical existence, rather than as a primarily spiritual experience in history.
Also of critical significance with respect to the basic premise of man as "image" is Anderson's discussion on human "response-ability," which rests upon the consequence of "hearing" the Word of God. This discussion stresses that the human ability to speak and to hear is distinctly human in quality of being as well as being a mark of the image and likeness of God. Thus mankind is sharply distinguished in creation from all creatures which have no word of response and which consequently will never be judged for not hearing. The human being emerges from the creation event of the spoken and heard Word along with profound implications as to humanity's status and role in the universe.
Perhaps it is Anderson's and McNeil's respective conclusions on sexuality, that is, male vis-a-vis female, that best
reveal the marked differences between a theistic and a
humanistic position; this issue is especially critical in the
Western world today given the "sexual revolution," "women's liberation," "equality of the sexes," and similar phrases
which suggest both subjectivity and controversy. For McNeil,
speaking in conventional naturalistic terms, we read that
"The male must learn to manage his life.... He must learn to
understand the attitudes, acts, and stereotypes of the
female.... Men have a choice. They can remain an embattled sex at bay, or they can accomodate to the changing
culture and share in its benefits. If they are lucky they may
even learn a definition of masculinity that is not so corrosive
of their psychological health" (p. 181).
In contrast, Anderson observes we choose to continue to explore the implications of the biblical teaching of a
specific order of male and female relationship in terms of what may ... be called the hierarchal modality. In the case of the modality of Father and Son, the terms ordination and subordination appear to be ontologically equivalent, and thus neutral so far as quality of being is concerned.... If we were to call the polarity by which human persons exist in the image of God essential sexuality-as distinguished from creaturely sexuality-we could argue that the former is more related to the ultimate determination of our personhood and the latter to the penultimate.... There will be a time when the penultimate will give way to the ultimate.... This theological perspective seems to liberate us from the tyranny of role relationships as determinative of our personhood far more effectively than the concept of partnership, with its asexual implications. There will be and is a tension between the ultimate and penultimate" (pp. 116-117).
We must limit ourselves to one other contrast of views, this being a comparison of scenarios regarding the future wellbeing (total health) of each person and of mankind as a whole. According to McNeil, "Unlike behaviorists, who view man as an essentially passive object that can be governed through the proper manipulation of external and internal stimuli, humanists believe positive social change can result from man's potential for growth and maturity on a rational rather than mechanistically conditioned level.... If a humanistic philosophy prevails in the years ahead, the psychologists of tomorrow will be fully engrossed in the task of helping each member of society be the kind of human being he is uniquely capable of becoming. Only in this way ... can man evolve psychologically to a point where he can rationally and emphatically make decisions for the good of all mankind" (p. 338).
The theistic perspective on being fully human is epitomized by Anderson as follows: "The relevance of a christological critique for the cure of souls is obvious. If one begins with the assumption that Jesus Christ constitutes not only the fullness of deity, but also the complete expression of true humanity, it is clear that humanity has been given an exceptional ontological status in the person of Christ. Not that Christ is any more or less human than any other human being; but his humanity cannot be attributed to an accidental or impersonal process of creaturely development. In Jesus Christ we discover that true humanity is rooted in personal being, and that is what is meant by ontological status" (p. 199).
It must be noted also that Anderson is well aware of the many scholars, past and present, who have explored this problem of being human. In his case, however, it is clear that he prefers the Reformed school of theology, especially the thinking of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, and G. C. Berkouwer. As Anderson nears the end of his book, he casts his vote for the "Augustinian orientation of the Reformers, while suggesting that modern conservative evangelical (how soon will we need additional adjectives or modifiers?) Christian scholars such as Gordon Clark and Carl F. H. Henry "build on the more Aristotelian notion of a rational soul as the locus of the imago Dei" (p. 225).
At best the reviewer feels frustrated in that this review must be relatively brief and thus cannot suggest the richness of Anderson's articulate discussion, which is both lucid and seminal for us all in our quest for knowing just who we are. The author also has provided a very useful indexing of subjects and names of authorities. in an area where so much writing has occurred through history, he has also added a selective, but highly relevant, bibliography in which is found a concise spectrum of eminent students of the subject. His surprising comprehension of the subject finds commendable expression in a relatively limited compass of size and invites profitable study.
Reviewed by George J. Jennings, Middle East Christian Outreach.
HISTORY AND HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDING edited by C. T. McIntire and Ronald A. Wells. W. B. Eerdman's Publishers (1984). 144 pages. $6.95.
So broad a title can cover almost anything! The present collection of eight new essays, primarily by historians of Calvin College, focuses on the methodology of history--for scholars and students alike."
As a student of the history of science I found myself confused by the casual use of undefined and therefore indistinguishable phrases throughout; e.g., "history," "historical method," "the historical method," "critical historical method," "scientific historical method," "logos of history," 1. empirical verification," "empirical methods," "the scientific method," "the scientific enterprise," "scientific and theoretical methods," "cognitive scientific visions," "truth of science," "scientific teleology," "disciplined imagination," .1 religious myths," "religious issues of history," "religious visions of history," "mythical and theological understanding, " "ontic knowledge, " "ontological reason, " and so forth.
Granted historical facts, embedded in culture, and the abundance of factitious theory, there is little appreciation of the major problem of history, i.e., the ferreting out of historically related factors-even though statistics now affords a weak attempt in this direction. It is strange to find historians venerating Francis Bacon, who extolled experience but had little conception of the role of scientific theory, and at the same time, idolizing Thomas Kuhn, who is so fascinated by man-made theory as to practically ignore natural phenomena. M. Howard Reinstra in his essay "History, Objectivity, and the Christian Scholar" boasts that "historians ... affirm that their discipline is both art and science --neither of course defined.
The most challenging essay, "On the Difference in Being a Christian and the Difference it Makes-for History, " is by Martin E. Marty (University of Chicago). Noting that a historian's view rarely reveals his viewpoint, he believes that a substantive philosophy of history," i.e., one concerned with ultimate meaning," is highly desirable. George Marsden continues along the same lines in his "Common Sense and the Spiritual Vision of History." Together with many Ph.D.'s from secular universities, he is personally concerned with how to teach history in a so-called Christian college. He suggests the Gestalt patterns of apparently the same phenomena, thus allowing for a Christian view as an alternative. In any case he prefers experience to argument.
In "Social Science History: an Appreciative Critique," Robert P. Swieredga (Kent State University) emphasizes the " new history" utilizing the social sciences to supplement the traditional humanist history. An illustration of this technique is given by Dale VanKley in "Christianity, Christian Interpretation, and the Origin of the French Revolution. "
The introductory essay is by Langdon Gilkey (University of Chicago); it deals briefly with "History and the Quest for Meaning." The first part, "The Structure of History and the Need for Scriptures," presents a new view, unfortunately hazy because of nebulous terminology.
The other section, on "The Biblical Scriptures and History," is typically traditional-and hence understandable. C. T.
McIntire's "Historical Study and the Historical Dimension of
Our World" is a lengthy (one fifth of the material) presentation of the same material in three ad hoc categories that are
not particularly illuminating (Why does he speak of science as
Reviewed by Raymond J. Seeger (NSF ret.), Bethesda, Maryland.
STAR WAVE: Mind, Consciousness, and Quantum Physics by Fred Alan Wolf. Macmillan, New York (1985). 342 pages. $19.95.
Continuing on through this book to the end provided this reviewer with the maximum adult exposure dosage to freeassociation philosophical speculation based on some relationship to modern quantum mechanics. Formerly a professor of physics at San Diego State University, the author was awarded the American Book Award of 1982 for his earlier book, Taking the Quantum Leap. By free-wheeling speculation based in some way on quantum physics, the author claims to provide the reader with a true humanistic psychology, insight into how the future is more important than the past in deciding the present, an explanation of how human consciousness creates reality, and the basis for a new religion and an understanding of the human spirit.
This book might more properly be called "Alice in Quantum Land." Effectively the author assumes that analogies are proofs, that illustrations are demonstrations, and that personal speculation is evidence. Furthermore he assumes that his own personal reflections on the significance of quantum mechanics for all of life are somehow necessary consequences of quantum mechanics itself. Sometimes I have jokingly said to colleagues that there must be an "Uncertainty Principle" governing film deposition methods: the simpler it is to do, the harder it is to understand and control; the easier it is to understand and control, the more complicated (and expensive) it is to do. This is the kind of thing that Wolf does throughout his book, but he isn't joking.
It is difficult to imagine for which readers this book is intended. The discourse ranges back and forth through esoteric usage of quantum mechanical language and mathematical formulations, but then the author will stop and explain some elementary point such as the meaning of a logarithm, or why surface area increases less rapidly with radius than the volume. He goes to elaborate lengths to use notation and calculations resembling those in quantum mechanics, but he gives standard cute names that will surely confuse the uninitiated, such as -qwiff " for "quantum wave function," and "quamp" for the "quantum probability amplitude." He spends endless pages on the Dirac notation (braket) as though it contained within itself the secrets of the world.
Wolf assumes that the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics describes the details of the world as it is with extreme literalness, and then extrapolates far and wide beyond this formulation to embrace every aspect of philosophical, psychological and religious thought. He adopts as a given the "parallel universe" interpretation of quantum mechanics, which, although it remains an interesting exercise in formal interpretation, can hardly be accepted as a meaningful approach. From the very beginning, when he tells us that the word physis, from which physics is derived, means "spiri"t --whereas it means "nature"-be misleads the unwary reader into believing that speculation is established and that fantasy is fact. Almost every possible departure from authentic scientific thinking, including an attempt to establish from science things that science is incapable of establishing, may be found somewhere in this book.
One of the most charming of Wolf's constructions leads him to argue that we can find the fundamental root of fear or self-hatred in the electron, since electrons obey Fermi-Dirac statistics that do not allow more than one electron per state, and that the fundamental root of love can be found in the photon, since photons obey Bose-Einstein statistics that do allow more than one photon per state.
One is tempted to quote any number of outrageous statements to be found in the book. Let me include just a few:
I believe that mathematics and its application to the physical world govern the operation of our psyches.... I believe this more than I believe in any religious or spiritual leader's dream. (p. 9)
The inertia of an object ... depends on consciousness. It depends on observation. (p. 30)
The discovery of the irrationality of the world came about with the realization of the quantum nature of all physical processes. (p. 37)
Underneath the slick illusion of mechanical continuity and all of its causal consequences lies the great cosmic joker, God, and God's jokes are quantum-mechanical toys. (p. 75)
Perhaps by forgetting or becoming confused it would be possible to pay the entropy price of allowing the physical universe outside the mind to manifest "sudden" order. Perhaps this was God's trick. He made the big bang of creation when She forgot She was He too; i.e., She lost sight of Her own Godliness. (p. 124)
The electron's loneliness and 'her' insistence on 'doing her own
thing' and maintaining her separate identity by having unique
quantum numbers is, I believe, the origin of our own egos,
self-hatred, and, when reflected onto the outside world, our
tendency toward destruction. (p. 141)
The qwiff and God are one. (p. 153)
There is not the slightest shred of evidence that proves the existence of a physical world acting independently of human thought. (p. 185)
We read this as 1-bra-A-op-ket-Ai equals ai-I-bra-ket-Ai. This is how the unconscious mind creates the realization of things moving. (p. 199)
What we call reincarnation is attributable to two possible explanations... . Our genes contain molecular qwiffian patterns. These patterns were set up according to experiences of our ancestors. (p. 213)
Your great-great somebody may have slept with Cleopatra or Genghis Khan. That imprint lives on as a genetic influence today. (p. 214)
The Buddhists claim that suffering is universal ... traceable ultimately to one cause: the false identity or ego we all seem to possess. Thus suffering and the ego are the same thing. (p. 215)
The God consciousness reality, which I called the big "I". . . is the quantum-mechanical probability amplitude of Yogananda's ultimate "self-realization. " (p . 262)
These quotations do more than I can do in any other way to convey the essence of this treatment. I have not mentioned the author's personal travel to the parallel universe where he encountered "the astral plane of suicidal souls," and where he learned that "Each of us is a universe of souls, not just a single soul journeying from here to Timbuktu. As the Buddha taught, we are all questions of compromise." (p. 234)
Overall I am amazed that a reputable publisher like Macmillan would have published this book. Perhaps it indicates to us the seriousness of the situation in which modern thought finds itself. There may indeed be some valid insights given to us in this book, but except for the devotee of science fiction who may find the approach fascinating, I cannot recommend reading of the book except as a warning of the spiritual morass in which we live today.
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305.
THE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE; A History of Protestant Higher Education in America by William C. Ringenberg (Taylor University). Christian University Press and William B. Eerdman's Publishing Co. (1984). 257 pages. Paperback $11.95.
As a graduate of a small colonial college and of a large colonial university, as a sometime professor in a small Presbyterian college and in a large secular university, I found this book interesting reading. (I had also been a member of the United Lutheran Church of America's Board of Higher Education for twelve years.) Despite the historian author's confession that he has relied primarily on secondary sources, his introduction to this social maze proves to be a challenging problem that admittedly requires a more comprehensive approach and more intensive study. I must, however, confess that I cannot wholly accept his basic assumption, viz., "of the several approaches to Protestant higher education during the last 350 years in America the orthodox/evangelical model represents the best approach to the search for truth. "
This very statement in the Preface exemplifies the need for clarification of terms at the very outset. But it is not until the Epilogue that the author defines a Christian college "as a community of believers, both teachers and students, who are dedicated to a search for an understanding of the divine Creator, the universe which he has created, and the role which each creature should fill in his universe." This declaration is at best an ideal, but is certainly not typical of the colleges cited in this book. Under any circumstances, I cannot conceive of an author deliberately excluding all Catholic institutions and at the same time including Friends and Unitarian schools under the heading "Christian." My own experience indicates that most of the colleges mentioned are Christian in name only, but not in deed. Even the author himself admits, "Today at most church-related colleges, secular modes of thought dominate over the Christian world view." Throughout the book, moreover, there is a lack of discrimination between designations such as "Church colleges," "Church-related colleges," "church-affiliated colleges," those that are "generally religious," "liberal Protestant," "evangelical Protestant," and so forth. Many denominations claim colleges, and vice versa, where there is only nominal financial support, say, a Bible chair, or a religious department. Comparatively few so-called Protestant Church colleges are actually controlled and maintained by the Church. They are mostly independent with a Board of Trustees whose primary concern is the local welfare. A major factor, moreover, in the development of any college is its size, not even mentioned in this book. When Dartmouth College expanded its enrollment to 2800, 1 asked its Provost what Daniel Webster would have felt about the small college he loved. The faculty had apparently studied this whole question of size and decided that the very nature of the institution changes radically at about 1000, regardless of what anyone claims. The next critical level is much higher.
In this book's first chapter, "The Colonial Period," no evidence is given for the author's dictum. "The Calvinistic related colleges probably promoted their religious goals more intensely than did the Anglicans." His discussion of the pervading Christian purpose, the instructors, and the students in this period, including "The First Great Awakening of the 1730's and 1740's," is quite informative.
"The Old Time College" (pre-Civil War) resulted from the rapid expansion of Christian higher education during the Second Great Awakening" (1800--1835), when evangelism, including foreign missions, was emphasized. (I question the author's designation of "the mental, moral, and intellectual philosophy" as "the science of what ought to be." His reference to courses in social science during that period is an anachronism.)
The next chapter deals with the subsequent "New Colleges and New Programs." Colleges were then established for blacks and for women. In addition, universities were founded by wealthy patrons such as Duke, Hopkins, Rockefeller, Stanford, and Vanderbilt. Degrees were offered specifically in science and for graduate work. Students formed fraternities and participated in intercollegiate athletics. (The author relates the founding of Phi Beta Kappa, the first social fraternity, but neglects to mention its later significant contribution to collegiate scholarship.)
The author subscribes to a general belief that by the 1960's the average college student lost any religious commitment during his four years in college. He blames this on "The Movement Toward Secularization," five sources of which he traces. "One of these he ascribes to natural science inasmuch as it gave rise to scientism, (advocated more by non-scientists than by scientists.) His few references, indeed, to science betray an immaturity in this regard. Although Francis Bacon was the great popularizer of the back-to-nature movement, he himself had little understanding of the scientific method. His inductivism was insufficient; it lacked imaginative insight. The what of science is dependent upon how it is determined-meaningless except in terms of who did it. It is surprising, moreover, to find a historian speaking of "agnostic science." Faith is just as potent in science as in any other human endeavor. Civilization has been built by men of faith, not by agnostics and sceptics. Finally, although it is true that "in geology and astronomy scholars seek to understand more about the physical universe," the goal is never reached. The more one knows, the more one doesn't know! Science is like a f ire-ball expanding in the dark. As its bright surface increases, its contact with the dark unknown also increases. Unfortunately, the author shows little appreciation of the mysterious universe revealed by science. So, too, seminaries ignore God's creation in their curricula and have no room for a Christian scientist on their faculty. Religious scientists are best qualified to interpret the religious values of science, not philosophers or even theologians!
Relativism, higher criticism, liberal Protestant theology, and the social gospel are all regarded by the author as contributing to secularization, but none as significantly as dogmatic evolutionary theory. He considers the growth of religious pluralism in America to be a minor cause. This chapter proposes seven marks characteristic of a college during its transition to secularization. I would add to these the study of a comparative religion which fails to emphasize the uniqueness of Christ. Upon visiting an outstanding Presbyterian college, I found such a course largely responsible for the Department of Religion's being regarded by the students as the greatest irreligious force on the campus.
The author discusses various factors resulting in the abandonment of chapel programs. One of the strangest reasons cited was "the abundance of Christian instruction in other parts of the college program." This uncovers the real root of the problem, the common failure of an institution to regard the Chapel meeting as essentially a worship service, rather than as a hodgepodge occasion for announcements and the like. The primary need in colleges has always been better chapels, and fewer of the kind generally held. No wonder few faculty ever attended them voluntarily.
In addition, there is a provocative chapter on "The Response to Secularization." In his discussion of Christian organizations the author emphasizes the Y. M. C. A., but f ails to mention religious clubs formed by students per se, unless under the sponsorship of pastors. He is particularly fascinated by "The Bible Movement" and the Bible colleges which it spawned. Of more general interest is his discussion of "Fundamentalism and Higher Education." He emphasizes the current trend for institutions to discard the "emotionally laden" term "fundamentalist" (used by Bob Jones University, Liberty Baptist College, et alia) in favor of the more nondescript label, "evangelical" (used by Oral Roberts University, Taylor University, Wheaton College, et alia).
The last chapter considers "The Reconstruction of Christian Higher Education." The author concludes that there are "perhaps 200 continuing Christian liberal arts colleges plus the Bible Colleges." (He makes no reference to the fact that four of the seven original liberal arts were mathematically oriented, one actually a science, in comparison with modern requirements.) Particular attention is devoted to the Pentecostals (e.g., Oral Roberts University) as well as to other colleges that sponsor national TV programs. The section on "The Emerging Identity of the Modern Christian College" deals in particular with Wheaton College. Although some reference is made to the occasional recurrences of revivals, no mention at all is made to the more common local religiousemphasis weeks or to the University Christian Mission Programs of the National Council of Churches. The book is notably silent on activities that do not seem to have the imprimatur of the author's own selected colleges. For example, to honor the nation's bicentennial (1976), Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society (national honor group), offered 100 lectures (gratis) to all U.S. colleges having enrollments under 2000. The college could choose from a list of nationally known scientists, including historians of science and pbilosophers of science. When I was invited, I invariably offered to speak also on science and religion, if desired. The author, indeed, ignores all such attempts at intellectual integration. Having been initially a classics major, I believe truly interdisciplinary approaches to be a genuine need and real opportunity for liberal arts colleges, particularly senior seminars offered under joint departmental leadership.
The author discusses colleges "In Partnership with the Government." He implicates the Federal Government, but ignores the tax-free status given by states. There is no mention either of the indirect benefits from the Federal Government: improvement of texts and faculty, not to mention buildings, facilities, and equipment. As an NSF representative in the 1950's I personally visited colleges that were small or isolated, for blacks or for women, including many so-called Christian ones. As a member of the MPE Research Division in each I urged the faculty to stimulate their students by introducing a research point of view in their teaching. The Foundation itself sponsored a Dumber of conferences concerned with good research practiceable in small colleges, not to mention similar interests of NIH, the Office of Education, and others. Christian colleges above all need to instill their students with the joy of having life "more abundantly." The professors of divinity do not have sole possession of the keys to the kingdom: "In my Father's house are many mansions." All disciplines can reveal the glory of God.
The author chose Mark A. Noll to write an Introduction on "Christian Colleges, Christian Worldviews, and an Invitation to Research." It seems an unnecessary appendage to a well written book. It does contain a good section on "The Rise of the Seminary." Unfortunately, there is no analysis of the influence of seminaries on colleges, nor of their dependence upon size and proximity. The writer argues that "the professors at evangelical seminaries are the best trained of all professional academics identified with evangelical institutions, and their work is read far more widely in evangelical circles than work from professors in the Christian colleges." Presumably he is referring to scholars in comparable fields, e.g., religion. I am not at all surprised: the seminary professors are at a higher academic level. I note that the writer does not mention the unusual set-up at the secular University of Chicago with its cluster of seminaries. He gives no reason at all for his obviously personal feeling that "independent seminaries are less likely to be corrupted by the secularism of a university than is a divinity school attached to a secular university." I did not find such to be the case at Oxford University, which has a diversity of religious colleges in addition to the traditional European Divinity Faculty.
The Epilogue concludes appreciatively with some words of John Eliot, an early missionary to Indians, but fails to mention that his support came from funds specifically willed for this purpose by Robert Boyle, a Christian scientist.Reviewed by Raymond J. Seeger (Ret.) NSF, Bethesda, MD.
The major theme which pervades the seven articles and three appendices of Summons to Faith and Renewal, a theme which is either a presupposition to be accepted or a thesis to be proved, declares that a more profound and significant division exists within Christendom than the obvious denominational alignments. More crucial than the labels "Protestant," "Catholic" and "Orthodox," is the cleavage which cuts through all denominations between "trads" and "rads," to use James Packer's terms. Traditionalists ("trads") are "those for whom the God-giveness of all biblical teaching, and of the historic faith as therein set forth, are fixed points" (p. 154). Radicals ("rads") deny this presupposition.
The book itself, edited by two leaders of the Ann Arbor Center for Pastoral Renewal, is the product of a Center sponsored conference held in October, 1982. This meeting, the second of its kind, brought together 130 leaders of the three major Christian traditions who share the concern to maintain traditional Christian teaching and morals in the face of the erosion of Christianity in a society which is growing increasingly secularized.
The seven articles are organized within the volume into two parts, a division which reflects the two-fold summons to respond as envisioned by the editors: faithfulness to God and to his word and devotion to church renewal through prayer and pastoral work. The four essays included in the first part are largely negative in tone. They develop in similar ways the thesis that traditional Christianity is retreating under the attack of secular culture. "Religious secularization" (chapter 1) or "the spirit of the age" (chapter 2) has mounted an 11 attack on God's word" (chapter 3), leading to a "loss of a Christian way of life" (chapter 4). Part II wears a more positive face. An interesting basis for inter-denominational cooperation is developed in one essay whereas renewal is the topic of the other two.
On the whole, the book comes across as quite one-sided and even reactionary. The authors are surely correct in suggesting that renewal is needed in the church. However, they seem to assume that their understanding of renewal is the only viable one, an understanding that appears to be little more than the reinstitution of the theology and morality of an earlier era. As is the case in so much conservative literature, complex questions, whether theological, sociological or political, are over-simplified; and the list of the great issues of the day, which should include nuclear war and economic injustice, is pared down to questions centering on the family and sexual morality.
The major thesis of the book, so readily assumed by the contributors, likewise cannot be accepted without qualification. While there is indeed a certain bond between all conservatives, the suggestion that denominational distinctions ought to pose no ultimate barrier for joint effort among 11 traditionalists" seems naive. Is it not the traditionalist and not the radical who is more interested in maintaining denominational distinctives? Is it not the traditional Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox who most readily see any other faith group as constituting an entirely different approach to the Christian faith and a very different religious heritage? For this reason Baptist traditionalists, to cite one example, ought to find more compatibility in the approach to a wide range of social issues which they share with Baptist radicals than they find in the vision of high church conservatives.
Summons to Faith and Renewal
remains, in spite of these
criticisms, an important statement concerning a crucial problem. Stephen Clark's article on cooperation and the offerings
by J. 1. Packer are especially worthy of further consideration.
Reviewed by Stanley Grenz, North American Baptist Seminary.
MAKING A BAD SITUATION GOOD by Rai K. Chopra. Thomas Nelson Publishers, New York (1984). 172 pages. Hardcover, $10.95.
Rah Chopra was born in India to a wealthy family and attended Punjab University. In 1969 he came to the United States and continued his education at Bowling Green State University where he received his master's and doctor's degrees. In 1976 Chopra became a United States citizen and in 1977 he became a Christian.
One of Chopra's goals was to become a superintendent of schools; this book was born out of his experiences while attaining this goal. His greatest challenge as an educator grew out of a situation described in 1976 on the CBS-TV program "60 Minutes," in which Mike Wallace reported that in Council Bluff s, Iowa, student test scores were the lowest in the state and that the school system was in a run-down condition.
In August of 1978 Chopra accepted the position of superintendent of schools in Council Bluffs and found a school system that was as bad as had been reported: adversarial relationships, futile school board meetings, lack of school discipline, too many administrators, loss of vision, communication gaps, ineffective curriculum, and lack of public confidence.
Chopra asked himself, "How can I change this situation?" This book describes how he went about transforming a school system in decline to one of the best in the nation, Chopra reduced the administrative staff, reorganized the curriculum, tightened attendance requirements, stiffened standards, emphasized test taking, developed a new code of conduct, and instituted better management of money. It worked. Test scores, teacher morale, and parental support all went up. The schools were looked upon by the citizens as an asset to the community, What made the turnabout possible? "Simply putting the principles of realistic thinking into action" (p.30), writes Chopra.
Chopra, who is characterized as a realistic thinker, attributes his success to being able to build on the good which exists even in bad situations. Through his experiences be has developed methods and attitudes which can make bad situations good for anyone. He recommends them in this book. They include the employment of praise, optimism, enttusiasm, love, and faith. With these virtues, stress, burn-out, negativism and seemingly impossible obstacles can be conquered. Through illustrations Chopra applies these principles to education, marriage, family and other areas of life. He illustrates in his own life the principles he espouses.
The book is divided into three major sections: the possibilities, the principles, the practicalities. With its many anecdotes, quotes, and aphorisms, the book reads somewhat like a sermon and the reader may become motivated to be more successful. It is a book that Norman Vincent Peale would be proud of and indeed he gives his recommendation for it on a jacket blurb. I think anyone who works in the field of education at any level and in any position would find this book especially relevant, interesting, and helpful. Christians in any walk of life will be inspired.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas 72761.
C. S. LEWIS AND THE SEARCH FOR RATIONAL RELIGION by John Beversluis. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1985). 182 pages, Paperback $9.95.
Clive Staples Lewis lived from 1898 to 1963 and was converted to Christianity in 1931. During the last 25 years of his life he wrote over 40 books on a variety of topics and in a variety of literary forms. His output is somewhat remarkable because he produced much of it in his spare time while holding posts at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Further, it encompassed areas in which he was not professionally trained, namely philosophy and theology. "Despite his erudition as a Medieval and Renaissance literary historian, Lewis really was a 'very ordinary layman' of the Church of England" (p. 165). As a result of his writings, Lewis came to be recognized as Christianity's most famous contemporary apologist.
Those who are not well read in the writings of C. S. Lewis might anticipate finding this book uninteresting and perhaps incomprehensible. They would be wrong on both counts. This book can be understood by those who have never read a line written by Lewis because its author gives lots of quotes and summaries to convey Lewis's thoughts and then explains their implications in an interesting way.
Material from eighteen of Lewis's books is discussed in the ten chapters of this volume (which also included notes and an index). One letter from Lewis to the author is included (pp. 156, 157). Several years in contemplation and preparation, this book has been enthusiastically endorsed by reviewers.
John Beversluis, professor of philosophy at Butler University in Indianapolis, has written a book which one reviewer considers "the first systematic and radical critique of C. S. Lewis's theological arguments." The publisher characterizes this volume as iconoclastic and presents it as a counterpoint to "marketplace saturated with worshipful tributes to Lewis" in the hope that it will generate discussion. Beversluis' conclusion to this study should serve that purpose: "Lewis stands as a paradigm of steadfast personal commitment to orthodox Christianity but a failure as a proponent of a traditional Christian apologetic."
"I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it" wrote C. S. Lewis. Beversluis evaluates the evidence as presented by Lewis and finds it insufficient. Lewis fails, writes Beversluis, in his arguments for God's existence, his analysis of evil, and his understanding of philosophy. Thus, concludes Beversluis, Lewis's "failures accumulate, the inconsistencies remain, and the case for Christianity has not been made" (p. 167).
Beversluis' evaluation is insightful. Perhaps many readers of Lewis have sometimes felt a bit uncomfortable with his conclusions. Beversluis shows that this discomfort results from the fact that many of Lewis's arguments produce non sequiturs. This may be partly due to the fact that Lewis was not well informed about philosophy. Beversluis illustrates Lewis's weakness in philosophy by pointing out that while Lewis contends that deduction is the only legitimate form of inference, all his examples in chapter three of Miracles are inductive (p. 77).
Beversluis discusses the three arguments Lewis gives for the existence of God: the Argument from Desire, the Moral Argument, and the Argument from Reason. Beversluis shows that none of the arguments is valid. For example, the Argument from Desire states that since humans have a recurring desire for something infinite, there must be an Infinite Object who can fully satisfy this desire. Beversluis shows the illogic of his statement with a statement from Bertrand Russell who observed that it does not follow you will get food just because you are hungry. Furthermore, Beversluis thinks Lewis is inconsistent in using this intuition as an argument for God's existence when, in other writings, he shows disdain for basing belief on anything except reason. Thus, Beversluis thinks that there are really two incompatible Lewises: the Romantic and the Rationalist.
Beversluis' book is intelligent because it deals with serious questions in an informed way. Its author is knowledgeable about philosophy and theology as well as the writings of Lewis. This broad understanding enables him to address issues from a variety of perspectives.
Beversluis' evaluation is courageous because he evaluates the most popular Christian apologist of the twentieth century and finds his logic lacking. He thinks that "if Lewis's critics are too ferocious, his admirers are too benign, erring grieviously in the opposite direction" (p. xi). Beversluis seeks to take the middle course and treat Lewis even-bandedly. The reader gets the feeling that Beversluis respects Lewis even though he disagrees with him. He compliments Lewis for such things as his humaneness (p. 24), brilliant prose (p. 92), and utter honesty (p. 142). Beversluis thinks that "if anyone wants to know what orthodox Christianity is, what it requires in terms of personal commitment, and what difficulties it must ultimately face, he need only read C. S. Lewis" (p. 167).
However, Beversluis' courage does not allow his admiration for Lewis to prevent him from being critical of his apologetics. According to Beversluis, Lewis is guilty of "selfindulgent rhetoric" (p. xi), "irresponsible writing" (p. 40), 11 carelessness, inaccuracy, and oversimplification" (p. 41), "a ferocious attack" (p. 46), "harsh words" (p. 47), "complete misrepresentation" (p. 47), "name calling" (p. 49), "a very poor argument" (p. 51), "emotional rhetoric" (p. 55), "fallacious strategy" (pp. 56, 57), "fuzzy thinking" (p. 57), "inconsistent premises" (p. 57), "scandalous implications" (p. 61), 11 careless use" of terms (p. 75), "fatal confusion" (p. 75), setting up "straw men" (p, 83) and so forth.
Beversluis is exacting in his evaluation of Lewis. For instance, he faults Lewis for confronting "us with false dilemmas" and formulating "non-exhaustive sets of options in emotionally inflammatory ways" (p. 57). Perhaps the best known of these is the Lord-or-lunatic dilemma (pp. 38-39, 54-57). Beversluis points out that these are not the only alternatives and suggest another possibility: Jesus thought he was God but was mistaken.
Beversluis is exacting at this point because he does not acknowledge that Lewis might be using the "lunatic" alternative in a generic sense. Taken this way, Lewis's argument would be that Jesus was either Lord or He was something else and it does not really matter whether that something else is labeled lunatic, or mistaken, or deluded, or crazy, et cetera. Lewis chose a colorful word, if not an exhaustive one, to describe the alternatives. Perhaps "lunatic" covers the alternatives better than any other word. People who chronically claim to be Jesus or God are considered out of contact with reality and therefore by definition psychotic, i.e., lunatic. Of course, Lewis did not say he was using lunatic generically but perhaps assumes his readers will understand it that way. Beversluis evidently did not.
One more word could be used to describe this book:
stimulating. I hope it enjoys a wide circulation because it is
well researched and written. Perhaps it will cause readers to
view the apologetics of Lewis more accurately, an outcome of
which Lewis himself would doubtless approve.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas 72761.
EVANGELICAL IS NOT ENOUGH by Thomas Howard. New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers (1984). 160 pages. Hardback, $9.95.
Thomas Howard, professor of English at Gordon College, is perhaps best known for his book Christ the Tiger. He has also written other books including The Achievement Of C. S. Lewis. This present book has a rather pedestrian title and a drab jacket to match.
Howard's writing style has been compared to that of C. S. Lewis. Indeed, Howard frequently quotes from his predecessor. They both write in an informative, stimulating and thus readable manner. In some ways, I find that Howard has more literary flourishes than Lewis, but they serve to enliven the text and give it greater impact. One item I wish evangelical writers, including Howard (e.g., pp. 27, 37), would give attention to is the use of "man" as a generic term. Many secular publications have avoided this, and I think such avoidance should become the norm in the near future for all writing.
Howard was reared as an evangelical Christian who was wary of liturgical worship even though it contained the ritual and ceremony of the historic church. He had been taught that spontaneous prayers are superior to written ones, Bible exposition to topical sermons, and simplicity of worship to public displays of ceremony. In this book, Howard gives an autobiographical account of his journey from evangelical roots in spontaneous worship to preference for worship in a liturgical mode. The journey started as a teenager when he visited a ritualistic church. It advanced during residencies in England, Illinois and New York.
Howard discovered that liturgy means "the work of the people" and involves worshipers more actively than the traditional evangelical service. The litany provides help in formulating and directing worship, and ceremony provides a means for expressing the inexpressible. The church calendar is beneficial because throughout the year it gives a more systematic coverage to the cardinal truths of the Christian faith, Kneeling was a posture in worship which Howard had always appreciated, even in his pre-liturgical days. He found an opportunity to engage in it with impunity when he was living in England and attended and Anglican Church. Howard thinks kneeling important not just because it is an expression of an inner attitude of worship, but because it helps create that attitude.
The approach to this subject is not objective, detached and impersonal. The first person singular is used throughout. Howard is not writing a dissertation but a testimony of how one man found fulfillment through worship of God via liturgy with its ritual and ceremony. Because his faith has been enriched, Howard invites non-liturgical Christians to consider returning to the interdependency of the episcopate, the Eucharist as the center of Christian worship, and the church calendar for celebrating the events of the gospel. The book concluded with a helpful bibliography for further study.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas 72761.
CLASSICAL READINGS IN CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, A.D.100-1800 edited by L. Russ Bush. Academic Books (Zondervan Publishing House), Grand Rapids, Michigan (1983). 386 pages. Paper. ISBN 0-310-45641-X.
Christians are commanded by the Scriptures to be ready to explain their faith to non-Christians. Understanding how Christians in the past have responded to this command can help equip us to respond to it more effectively. This book presents selections from a dozen Christian apologists who ably defended Christian truth in their day. Selections contained in the book, listed below, were judiciously chosen to illustrate a number of different challenges which have faced the Church in the past.
Justin Martyr (A.D. c.
100-167) The First Apology of
Atbenagoras (A.D. Second Century) A Plea for the Christians
Irenaeus (A.D. 120-203) Irenaeus Against Heresies
Tertullian (A.D. 155-253) The Apology
Origen (A.D. c. 185-253) De Principiis and Against Celsus
Athanasius (A.D. c. 298-373) Against the Heathen and On the Incarnation of the Word
Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) Concerning Freedom of the Will, Confessions of Saint Augustine and The City of God
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) Monologium, Proslogium, In Behalf of the Fool, and In Reply to Gaunilon
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) The Summa Contra Gentiles and The Summa Theologica
John Calvin (1509-1564) Institutes of the Christian Religion
Joseph Butler (1692-1752) The. Analogy of Religion
William Paley (1743-1805) Natural Theology and A View of the Evidences of Christianity
A brief introduction describing each writer and his life should be most helpful to the general reader, as the bibliography of materials by and about the writer will be for the serious student. The book concluded with a very well done, but brief essay on apologetical writing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Because of the varied topics covered in the book, an index would have been very helpful.
Reviewed by D. K. Pace, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT GOD THE RULER by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Co. (1984). 465 pages. $14.95.
In the September/October 1984 TSF Bulletin I reviewed the first volume of this trilogy on the doctrine of God by Jack Cottrell. In this large but reasonably priced book he has moved on from creation to providence. Both of these books are well written, thoroughly researched, and comprehensive. They also offer a moderately Arminian perspective on the whole subject. I will begin by moving through the themes in order, and then will proceed to the large theological issue which Cottrell raises by his approach.
The author begins by correctly noting the pressure which has been brought to bear upon the doctrine of providence by scientific modes of thought. In the course of the book he endeavours to state the doctrine in such a way as would meet the challenges of the hour. I find that he does so very successfully and better than Berkouwer, for example, does. Calvinist readers will be interested to note that Cottrell has placed them in the second chapter on alternatives to the biblical doctrine of providence, under the heading of "theological determinism." Some will find this refreshing after so many years of finding the Arminian view placed among the alternatives!
Three substantial chapters are then dedicated to an exposition of the doctrine: God's general providence in preserving
the world, God's special providence in relation to history, and
the vexing question of providence and human freedom.
Cottrell posits a relative autonomy for the created order
which allows for natural laws and human liberty. He pauses
to refute the modern perversion of God's providence which
takes it to mean health and wealth for believers. Of particular
interest of course is the fine way he defends the conditionality
of God's decrees against the deterministic schemes. He wisely
notes that when Calvinists face up to moral evil they usually
resort to some notion of permission, and shows how Arminian
they all are at that delicate point. I think he is right-moral
evil requires us to think in terms of conditionality in God's
plan, and, if we do, classical Calvinism is out the window.
(That is not to say that a revised 'Calvinism' cannot be
I think Cottrell handles the issue of miracles with real insight both as it relates to natural law and to answers to prayer. He has obviously written this book with care and devotion, and has picked up most of the intellectual and practical issues along the way. There is a fine chapter on prayer in relation to providence, and of course one on the problem of evil. You guessed it, the free will defense! I have the feeling that Cottrell the Arminian has a right to it, but how do people like Plantinga manage it? The book ends in a fine devotional note, as the author suggests how we ought to respond to God's providence in wonder and praise.
The central theological problem of the book is also its main thesis intellectually: God is timeless in his knowing and knows everything exhaustively including the future free actions of men and women. By means of this very classical belief Cottrell is able to retain belief in a predestination which encompasses everything including the election of individuals from eternity. Thus, Cottrell has added Arminian assumptions about freedom to the Augustinian framework without feeling the need to make radical revisions in it. The question is, will this work? Both the traditional Calvinist and the more daring Arminian will wonder. Does not the belief in God's exhaustive foreknowledge of the future negate the assumption of human freedom Cottrell is so eager to preserve? Are we not back with the kind of determinism he is keen to avoid at all costs? The irony is superb: Cottrell, in order to arrive at conditional predestination, has posited total foreknowledge which might seem to land him back in the Calvinist territory he wishes to flee. Certainly it would seem so to scholars such as Carl Henry on the one hand or Richard Swinburne on the other. They would argue that you cannot have total foreknowledge without having total predestination at the same time in the non-Arminian unconditional sense. Now Cottrell is well aware of this objection, and works at answering it both in this volume and in the one which preceded it.
It would have been possible for Cottrell, had he chosen to take this step, to have suggested a limitation on the knowledge of God in order to avoid this dilemma. Had he done so, the threat to the reality of human freedom would have been greatly diminished. But for Cottrell such a step would go against the full biblical claims for both predestination and foreknowledge, and qualify as a sub-biblical rationalism, well on the way to process theism itself. Is not a limitation upon God's knowledge a key plank in Hartshorne's program? If anyone is interested in this more radically Arminian view, I would recommend Richard Rice's The Openness of God, reissued by Bethany Fellowship in the fall of 1985, and of course my own essay Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom (IVP, 1985). The dilemma for me is this: although limiting God's knowledge makes more sense to me, I am not sure it makes better biblical sense. There are passages which at first sight do seem to posit a more total foreknowledge than the more radical solution would allow. Cottrell would certainly agree.
In two years, Lord willing, a third volume God the Redeemer will be published. I am certain it will be good, and that the trilogy will stand for many years-certainly as the best doctrine of God from the Arminian side, but also as one of the best from any perspective.
Reviewed by Clark H, Pinnock, Professor of Theology, McMaster Dit4nity College, Hamilton, Ontario.
This book is the first of a trilogy on the doctrine of God, the second (published in 1985) dealing with God the Ruler and the third (to be published in 1987) on God the Redeemer. A basic thesis for the trilogy is that the study of God be both possible and necessary. "A study of the true God is necessary to combat and offset atheism, false doctrine, ignorance and indifference." "The modern aversion to metaphysics and metaphysical thinking about God has had considerable influence in Christendom ... it has had serious implications about how one thinks about the nature of God." The view of many modern theologians is that redemption is primary. The traditional (and correct) view is that creation is primary, thus the series begins with God the Creator. The method of study used, as opposed to that of modern liberal theology, is one which holds that "our understanding of both the works and the nature of God is grounded in the special revelation of Scripture." Three main assumptions of the study are 1) that the primary source of knowledge about God is his revealed word, the Bible, 2) that the Bible is the inspired and infallible word of God and 3) that the Bible can be understood.
I found the first half of the book, with chapters on "Pagan Alternatives to Creation," "The Biblical Doctrine of Creation" and "Implications of Creation," particularly relevant and meaningful, Cottrell shows that the religious and pbilosophical world in general has rejected the concept of creation, opting either for monism or dualism. "The Christian doctrine of creation stands out in unique contrast against this pagan background." In the development of the Biblical doctrine of creation, three concepts are central: 1) God created the universe out of nothing (ex nihilo), 2) creation was a free act and 3) creation is inclusive of both spiritual and material realms. Especially helpful are the collections of Scriptural references in discussions of the Biblical data on creation. In a summary statement the author says, "Our goal has been to set forth the biblical doctrine of God as Creator. We have discussed the meaning of creation itself, that mighty act by which God brought into existence out of nothing the whole material universe as well as the realm of created spirits. We have discussed the nature of God who is capable of such an incomparable deed. We have seen that He alone is Uncreated Spirit, the holy and exalted one who transcends the whole of His creation. We have seen that He is infinite in His existence, His knowledge, and His power; and He is unlimited by space and time. He is hidden and incomprehensible God, yet He has chosen to make himself known to His creatures through His deeds and words. He is the Living God, the only true God, the one who rightfully demands and deserves our exclusive worship and service."
I have found much in this book to recommend it. Cottrell
has discussed modern theology and modern theologians without the use of theological jargon. (This alone should be an
adequate reason to read the book.) He has presented the
Biblical doctrine of creation in a clear and easily understandable (not simplistic) manner. While the book can be easily
read by a college student, I think anyone reading it would
benefit from the clear exposition and concise expressions of
the author. For example, "The Creator is the essential center
of our lives, the Bible is the epistemological center and Jesus
Christ is the existential center." I wish I had had such a
resource many years ago.
Reviewed by B. J. Piersma, Houghton College, Houghton, New York.
VOLUME 38, NUMBER 1, MARCH 1986
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GENESIS by Charles C. Cochrane. William B. Eerdman's Publishing. 1984. 88 pages. Paperback; $5.95.
This interesting book grew out of teenager questions of a pastor (40 years) of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. It starts with the provocative statement, "The story of the bible really begins with the opening verses of Genesis 12: 'In thee [Abram] shall all families of the earth be blessed."' God's covenant of grace with Abraham is truly the sequel to the creation; it reveals the reason-God's desire for fellowshipleading to the drama of salvation, for which the first eleven chapters of Genesis are essentially prologue. In his first chapter on "Our Father Abraham" the author raises the question of why Abraham was called.
Noting that Genesis 1-11 is neither history nor science the author discusses first "The Nature and Meaning of Creation." He himself believes in God as creator, who thus reveals that He is at least a person and also who we are and how this affects the world. In the next chapter, "The Question of Truth" is explained; i.e., historical, moral, mathematical, and spiritual truth, which he emphasizes. (It is noteworthy that he omits scientific truth.) He prefers to present Genesis 1-11 as parables; i.e., truths "conveyed and expressed in story form." Six illustrations are discussed: "Creation by the God Who Is High and Up," "Creation by the God Who Is Near at Hand," "The Entry of Sin into Human Life," "The Spread of Sin in Human Society," "God's Attitude to Man's Sin," and "Man's Attitude to His Own Sin." This form of presentation is debatable, but fruitful. The author's style is refreshing and readable. He gives a modern point of view, fortified throughout with verses from the whole Bible, and with quotations from religious leaders, living and dead. The climax comes in the concluding chapter, "Abraham and the Nations," the promise to Abraham being fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.
The author does not sidestep thorny problems such as Usher's dating, the two creation accounts, the order of creation, the length of a day, or God's possible abandonment of his Creation upon its completion. Neither does he offer "final" answers to difficult questions such as the singular and plural forms for God, the acceptance of the shepherd's animals rather than the farmer's fruits, the two flood accounts, the apparent break in chronological sequence with respect to the Tower of Babel, and Jesus' world mission despite his personal ministry primarily to the Jews.
A "Personal Postscript," notes that "the word 'evolution
does not occur anywhere in the foregoing chapters." The
author states concisely the current controversy between so-called creationists and evolutionists and warns of dogmatism
in either camp. He counts himself among the "millions of
convinced Christian men and women
to whom the evolutionary premise is quite inoffensive as an explanation of
Reviewed by Raymond J. Seeger (Ret. NSF), Bethesda, MD 20816.
THE CONTROVERSY: Roots of the Creation-Evolution Conflict by Donald E. Chittick. Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon (1984). 280 pages. Hardcover; $12.95.
Following his training as a chemist, his work as a professional educator for over twenty years, and his active involvement in the creation-evolution debate for that period of time, Dr. Chittick has written this book to help "those struggling with the issues of creation and evolution." His basic thesis is that creation and evolution are opposing philosophies, based on opposing world views. The biblical world view assumes that the natural world is dependent moment by moment on the Creator. The naturalistic world view assumes that nothing in nature happens which is not in accord with natural laws. These two world views are antithetical; if one is true, the other is false.
Chittick suggests that while the Bible is not a textbook on
science, it touches on science in at least two ways:
1. It provides presuppositions for building a framework within which scientific facts can be interpreted.
2. The Bible has true information about earth history.
He argues that no observations of either the present or the past universe have shown that the days of Genesis I were anything but normal 24-hour days. The radioactive dating system, for example, does not meet the fundamental requirements of a clocking system. "We do not know the initial conditions (isotope ratios), and even if we did, we cannot be certain that the rates of radioactive decay have always remained constant." Isotope ratios could just as well be a process indicator (geophysical processes) as a time indicator.
In reconstructing earth history Chittick argues that we have difficulty getting a clear picture because of "veils" to our understanding. These include 1) the Fall, 2) the Flood, 3) Time, 4) Cultural Conditioning, 5) Primitive Man and 6) the Educational System. Chittick discusses bow each of these "veils" has hindered attempts to interpret the changes which have occurred since the creation. He argues that the disagreement of the biblical and evolutionary world views is not over facts but over interpretation of the facts.
The book is written at a level such that it can be easily read by laymen with little or no training in the physical sciences. The perspective taken is that biblical creation means creation in six 24-hour days and that any other view of origins is no biblical. I was particularly eager to read chapter 7 which was a "discussion of a christian theology of science." However, I finished the chapter, and the book, with the feeling of not really being satisfied. The approach of creation science was supposed to provide "big answers to big questions." I finished the book with many questions unanswered.
The book is certainly worth reading and I find much with
which I am in agreement. I particularly appreciated the
illustrations and examples used by the author, some of which
helped me think about certain concepts in new ways. The
author's hope is that this book "will direct people's attention
to God, our loving Creator, and to His Word which is His
Reviewed by Bernard J. Piersma, Houghton College, Houghton, NY.
THE MIRACLES OF OUR LORD by Charles Caldwell Ryrie. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. 192 pages. $14.95.
An enjoyable, readable, and clear account of Christ's 35 miracles (20 mentioned by Matthew; 18 by Mark; 20 by Luke; 7 by John) by an evangelical former Professor of Systematic Theology. Each one is discussed chronologically in a separate chapter with a succinct, characterizing title, as well as the usual description as subtitle. The basis is C. S. Lewis's conception of a miracle as the occurrence of the supernatural in the natural order of things. First Ryrie provides an exegesis (the facts), and follows that with insights regarding spiritual significance then and now. Thus miracles are treated as helpful for revelation and for teaching.
The format of the book stands out clearly with enticing headings. The most complete version (New King James) of each miracle is given at the beginning of the chapter along side of a full-page historical illustration in color. The author and publisher are to be congratulated upon this complete collection (11 oil paintings, 7 illuminated manuscripts, 3 stained glass windows, 2 frescoes, 2 drawings, 2 stone friezes, 1 wall painting, I altar piece, 1 triptych, I tempera, 1 tapestry). Ten of these are by world-famous artists (2 by Rembrandt). The others, however, are not all spiritually noteworthy. Seven chapters conclude with poems.
The presentation is informative (specific Scriptural references are always cited), and attention is called to relevant material. For example, the author notes that the Greek verb for love used by Christ in his three questions to Peter differs the third time (John 21:15-17). He calls attention to the niceties of Greek tenses which are not always preserved in English translations. There are, however, instances when he himself relaxes his rigorous thinking; e.g., when he claims that Martha was "evidently a widow, apparently owning the house." Even a theologian, I believe, should not presume that the hypocrisy of the nation Israel must have been in His mind upon viewing the fig tree. His reminder of the unique ministry of women (cf. Peter's mother-in-law) is quite timely. What is wanting, however, for any modern scientist is a medical view of demonology as it relates to disease.
The author concludes with a challenging, "Because He lives." I agree with him that we all should meditate on the miracles of our Lord!Reviewed by Raymond Seeger (NSF ret.), Bethesda, MD
FAITH AND SAVING FAITH by Gordon H. Clark. The Trinity Foundation, Jefferson MD (1983). 118 pages. $5.95.
The cover promises us that "in Faith and Saving Faith, Dr. Clark clarifies the psychology of belief using the Bible as his only source of information, and logic as his only means of argument." While not totally accurate, this statement does indicate Clark's sources of authority. He believes in an inerrant Bible and in the power of reason to understand it.
The book is polemical in tone. Clark, who was for 28 years Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Butler University, is disturbed by anti-intellectualism in the church as by anti-intellectualism in the world, So he seeks, by Scripture and logic, to defend intellection and rationality, which he identifies with the image of God in man (p. 113).
Clark sets out to demolish the idea that there is a dichotomy between head and heart. He uses many tests to prove his contention that when the Bible says "heart," it usually means reason or understanding. This established, he contends that saving faith is assent to Biblical propositions (p. 118). He further asserts that it is nonsense to contrast belief in doctrines with trust in a person, as many evangelicals do.
Clark discusses several books, most of them old, which deal with the psychology of belief. He quotes and disagrees with philosophers and theologians from Catholic, Protestant and unchurched backgrounds.
To say that a book is extreme is not necessarily a criticism. It could be extremely correct. But this reviewer believes that Clark has truncated the Biblical teachings of man in God's image by limiting this image to rationality. This results in limiting faith to the assent to truth. Had be argued that assent to truth is a necessary part of faith, I believe he could more nearly substantiate his assertions with his evidence. But, if the image of God in man is more than rationality, be has not proved his point.
While not an easy or fun book to read, and albeit having some problems, Faith and Saving Faith deals with important issues which are usually not analyzed critically. It deserves to be read and discussed.
Reviewed by Joseph M. Martin, Professor of Missions, Edward Lane Bible Institute. Patrocinto, MG, Brazil.
THE TRINITY by Gordon H. Clark. The Trinity Foundation, Jefferson, Maryland (1985). 148 pages. Paperback, $8.95.
The Trinity Foundation is a newcomer in the book publishing business; The Trinity is only the eighth book it has published. John Robbins, its president, writes both a foreword and an epilogue for The Trinity in which he explains the purpose of the Foundation.
Gordon H. Clark was a theologian, philosopher and writer for many years and has 33 books to his credit. The Trinity is divided into fifteen chapters with no index. A noteworthy feature of the book is its beautiful, full-color, fold-in cover, a reproduction of The Baptism of Christ by Nicolas Poussin which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
This book includes history, theology and pbilosophy which permits the reader to face the difficulties and not "resign theology in despair" (p. 46). It concerns a topic which, with the doctrine of the Scriptures, is the basis of the Christian faith. Of the doctrine of the trinity Clark writes, "Nothing is more fundamental" (p. 20).
In tracing the doctrine of the trinity, Clark discusses the early heresies of Sabellianism. and Arianism. He quotes, among others, Athanasius, Jerome, Augustine and Calvin. Clark's longest section is devoted to a refutation of what he considers the erroneous ideas of Herman Bavinck and Cornelius Van Til. Particularly offensive to Clark is Van Til's idea that "God is numerically one. He is one person" (pp. 86, 87), a position which Clark believes contradicts orthodoxy.
Clark includes interesting facts (e.g., "the term trinity is not a Scriptural term") and opinions (e.g., "Charles Hodge, I think I may say, is the greatest theologian America has so far produced"). His personal anecdotes are interesting, his knowledge admirable, and his combativeness stimulating.
Who might profit from reading this book? A person who has a fair vocabulary, some knowledge of church history, an interest in theology and a motivation to learn more about the trinity. Some sections require careful reading to follow the logic. Bibliographic references may lead to digressions. The occasional militant tone may be distracting. The book might appeal to an advanced Bible study group. More likely a college or seminary student, or an informed Jay-person, would find The Trinity useful reading.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas 72761.THE HARD SAYINGS OF JESUS by F. F. Bruce. in the Matthew version (see Matt. 16:27-28).
In the wake of a renewed interest in orthodox Christianity
the British evangelical press, Hodder, intends to produce a
series of books by an international body of scholars concentrating on the teaching, death, resurrection and uniqueness of
Jesus. This projected series will be similar to the one produced
dealing with controversial issues
Christianity. For the first volume in the new series, editor Michael
Green approached one of the most distinguished evangelical
New Testament scholars of our day, F. F. Bruce, who recently
retired as Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis
In this volume, Bruce tackles seventy "hard sayings" of Jesus. These sayings are "hard" in two basic ways. Some are "hard" for the contemporary mind-set to understand, because of the differences between first century and twentieth century culture. Others are more readily understood, but remain "hard to receive" because of the demands they place on the hearer/reader. In either case Bruce attempts to clear away any cultural and historical difficulties so that the reader may grapple with the real challenge of Jesus' words. On the surface it appears that the seventy Jesus-sayings were chosen for treatment were selected somewhat at random. Closer inspection, however, reveals a unifying thread running through the segments of the book. Bruce's choice of materials is intended to illustrate the main emphases of Jesus' teaching. In this way the "powerful attractiveness" of Jesus can be perceived by the contemporary reader and such a one can enter "into the same experience as those who made a positive response to him when he was on earth" (p. 15).
The seventy sayings are exegeted by Bruce in varying detail. Although as many as five pages are devoted to certain sayings, the two-hundred-fifty page length allows for an average of three pages for each topic. Obviously, intense exegesis is precluded by the high number of topics covered. This is perhaps both the greatest strength and most glaring weakness of the volume. Bruce provides a concise resource to aid in understanding many Jesus sayings, painting thereby a portrait of the Master through Jesus' teaching. At the same time, a more in-depth treatment of certain of the texts is wanting. On the whole Bruce's exegesis is carefully executed and plausible, although occasionally his results are not free from bias. Perhaps most problematic is his treatment of certain eschatological statements of Jesus. Mark 9:1 (chapter 38) forms an important example. After rightly eliminating the transfiguration as the reference of Jesus prediction that some would not die before seeing the kingdom coming with power, the coming of the kingdom of God is essentially the coming of God himself ... So again, when the new deliverance was fully accomplished by the death and triumph of Jesus, the sovereign power of God was manifested-God himself came with power. (pp. 144-156)
One wonders if this "hard saying" can be simplified in such an easy fashion as this, especially given the preceding context.
it is unfortunate that the book does not contain an index. Consequently, it is not as useful as one might hope, although most readers should find a number of nuggets of personal interest in it.
In the final analysis, however, the volume reflects the careful treatment that characterizes Bruce's writings. His conclusions are solidly evangelical, but his evangelical convictions do not hinder his methodology. His honest scholarship stands as a challenge to others.
Reviewed by Stanley Grenz, North American Baptist Seminary.
THE INTERPRETATION OF HOLY SCRIPTURE by Walter M. Dunnett, Thomas Nelson Publishers (1984). 210 pages. Paperback; $6.95. ISBN 0-8407-5923-1.
Walter Dunnett is Professor of Biblical Studies at Northwestern College in Roseville, Minnesota. He sees his book as an introduction to hermeneutics. In it, he addresses methodological issues relating to how the Bible is translated, ideological issues about inspiration and the authority of the Bible, and historical perspectives on the interpretation of Scripture. The concluding chapters present principles and models for bibli cal interpretation and for applications of the Scripture to current situations.
I cannot identify a ready audience for this book. It is too skimpy in its treatment of most subjects for the serious
student, the one who will use the references cited by Dunnett, and who may already be familiar with them, instead of his condensation of them. But the book is too filled with details, some of which are disconnected without a larger context than presented within the book itself, for the general reader, even when that general reader is seriously interested in a personal study of God's Word and reads Dunnett's book very carefully.
Dunnett reviews much of the literature on hermeneutics. But he does so without presenting an evaluation of it.
Moreover, he does not provide an identifiable position from which to view his description of what is in this literature. His book is filled with interesting items, but he does not quite explain how to use them in interpreting the Bible. For example, Dunnett illustrates how both the human and divine perspectives are given in incidents about Abraham and Saul; but he fails to explain how to recognize such or what to do hermeneutically when one recognizes such.
I suspect that a major problem with the book is that it tried to cover far too many topics for its length.
Personally I felt that Dunnett should have included the
following major evangelical works on hermeneutics in his
bibliography instead of merely citing them in footnotes: Milton Terry's Biblical Hermeneutics (old, but a classic,) Bernard Ramm's Protestant Biblical interpretation (widely used a couple of decades ago), A. B. Mickelsen's Interpreting the Bible (the current standard in many evangelical seminaries).
Reviewed by D. K. Pace, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.
WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP by E. Margaret Howe. Zondervan (1982). 256 pages.
E. Margaret Howe, professor of religion at Western Kentucky University, has written a provocative and persuasive book about women in ministry, which focuses on biblical models for ministry as well as women's place in them.
Howe's methodology is sound and scholarly. She begins with the Bible, then moves into Church history, and finally, to contemporary practices in various ecclesiastical groups. She adopts this order for treating her subject because she believes that "the scriptural principles themselves must assume priority" over the church's practices in different times and contexts (p. 27).
Her conclusions, based on exegesis and church history, include the following: 1) women in biblical times and in the early church were active in ecclesiastical leadership, including leadership over men; 2) priesthood was not open to women, so as priesthood gradually became the major paradigm for ministry, women were excluded from leadership roles; 3) when the biblical model of servanthood becomes the paradigm for ministry, and when the biblical texts are properly interpreted, women will be welcomed in all forms of church leadership.
Although she documents her assertions, sometimes I wished she would discuss at more length the ideas of those who disagree with her. But I understand that would not be possible in a book of this size and scope. I will be waiting for more from her.
Howe has made a significant contribution to the current discussion. The scope of her book is impressive. Its depth is perhaps as great as is possible in a book this size which covers so much ground.
Reviewed byI. M. Martin, Professor of Missions, Edward Lane Bible Institute, Patrocinio, M. G. Brazil, S. A.
WOMEN IN THE BIBLE by Mary J. Evans. InterVarsity Press (1983). 160 pages. Paperback; $5.95.
This work is described as being an investigation of "what the Bible has to say about women and their role." Its major focus is on the New Testament church and women's roles therein.
Evans begins with Old Testament doctrine and Old Testament practice. Then she includes a brief chapter giving an overview of the influences of Judaism, the Essenes and the Qumran sect, and of Graeco-Roman culture. The Gospels are then considered with special emphasis on the contrast between Jesus' attitude toward women and that of the Disciples and their culture. The most lengthy chapter deals with the doctrinal teachings found in Acts and the Letters. Finally, Evans describes the community practices of the early church(es), and follows with a brief conclusion.
Evans attempts, and I think succeeds, to address all the crucial passages in Scripture which bear on the controversial subject of women in society and particularly on women in the Body of Christ. (She does not present any denominational slant and leaves those implications to the reader and his/her polity affiliation.) Her method of sound exegesis of doctrine and practice is far superior to the polemics of traditionalism and feminism, both of which tend to fix on the pros and cons of historic practice.
She also adds to her approach something which 1, being trained in both theology and sociology, find especially illuminating. Part of her expressed agenda is to get at the text with as little of our modern- Western-world-view baggage as possible. She makes a good case for our own, as well as some translators', reading into several texts male-oriented slants that are just not there. To make her position in this matter clear, I will paraphrase her stated attitude in the Introduction. The position that all biblical teachings are culturally conditioned and thus inapplicable, and the idea that we already know all the precepts that the Bible teaches and just have the task of applying them and never questioning them, are both wrong and fail to take the texts and their contexts seriously. This is also a never-ending process since we can never get completely past our own presuppositions and cultural influences.
This book is something rarely seen. Evans shows her mastery of learned literature on language and culture but presents the information in an easy flowing style without any of the technical jargon. And for those interested in looking further, the eight-page, 204-entry, bibliography is useful and spans Pliny to the present.
I highly recommend this book. Its intelligence, balance, easy reading, and freedom from denominational slant make it important reading for all interested in women in church and society.
Reviewed by Larry Reidinger, MRE, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, and graduate student (sociology) at the University of Louisville.
WOMEN AT THE CROSSROADS by Kari Torjesen Malcolm. Inter-Varsity Press (1982). 215 pages. Paperback, $5.95.
This book can be seen as a modern cultural and biblical variation on the great poem "The Road Less Taken." Malcolm relates the experience of attempting to climb Mount Apo in the Philippines while she and her husband were missionaries in that country. They came to what they thought was a normal "T" in the road but found that neither the right nor the left reached the summit. On a later try they found that a much less travelled path led straight ahead and did lead them to the summit and its breath-taking view. This experience has become, for her, a metaphor for the choices facing Christian women today. She says, "I can took back on a time when I thought there were only two choices open to us-the road marked Tradition and the one named Rebellion." She argues that the message of "release and liberation" in Christ provides the third alternative to women's identity.
She approaches her argument from four perspectives and presents a generally well balanced view of each although it seemed that I was reading a condensed version of a fourvolume set. Maybe this is just a reflection of my hope for more detailed information on the subject! This comment is not intended to be negative, but if one reads this book in one day, as I did, then she/he must cope with much ground's being covered in a short time.
Part I presents some background for her thinking taken from her experiences as a missionary in pre-Mao China and her three years in a concentration camp until the end of our war with Japan. It also brings us up to the present in her experiences with recent trends in women's responses to the Great Commission in the United States. It is a great help to have an author's world view and its development made explicit.
The second part deals with the anti-traditional approach of Jesus to women and Paul's struggles with the conflicts between extreme beliefs and practices in the early church. One of the most fascinating discussions of the book is found in the part on Paul's writings. In 2 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says that he does not allow women to have authority over men, it turns out that the word translated "authority" is authentein, which appears nowhere else in the New Testament and rarely in other Greek literature. If the arguments she cites are valid, and they seem so, that word has been misunderstood. The most potent of the arguments is founded on a work by Clement of Alexandria. He "complained about Christian groups who had turned the communion service into a sex orgy, and be calls people who participate in this form of religion authentai. This behavior appears to have been common in pagan rites also. Two scholars are cited who use this and other extra-biblical evidence to develop the following translation. "I do not permit a woman to teach sexual immorality or to involve a man in sexual activity." Presumably verse 11 is a separate thought and verse 12 refers to sex outside marriage. This certainly makes more sense than the common reading since traditionally this reading has been in total contradiction to Paul's obvious high regard for women prophets and deacons found elsewhere, and to his putting only the restriction of some sort of hair covering on women who prayed and prophesied (preached) in the first century church.
Part III softens the traditional reading of the above text by presenting a brief history of women leaders of the church, missions, and various ministries from A.D. 100 to 1900.
The last part homes in on the author's initial metaphor by presenting experiences from her life and the lives of many others who made Jesus Christ their number one love. They found, as a result of that identity, leadership in the many varying roles God-and not culture-opened up to them for the furtherance of His Kingdom. This same understanding of identity is prescribed for the home and is a welcome corrective to traditional male chauvinism "founded" on the Bible and to extreme secular feminism. Also, this understanding is applied to women as they live out their calling in all walks of life in order to transform the world.
As Christian women we will find our identity only in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship will enable us to break out of our culturally bound identities, to minister as catalysts for change, prophetic voices of healing agents in the homes, churches and societies of our hurting world. If a disciple of Jesus lacks this sense of identity and has no special calling in life, it is very unlikely that anyone will ask her to "give the reason for the hope that is in her" (I Peter 3:15).
In essence this book is an impassioned and well reasoned
plea for women to seek f irst the Kingdom, lay aside all
cultural roles which make a prime claim on them, and in that
context receive God's will for their lives. Only then should
This same message could well be heeded by men.
Reviewed by Larry Reidinger, MRE, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, and graduate student (sociology), The University of Louisville.
SLAVERY, SABBATH, WAR AND WOMEN: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation by Willard M. Swartley. Herald Press, Scottdale, Pennsylvania (1983). 366 pages. Paper $15.95.
The discussion of issues on the interaction between science and Christianity often hinges on specific details of scientific and biblical interpretation. A thorough understanding of hermeneutics in each area is therefore essential to an authentic treatment of such issues. In this book, Willard M. Swartley, Director of the Institute of Mennonite Studies and Professor of New Testament at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in Elkhart, Indiana, puts in print his Conrad Grebel Lectures of 1980. In so doing he provides the Christian community with a remarkable resource for guidance, teaching, and interaction on the vital subject of biblical interpretation. No one who is responsible for thinking through or teaching on the many subjects concerning which biblical interpretation is often divided should remain without the help that this book can provide.
Dealing with interpretation in an abstract fashion can be a relatively simple task. But it is in the application of this theoretical framework where the test really is made. Few more controversial issues characterize the Christian community through the last centuries than those involving slavery, the right evaluation of the sabbath, a Christian attitude toward war, and the role of women in home and church. The first two of these are issues that were aflame in their day but not so much in ours; the latter two are vital issues today. The examples of the former two illuminate the controversies of the latter two as only historical perspective can.
Swartley treats each of his four major issues in case-study form, citing in some detail the positions of biblical interpreters with a wide variety of conclusions. This procedure shows us, as few others can, the sensitivity required in approaching Scripture and the ambiguities with which the would-be interpreter is confronted. These four major case histories are followed by a discussion of "How Then Shall We Use and Interpret the Bible?", drawing on the examples of the case histories to provide the framework for guidelines. A final "Summary of Learnings" gives twenty-two points worthy of consideration.
The book concludes with four Appendices, 56 pages of notes, a 13-page bibliography of sources cited, and Scripture and person indices. It is an ideal resource for individual study, group discussions, adult education, theological students, and Christian men and women who desire to have a deeper insight into the Spirit-guided interpretation of the Scriptures.
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305.
THE CHRISTIAN AS A CONSUMER by Denise George. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press (1984). 120 pages. Paper $6.95. (Part of the 11-volume "Potentials: Guides for Productive Living" series edited by Wayne E. Oates.)
This little book (under 90 pages of text) does not directly address any issues in science, but may be helpful to ASA members in dealing as Christians with the consumerism (and it is an "ism") that pervades modern society. This is the book's main theme, and the content and examples are concrete enough to convey a sense of the author's having wrestled with the enticements of advertising, the topic of her second chapter, and the temptation to "keep up with the Joneses," the topic of her third chapter. She does this without turning the book into a "how to" manual.
A sub-theme, found in a chapter entitled "Christians in a Needy World," develops the idea, in a 11 rich" versus "poor" sense, that as Christians we are often irresponsible in the quantities of "goods" we direct to our own selves. She uses this to lead into a final chapter on living simply, again with a wisdom which seems to reflect struggle with trying to consume less, and to use the resources thereby freed to help others. I was impressed with her emphasis that one should start close to home, and aim at small, concrete problems, trusting in God that this does indeed provide the route to the "big" and "abstract" problems.
I do have problems with the book. In terms of organization, the link between the topics in chapters is not explicitly made, nor are the themes listed in the introduction all eventually discussed. I was annoyed that the concept of stewardship did not appear until near the end of the book; it seems to me the natural framework around which to build the "live simply" theme. There is thus a tension between the negative stance of the first part of the book ("don't be taken in by mammon") with the latter ("maybe we should. . . ") for which no positive principles are set forth. A more formal structure would help, yet need not be made so obvious as to intrude upon the author's writing style. The foreword and introduction are overly long, while the bibliography strikes me as an appendage out of place in a book of this sort; a note at the end of each chapter might be better.
I also find her failing to refer much to man's sinfulness, whereas I would stress it. As an economist, I am dubious that advertising is the "deceptive hypnotist" she claims: large ad budgets notwithstanding, "new" products on average do not fare very well, as Coke and Reggie Jackson have learned. The problem is rather our sinfulness, not modern society per se. Thus I would claim that the symptoms she dwells upon can be found even in Old Testament days. More concretely, I do not find myself being "taken in" by ads, though perhaps they are a stumbling block for some. I do find myself letting envy reign-and often. I would make the same point about her discussion of poverty-sin is the root cause, and produces the opinions of people and government which she sees as needing change. She does not explicitly link the two. But, as mentioned above, her purpose is not to discuss poverty but to discuss lifestyle.
There is also a tendency to present rather too much of the
secular side of issues for my tastes. Christian issues are placed
at the end of discussions with little indication that they might
be the more important. For example, in her final conclusion
she asks what can be expected from working toward a simpler
lifestyle, and proceeds to list better health, less worry, more
time and the like as the benefits-cum-reasons. But whenever I
started getting irritated with this habit, a bit of Christian
wisdom would appear which caused me to reflect and
learn-what the author, after all, set out to accomplish.
Reviewed by Michael Smitka, Economics Department, Yale University
JOHN: EVANGELIST AND INTERPRETER by Stephen S. Smalley. Thomas Nelson (1984). 287 pages. Paperback; $7.95.
Having once taught an adult Bible class using William
Temple's delightful Readings in St. John's Gospel (1945), 1
looked forward to reviewing the present book. Imagine my
dismay upon finding the author's statement in its Prologue that it is intended primarily for theological students
Nevertheless, I was encouraged by his
promise of a "new look" based on the finds at Qumran and
a springboard for his consideration of all previous relevant material (Temple cited only once). His
thesis is that "John's Gospel is indebted to an independent and
basically historical tradition which the evangelist has interpreted in his own way." The author puts himself in the place
of the original writer(s) and/or editors attempting to meet the
then religious needs of a postulated community church
within the framework of his own chronology. In emphasizing
source criticism, form criticism, and retroactive criticism, to
be sure, he ignores the potential influence of the Holy Spirit
throughout the ages. I would have preferred his own personal
witness to the meaning of this Gospel today.
The Bible is not primarily a theological textbook. The Greek word for theology does not even occur in the Greek New Testament; John probably did not know it, certainly he did not consider himself to be a theologian. Nevertheless, the author, in describing John's views, uses the word generally as an adjective about a dozen times and specifically to salvation a half a dozen times-not to mention the word's modifying approach, argument, Church, conception, contrast, cross, development, history, individuality, interpretation, line, meaning, outlook, reasons, revelation, significance, sophistication, theme, understanding, version. Necessary repetition? Nor am I impressed by professional jargon such as speculative "formula authentic because kerygmatics." for author is wont to set up straw men, which he then knocks down with arguments. The author is to be commended upon his fanciful composition which attempts to unify the whole of John and render it coherent from prologue to epilogue (Meaningful today, even if not quite historical). In theoretical physics, too, we paint such pictures, but we have the advantage of experimental check points, which limit our endeavors. It is interesting to analyze and synthesize as long as you are not hypnotized by your own cleverness. The author does not differentiate carefully between written records and oral traditions. He reminds me of my own collegiate "debates" (one of his favorite words). His discussion of "Jesus the Priest" is based upon Hebrews. He is fascinated by words such as " reason, argument, Claims," by what is "obvious, evident, doubtless, likely, possible," or even by whar "may be, seems," based upon ad hoc "presuppositions" and "asumptions," not to mention his favorite "suggestions" attended by "if." He adorns his ideas with hortatory phrases. I am not all impressed with such a dictum as "the program from Israel to the nations was an evangelistic strategy familiar to the first apostles." As an Anglican, he might be expected to be obsessed with the role of the Church in contrast with that of an individual.
The first four chapters are really prologue: "who Was John?", "How John Wrote," "Why John Wrote."
It is not until chapters 5 and 6 that we reach the substance of the book (one-third of it): "John: Evangelist," "John: Interpreter. " There is a brief, summarizing "Epilogue."
The book is a scholarly work, replete with footnote references on every page in addition to a bibliography of 14 plus references (1 + pp.), an Index of Modern Authors (4 pp.), and an Index of Subjects (4 pp.). It would have been helpful if had been consistent in translating Greek words.
Reviewed by Raymond J. Seeger (Ret. NSF), Bethesda, Maryland 20816.
THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD by Peter Toon. Thomas Nelson Publishers
This book is a comprehensive, detailed review of Scriptural aspects of the Ascension of Christ by the Rector of Boxford Parish, England. It begins with a survey of "New Testament Foundations," viz; fact, time, resurrection body, place at the The right hand of God in heaven. The meaning is then summarized preparatory to the development of a theology of the Ascension, which is the author's primary objective. A Christian layman may view such speculation askance, particularly in the absence of any references to conclusions of church bodies over the ages and of any attempt to depict the Trinity, while assigning Christ the precise role of "co-Regent" and of dispenser of the Holy Spirit.
The second chapter is even more speculative in identifying possible allusions "Prefigured in the Old Testament." The the best authenticated passages are those actually cited in the The New Testament; less valuable are those selected ad hoc for church liturgy. It is unfortunate that the author never differentiates historical church bodies from some nebulous entity he nonchalantly calls "the Church."
He considers "Jesus the King" before the Ascension and then afterwards, leading to Him as King of Kings, and Lord. I believe it is somewhat presumptuous even for a theologian to ask How does Christ execute the office of "King, Lord, Head?" - not to mention his audacity in attempting to answer this question.
Was the sacrifice of Jesus completed in space and time? "Those who answer "no" are usually high-church Anglicans,
Lutherans, or Roman Catholics." Where did the author get this opinion about Lutherans? I have belonged to the three largest Lutheran bodies in the U.S.A., all of which are strictly orthodox Protestant and would have replied unequivocally,
yes." He offers an interpretation of Jesus' intercession as a seated Priest-King.
The next chapter is concerned with "Jesus the Prophet, from the "Prophet in Palestine" to the "Exalted Prophet in
heaven for the world," as given in the final discourse of Jesus recorded by John and recognized by the "primitive church." I must confess my amazement at the author's frank effrontery in a deliberate mistranslation of Ephesians 2:20 in order to have a verse more in harmony with his own interpretation. The author then considers briefly "The Protestant understanding of Jesus as Prophet-primarily from a Calvinistic viewpoint;. but he ignores completely any Roman Catholic attitude. In pages, a list of abbreviations (2 pp.), an index of John his summarizing "Revelation, the Exalted Christ, and the Scriptures" he proposes a peculiar "triangular" relation of "Jesus, the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Christ) and the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church."
The concluding chapter cites a few familiar exhortatory hymns such as "Lift Up Your Hearts." The author sees the Church looking up and forward-not so much back and around. It is significant, however, that whenever Jesus was asked about "the great commandment," he always gave two!
Theology, once called the queen of the sciences, has
difficulty nowadays even qualifying as a science in practice.
There is no dearth of theory, but related factors are difficult
to ascertain. Religious facts, moreover, even if they are
allowed to include so-called revealed ones, are at best nebulous owing to our ignorance of ancient languages and their
cultural interpretations and the problem of transcribing such
materials into their equivalents today. A faith-full scientist, I
fear, will not be impressed by this speculation on "The
Ascension of Our Lord" and will disagree wholeheartedly
with the author's prejudiced dictum in the Epilogue that "the
successes of modern science and technology condition us to be
this-worldly in our thinking." The problem lies rather in
failing to discern God's fingerprints on His creation.
Reviewed by Raymond Seeger (Ret. NSF), Bethesda, Maryland.
THE RAPTURE: Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulational? by Richard R. Reiter, Paul D. Feinberg, Gleason L. Archer, and Douglas J. Moo. Zondervan Publishing House (Academic Books), Grand Rapids, Michigan (1984). 268 pages. Paperback. ISBN 0-310-44741-0.
Biblical teachings about the return of Christ are important to many evangelical Christians. This book will be very helpful to those who are concerned about this subject. It will profit both the causal reader and the serious student.
The timing of the eschatological removal of the Church from the earth, the "rapture," is the key to the primary differences among the three dominant varieties of premillennialism. Some believe the rapture will occur before ("pre-") the tribulation, some believe it will occur during the middle ("mid-") of the tribulation, and some believe it will occur after ("post-") the tribulation.
The Rapture consists basically of four essays. The first, by Reiter, presents a history of the development of positions about the rapture over the last century. His discussion of this area of theological development is quite readable, well balanced, and carefully documented. It is interesting to observe that, in marked contrast with other areas of theology, the debate within premillennialism about the rapture is essentially an American phenomenon. There are few contributions to the literature from outside America.
The other three essays present the basic arguments for the three main views of the rapture: "pre-" by Feinberg, "mid-" by Archer, and "post-" by Moo. All of these men are on the faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and are eminently qualified to present the rapture positions, which they do quite well. Each essay is followed by brief critiques from the other two writers. This enables the reader to see clearly both strengths and weaknesses in each argument, in addition to focusing clearly on the issues.
The essays are presented with the humble and honest recognition that, on the subject of the rapture, "the data of Scripture do not lend themselves to any clear and unambiguous pattern that is completely free of difficulties" (p. 144). The writers are committed both to the inspiration of the Scriptures and to their perspicuity. They are forthright in their convictions, yet avoid the acrimony that has at times tarnished eschatological discussions.
Those readers who know very little about the premillennial position may find this book frustrating because the essays do not describe the position in general. Instead they concentrate on the issue of the rapture's timing.
In conclusion, I strongly recommend the book to all evangelicals who are premillennial. This book can help one both to clarify his own position and to understand more sympathetically the views of other brethren who love Christ and await for His return.
Reviewed by D. K. Pace, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.
THE EMPTY CROSS OF JESUS by Michael Green. InterVarsity Press (1984). 249 pages. $6.95.
In this marvelously readable book by Michael Green, one finds insight on every page. Green admirably fulfills his objective of uniting the cross and the resurrection and applying it to daily life. The Jesus Library edited by Green and put out by IVP is of high quality, and features not only this volume, but volumes by F. F. Bruce (The Hard Sayings Of Jesus), Norman Anderson (The Teaching of Jesus), and Steven Neill (The Supremacy of Jesus). Green's book is intended not only for the theologian but also for the layman and is broken into three parts: the cross, the resurrection and the empty cross. The empty cross of Jesus, Green says, liberates the theologian, inspires the preacher, comforts the counselor and disciplines every disciple for a life of self-sacrifice. I highly recommend this book to all who will read it as a well thought-out, inspiring and insightful volume in the Jesus Library.
Reviewed by Fred Walters, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Southwestern Louisiana.