Science, Reason And Conversion
The Psychology of Christian Conversion, by Robert O. Ferm (Revell, 1959, 231 pp., $4), is reviewed by Wallace L. Emerson, Professor of Psychology, Bible Institute of Los Angeles.
It is remarkable that one of the best, indeed one of the few recent psychologies of Christian experience should have been written not by a specialist in the field but by a professor of history. Even more unusual is the fact that his psychological insights avoid the pitfalls common to a man presumably more familiar with another field. Psychology in general and psychology in particular have largely been neglected by evangelicals, with the result that in America today there are few evangelicals who are psychologists. And when a book appears from the pen of one who has experienced evangelical conversion, who possesses familiarity with the field of religious psychology from William James to Gordon Allport, and who in addition possesses real psychological discernment, there should be much cause for rejoicing among those who are convinced that the Christian Church should not abandon an important field of human thought.
Dr. Ferm’s Psychology of Christian Conversion is apparently not intended to be definitive if indeed any work on the psychology of religion could be definitive; but in the compass of 231 pages, he manages to set forth clearly, simply, and without excessive technical verbiage, many basic problems, and to give answers that command respect and acceptance in areas where data and interpretation frequently lead to confusion. Readers will discover no reckless dogmatism; there are no asperities for those who disagree; there is a courteous consideration of points of view antagonistic to the evangelical thesis. If the book has a fault it is that of understatement and a failure to capitalize on all the logical conclusions implied in the evidence. Dr. Ferm seems to realize quite fully the difficulties involved in carrying on a contest when the field has already been chosen by opponents; but he does not on that account take evasive action or fight a defensive battle.
The book opens with a roll call of the outstanding psychologists who have written in the field of religion. Following this is a discussion of man’s capacity for religious experience of the crisis type. The reader is at first inclined to feel that Dr. Ferm is unaware of the scope of the problem when only the crisis types are presented. However, he defines crisis as a point of commitment to an ideal or to a person with or without intense emotional experience, that is, it involves a point of decision. He makes it clear that in childhood such emotional accompaniments are not at all likely because the point of decision is not so complete a reversal of the whole pattern of life.
Dr. Ferm does not fall into the error of assessing a religion in terms of its emotional content, nor does he confuse pagan or Christian mysticism with evangelical conversion. His whole discussion of spurious conversion is very clear. The fact that all men have the same psychological components will inevitably result in psychological similarities in all types of religious experience. But he points out that Christianity is unique with respect to (1) its content (differing from mysticism which has no content) (2) the extreme consciousness of sin which it promotes and for which it provides (relief not found in non-Christian religions) and (3) the moral regeneration that follows it. He quotes Underwood with reference to the latter: “There is no moral malady that conversion has not been able to cure”; and again: “of the many Hindu conversions he did not find one instance of moral metamorphosis.” As to the problem of sin, he quotes Pratt as follows: “in the biographies of Ramakrishna, for example, and in the autobiography of Tagore are to be found vivid accounts of the religious storm and stress of adolescence full of dissatisfactions, longings, and other experiences common to the adolescent of Protestant Christendom; but in spite of the sensitive conscience of these truly saintly men there is no evidence of sin.” Dr. Ferm goes on to say that “the non-Christian religions offer no adequate definition for sin and no cure, because they have no Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and applies the Word for healing; likewise in nominally Christian religions, which lack the essentials of true gospel, the sense of sin is dull.” A retreat from the concept of sin is a retreat from the most obvious reality.
The selection of cases which he gives of evangelical conversion are the classical examples (Luther, Wesley, and Finney), and rightly so, because they are biographies and autobiographical case histories that has frequently been misinterpreted.
In a chapter on theological and philosophical thought regarding the crisis, he gives a brief but clear evaluation of crisis conversion and subjectivism à la Kierkegaard, Barth, and Brunner. And while he does not labor the point, he does make it very clear that Christian conversion is imbedded in the historical medium without which it cannot be shared, explained, or retained.
One could wish that Dr. Ferm had amplified his evaluation of the modern psychiatric trends and perhaps spent more time throwing light upon the new religion of psychiatry which expresses the doctrine that criminals are merely sick minds and guilt is merely oversensitiveness to social convention and so forth. Nonetheless, this book is wholeheartedly recommended to pastors, evangelists, youth workers, and to every Christian who has to give a reason for the faith that is in him, who needs to discern the true from the false in a world where there are as many sick souls as sick minds.
WALLACE L. EMERSON
The Quest for Church Unity, by Matthew Spinka (Macmillan, 1960, 85 pp., $2.50), is reviewed by Edward J. Caldwell, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of North Hollywood, California.
Here is a timely book that is profitable reading for all who take the Church seriously and are concerned with the scandal of her divisions. The book is characterized by practical realism and integrity in a field where many have sacrificed realism for an ideal unattainable in the foreseeable future. As the title implies the book is concerned with the exciting quest for unity in the church of Christ. One of its great values is the tracing of the history of the quest primarily in the first half of the twentieth century (but including also the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886–8) yet without the detail of some of the larger volumes such as Bishop Stephen C. Neill’s standard work A History of the Ecumenical Movement, with which, along with other elaborate works, the author shows familiarity. His historical summary is admirable for setting the stage. He shows clearly that the World Council of Churches knows itself to be a council rather than a superchurch or a step toward that end. But the council idea, he recognizes, is a disappointment to a second party within the ecumenical movement that looks toward the “Great Church” or Una Sancta most seriously. The latter party he calls the “ecumenicists” in contrast with the “Federalists.”
The author then shows what considerable problems must be confronted and overcome by the maximal ecumenical party, both in the area of theological synthesis and in church polity. He shows that the unifying of the Church would sacrifice too much, either of the Reformation freedoms (if the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches were to be included) or in the search for a least common denominator in pan-Protestantism.
He makes his proposal for a “realistic” approach in the last chapter. Here he discusses certain plans for union that have already been tried, namely, the Greenwich Plan and the Union of the Church of South India. He gives reasons for feeling that neither will serve as an ultimate model. Then he describes his own proposal so that his book will not only “be a critique of extant proposals … but will offer constructive suggestions as well.”
He proposes areas of essential theological agreement for experiencing oneness, which would avoid bibliolatry on the one hand and a disregard of scriptural authority on the other. The divine-human person of Christ and the essentials of Christian faith are proposed. He insists that the Church must have freedom, but a “freedom limited by love.” He finds a present unity in the “invisible” as distinct from the “visible” Church. He may be criticized as not having an original idea or conclusion here, yet he sets forth the belief with new forcefulness. Also he avoids an escapist mentality by showing a close relationship between them which he summarizes as follows: “… of the relation of the invisible and visible Church, we now conclude that any absolute separation between them is not possible, and hence that when we ascribe unity in Christ to the Church invisible, this unity is shared by the Church visible to the degree to which that body is dominated by the mind of Christ. It is in this sense that the federalists and ecumenicists alike are right in striving for the outward unity of the Church … this latter kind of unity must necessarily be relative, because the mind of Christ is not fully dominant in the Church visible” (p. 81). The author feels that the World Council of Churches is worthy so long as it strives to federate the existing Christian communions. He sympathizes with the federalists rather than the ecumenicists whom he would define as looking and striving toward the future great structure of a United Church. Some ecumenicists will resent his defining the term in this way. The present reviewer feels indebted to the book for its clarification of issues and its realistic proposal toward fulfillment of our Lord’s prayer “that they might all be one” (John 17:21).
EDWARD J. CALDWELL
Catechisms And Theology
The School of Faith, by Thomas F. Torrance (Harper, 1959, 298 pp., $6), is reviewed by Gordon H. Clark, Professor of Philosophy, Butler University.
Catechetical instruction, so despised by modern educators, finds here a staunch defender. For one thing, education always requires the impartation of information. “Unless the mind is given material to think about, it can only turn in upon itself, and this is the mark of mental disease” (p. 27). This is all the more true of Christian education because Christianity is an historical religion. Catechisms supply the necessary information.
Doctrinal as well as historical information must be given to the pupil. The common objection to catechetical instruction, namely, that the material is beyond the experience of a child, Professor Torrance turns into an advantage by saying that catechism gives more than a child can grasp and so stretches his powers. Then, too, in any subject one must learn to ask the right questions. Catechisms teach us what questions to ask. We might not have thought of them had we been left to ourselves. Thus “the Catechisms set forth Christian doctrine at its closest to the mission, life, and growth of the Church” (p. 11).
Professor Torrance has therefore reproduced the texts of 10 catechisms, including Calvin’s Geneva Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, Craig’s two catechisms, the Latin Catechism, and the Westminster catechisms. He obviously prefers the earlier catechisms. The later ones are too scholastic and rationalistic.
Toward the end of the Introduction, the author sketches a view of Christ’s ontological union with all men. It is incorrect to think that Christ’s relation to mankind was merely a generic relation in that he too was man. Therefore all men are involved in Christ’s death, not only on judicial grounds but also by the constitution of His person as Mediator. The author claims to find these ideas in the earlier catechisms. God is the source of all being, he says; and therefore if Christ had not come, man would have disappeared into nothing. Christ’s work explains why men still exist (p. 113).
Professor Torrance rejects the universalism to which this type of argument leads. Earlier he had said that correct sequences of thought must never be allowed to cramp the expression of truth (p. 62). So here the author, with a complete reliance on free will, asserts that man can reject God’s grace. But how this is possible, he cannot understand: it is a bottomless mystery, words and thoughts fail him (pp. 113–116).
Would not this illogical outcome suggest that one should re-examine the premises on which it is based, return to the Westminster catechisms and to the Reformers, and unite federalism and the Covenant with the irresistible grace of God?
GORDON H. CLARK
Fresh Look At Wesley
John Wesley’s Theology Today, by Colin W. Williams (Abingdon, 1960, 252 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by C. Philip Hinerman, Pastor of Park Avenue Methodist Church. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A modern Wesley scholar has declared that John Wesley was an obsessive compulsive neurotic, with his whole life based on a rigid self-discipline and self-control. It was true both before his conversion, while still a student at Oxford, and after his transforming Aldersgate experience. Until the time of his death after his 88th year, Wesley was still the driving, disciplined, dedicated individual.
How then could such a man as Wesley declare that salvation was by grace, and that justification came through faith alone? This proved to be one of the big issues of theological debate in Wesley’s life, and Colin Williams, young native of Australia, now Professor of Systematic Theology at Queens College, Melbourne, seeks in his first book to delineate the various phases of emphasis that Wesley made at this very point.
Franz Hildebrandt reminds us that “Methodism by its very name is open to the suspicion that it gives to means or works an undue importance and an unorthodox content, and therefore must rank with the many other forms of ‘enthusiasm’ which were so frequently rejected by Martin Luther.”
Hildebrandt goes on to quote Wesley’s own admission that there was a time when “I of means have made my boast, of means an idol made.”
But Williams is quick to remind us that if Wesley ever made an idol out of works or means, it was long before his conversion. Even prior to his salvation experience, John Wesley as a priest in the Church of England, was increasingly persuaded that Martin Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone was the only valid Gospel for a believing Christian.
Dr. Williams makes mention in almost every chapter of the ecumenical spirit that characterized the life and thinking of Methodism’s founder. He obviously had no intentions of breaking with the Church of England in forming his Methodist classes and societies. Always his intention was to keep these groups within the organized body of Christ, as he knew it in that day, that is, in the Church of England. However, Wesley with his strong debt to Luther and to Calvin (“coming within a hair’s breadth of Calvinism” as Wesley once said of himself) nonetheless constantly felt that within his own thinking there was a “bridge” relationship between Calvinism on the one hand and classic Roman theology on the other.
His nearness to Roman Catholicism is evidenced in the fact that Wesley held a doctrine of “double justification.” This is evidenced in his sermon titled “On The Wedding Garment,” in which Wesley speaks of sanctification being a condition of the final (not the present) justification. Yet Williams continues, “He is careful to avoid turning this holiness into a moral achievement requiring purgatory for the completion of the process by which final justification is merited. Holiness comes not by achievement but through the door of faith in accordance with our readiness to receive the promises. This holiness can be given at any time after justification, but in most it is given at the moment before death.”
Dr. Williams forcefully points out in his book that when faced with the Calvinistic dilemma of a doctrine of double predestination, Wesley did not hesitate to reject this as a possible alternative. As is well known, Wesley also fought Fletcher’s battle vigorously on the front against any type of antinomianism in the Christian life.
Today in modern Methodist circles there is a great resurgence of interest in things Wesleyan. Across America so-called Wesley Societies are springing up in Methodist conferences for a fresh look at the theology of their founder. As Wesley himself possessed the spirit of ecumenicity, so the entire holy catholic church may well be grateful for the many books of this nature that are appearing on this little man from Epworth, and for the revival of interest in the theology that “helped to save England from terrible revolution.”
C. PHILIP HINERMAN
A Great Unitarian
The Mind and Faith of A. Powell Davies, edited by William O. Douglas (Doubleday, 1959, 334 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by Lloyd F. Dean, Minister of the East Glenville Church, Scotia, New York.
Dr. Davies was probably the most gifted and distinguished Unitarian minister of the last two decades. His publishers describe him as an unrepentant liberal. That he was, but without rancor. He began his religious pilgrimage as a Methodist minister, but almost from the beginning he was dissatisfied with the demands of orthodoxy or even conventional liberalism. In the latter instance the unusual clarity of his mind is manifest. He was unable to rest in the confusion of a liberalism in orthodox dress. Following the basic logic of what is rational in liberalism, he could not stop short of an honest and forthright Unitarianism.
Davies avoided the pitfalls of a superficial liberalism on the one hand and a doctrinaire orthodoxy on the other, and yet managed to enunciate a position on the most difficult personal and social issues that would do the most earnest Bible believer great credit.
In a sermon on “The Right to Privacy” (and this book is in great part a collection of his sermons and addresses), he strikes certain notes that are pre-eminently biblical, but quite uncharacteristic of much that passes for biblical religion today. He points out that to approve in general a system of governmental investigation exhaustive enough to make public the greater part of an individual’s private life is to go far beyond that which bears on an individual’s reliability to the United States. Davies asks how many of us are eager to have our minds read or are not just a bit apprehensive when we learn we have talked in our sleep. Too many of us have forgotten that some things are between a man and his God alone and that liberty and privacy of conscience are a sacred Christian and American right. The Christian who rejoices not in evil will never use the invasion of privacy as “the occasion of demeaning and humiliating those who want to live down their mistakes.” Or as he says a little later, “the right of privacy is a right to seek one’s own redemption.” Have not certain of our evangelists forgotten this when they de facto mediate between the soul and its God until no decision can be made unless it is at once shared with the preacher? Davies puts it beautifully when he says, “It is always tyranny … which is afraid of people’s privacy. What are they thinking—these people who may not be saying what they think?… and it is only a step … to seeking ways of controlling what people think, through the media of communication, through mind-deadening repetition, through constant streams of falsehood, through censorship—and, at the extreme, through brainwashing!” Can we as conservative Christians plead complete guiltlessness in this?
Every minister should read this book for the sake of his own soul and those in his congregation. However, one must also be wary. For all the good it contains, Davies’ basic orientation is to non-Christian theism. What is wrong with this? Basically, that after treating almost every other subject in the most rational realistic way, when he comes to belief in God, he makes a leap of faith.
Let us give thanks that one can make an objective appeal to the historically validated revelation of the Scriptures. Without imposing a humanistic fantasy upon them, they stand as the Word of God. All else is superstition.
LLOYD F. DEAN
Women Of The Church
Great Women of the Christian Faith, by Edith Deen (Harper, 1959, 428 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Norma R. Ellis, wife and mother in a Presbyterian Manse.
Such was the success that greeted her book, All the Women of the Bible, that Edith Deen, prominent newspaperwoman and lecturer, was asked by Harper and Brothers to write a companion volume on women important in the history of the church. With the same intensity of enthusiasm and thoroughness of research which she demonstrated in her other book, she attacked the task of writing this one. The result is a valuable book of reference and inspiration.
Mrs. Deen presents her subjects sympathetically and objectively. There is no Judgment passed upon the lives, beliefs, or actions of these women. There is no questioning of them either, in the light of Scripture—whether they be Mrs. Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, or Bernadette of Lourdes! Are women like these, one cannot but ask, “great women of the Christian faith” along with Ann Judson and the mother of Augustine?
Reading this book is something like taking an illuminating course in Church History, taught not by a discriminating conservative theologian, it is true, but by a most enthusiastic laywoman.
NORMA R. ELLIS
A Liberal Evangelical
The Greatest Sermons of George H. Morrison, selected and introduced by George H. Docherty (Harper, 1959, 252 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Andrew W. Blackwood, Professor of Homiletics, Emeritus, Princeton Seminary.
Here are 40 of the best (not “greatest”) published sermons from a popular liberal evangelical of yesterday in Glasgow. They are wisely selected and introduced by the able successor of Peter Marshall of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D. C. The freshness and variety of Dr. Morrison’s topics are seen in titles such as, “The Message of the Rainbow,” “The Return of the Angels,” and “The Perils of the Middle-Aged.” Any reader will see how unfamiliar Bible truths can be presented clearly and kindly, simply and suggestively, with constant appeal to “eye-gate.” Morrison seems not to have published many of his morning sermons, which may have been more after the manner of “teaching-preaching.”
ANDREW W. BLACKWOOD
The Truth About Seventh-Day Adventism, by Walter R. Martin (Zondervan, 1960, 248 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Frank A. Lawrence, Pastor of Graystone United Presbyterian Church, Indiana, Pennsylvania.
Evangelical Christians are no longer members of the “false church” or “tyrants”; those who observe the first day are not now “marked by the beast” and “guilty of the unpardonable sin,” says Walter R. Martin, Baptist minister, contributing editor of Eternity magazine, and current authority on modern cults. The author of this volume has also written Jehovah of the Watchtower, The Christian Science Myth, The Maze of Mormonism, Unity, Spiritualism, and other books and pamphlets in this field.
Martin, joined by Donald Grey Barn-house who writes the preface to the volume, interviewed present leaders of Seventh-day Adventism and closely scrutinized the official volumes now being written and distributed to Adventists. As a result he maintains that Adventist doctrine has changed and that the time has come to consider them true members of the Body of Christ.
That this is true may be gathered by contrasting the derogatory earlier statements of Elder James White, Ellen G. White, Father Bates, and Evangelist D. E. Venden with the new Seventh-day Adventist volume, Questions on Doctrine. “We believe the majority of God’s children are still scattered throughout the world, and of course the majority of those in Christian churches still conscientiously observe Sunday. We ourselves cannot do so, for we believe that God is calling for reformation in this matter. But we respect and love those of our fellow Christians who do not interpret God’s Word as we do. Finally, we would repudiate any implication that we alone are beloved of God. We recognize that a host of true followers of Christ are scattered all through the various churches of Christendom, including the Roman Catholic communion.” Martin reports that this attitude also claims much space in leading Adventist periodicals such as The Ministry and Signs of the Times.
Martin has not attempted to whitewash the differences or difficulties between Adventists and evangelicals. “They must realize their position fosters schism in the Body of Christ. Dogmatic adherence to speculative interpretation has constituted a massive barrier to understanding and fellowship. As long as Adventists maintain inflexibility where the ‘remnant church’ and other ‘special truths’ are concerned, they must expect Christians of other denominations will be cautious in according fellowship on an unlimited, unrestricted basis.”
He does maintain, on the basis of exhaustive research, that they have abandoned the concepts of the sinful nature of Christ, the “Mark of the Beast” for Sunday keepers, the infallibility of Ellen G. White, the vicarious nature of the scapegoat transaction, the law as necessary to salvation, and Satan carrying away the guilt of our sins.
In his effort to be sympathetic to the Adventists, Martin does make one misjudgment. He says that early Adventists were scorned by the evangelicals for two reasons: (1) because they were premillenarian, and (2) because of the “great disappointment”—the failure of Jesus to return to earth in 1844. The second point is true, and he follows Van Baalen and others in pointing out the falseness of the ascension robe stories and other slanderous myths. But the first is questionable. Evangelicals veered from the Adventists because Ellen G. White attacked them as false churches, false shepherds, and followers of the Pope in Sunday observance. Premillenarians have always been within the fold of the Church (e.g., Tertullian, Bengel, Alford, Bonar, Moorehead, Kellogg and so forth); but even J. N. Darby, who broke the generally accepted pattern of historic premillenarianism, never introduced “visions,” “revelations” and “halos of light” around Revelation chapter 20.
Not only is this book the result of exhaustive research in its study of the Adventist movement, but it also offers a full bibliography to the student who wishes to delve further into the subject.
Martin, aware that his volume will cause consternation and bitterness, nevertheless offers the right hand of fellowship on his studied conviction that evangelicals and Adventists are one in accepting the basic doctrines of the Trinity, salvation through the grace of God and the blood of Christ, the absolute deity of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of the Scriptures. This is a book which will be “kicked around” in evangelical and Adventist circles until the Southern Baptists appoint an envoy to the Vatican.
FRANK A. LAWRENCE
The Secret Sayings of Jesus, by Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman (Doubleday, 1960, 206 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Julius Robert Mantey, Professor of New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In this volume we have an excellent scholarly presentation of the papyri discoveries of Gnostic writings which came to a climax in the unearthing of a Gnostic library consisting of 13 volumes in the Coptic language, found in Egypt in 1945, most of which are still unpublished.
So-called sayings of Jesus, which have been found from time to time among papyri in the sands of Egypt, are discussed and extensive quotations are given from the noncanonical “gospels” of Peter, of Hebrews, and of The Egyptians. But most of the book deals with The Gospel of Thomas, “written in Coptic during the fourth century of our era” (p. 18).
The following are a few pertinent quotations: “The canonical gospels are more original” (p. 46). “What we find in this Gnostic system is a complete spiritualization of the Christian Gospel” (p. 89). “Enough evidence has been given to show that as a whole The Gospel of Thomas must be considered a Gnostic gospel” (p. 89).
Robert M. Grant is Professor of New Testament at the University of Chicago, and David Noel Freedman is Professor of Old Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
JULIUS ROBERT MANTEY
Light On The Obsolete
The Bible Word Book, by Ronald Bridges and Luther A. Weigle (Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1960, 422 pp., $5), is reviewed by Everett F. Harrison, Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary.
It is safe to say that most readers of the English Bible have paid little attention to the history of the words which their version contains. They usually ask only to be able to make out the meaning with tolerable certainty. This volume shows how difficult it is to understand the idiom of the King James Bible without a knowledge of the English of the period out of which it sprang.
A double purpose underlies this book. One is to show what meaning the King James translators had in mind when they used words that are now obsolete or archaic. For the realization of this task, heavy reliance is put upon the help of the great Oxford English Dictionary. Shakespeare’s works are also cited with frequency as providing parallels to our common version. A case in point is Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 4:4, “I know nothing by myself.” To the modern reader this sounds as though the apostle is disclaiming any self-acquired knowledge. This seems strange, and it does not fit the context. However, when it is discovered that Shakespeare used “by” in the sense of “against,” it becomes clear that the King James translators did the same. As an interesting sidelight, the authors note an occasional instance in which modern English dictionaries, in accepting the guidance of the King James as to the meaning of words and reading present-day nuances into terms that have changed their force, have actually given meanings to words which the original text of Scripture will not support (p. 15).
The present volume performs a helpful service in pointing out from time to time the influence of earlier English versions, especially that of Tyndale, upon the King James.
A second announced purpose of this work is to indicate what terms modern versions have used to render the obsolete or archaic words found in the King James, and what terms have shifted their meanings. Out of a total of 827 words and phrases treated in alphabetical order, a large majority lend themselves to both approaches—the disclosure of obsolescence and the statement of the modern substitute.
No one who is studying the Bible as literature can afford to ignore this volume.
EVERETT F. HARRISON
Crusade In New Zealand
Let the People Rejoice, by Warner Hutchinson and Cliff Wilson (Crusader Bookroom Society, Ltd., Wellington, 1959, 151 pp., 10s. 6d.), is reviewed by Robert O. Ferm Visiting Professor and Lecturer at Houghton College.
In addition to an ever-growing library of books about Billy Graham, there are volumes intended to provide a record of particular crusades. A most informative and interestingly written addition to this library is the documentary volume by co-authors Hutchinson and Wilson, titled Let the People Rejoice. The co-authors have amassed a surprising bulk of statistical information and present the week-long crusade in New Zealand as a typical Billy Graham crusade.
One might expect to find a documentary volume on such a topic as evangelism overweighted with little more than a numerical measurement. Happily, the writers have relegated much of the statistical information and name lists to a valuable appendix. By this device, the writers have retained for the body of the volume a warm and inspiring account of how a Billy Graham crusade happens—from start to finish.
Pastors who seriously give themselves to the work of evangelism will be greatly aided in the summary on counselor training in the appendix.
For the mind that responds with accurate and factual reporting, this volume will prove to be most rewarding. For the soul that desires refreshing, the detailed accounts of particular instances of conversion will abundantly satisfy.
ROBERT O. FERM
Religion, Science and Mental Health, by the Academy of Religion and Mental Health (New York University Press, 1959, 107 pp., $3); The Psychology of Jesus and Mental Health, by Raymond L. Cramer (Cowman Publications, 1959, 262 pp., $3.95); and Man’s Right to be Human, by George Christian Anderson (William Morrow & Co., 1959, 191 pp., $3.50), are reviewed by Dr. Lars I. Granberg, Professor of Pastoral Counseling and Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary.
Since the days of Freud’s pronouncements on religion, the debate between religion and science has focused a good deal upon the challenges leveled at Christianity by the psychological disciplines. In recent years the tone of the discussion has moderated. Vigorous efforts toward rapprochement have arisen. Among the most influential of these is the Academy of Religion and Mental Health, an association of clergymen, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Its purpose is to develop a climate in which fruitful conversation can be held between psychologists, psychiatrists, and “specialists in religion.”
The first book is a product of the Academy’s efforts. Its subtitle is “Proceedings of the First Academy Symposium on Inter-discipline Responsibility for Mental Health—A Religious and Scientific Concern.” Section I discusses the contributions of the behavioral sciences, emphasizing psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology; Section II emphasizes the contribution of psychiatry; and Section III the joint role of religion, the behavioral sciences, and medicine. The participants are men who have distinguished themselves in their special fields.
The views expressed provide the reader with a cross section of the current discussion. As such, this small book is useful as an introduction to the thinking going on today. It is well written and employs a minimum of technical jargon. Pastors who have had little opportunity to familiarize themselves with the issues will find the book helpful in this respect. Those for whom this is familiar ground will find no lack of intellectual fodder. A guide for further reading would have added greatly to the book’s usefulness.
The author of The Psychology of Jesus and Mental Health serves as the Fresno County (California) School System’s Counselor in Mental Hygiene. The book is an attempt to derive mental health principles from those sayings of our Lord known as “the beatitudes.”
The book considers common mental health problems including fear, hostility, obsessive-compulsiveness, and hysteria. The value of mercy, forgiveness, and love in the achievement of personal maturity are set forth. These topics are treated by (l) a paraphrase of the beatitude, (2) an examination of the mental health principles implied in the author’s paraphrase, and (3) an examination of the contribution of the Christian faith toward the achievement of maturity.
The mental health principles discussed are sound. The author has handled them simply and clearly. The counsel he derives from biblical teaching is generally commendable. To my mind, however, the book shares the weakness of many psychology and religion books: it moves from mental health principles to Christian resources too quickly and too simply. The actual intermediate steps bridging these are left obscure, and biblical scholars are likely to be mystified about the connection between the beatitudes as actually expressed in the New Testament, and as paraphrased by the author.
Ministers who are theologically conservative may find the book useful to pass along to parishioners who suffer from chronic emotional upset. A word of caution, however, on the self-rating chart the author included in the appendix. Emotionally troubled persons tend to come to such charts with their perspective distorted by their inner tensions and find such guides more troubling than helpful.
Man’s Plight to be Human is a kind of statement of faith by the Episcopal clergyman who is presently serving as director of the Academy of Religion and Mental Health. His thesis is that “man has a right to be human, to live with himself and with others free from emotional instability and fear” (p. 10). The book seems to represent a report on the author’s spiritual pilgrimage. From his present vantage point he discusses such things as false concepts of God, unhealthy religion, facing death, and immortality. As a personal viewpoint, vigorously presented, it could well be read in conjunction with the Cramer book as a kind of counter-irritant. Theologically conservative ministers mature enough to profit from “seeing ourselves as others see us” will find in this book a challenge to examine their convictions more deeply. However, some psychological evidence advanced seems to have been too uncritically examined.
LARS I. GRANBERG
Light For The Laity
God Is Inescapable, by David Wesley Soper (Westminster, 1959, 128 pp., $2.95); You Shall be My People: The Books of Covenant and Law, by Edwin M. Good (1959, 96 pp., $1.50); and In His Service: The Servant Lord and His Servant People, by Lewis S. Mudge (1959, 176 pp., $3), are reviewed by Andrew K. Rule, Professor of Church History and Apologetics, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.
These three books are intended to inform lay members of the Protestant Church of the more active role being recognized for them, and to inspire them to be the more fruitful. Earlier the Westminster Press published a series on theology for the same purpose. Dr. Good’s book is one of a projected series to deal with the Bible, and he himself is general editor of the series. Although such efforts are to be commended, they can be harmful or at least of doubtful value if not characterized by adequate scholarship, fidelity to the faith, and a simple dignity of style.
Dr. Soper seeks to instruct the layman about God our Father, God the Son, and God in and among us. He therefore has something worth saying, but he is not orthodox by any stretch of the imagination. All too often, he uses methods which, while they may appeal to some, certainly offends others. His style is flippant, and he often calls on a riotous imagination in the absence of facts. Noteworthy in this instance is his treatment of Abraham (p. 16).
Dr. Good’s book is successful in expressing the deep religious significance of Old Testament law. He shows that that law was not simply queer social legislation, produced in an unscientific age, to which no attention need now he paid. However, he does write from a point of view that is more humanistic than the Bible. We read constantly of Israel discovering, Israel remembering, rather than of God revealing. If, as he writes, “the Pentateuch is the confession of a people’s faith,” then was that people Israel or was it rather certain chosen ones from among the people of Israel? The whole book expresses an historical reconstruction which the author admits to rest on supposition and hypothesis (p. 23). These incidentally are not the only ones current among scholars and seem indeed to be out of date. Among scholars endless debate of such matters and accompanying search for evidence might seem to be in order, but whether they should take up space in a popular book is another question.
Lewis Mudge’s book may be commended without qualifications. He takes the theme of the servant Lord and works it out with enlightenment and conviction. From the standpoint of service, he discusses the Lord and his people, theology, the Christian, the Church, and the State. The author’s purpose in further discussing the theme of the recent convocation in Brazil is to persuade Christians that their role is to serve the spiritual and other welfare of all mankind.
ANDREW K. RULE
Meditations On Luke
Peace, Poise, Power, by Edythe J. Johnson (Augustana Press, 1959, 424 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Eric Edwin Paulson, Minister of Lutheran Free Church.
Although announced as “Meditations for Women Based on the Gospel of Luke,” entire families would find profit and blessing in the daily use of this volume. The author has served with her husband as a missionary in Africa and in several American pastorates, and the writings are clearly the fruit of a life dedicated to study, prayer, meditation, and service in the kingdom of God. As the tide implies, true peace, poise, and power can be acquired by study of the Word and daily fellowship with the living Christ. Unique in that it attempts to cover every verse of Luke’s Gospel, the volume’s primary purpose is inspirational rather than expository. Yet it might appropriately find a place in many pastors’ studies since it furnishes fresh insights and suggestions for sermons.
Ever since the days of the Apostle Paul, who wrote appreciatively of godly women who labored with him in the Gospel, devout and gifted women like Priscilla have expounded the way of God more perfectly sometimes to an eloquent but insufficiently instructed Apollos. Every sincere preacher thanks God for help from such consecrated women, although it has often been unsolicited and not adequately recognized by the church at large.
The present meditations vary somewhat in quality, but the style is always clear and the ideas freshly expressed. Especially to be commended is the author’s constant effort to point out the practical meaning of Christ’s teaching. A brief prayer at the close of each meditation enhances the value of the book.
ERIC EDWIN PAULSON
The Voice of Authority, by George W. Marston (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1960, 110 pp., $2)—Dealing with the living question of ultimate authority the author finds it in the God revealed in nature and the Holy Scriptures. He sees the will of God mediated by Christ and revealed in Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study, by Frederick W. Danker (Concordia, 1960, 289 pp., $3.75)—Introduces theological students, pastors and lay leaders to the principal aids for competent and rewarding Bible study.
The Lutheran Church Among Norwegian Americans, by E. Clifford Nelson and Eugene L. Fevold (Augsburg, 1960, 2 vols., 736 pp., $12.50)—A carefully documented comprehensive history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Attractively packaged. A scholarly contribution to the record of Lutheran growth and development in America.
Life in the Son, by Robert Shank (Westcott, 1960, 380 pp., $4.95)—A critical and scholarly examination of the popular doctrine of “eternal (unconditional) security.”
The Human Problems of the Minister, by Daniel D. Walker (Harper, 1960, 203 pp., $3.95)—Helpful to the minister as a human being. An aid in recognizing and overcoming perplexing personal problems.
With My Own Eyes, by Bo Giertz (Macmillan, 1960, 237 pp., $4.50)—The Bishop of Gothenburg recreates in a most convincing novel the story of the four Gospels.
Elementary Patrology, by Aloys Dirksen, C.PP.S (B. Herder Book Co., 1959, 314 pp., $4)—An introduction to the literary beauty and theological wealth of the writings of the early Church Fathers.
The Gospel We Preach, by 68 Lutheran pastors (Augustana, 1960, 374 pp., $3.75)—Sermons with ecumenical outreach appropriate to the church year, based on the ancient series of Gospel lessons.
Mover of Men and Mountains (Prentice-Hall, 1960, 282 pp., $3.95)—The autobiography of R. G. Le Tourneau, one of America’s most remarkable inventors and industrialists, who built his career around a unique partnership with God.
What God Hath Wrought, edited by Gilbert L. Guffin (Judson, 1960, 179 pp., $3.50)—Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 35 years of history as seen by seven men closely associated in the institution’s growth and achievements.
The Story of Southern Presbyterians, by T. Watson Street (John Knox Press, 1960, 134 pp., $1.50)—A brief definitive history officially authorized by the Centennial Committee of the Presbyterian Church U. S. and issued in commemoration of its one hundredth anniversary.
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