Through The Skull Of A Wild Pig
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (Capricorn Books, 1959, 256 pp., paper, $1.25), is reviewed by William H. Anderson, Jr., Minister, United Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Just about everyone missed this book when it was first published in England in 1954 as a first novel by an unknown writer. Now Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye has been succeeded as collegiate reading by this novel by William Golding. Golding has since had several other novels published, but as yet nothing that measures up to Lord of the Flies has appeared.
This novel has much to say to Christians, but it is not religious fiction. The imaginative story tells of the fate of a group of young boys, ranging in age from five to twelve, cast loose on an uninhabited island as a consequence of World War III. The chief characters are Ralph, the civilized leader; Piggy, the intellectual; Simon, the mystic; Jack, the savage leader; and Roger, Jack’s right-hand man. For the most part the rest of the boys are merely the mass of people. The narrative is an account of the change in the group from a civilized reasonable society to a savage tribe. In the course of this change, the intellectual Piggy and the mystic Simon are cruelly killed by the boys under the brutal leadership of Jack. The title comes from a mystical experience of Simon’s where the Lord of the Flies (the Hebrew Ba’alzevuv, Lord of Insects, the devil) speaks through the skull of a wild pig.
The concealed basic wildness which emerges whenever human nature is faced by a threat to itself is the theme of the book. Although there is no overtly sexual passage, yet the picture of human nature presented here is far more terrible and bestial than that in any other modern writing. The sales-provoking sexual passages of most modern novels seem like innocent boys-will-be-boys alongside the cruelty depicted in this fable.
Golding derives his view of human nature from the modern disciplines of sociology, anthropology, and psychology. His purpose in the story is to present man as man. The Christian faith presents man as savage in full revolt against God. Golding’s viewpoint is not based on the Christian viewpoint, but it does help the Christian to understand the depth of human depravity.
Lord of the Flies has value for the Christian leader in several ways. First, it points out the current pessimistic view of human nature. Second, the fact that it appeals to college students has something to say about the students themselves. Third, the reading of this short, well-written novel is an emotional experience.
The average reader may find it profitable to lead the seven-page comment by E. L. Epstein in the back of the Capricorn edition of the novel before he reads the story. The symbolism and philosophy of the novel are to some extent explained.
WILLIAM H. ANDERSON, JR.
With A Master Touch
The Spreading Flame, by F. F. Bruce (Eerdmans, 1961, 432 pp., $5), is reviewed by John H. Kromminga, President and Professor of Historical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This excellent work, covering the history of the Christian church to the seventh century, is already familiar to many readers through an earlier edition. The new edition is improved in format, but unchanged in content. Occasional bits of humor enliven the narrative; but the charm of the book does not depend on this. It results rather from the happy combination of a thorough mastery of the subject with excellent English style. Anyone but the most unlettered—who couldn’t care less—will be able to read this book with profit. And anyone but a rarely learned scholar has something to learn from it.
With a true scholar’s sensitivity for significant detail, Dr. Bruce writes a story which moves surely toward understanding of the history of the Church. Someone might judge that he is most at home in the early period of his subject, and another might wonder whether the space devoted to the spread of Christianity in the British Isles is not a bit out of proportion to the rest of the narrative. But these are hardly criticisms. If anything, they serve to underscore the fine contributions made by the book as a whole.
The author shows a ready familiarity with the original sources as well as the principal scholarly controversies. When controversial questions are touched upon, Dr. Bruce consistently adopts positions in keeping with the convictions of conservative theology. But he defends these with learned and cogent argument, rather than bombast. If there is ever any justification for the left-handed compliment “scholarly though conservative,” it is not in connection with this book. Scholarly it is and conservative too, but on such a solid foundation and in such an admirable spirit as to warm the heart and enlighten the mind of any lover of the church of Jesus Christ.
JOHN H. KROMMINGA
Analysis Of Method
Pastoral Evangelism, by Samuel Southard (Broadman, 1962, 198 pp., $3.75), is reviewed by H. Cornell Goerner, Secretary for Africa, Europe, and the Near East, Foreign Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention.
In a hard-hitting, thoroughly practical study of ways of winning individuals to Christian commitment, Professor Southard of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary gets right down to cases. The heart of his book is an analysis of reports of 200 actual interviews held by pastors with prospects for conversion. The author analyzes these interviews and points out what is wrong and what right in the evangelist’s method.
Southard exposes the shallowness of the method of outlining “the plan of salvation” and seeking mere verbal assent to a simple theological proposition. He reveals the personal dynamics involved in genuine conversion and gives valuable guidance in the variety of methods by which a pastor (or layman) who is genuinely concerned about the person with whom he is dealing may lead him to an attitude in which the Holy Spirit can do the work of conversion.
Southard contrasts “instant conversion” with “personal conversion.” He is critical of revivalism, but does not reject revivals as a valid technique when properly handled. Included is a sympathetic yet penetrating critique of Billy Graham.
The book is sound in theology, warm in evangelistic fervor, and keen in psychological insight. It points the way toward sane and effective evangelism, which should result in a higher percentage of truly transformed lives than did much of the evangelism of the past half century.
H. CORNELL GOERNER
The Church’S Give And Take
The Church as a Social Institution, by David O. Moberg (Prentice-Hall, 1962, 569 pp., $10), is reviewed by T. Minnema, Assistant Professor of Bible, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Church stands in a twofold relation to society. On the one hand it participates in society and in consequence is shaped by it. Social forces play a significant role in giving form to the Church. On the other hand, the Church is more than a social product. Pentecost, the inauguration of the New Testament Church, was not a consequence of social development. It was an event produced by the Spirit of God, whose presence means that the Church is not only an institution formed by social forces, but itself a force able to transform society.
The author of this book is well aware of the Church’s twofold relation to society. He is committed to the faith that the Church is able to transform society through the power of God, and also he rightly emphasizes that to transform society the Church must have “an understanding of the kind of world in which man lives, the changes occurring in that world, and the limitations imposed by the institutional organization, activities, norms, facilities, and personnel of the Church. It must appreciate its unique role in the midst of a highly complex civilization” (p. 518).
The book begins with the Church as it is found in the “highly complex civilization” of our day. This means no one particular church, but the Church as a universal institution which includes “all of organized religion, its values, patterns of relationship between persons and groups, and accomplishments in society” (p. 22). In brief, the author has taken upon himself the huge task of analyzing a very complex social institution, all of organized religion, within the complex context of modern civilization.
What at the outset seems so nebulously confusing, the author reduces to a well-ordered approach. After a clarifying introduction, a compilation of statistics on religion is presented and interpreted. With these statistics significant trends in the composition of the Church are indicated according to population movements. The dimension of social values in American religion is given special treatment by way of noting similarities and differences in value systems within American religion. A separate section analyzes the individuality of religious bodies through the use of typological classifications. Here Troeltsch’s church-sect typology is used with modifications. A large part of the book is devoted to the social functions of the Church. This includes a study of both the favorable and unfavorable social consequences derived from organized religion, and of how organized religion relates itself to such other social institutions as the family and government. The final subjects singled out for special attention are social psychology as it manifests itself in organized religion and the professional religious leadership of today.
Reading for Perspective
CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S REVIEW EDITORS CALL ATTENTION TO THESE NEW TITLES:
★ The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison (Moody, $11.95). Entirely new, one-volume, phrase-by-phrase exposition of the entire Bible by 49 American conservative scholars.
★ The Literature of Communism in America, by Robert F. Delaney (Catholic University of America Press, $6.50). A selected bibliography of pro- and anti-Communist literature, chiefly from American authors. Over 1,700 entries.
★ Christianity and Barthianism, by Cornelius Van Til (Presbyterian and Reformed, $6.95). The author deplores Barthian theology as “man-centered Protestantism” or “higher humanism” that springs from fatal compromise with modern immanentistic philosophy.
This book offers much to anyone who is seriously interested in a better understanding of the concrete social situation of American religion. In certain instances one may very well challenge the author’s interpretation of data. For example, the following conclusion seems rather hastily drawn: presbyterian church polity “can be traced back to aristocratic tendencies in the history of presbyterian bodies and to an emphasis upon theological doctrines of the sacred character and educationally developed talents of the clergy” (p. 62).
But here is a work that contributes much to a better understanding of the society which the Church must convict of sin, and call to repentance. To convict our present society of its significant sins and to call it to a significant repentance require much knowledge of modern life. This book helps to provide such knowledge.
The Impact Went Where?
The Impact of American Religious Liberalism, by Kenneth Cauthen (Harper & Row, 1962, 290 pp., $6), is reviewed by James Daane, Editorial Associate, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Theological orthodoxy (chiefly Calvinistic) was dominant in America for 150 years, and in 1875 was still dominant in almost every Protestant theological center. Fifteen years later, says Cauthen, it had all but disappeared because of its failure to seek reconciliation between Christ and culture. Liberalism displaced it and flourished, for it realized that the theological enterprise in every generation moves between Christ and culture. It set about to retain the Christian faith by adjusting it to the new knowledge netted by the natural and historical sciences, so that a man could be Christian and yet intellectually honest in the modern world.
Cauthen, particularly in the theologies of eight representatives of American liberalism, uncovers three motifs demanded by modern knowledge and accepted by liberalism for the reshaping of the Christian faith. First, God is continuous with, and thus immanent in, the world; second, man is autonomous in the sense that not the Bible but he himself through critical reflection on experience determines what is authentic knowledge of God; and third, all nature and history are of an evolutionary character. Liberalism came in a variety of types, but all, asserts Cauthen, were shaped by these motifs which led them to the common tenet that divine revelation must be construed within the terms of a world that is a closed but expanding system.
It is precisely at this point that Cauthen detects a line of continuity between liberalism and post-liberal theology, namely, neoorthodoxy. Although the latter regards God as transcendent and regards revelation as an inbreak into the world, it nonetheless, says Cauthen, retains the world as a closed system and revelation as something historically conditioned, for it defines revelation as Geschichte, not Historie, that is, as tangential to, but not as identical with, history. From this stems the neoorthodox contention that nothing in history is the revelation or Word of God, and the consideration that the Bible is subject to historical criticism while the revelation itself is untouched by it. This, asserts Cauthen, is the legacy bequeathed by liberalism and inherited by neoorthodoxy.
To my knowledge this is the best book yet written on the history of theological liberalism in America. Although Cauthen no longer accepts his boyhood teaching that “liberal” is a “bad word,” he is critical as well as sympathetic in his presentation of liberalism. Not a little of the value of his book derives from its raising the question of a line of continuity between liberalism and neoorthodoxy, particularly on the matter of the historical character of revelation.
It is in his evaluation that Cauthen’s liberal sympathies triumph over his objectivity. There doubtless is a strain of similarity running from liberalism through neoorthodoxy. The latter is definitely post-liberal, not only in point of time but in its understanding of the current central theological issue. Barth’s theology, for example, is indeed a theology of Revelation. But is not the similarity so largely formal (particularly in view of neoorthodoxy’s transcendence of God) and the differences and discontinuities between liberalism and neoorthodoxy so great (in such matters as the radical character of man’s sin, his absolute need of grace, and the unique deity of Jesus Christ) that one could with as much validity argue that neoorthodoxy is in the tradition of orthodoxy as in that of liberalism? Neoorthodoxy has been affected both positively and negatively by liberalism, but too facile attempts to place neoorthodoxy in the special lineage of liberalism appear as not very objective attempts to salvage some glory for a liberalism which at this date has but little.
Furthermore, Cauthen’s admission that World War II and its aftermath have shown that liberalism was too optimistic about man’s moral goodness and perfectibility, and too optimistic about the world’s movement toward perfection—is this not a confession that ill conceals its reluctance? Do we need a yet more horrible display of the demonic in human life and history to bring us to the frank admission that liberalism was on some crucial doctrines not merely “too optimistic” but dead wrong?
One final observation about Cauthen’s evaluation. Cauthen divides liberalism into Evangelical Liberalism, which, he says, sought to retain the historic Christian faith by adjusting it to the demands of modern culture, and Modernistic Liberalism, which, he says, was secular and humanistic and rejected revelation, while seeking to retain certain desirable teachings of Christianity. Since each type is classified as liberalism, and each is said to be informed by the above-mentioned three motifs, is there not greater evidence of a continuous line of theological tradition running from what he calls Evangelical Liberalism to Modernistic Liberalism, than there is for such a line between liberalism and neoorthodoxy?
Although I cannot break forth into high praise for the author’s evaluation, I can do so for the book for, among other things, it challenges the reader—whether liberal, orthodox, or neoorthodox—by putting its finger on the central theological issue of our time: the historical character of revelation.
America and the World Revolution and Other Lectures, by Arnold J. Toynbee (Oxford, 1962, 231 pp., $4.75), is reviewed by Lee M. Nash, Professor of History and Dean, Cascade College, Portland, Oregon.
When Arnold Toynbee comments on current world affairs, his reputation as a brilliant, controversial historian and prophet never fails to win him an interested hearing. Here he offers his most complete analysis yet of our present discontents, together with solutions of sorts and muted prophecies.
Though in 1776 America sparked a continuing world movement for human rights, says Toynbee, her recent preoccupation with wealth has made her a counter-revolutionary power. Americans dramatized this transformation by their hostility to the Bolshevik Revolution and its sequels, solely because Communism threatened their pocketbooks. Now the more idealistic Soviet Union has stepped nobly into the gap and provides the inspiration for social justice crusades around the world. There is hope for America to “rejoin” her own revolution only if her people will eschew materialism and ally themselves again with the angels and the justice-seekers.
All of this by turn pricks the conscience and tries the patience. The conscience, because of the small compassion shown by us affluent Christians toward those of the world who have not. The patience, because one dislikes being told that ruthless, opportunistic exponents of a doctrinaire dialectical materialism are today’s true spiritual prophets of human dignity. Only naïveté, however sophisticated, could assert this, and could imply further that the ideological conflict over Communism is meaningless. Then when Toynbee soberly labels Judaism and Christianity “Communism’s parent religions,” one’s hands fly up in historical horror—until he begins to suspect that he has been baited all the while.
Atomic genocide, Toynbee concludes, is the ultimate danger, and not even the Soviets, nor America, nor certainly intolerant Christianity, can save us from it. Our last best hope lies in a new world-state such as those that rescued past civilizations, and we should all join the search for its architect. This new Augustus or Liu P’ang will likely be a Hindu or Buddhist from a neutral Asiatic country, and we should submit to his dictates, however distasteful, when he appears.
Thus it is evident that Toynbee’s attitude toward the future role of the United States has altered fundamentally since 1954. Then, as revealed clearly in volume ten of his Study of History, it was America that he hoped would usher in the universal state.
LEE M. NASH
Anglicanism And The Mass
Eucharistic Sacrifice, the addresses given at the Oxford Conference of Evangelical Churchmen in 1961 (Church Book Room Press, London, 1962, 157 pp., 8s. 6d.), is reviewed by Roger T. Beckwith, Chaplain, Tyndale Hall, Bristol, England.
Since the mid-seventeenth century there have been those in the Church of England who have been dissatisfied with the doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice expressed in the Anglican formularies. This doctrine is the common Protestant and New Testament doctrine that in the Holy Communion the same sacrifice is offered as in all other Christian services, viz., the sacrifice of thanksgiving. With the Oxford Movement there was a further development, and Anglo-Catholic teaching has closely approximated to the Roman doctrine of the mass, though it has often compromised the atonement even more seriously. Through the overseas branches of the Anglican communion, Anglo-Catholics have carried this teaching all over the world, and by discarding the Thirty-nine Articles and revising the Book of Common Prayer have made it in many of these branches the standard belief. Now, under the influence of the ecumenical movement, it is spreading far outside the Anglican communion. In this context, seven well-known clergymen of the Church of England, including a bishop, a university professor, and several theological-college tutors, have endeavored by this volume to call a halt. It is undoubtedly an important work. Its defects are mainly due to the circumstances of its origin. Some ground is covered twice, other ground hardly at all. The contributions are of unequal value: those by J. I. Packer and R. J. Coates are masterly, and others contain important matter, while one hardly deserves the permanence of print. Moreover, the book is more successful in stating what the relationship between Christ’s sacrifice and the Holy Communion is not, than in stating what it is. But the fact remains that this is one of the first scholarly works of modern times (and the most important to date) in which evangelical Anglicans have attempted to show that the Anglo-Catholic doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice is un-Anglican and un-Christian, and to put something better in its place.
ROGER T. BECKWITH
He Tasted Grace
The Early Life of Howell Harris, by Richard Bennett, translated by Gomer M. Roberts (Banner of Truth Trust, 1962, 190 pp., 10s. 6d.), is reviewed by Murdo A. MacLeod, Minister, Free Church of Scotland, Tarbert, Argyll, Scotland.
The subject of this book is perhaps unknown to most Christians, yet in his own day his name was bracketed with such giants as George Whitefield and Daniel Rowlands; an eminent authority on eighteenth-century Wales wrote of him: “It is difficult to believe that Howell Harris was not the greatest Welshman of his century.” In the opinion of another, “very few men have so deeply and so permanently influenced the religious life of the Principality [of Wales] as Howell Harris.” From a historical viewpoint, therefore, this book deserves attention, but it is as a spiritual autobiography that it enthralls. The author makes his own comments few and lets Harris speak for himself as in diaries and letters he unfolds his spiritual pilgrimage from unbelief through Arminianism to Calvinism. After he had experienced the grace of God for himself, it became his burning passion to lead others into the same experience. The accounts of his itineraries as he preached up and down Wales leave one wondering how his physical frame endured the strain he imposed upon it. Undoubtedly Harris was of an ecstatic and mercurial temperament, and his experience must not be taken as normative. Nevertheless, in his devotion to his Saviour, enjoyment of His presence, and usefulness in His service, we can only long to be like him.
MURDO A. MACLEOD
Source Number One
Armageddon Around the Corner, A Report on Jehovah’s Witnesses, by William J. Whalen (John Day, 1962, 249 pp., illustrated, $4.75), is reviewed by John H. Gerstner, Professor of Church History, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The author is a Roman Catholic layman who is also an assistant professor-editor at Purdue University. As such, he combines the scholar’s flair for facts, especially statistical in this case, and the editor’s nose for human interest. It is not surprising that he has produced a book for the religious best-seller lists.
We believe that book review critics have an obligation to evaluate a book according to its own genre and intended purpose. If we forgot that, we could observe that there are certain over-simplifications and jumps to conclusions, some lack of theological penetration, and the like. But if this book is judged, as it ought to be, according to its own type, it is an excellent volume. It is one of the most interesting books we have ever read on any of the sects. For ministers who are preparing a sermon, in distinction from writing a research paper, Armageddon Around the Corner will be source number one.
We might add that one incidental achievement of the book is Mr. Whalen’s keeping his temper under severe provocation. The Witnesses are opposed to nothing more than organized Christianity and no form of organized Christianity more than Roman Catholicism. Many a scathing denunciation of Rome is included here without the author’s batting an eye.
JOHN H. GERSTNER
The Ghetto Game: Racial Conflicts in the City, by Dennis Clark (Sheed & Ward, 1962, 245 pp., $4). Author argues that there are no such homogeneous creatures as New Yorkers or Angelenos. Every city is said to be a patchwork of ghettos, and the author presents the rules according to which they function.
Don’t Park Here, by Paul Erb (Herald Press, Scottsdale, Pa., 1962, 182 pp., $3). A collection of essays on the Christian life, originally published as editorials in the Gospel Herald, the denominational periodical of the Mennonite Church.
The Future Is Upon Us, by Roy L. Smith (Abingdon, 1962, 252 pp., $3.50). Circling around the subject of Communism the author arouses Americans to their peculiar times and critical problems.
Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, edited by Matthew Black and H. H. Rowley (Thomas Nelson, 1962, 1200 pp., $15). Revised and reset, this critical commentary of 40 years ago has taken on more conservative features while its understanding of the Bible’s inspiration remains unsure.
The Oxford Concise Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, compiled by Bruce M. Metzger and Isobel M. Metzger (Oxford, 1962, 158 pp., $2). Well done; specifically for use with RSV.
John’s Wonderful Gospel, by Ivor Powell (Zondervan. 1962, 446 pp., $6.95). Light, but sprightly devotional, sermonic comment.
Theology and Church, by Karl Barth, translated by Louise Pettibone Smith (Harper & Row, 1962, 358 pp., $6). The shorter writings of Barth from the year 1920 to 1928. With a fine introduction by T. F. Torrance.
The Methods and Experience of Psychoanalysis, by Albert Görres (Sheed & Ward, 1962, 300 pp., $4.50). A discussion of psychoanalysis by an author who agrees with Freud that he (Freud) discovered neither a fortune nor a farthing, but a lump of ore containing some precious metal.
Vatican Impressions, edited by Francis Sweeney, S.J. (Sheed & Ward, 1962, 266 pp., $5.95). Vignettes of the Vatican through the years; gathered from the writings of Henry James, Longfellow, Graham Greene, Hugh Walpole, Eric Sevareid, Goethe, and many others.
The Story of America’s Religions, by Hartzell Spence (Abingdon, 1962, 258 pp., $1.50). Story of 14 religious faiths in America by the author of One Foot In Heaven; articles first appeared in Look magazine.
Christianity and Communism Today, by John C. Bennett (Association, 1962, 188 pp., $1.50). Author rejects Communism both as a faith and as a political-sociological ideology but holds to the possibility that Communism in a given state may be so modified as to make coexistence possible. A somewhat altered and revised version of its first 1948 printing.
A Study of History, Volumes IV, V, and VI, by Arnold J. Toynbee (Oxford; 1962; 672, 720, and 640 pp., $2.65, $2.75, and $2.45). In Volume IV the famous historian discusses the breakdown of civilizations; in Volumes V and VI, the disintegrations of civilizations.
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