No Final Verdict
The Finality of Christ, edited by Dow Kirkpatrick (Abingdon, 1966, 207 pp., $4.50) is reviewed by David H. Wallace, professor of biblical theology, California Baptist Theological Seminary, Covina.
This volume, subtitled A Symposium on the Doctrine of Christ, bears all the standard virtues and vices of such efforts. The eleven contributors will delight, inform, encourage, baffle, and quite possibly irritate the reader, depending, of course, upon his theological viewpoint. The opening chapter was written by D. T. Niles of Ceylon, who states that the finality of Christ rests upon our access to him as a living person, not a corpus of doctrine. Cogently defended, this is as much a sermon as a theological lecture. Morna Hooker maintains, against Bultmann, that the Son-of-Man sayings in the Gospels represent authentic gospel history and therefore afford a way into Jesus’ own self-consciousness; this line of development was somewhat different from my expectations in view of her book on Jesus and the Servant.
David Jenkins of Oxford University holds that cosmic speech about Jesus Christ in Colossians 1 is justified only if Christ’s resurrection actually happened (pp. 62 f.). Such cosmic language is a description of the way things really are, not merely one’s subjective attitude toward the universe. The next three chapters are written by non-Christians, to provide a perspective ab extra. Buddhism, Sikhism, and Judaism have their say, and of the three the essay by Will Herberg is the best. He honestly confronts the claims by, for, and about Christ and in so doing exhibits an impressive grasp of the elements of Christian doctrine and faith. In view of the protracted debate across the last century about the Greek impact on New Testament thought, I was struck by Herberg’s statement (p. 93) that all such attempts are misdirected: “Christian faith is biblical and Hebraic, or it is nothing at all.” This is a salutary and sobering word.
The high point of the book is J. Robert Nelson’s essay on Christ’s finality in perennial perspective. His writing is marked by beauty of line and clarity of thought. Because of the increase of knowledge today, confession of Christ is progressively more difficult. Nevertheless, it is critically important that the centrality of Christ be affirmed, else the faith itself is lost. He convincingly defends Chalcedon and accuses its critics of asking the wrong questions of these symbols. John Cobb’s essay on the finality of Christ was written from the viewpoint of a disciple of Whitehead, and I found it abstract and difficult to follow. This may well reflect my inadequacy in understanding, not Dr. Cobb’s.
Dr. Carl Michalson, to whom the book is dedicated because of his untimely death in an airplane crash, takes an existentialist analysis of Jesus’ finality. Rather predictably, he empties eschatology of its temporal quality and reference in favor of an existentialist view of life, the world, and history (p. 159). As I read this chapter I was not sure whether I heard Jesus, John and Paul, or Martin Heidegger. The nadir of theological piffle is reached on page 166, where these words appear: “When Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘Ye must be born again,’ he was not issuing a universal command. He was sensitizing Nicodemus’ preunderstanding.”
Gordon Rupp’s essay on the meaning of the sacrament reflects some of the rattling debate in Britain between high and low churchmen. Readers on both sides of the Atlantic will appreciate his clarification of the problem of anamnesis, for he points out that to “re-present” Christ’s death at the Eucharist does not mean “offer again.” The book closes with a summary statement by the editor in which he asserts that “Christ is crucial for Christianity” (p. 193). But finality about the nature of Christ’s finality still eludes us.
DAVID H. WALLACE
Reading for Perspective
CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S REVIEW EDITORS CALL ATTENTION TO THESE NEW TITLES:
• The Church’s Worldwide Mission, edited by Harold Lindsell (Word, $3.95). Papers read at the recent Congress on the Church’s Worldwide Mission, including the important Wheaton Declaration, and an historical overview of the congress. A vital work for everyone interested in missions.
• The Christian Persuader, by Leighton Ford (Harper & Row, $3.95). A trenchant analysis of contemporary evangelism—the obstacles to be overcome, the strategies to be carried out, the biblical message to be proclaimed—by a man whose writing reveals his passion for Jesus Christ.
• Basic Types of Pastoral Counseling, by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. (Abingdon, $6). Methods of pastoral counseling that encourage the troubled person to face his problems realistically and act directly to solve them.
An Archaeological Find?
The Biblical World: A Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer (Baker, 1966, 612 pp., $8.95), is reviewed by Francis I. Andersen, professor of Old Testament literature, The Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California.
Knowledge of archaeological discoveries is so important for biblical studies that all means of spreading this information are to be welcomed. This volume supplements the general Bible dictionaries already available. More than forty contributors have supplied articles. Some of these are recognized authorities, and their contributions are excellent; e.g., G. E. Wright on Beth-Shemesh and Wiseman on the Babylonian Chronicles. But most of these experts have contributed only one or two items, making in all only a small fraction of the entire book. The rest suffers by comparison.
This unevenness in quality shows up in the kind of error that lowers the reader’s confidence in a work that, whatever else, should be accurate. For example, Schaeffer did not decipher the Ugaritic alphabet (p. 71), and Rawlinson was not the discoverer of the Bethistun (sic) inscription (p. 80). Confusion also reigns among the dates, fostered doubtless by the absence of any good discussion of chronology. Three different dates are given for Qarqar (pp. 47, 54, 467). Ashurbanipal has different dates within eleven lines (p. 101). The reader is left without explanation of why Hammurabi has different dates in different places.
The publisher’s blurb says, “There are comprehensive articles on archaeology and the major archaeologists and organizations and their work (e.g. Albright, Kenyon, Glueck, etc.).” If this were true, the book would be useful indeed. But they can nowhere be found. The general article on archaeology is vague about method: the new face of field technique resulting from the introduction of the Wheeler-Kenyon procedures is scarcely recognized. Nor is there any adequate discussion of stratigraphy, typology, pottery chronology, or numismatics. Except for a few lines in the article on Arabia, the entire field of South Arabian archaeology is neglected. The book also lacks an adequate set of maps.
The illustrations are excellent and generous and will appeal to the popular reader. Here the dictionary will find acceptable use. But it falls short of what the conscientious student has a right to expect, especially in the mixed quality of its bibliographies—sometimes ample, often parsimonious or out of date.
Evangelicals have always hailed with delight archaeological discoveries that confirm their high regard for the accuracy of the Bible. Here, although many contributors are conservative, the apologetic note is muted or avoided by having no entries at all on such subjects as Abraham’s camels (or camels, or ass-nomadism) or the Flood (except for brief mention under Gilgamesh) or the date of the Exodus (the entry under Jericho implies a late date) or Daniel. In spite of this silence, however, the general impression is that archaeology floods the Bible with light at every point; so full use of the information in this volume is to be encouraged by every student of the Bible.
FRANCIS I. ANDERSEN
The First Method Actor
The Passover Plot: New Light on the History of Jesus, by Hugh J. Schonfield (Bernard Geis, 1966, 287 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Henry W. Coray, minister, First Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Sunnyvale, California.
This interesting book, the product of the noted British author and scholar, purports to be “a new interpretation of the life and death of Jesus.” Actually, it is just one more attempt to reconstruct the story of Christ recorded by the four Evangelists. Dr. Schonfield’s thesis is that Jesus, having studied the Jewish prophecies concerning the Messiah, decided to project himself into the role of the “Anointed One,” much as an actor would assume the lead part in a drama. Jesus was justified in carrying out the act, Schonfield contends, for he believed sincerely that his generation needed him as a spiritual leader.
It must be said that the writer, all his erudition notwithstanding, treats history in a smorgasbord style: he picks up what suits his taste and passes by whatever he finds objectionable. For example, he brushes aside the Saviour’s miraculous birth with a flip of the hand: “There was nothing peculiar about the birth of Jesus. He was not God incarnate and no Virgin Mother bore him” (p. 59). (One could wish the good doctor had read Machen’s The Virgin Birth of Christ.) “The Council [Sanhedrin] had neither cause nor any interest to condemn Jesus on religious grounds” (p. 149). What the four Evangelists report is “totally inadequate to prove anything.… We cannot know the truth one way or the other” (pp. 159, 160). “We may dismiss the story in Matthew alone that the chief priests requested Pilate that a guard be set over the tomb” (p. 170). “The man on the road to Emmaus clearly was not Jesus” (p. 178).
Schonfield reserves his napalm bomb for the action at Calvary. There Jesus did not really die! Upon swallowing the drug (which he had previously contrived to accept), “his body sagged. His head rolled on his breast, and to all intents and purposes he was a dead man” (p. 167). He did not expire, however. In the cool of the tomb he regained consciousness and came forth, not from a state of death, but from a state of stupor. This would seem to be a kind of revised version of the “swoon theory” of Paulus. That theory never gained much acceptance in scholarly circles.
In several moving passages the British writer pleads for a re-evaluation of his Subject from a non-prejudiced point of view. If his presentation of Jesus Christ is objective historical writing, so is Alice in Wonderland.
HENRY W. CORAY
Christ Via Hinduism?
The Christian Universe, by Eric Mascall (Morehouse-Barlow, 1966, 174 pp., $4.25), is reviewed by Milton D. Hunnex, professor of philosophy, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon.
Mascall’s The Christian Universe is the sixteenth in a series of distinguished books that reflect a determined effort on his part to buttress the main convictions of historic orthodox Christianity. It continues his defense of supernatural Christianity against those who despair of a contemporary Christianity that is both supernatural and relevant.
Mascall’s thesis is that “the modern absurdists are fully right in maintaining that the world does not make sense of itself” (p. 42). The hero of Sartre’s La Nausée, Antoine Roquentin, is justifiably offended by the chestnut tree that goes on existing “in spite of the fact that there [is] no logical necessity for it” to do so (p. 30). A world without God is necessarily absurd, Mascall argues. “If the world is to be given meaning, that meaning must come from some source outside the world itself” (pp. 42, 43).
Mascall argues that, contrary to a great deal of theological thinking today, supernaturalism is not the disease from which Christianity needs to be delivered; rather, it is the cure that alone can restore the only meaningful picture modern man can make of himself. “It is only by tightening our hold on the supernatural that we can enter into the secular order with any hope of transforming it and without being swamped and drowned by it,” he writes (p. 171).
From this he proceeds to the conviction that all creation is in the process of “Christification.” “God’s ultimate purpose for the human race and for the whole material universe,” he says, “is that they should be taken up into Christ” (p. 109). The Church’s task is as it always has been—“the supernaturalization of the natural” order as well as men’s lives (p. 170). It is, however, a cosmic task. The Incarnation is for the sake of all things, Mascall insists, not just man’s redemption.
Moreover, where the Incarnation does relate to specifically human redemption, it is generously ubiquitous. Dr. Pannikar is quoted approvingly: “The good and bona fide Hindu is saved by Christ and not by Hinduism, but it is through the sacraments of Hinduism … through the Mysterion that comes down to him through Hinduism” (p. 72). It is therefore a mistake, Mascall believes, to think “that certain men and women have been brought into a genuine and intimate relation to Jesus Christ …” (p. 132). He explicitly rejects “all forms of [that view which] restricts the benefits of the Incarnation to one small portion of mankind” (p. 133). Orthodox supernatural beliefs such as the Virgin Birth are retained, but they are placed in a setting of divine purposes that are cosmological.
This is indeed a courageous claim upon God’s promises, one that is only somewhat less courageous than Arnold Toynbee’s or Teilhard de Chardin’s vision of a transfiguration of all things in Christ. But Mascall seems to undercut his own orthodoxy, and the impetus to obey Christ’s great commission is blunted. His persuasive reaffirmation of orthodox supernatural beliefs—including his belief in demonic “principalities and powers”—will reassure evangelical readers, but his speculative philosophical vision will not. New Testament references are generous, but they are overshadowed by the intrusion of philosophical ideas that are not always convincingly scriptural. Mascall believes that his philosophy should provide substantive support rather than parallel illumination. But what is revealed to childlike faith as well as to powerful minds like Mascall’s is confined—safely at least—to scriptural disclosures.
Yet one must concur with Mascall that modern man’s problem is indeed that of trying to go it alone. What contemporary culture cries out for in its emptiness is a truth that can only be completed by the truth of a supernatural Gospel.
MILTON D. HUNNEX
A Battered Buttress
Embattled Wall, by C. Stanley Lowell (Americans United, 1966, 162 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by Harold John Ockenga, minister, Park Street Church, Boston, Massachusetts.
Written out of the author’s devotion to the cause of separation of church and state, Embattled Wall reflects this bias but is full of valuable information. Dr. Lowell is associate director of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State (POAU).
The Roman Catholic position is for full government subsidy of the Catholic educational system. Main spokesman for this is Cardinal Spellman, around whom the controversy broke in the days of Eleanor Roosevelt. Aid for Catholic schools now exists in the areas of child benefits and health and welfare, a program the National Council of Churches espoused in order to ease the tensions between Roman Catholics and Protestants. This plan divided Protestants in their outlook and united Catholics, at the same time raising the threat of clericalism (a church’s political use of religious influence for its own aggrandizement). The Roman Catholic program intends to use the parochial-school support as a wedge to cultural domination. This clericalism is opposed by POAU as its major task.
The chapter on POAU’s executive director, Glenn L. Archer, is informative but unrestrained in its praise. The author’s panegyric almost suggests he has found the perfect man. Dr. Archer’s character, ability, and discipline are certainly praiseworthy, however, and his achievement is large. He became director of POAU when it was just beginning, and did so at great sacrifice. Maintaining his leadership despite calumny and persecution from Roman Catholic leaders, he built POAU into the formidable organization it is today.
The great issues of 1962 are reviewed thoroughly: the election of John F. Kennedy to the Presidency and the part played by POAU; the issue of an ambassador to the Vatican and its defeat; the question of federal aid to parochial schools. POAU played a leading part in getting an open declaration of position from John F. Kennedy on all these questions. Dr. Archer’s correspondence with Senator Kennedy is credited with his open disavowal of the hierarchy’s aims.
The American people owe a debt of gratitude to POAU for unveiling the abuses of giving public property to churches, of operating businesses under tax-exempt religious organizations (the Christian Brothers), and of the sectarian infiltration of public organizations.
Lowell recounts the capitulation of Protestantism—under the leadership of the National Council of Churches and, in particular, of Union Theological Seminary—to the Roman Catholic demands for public monies for parochial schools. Lyndon B. Johnson’s formula was the device that accomplished this great breach in the wall of separation of church and state. The law of 1965 is now in operation, and the Roman Catholic Church is being subsidized by the United States government.
This book is important in a time when the defenses against Roman Catholic clericalism are being removed by the ecumenical movement. In the guise of dialogue and brotherhood, Rome’s practice of seeking public support from tax money for religious-institutions is being overlooked or hushed. Thank God for the presence and activities of POAU and its leaders. Rome is still unchanged and seeks a merger of church and state. Embattled Wall is an adequate warning to Protestants.
HAROLD JOHN OCKENGA
The True Bible
The Christian Church and the Old Testament, by Arnold A. van Ruler, translated by G. W. Bromiley (Eerdmans, 1966, 128 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Ronald Youngblood, associate professor of Old Testament languages, Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.
First published in Munich in 1955, Die christliche Kirche und das Alte Testament discusses the important question of the relevance of the Old Testament Scriptures for modern Christendom. Although it is now more than ten years old, the book is remarkably contemporary and will not fail to stimulate the sympathetic reader.
The author wastes no time, plunging us immediately into the heart of his subject. After stating the problem in his introductory sentence (“How does the Christian Church evaluate and use the Old Testament?”), Dr. van Ruler, professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Utrecht, quickly outlines ten approaches to the problem. He declares himself provisionally in favor of the approach that stresses “the indispensability of the Old Testament for an understanding of the New in its historical sense”; however, he is clearly aware of the values of the others. Indeed, he eventually discusses typological exegesis at great length, although he cautions against certain tendencies that can lead to unfortunate hermeneutical results.
Pertinently, the author reminds us that we “should not regard the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only standard of evaluation nor as the only hermeneutical key in interpretation of the Old Testament”; that we “should not seek merely that which sets forth Christ”; that “both exegetically and homiletically we can approach the Old Testament as the witness to revelation by and in God’s history with Israel”; that “the Old Testament itself remains the canonical Word of God, and it constantly confronts us with its own authority”; and bluntly and strikingly (though in a footnote!), that “the Old Testament is the true Bible, and the New Testament its explanatory glossary.”
Perhaps justly, American readers will be tempted to attribute to provincialism or ignorance van Ruler’s failure to mention even one American scholar in his closely reasoned discussion. This omission is especially strange when one recalls that the Old Testament concept of the Kingdom of God, which figures so strongly in van Ruler’s book as a factor uniting the Testaments, was a prominent topic in American theological writing in the early fifties.
Nevertheless, the growing literature in English on the relation between the Testaments has been materially enhanced by G. W. Bromiley’s translation of van Ruler’s work. Like the professor who grades term papers by throwing them one by one up a flight of stairs, many readers may be inclined to judge this book by its brevity. That would be a shame.
Work Among Men Of Leisure
Mission in the American Outdoors, edited by E. W. Mueller and Giles C. Ekola (Concordia, 1966, 165 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Glenn W. Samuelson, associate professor of sociology, West Chester State College, West Chester, Pennsylvania.
In an age of accelerating technological and social change, when automation is increasing and leisure is expanding, the Church in America is called upon to meet the needs of a dynamic society. Mission in the American Outdoors is an attempt to face up to this challenge. As the Afterword states, “It is a part of the church’s mission to help men live their new leisure in a responsible way. As society moves from a work-oriented culture, the tendency will be for people to make leisure the center of their lives.… [Leisure] is yet to be found in fellowship with God and service to one’s neighbor.”
Specifically, this fourteen-chapter volume brings together information, resources, and ideas on ministry and outdoor recreation that have grown out of the November, 1964, Seminar on Outdoor Recreation, sponsored by the National Lutheran Council Division of American Missions. The purposes are (1) to alert Christian pastors and laymen to the recreational explosion and the new opportunities for Christian ministry it offers and (2) to offer resources to pastors and congregations for their ministry to tourists and vacationers.
Part I presents an overview of national surveys, planning, legislation, and natural and institutional resources for outdoor recreation. Part II provides an approach to the social and theological aspects of leisure time and outdoor recreation.
Pastors will find the chapters on “Outdoor Recreation in Meaningful Life,” “The Christian Family in God’s Creation,” and “The Mission of the Church in Leisure-Recreation” especially helpful for sermonic material. And they, along with youth directors, members of boards of Christian education, and seminary professors, will find the book as a whole a valuable resource in this dynamic world of work and leisure-recreation.
GLENN W. SAMUELSON
On The Periphery Of Missions?
God Planted Five Seeds, by Jean Dye Johnson (Harper & Row, 1966, 213 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Cal Guy, professor of missions, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Missionary outreach to the Ayore Indians of Bolivia is described in this autobiographical account. Much of the book tells of the long and dangerous attempts to locate this roving tribe, known to the people of the surrounding country as barbarians. At every previous encounter between Indians and whites, killings had occurred. Mutual fear and hatred had deepened through the years, and it was the task of the missionaries to try to break down these barriers.
After much careful planning, five missionaries made their first contact with the Ayores. Vague reports drifted back to the mission station that the men had been killed. The last few pages of the book provide the final answer.
Later contact was again established, and in time the fearsome and fearful Indians became overwhelmingly friendly. They connected the coming of the kindly whites with an ancient legend about a white ancestor of their tribe. Many developed a deep commitment to Christ.
The book needs to be evaluated from several sides. As a testament of faith and devotion, it stirs deep admiration. The missionaries seem to have accepted life in the uncomfortable circumstances of a near jungle civilization without complaint. They found peace in their hard but meaningful work rather than in creature comforts. Even their loss of the five men is accepted with a remarkable expression of Christian faith, awareness of the love of God, and complete involvement in his purposes. As this kind of an inspirational story, the book rates high. And it sets a good example for those who labor under less demanding conditions with responses that are far inferior.
As literature the book is mediocre. Although some of the ideas and incidents are gripping, the workmanship with words is not.
The third evaluation is the most difficult but also the most needed. To this reviewer it seems unfortunate that most books of missionary biography deal with missions to primitive and isolated people. There are relatively few of these people on earth. They need the Gospel, and there are those whom God leads to share it with them. Yet this sort of work is not the mainstream of Christian endeavor. The multitudes are born, live Christless lives, and go to Christless graves in the huge cities—in Calcutta, in London, in Djakarta, in Singapore, in Manila.
This book and others like it should certainly be read; their spiritual lessons are great. But readers should remember that they deal with the periphery of mission endeavor in a world that will number seven billion by the year 2000.
Billy Graham: The Making of a Crusader, by Curtis Mitchell (Chilton Books, 1966, 288 pp., $3.95). A sympathetic and engaging biography of the century’s greatest evangelist that concentrates on his early life and ministry up to his 1949 Los Angeles crusade.
The Church in the Next Decade, by Eugene Carson Blake (Macmillan, 1966, 152 pp., $4.95). A disappointing potpourri reaching back over nearly two decades of speech-making. The book does not live up to its title, drawn from the last essay. At such a time in the career of the author, and in the midst of our world situations, we expected much more.
Must the West Decline?, by David Ormsby-Gore, Lord Harlech (Columbia University, 1966, 65 pp., $3.50). The British ambassador to the United States, 1961–1965, blames nationalism for the breakdown of Western unity and calls for a United States of America and Canada to join with a Western European Community in a sovereign Atlantic Community.
The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch, by Donald Wesley Patten (Pacific Meridian Publishing, 1966, 336 pp., $7.50). A geographer argues against evolutionary uniformitarianism and presents a strong case for astral catastrophism as the cause of the universal flood recorded in Scripture.
Evolution and Christian Hope, by Ernst Benz (Doubleday, 1966, 270 pp., $4.95). A theologian reviews Christians’ expectations of man’s future from the early Church Fathers to Teilhard de Chardin and sees evolution as a part of salvation-history.
The Seminary: Protestant and Catholic, by Walter D. Wagoner (Sheed and Ward, 1966, 256 pp., $6). The executive director of the Fund for Theological Education recommends interchanges of faculties and students by Protestant and Catholic seminaries.
The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, by F. Ernest Stoeffler (E. J. Brill, 1965, 257 pp., 32 guilders). Stoeffler approaches Pietism, 1590–1690, in a positive way and shows it to be a dynamic reform movement that applied Reformation principles to Christian living. A good piece of scholarship.
The New Theologian, by Ved Mehta (Harper & Row, 1966, 217 pp., $5.95). A New Yorker journalist recounts his visits with leading contemporary theologians and briskly relates what the new theology is all about.
A Time for Boldness, by Gary M. Jones (Broadman, 1966, 108 pp., $2.50). Challenging messages by a Presbyterian pastor whose vitality is contagious.
First White Women Over the Rockies (Vol. VIII of the “Northwest Historical Series”), by Clifford Merrill Drury (Arthur R. Clark Company, 1966, 332 pp., $11). A notable historian presents letters, diaries, and biographical sketches that recount the heroic journeys of the first six missionary women who crossed the continent in 1836 and 1838 to serve Christ in the Oregon mission.
The Japan Christian Year Book, 1966, edited by Gordon K. Chapman (Christian Literature Society of Japan or Friendship Press, 1966, 522 pp., $4.50). A fact-filled survey of the post-war Christian movement in Japan.
The Church Proclaiming and Witnessing, edited by Erwin L. McDonald (Baker, 1966, 135 pp., $2.50). A bevy of Baptist preachers speak clearly on the mission of the Church.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography, by W. Y. Fullerton (Moody, 1966, 283 pp., $4.95). Originally published in 1920; the author ranks the British Baptist as one of the eight greatest Christians in history.
Four Views of Christ, by Andrew Jukes, edited by James Shiffer Kiefer (Kregel, 1966, 128 pp., $2.95). Jesus Christ is viewed in the Four Gospels in the forms of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7—the lion, calf, man, and eagle.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.