Americans As Human Beings
The Oxford History of the American People, by Samuel Eliot Morison (Oxford, 1965, 1,122 pp., $12.50), is reviewed by Earl Strikwerda, professor of history, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Good one-volume histories of the United States become more difficult to produce as our national experience lengthens. In 1904 Professor Elston could quite easily encompass the whole account and include a bit of homily and anecdote along the way. Similarly Wertenbaker, Becker, Bassett, Harlow, and others did the job four or five decades back, and they all did it well.
But events have been heaping up since the thirties. The revolutionary happenings of the Great Depression and the intricate story of our role in World War 11 add many pages to the bulk of our history. Moreover, contemporary historians add sections or chapters that survey the social and cultural aspects of our past.
Nevertheless, induced by his friends as he was. Professor Morison has attempted a one-volume account once more. And he has succeeded beautifully. It will be a courageous writer who will think that he can do it better, Morison kept the weight of the book under four pounds; a heavier book cannot be held comfortably.
The writing is even and intelligible, and the lines of chronology are as clear as can be. Moreover, the author covers or touches on practically everything from the Hudson School to sports, while skillfully keeping his work from being textbookish or encyclopedic. This Oxford history is intended for the intelligent patriot; and one could do few things more worthwhile this winter than reading a few hours a week in this sprightly written explanation of how we behaved and why.
Apparently Professor Morison has not attempted to set up and establish a tight thesis. There seems to be no hard effort to show that some single factor explains Americans. There is no press on Puritanism, nor on the frontier’s feedback into our politics, nor on manifest destiny, nor on our reverence for the Constitution, nor on the dynamics of free enterprise, nor on the Protestant ethic, nor on the immigrant ingredient, nor on the determinism of economics. It is just possible that the author wanted his keynote to be our dedication to experimenting with democracy. But there is no hard sell even on this theme; it is not necessary, because the theme is patent in our political history.
My impression is that Morison has striven mainly to get at the downright humanness of the American people. Throughout we are shown that we rise above ourselves and that we fall, but that in everything we have remained merely human beings—people. Characterizing the account is a constantly emerging candor, with scores of side glances. Added up they do not make the reader swell with false pride, but neither is he stricken with cynicism. As he is faced steadily with the actual, he develops a feeling of identity. We arc a many-faceted people who have worked and argued and fought—fought in revolution, in rebellion, in strikes. We have shot our way out of all of them, and we have shot down four presidents too.
Similarly, our national heroes were human beings who showed different sides. Even Patrick Henry was negative about the Constitution, saying as he did, “My head, and my heart, shall be at liberty to retrieve the loss of liberty, and remove the defects of the system.…” Alexander Hamilton too was critical of the Constitution; he called it a “weak and worthless fabric” that would have to be superseded.
Here and there Morison is a bit preceptive, as when he ventures the suggestion that the days of the witch trials could be likened to the times when Joseph McCarthy was abroad in the land and good men felt constrained to remain silent. And know this, says the historian in another context, that the words, “We hold these truths to be self evident …,” are “more revolutionary than anything written by Robespierre, Marx, or Lenin.…”
The book is therefore about humanity, and the author is humane. In his distress in writing of Lincoln’s assassination, he bursts with “ten thousand curses on the foulest of assassins, John Wilkes Booth.” Elsewhere his disgust peeps through, as when he relates that a prominent industrialist of the early 1930s was willing to have the depression go “right to the bottom,” because the liquidation of the farmer and of labor would lead people to live more moral lives. But everywhere one senses that Morison reads our history constructively and affirmatively. The debunker finds nothing here.
Too, this Harvard man is solicitous for those who have taken a rap. So he wants Woodrow Wilson to be seen in context. Wilson’s virtuousness would not have been so irritating were it not for the isolationism in the Senate and the disillusionment among the public. Similarly, Colonel House is treated with decency; his “realism complemented Wilson’s idealism, and when they parted, the stature of each was diminished.” There is the human touch when the New England historian pays tribute to Senator George W. Norris, “whose career is a standing reproach to those ‘tired liberals’ who give up after defeat.…”
Hoover is handled fairly. F.D.R.’s success in coping with the depression was due in part to the fact that early cautious remedies were demonstrably unsuccessful. The New Deal, says the writer, was as “American as a bale of hay—an opportunist, rule of thumb method of curing deep-seated ills.” The tracing of World War II is excellent but not superior to what Morison previously wrote with Professor Commager in their Growth of the American Republic. In this earlier work the story of the war builds with more suspense, and to me it remains the unexcelled short account.
By way of innovation, and for good reason, this Oxford history includes brief resumes of Canadian history at six or eight turn-outs. This courtesy to a people whose history dovetails our own was long overdue.
It has been hinted that Morison writes the viewpoint of the Eastern seaboard, that in a way he is a Brahmin. So what? The tint or the tincture is pleasing. So long as he is fair to everyone from the Puritans to Douglas MacArthur, the historian has a right to a stance. I liked his reminiscences that begin with the election of 1912; I liked the paternalism with which he suggests that we not be too critical of President Eisenhower; I liked the manner of an older person when he warns that we must halt short of having every American adult on the government payroll.
In the conclusion of the section on the sexual upheaval, Morison expresses his concern for the “pure in heart”; why could not the “filth” have been left in the subconscious where it was, he asks. I was pleased by his willingness to use colloquialisms, as when he speaks of General Ludendorff’s “getting the one-two” in World War II. His neat way of citing dates (e.g., 21 December 1938) is refreshing. And so on.
All in all, here is the story of the actual, written in the manner of the humane without special pleading.
Not Little Ministers
Pre-Seminary Education: The Lilly Study Report, by Keith R. Bridston and Dwight W. Culver (Augsburg, 1965, 257 pp., $4.75), is reviewed by Addison H. Leitch, assistant to the president and professor of philosophy and religion, Tarkio College, Tarkio, Missouri.
We have come to expect good things from the Lilly Foundation, and again we are not disappointed. Under the direction of the foundation, Bridston, a Lutheran theologian, and Culver, a trained sociologist, have teamed up to give us an interesting study of pre-seminary education marked by scholarship, breadth of understanding, and verve.
The decision to place a sociologist on the team gives a clue to the approach. Concern is frequently expressed that men who become ministers are too often products of a kind of religious “ghetto.” They come from homes marked by Christian commitment where they have been conditioned, and in many ways protected, by a religious atmosphere (89 per cent of seminarians are church members before the age of twenty-one, 83 per cent had Sunday school attendance constantly urged upon them). Over half of them came from church-related colleges where many have served in vacant pulpits and taken courses of study “almost-seminary” in character. They have already participated in youth conferences and area religious conferences, and they move on to denominational seminaries where statistically they tend to continue their studies with other men of like training and background and under professors probably prepared for their tasks in the same milieu. When they enter their pastorates, the “ghetto” of separation from which they have come puts them in a “ghetto” of separation from the people whom they are to guide, and from a highly secularized “world” which they are to reach.
The writers are very sympathetic to the religious cultivation that a man called of God will need. They also recognize, however, that the hurdy-gurdy of today’s world may not listen to a man who very evidently does not know what the score is. On the other hand, must the seminarian sin “in order that grace may abound”? This is not a new dilemma in the training of the “religious.” It is to the credit of Bridston and Culver that they see the problem clearly and meet it fairly. Any criticisms the reader may have of their solutions will in no way minimize the central problem. Somehow the minister (indeed, every Christian!) must be in the world but not of it, a man of the world but not a worldling.
The writers believe that the best time for “secular cultivation” is the period of college preparation. There are excellent discussions on the advantages and disadvantages of a Bible-philosophy major as over against a major in some more “secular” field, and of great value are the recommendations of how religion may be taught with intellectual decency instead of as a case of special pleading. For those looking in passing for good material on the advantages of liberal arts education, the section titled “Secular Cultivation” (pp. 55 ff.) is very rich indeed.
Perhaps a word from the authors themselves will clarify their approach:
For the college and university, the purpose of teaching religion is to provide its students with a full education.
For the pre-seminary student, the reason for studying religion in college is to be fully educated and not to anticipate his theological study on the seminary level.
For the seminary, the purpose of pre-seminary education is to produce educated men—not little ministers [p. 80].
This last phrase, “educated men—not little ministers,” gives the clue to the whole book. The authors see three stages in the pastor’s training—college, seminary, and post-seminary, and although the book is entitled Pre-Seminary Education, the three key sections of the book really cover these three stages. How is this justified? In terms of the “educated man,” the “whole man”; the authors argue that we are dealing, not with three systems or three levels of training—pre-seminary, seminary, and post-seminary—but with a triple-entwined cord. We must think of what happens in pre-seminary days as constantly wrapped in and around what the trained pastor does during and after seminary. Thus the whole training of the whole man for his total task is all of a piece. It is a good thesis well done in sections entitled “Secular Cultivation,” “Professional Training,” and “Vocational Integration.” These sections are followed by Recommendations herewith recommended.
This book should be read by all educators, whether or not their interest is theological. It is packed with information and is rich and varied in some of its always relevant bypaths. Those who like to browse may spend fruitful hours with the research data that take up about the last third of the book. This timely and relevant book is much needed today.
ADDISON H. LEITCH
The Whole Person in a Broken World, by Paul Tournier (Harper and Row, 1964, 180 pp., $3.75), is reviewed by Lars I. Granberg, acting vice-president for academic affairs, Hope College, Holland, Michigan.
Reading a book written by Paul Tournier is like conversing with a wise, compassionate man who walks with God. Dr. Tournier neither glosses over human foolishness and sin nor identifies man exclusively with these. Rather, he perceives the person as he could be.
In this book, written in 1947, he seeks understanding of factors in today’s life that bring fragmentation rather than wholeness to persons. To describe this crisis he treats the history of man as the history of a single life: the childhood of man is antiquity, his adolescence began with the Renaissance. Adolescence is characterized by negativeness, the disparagement of parental values. So also has it been in the centuries since the Renaissance. Rather than moving toward personal integration, the modern world seems to be in the prolonged state of adolescent crisis described by some psychiatrists as the “neurosis of defiance.” Neurosis, which Tournier sees as the typical sickness of our time, is linked to spiritual irresolution. Quoting Stocker’s definition of neurosis—“an inner conflict between a false suggestion and a true intuition”—he argues that man’s current predicament stems from a false suggestion from the modern world and a true intuition of the soul. In particular he suffers from a repression of conscience (i.e., spiritual hunger), which he seeks to assauge by a preoccupation with reason and the scientific method. With his moral struggle thus driven underground, modern man is anxious, confused, fragmented, lacking direction; he suffers a terrible spiritual yearning. Neither his myths of progress nor his Nietzschean power myths have brought utopia.
Healing involves recovery of the sense of personhood. The rift between body and spirit must be mended. The efforts of science must be subordinated to faith, for only God can restore body and spirit to harmonious synthesis. Only the surrender of the whole being to the Lordship of Christ restores true personhood. Spiritual hunger is universal. Man-made messiahs abound. Since these arise from a truncated view of the person, they can only further man’s sense of fragmentation, disillusionment, and terror. Science has proven to be a vain hope. The Church’s hour has come!
But if the Church is to bring healing to a broken world, it must learn to heal its own divisions and establish spiritual unity among believers—not a unity that glosses over real differences with sentimentality but one based on a common awareness of having been gripped by Christ, on humility, and on a compassionate humanity. The Church must also learn to go wherever needy humanity is and speak out what the Gospel means for economic, social, political, and intellectual life. Only men changed under the influence of God’s grace are-likely to change the world, men willing to accept the necessary sacrifices that go along with faith, men who present a picture of true community.
This is Dr. Tournier’s message. Written with the death camps and atomic destruction of World War II still raw in his memory, it was a prophetic book. His themes have preoccupied ecclesiastical and theological conversations for more than a decade, and the discussion in psychology and psychotherapy almost as long. Hence the English-speaking world encountering this book seventeen years after its original appearance may regard it as quaint and cliché-ridden. Several of Tournier’s books were made available in English first, and they represent more developed stages in his thinking. Thus if the inveterate Tournier reader picks up this book in search of new themes, he will be disappointed.
But if he wants once again to stroll companionably and listen to a humble, compassionate man speak with penetration and concern about the plight of his fellow men and the ministry of healing, he will not fail to add this book to his Tournier shelf. For those who have not met Paul Tournier, this is a good place to get acquainted. But they must beware! They will probably get “hooked” on him, too.
LARS I. GRANBERG
By The Grace Of The State?
A Study in Survival: The Church in Russia, 1927–1943, by William C. Fletcher (Macmillan, 1965, 168 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Ralph L. Lynn, professor of history, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
Religion as the private and widely varied experience of unguided individuals may survive in any sort of world. But the Church or the denomination as a well-knit group may not be able to survive in a Communist state. The degree to which the Church can prosper in a Communist state is determined by the degree to which it can make itself useful to and needed by the state.
These statements summarize, though inadequately, the arguments advanced by this research assistant at the Research Institute on Communist Strategy and Propaganda, a division of the School of International Relations of the University of Southern California. Professor Fletcher reads and speaks the Russian language, has lived in Russia for extended periods, has talked with Russian people, has examined the available relevant documents, and has presented his findings in reasonable, restrained critical fashion.
To him, the record indicates that the Church openly opposed the Communist government in the years just after 1917. The Church then sought refuge in a nonpolitical stance from about 1920 to 1927. In 1927, the acting patriarch, Sergii, concluded that the Church could survive only if it became a sincere supporter of the Communist government. The Church reaped little profit from this Machiavellian approach until World War II made the Church necessary to the success of the Communist state. During the war years, with 1943 a significant date, the Church reaped a helpful harvest in the form of increased freedom of action and support by the state. But after the war the Communist state no longer needed the Church and was unwilling to continue the wartime coexistence. Therefore, the book closes with the unanswered question: Can the Church survive in a Communist state?
This is a model monograph, with all the standard scholarly paraphernalia. Fletcher has mastered his materials and writing skills. A brief introduction offers definitions and delimitations, orients the reader, and foreshadows the body of the book. There is a spare, succinct summary of the period from 1917 to 1927. The chapter divisions are clearly dictated by the facts. The conclusion offers no surprising deductions and no dogmatic statements. It is convincing without being argumentative.
This reviewer would be happier with a critical bibliography than with a mere listing. He would also have welcomed at least some comment on the effects upon the Church of Russian industrialization, to which the author makes only a tantalizing reference. Other readers would welcome some anecdotal material; there must be wonderful stories behind the bald statement that Sergii often consecrated several bishops in each area so that one could succeed the other as the thrones were made vacant by arrests and imprisonments.
But none of this is necessary for the purposes of this “study in survival.” And the author refers the reader to the imposing annotated bibliography in one of his earlier works, Christianity in the Soviet Union (Los Angeles, 1963). This book and Timasheff’s Religion in Soviet Russia (New York, 1942) will probably furnish answers to the questions most readers will have.
Especially at this time of renewed discussion of church-state relations, many readers will welcome the author’s emphasis upon survival. One suspects that any church or denomination anywhere can prosper only to the degree that its program is in harmony with the host nation’s program. Some will mourn that so many United States religious groups, without the excuse of their Russian brethren, have narrowed the Gospel to refer only to spiritual, other-worldly matters.
RALPH L. LYNN
Search for Reality in Religion, by John Macmurray (Allen and Unwin, 1965, 81 pp., 15s.), is reviewed by Martin H. Cressey, minister, St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Coventry, England.
Why should a distinguished philosopher who for most of his life had been detached, both in belief and in practice, from the organized Christian tradition become after retirement from university work a member of the Society of Friends? This most attractive lecture gives the answer and with it a rewarding insight into the mind and spirit of a sensitive thinker. Professor Macmurray aptly describes his lecture as “more like a musical composition, a series of movements, each with its own tone and temper” (p. 4).
He begins by a sincere tribute to the Calvinistic piety of his parental home, vitalized by contact with the Moody and Sankey mission. As a boy he himself spoke at evangelistic meetings, but he soon began to feel that this religious activity was secondhand. So he set out on a search for reality in religion—a search which led him first to criticize dogmatic theology in the light of Scripture and then to shy away from the unchristian spirit of many church members. In 1916, while a soldier in uniform, he preached on reconciliation as the post-war task of Christians; the congregation took it badly, and no one spoke to him after the service. It was then that he resolved never to become a member of any Christian church.
He yet remained, throughout his career as a teacher of philosophy, “in conviction religious and in intention a Christian” (p. 29). He looked and still looks for a reformation of Christianity that will take it back to the active concern of Jesus for true community. Philosophical or religious idealism is, in the biblical sense, vanity. What the world needs is not ideas but true human fellowship, created by Christian love. The future of the Church must be in a unity of faith not defined by doctrine but expressed “in a way of living which cares for one another and for the needs of all men” (p. 71).
It will now be clear why Dr. Macmurray felt drawn to the Society of Friends. A careful reading of the lecture will also lead more orthodox Christians to ask themselves what is amiss with them, that so generous and perceptive a mind has found Christian orthodoxy so unattractive.
MARTIN H. CRESSEY
111 Days in Stanleyville, by David Reed (Harper and Row, 1965, 279 pp., $4.95). Deep in the dark heart of the Congo, brave and frightened men faced the dread Simbas. Here is the hour-by-hour account of what really happened and the tragic story of how each man faced the terror.
Christian Faith and Practice, by Leonard Hodgson (Eerdmans, 1965, 113 pp., $2.50). Thoughtful reading for thoughtful people. First published in 1950.
J. Hudson Taylor: A Biography, by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor (Moody, 1965, 366 pp., $4.95). An abridged version by Phyllis Thompson of the two-volume original.
The Hour of the Tiger, by Induk Pahk (Harper and Row, 1965, 184 pp., $3.50). The moving story of Induk Pahk’s lively and heart-stirring struggle to make a dream come true—to establish “Berea in Korea,” the first self-help vocational school for boys in Korea’s 4,000 years of history.
American Jewish Year Book, 1965 (The American Jewish Committee and Jewish Publication Society, 1965, 652 pp., $6.50). A comprehensive record of events and trends in the United States and the rest of the world related to all matters of interest in Jewish life.
All the Bandits of China: Adventures of a Missionary in a Land Ravaged by Bandits and War Lords, by Barbara Jurgensen (Augsburg, 1965, 184 pp., $3.95).
Christian Counseling and Occultism, by Kurt E. Koch (Kregel, 1965, 299 pp., $4.95). A book on counseling that concerns itself with the demonic aspects of human experience.
The Holy Spirit at Work in the Church, by Lycurgus M. Starkey, Jr. (Abingdon, 1965, 160 pp., $3). A study of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, conducted from within the life of the Church.
Discover Your Destiny, by Dave Breese (Word Books, 1965, 98 pp., $3). An extensive personal testimony to challenge young people.
The Road Sack to God, by O. P. Kretzmann (Concordia, 1965, 125 pp., $2.50). Thirty-one uncommonly good meditations.
The Church in the Community: An Effective Evangelism Program for the Christian Congregation, by Arthur E. Graf (Eerdmans, 1965, 207 pp., $3.95). A clear-cut basic examination of the Church’s missionary task.
The Schweitzer Album: A Portrait in Words and Pictures, by Erica Anderson (Harper and Row, 1965, 176 pp., $17.50). A production of fine craftmanship.
The Horizon Book of Ancient Greece, by William Harlan Hale (Horizon Books, 1965, 415 pp., $18.95). The glory of Ancient Greece: its history, its art, and passages from its great writings. Three hundred and sixty illustrations, many in color. A book of excellence, to treasure and enjoy.
Studies in Church History, Volume I, edited by C. W. Dugmore and Charles Duggan (Nelson, 1964, 257 pp., $8.50). This book contains the main papers and shorter communications read by members of the Ecclesiastical History Society at its first meeting in 1962. Subjects range from Donatism to the origins of liberal Catholicism in the Church of England.
Psychological Studies of Clergymen: Abstracts of Research, by Robert J. Menges and James E. Dittes (Nelson, 1965, 202 pp., $5). Brief descriptions of more than 700 abstracts of psychological studies on clergymen.
Melancthon, by Robert Stupperich, translated by Robert H. Fischer (Westminster, 1965, 175 pp., $3.95). A portrayal of the man and his work by one of the greatest authorities on Melancthon.
Outsider in the Vatican, by Frederick Franck (Macmillan, 1965, 253 pp., $7.50). A dramatic narrative by a Dutch artist who was an uninvited observer of the Vatican Council.
A Survey of the Old Testament, by W. W. Sloan (Abingdon, 1965, 336 pp., $1.50). A generally evangelical synopsis of the Old Testament. Though the book’s last clause says about the Bible, “It is infallible,” the author concedes that other peoples “made many of the discoveries that the Hebrew people made,” thus confusing (divine) revelation with (human) discovery. First published in 1957.
On the Growing Edge of the Church: New Dimensions in World Missions, by T. Watson Street (John Knox, 1965, 128 pp., $1.95). A sober discussion of the missionary task of the Church and a warning against “our modern infatuation with the practical.” The author is dean of the faculty of Austin Theological Seminary.
The Holy Spirit, by Charles Caldwell Ryrie (Moody, 1965, 126 pp., $1.75). A discussion of the Holy Spirit that is much wider than deep. Includes a discussion of common grace and of the sin against the Holy Spirit, and a history of the doctrine.
The Parables of the Kingdom, by C. H. Dodd (Scribners, 1965, 176 pp., $1.45). Discusses the nature and purpose of the parables and their setting, and traces the place of the parables in Christian teaching. Revised in 1961.
The Living Word: A Theological Study of Preaching and the Church, by Gustaf Wingren (Fortress, 1965, 223 pp., $2.25). A serious discussion for the preacher who wants to keep his sermons and tasks from being trivial. Excellent for the thinking pulpiteer.
Ethics, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Macmillan, 1965, 382 pp., $1.45).
From Tradition to Gospel, by Martin Dibelius (Scribners, 1965, 311 pp., $1.65). The work that started on its course a new German school of theology—form criticism. The author coined the term Formgeschichte. A translation of the revised second edition of Die Formgeschichte des Evangeliums.
God and Temple, by R. E. Clements (Fortress, 1965, 163 pp., $3.75). A scholarly discussion of the theological significance of the Jerusalem temple as a witness to God’s presence.
The Making of a Mind: Letters from a Soldier-Priest, 1914–1919, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Harper and Row, 1965, 316 pp., $5). Teilhard’s letters to his cousin Marguerite. For the admirer who wants to know everything about Teilhard de Chardin.
Abandoned to Christ, by L. E. Maxwell (Eerdmans, 1965, 248 pp., $2.25). First published in 1955.
Baal or God: Fantasy vs. Truth, by Herman J. Otten (Leader Publishing, 1965, 351 pp., $.75). On many fronts the author delineates the principal differences between biblical and liberal theology. Although he sometimes oversimplifies and makes too facile evaluations that result in imprecision, he achieves a cool and sturdy defense of the Christian faith and shows by extensive documentation how, and by whom, it is threatened in our time.
The Unity of Philosophical Experience, by Etienne Gilson (Scribners, 1965, 331 pp., $1.65). First published in 1937.
The Twelve Steps: Spiritual Recovery Through the Principles of A. A., by a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (Upper Room, 1965, 48 pp., $.35).
What Christians Believe, by Georgia Harkness (Abingdon, 1965, 72 pp., $.75).
Religion and the Public Schools, by James E. Loder (Association, 1965, 128 pp., $.50). A very concrete discussion of how religion can be handled in the public schools.
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