Pastoral Theology Abroad

The Art of Pastoral Conversation, by Heije Faber and Ebel van der Schoot (Abingdon, 1965, 215, $3.75), is reviewed by Melvin D. Hugen, pastor, Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This book is a first in intercontinental travel in the field of pastoral theology. For far too long the theological traffic across the Atlantic has been one way instead of round trip. And this space mission is a resounding success.

Two Reformed ministers in Holland, both university professors of pastoral theology, have written a book that does not dismiss the American contributions of Carl Rogers, Seward Hiltner, and others as regrettable activism. Drs. Faber and Van der Schoot accept the American lead in this area of theology and then make a typically European contribution. They illuminate the theological significance of the pastoral conversation.

Both their debt to America and their contribution are illustrated in these comments by Faber.

I am also perfectly certain that the pastor must begin from this position of acceptance, and that he must accept the consequences. I should indeed go so far as to suggest that Roger’s acceptance of the client … has its roots in the Christian acceptance in God’s name of every man. However, this acceptance is not the only aspect even though it is an essential, indispensable, and often sufficient aspect of the pastor’s job. The pastor must also know … [that] he has a prophetic assignment [p. 29].
Again, “My proposition is this, that in this contact the message and the messenger are not to be divided, and that the effect of the message depends not only on the chance telling of it, but also on the fact that it is this messenger who brings it” [pp. 38, 39].

Significantly, the authors see that a pastor must not only listen (and listen he must, first and well); he must also be. He must be what he expects the other to become. But the pastor also speaks. As he listens and is, he communicates.

The question, “What can the pastor learn from Rogers and others in this field?” is answered in the context of a particular concept of the pastoral task: “He has, in the first place, the task to lead people to faith and to keep it alive, to help them see themselves in God’s light” (p. 133). Again, “revolution and faith are fundamental categories for a pastoral conversation” (p. 135).

This highly readable book is one of the best introductions available to the newer methods of pastoral counseling. It should be particularly appealing to evangelicals, since it gives a thorough theological analysis of this form of the ministry of the Gospel.

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The first part is an attempt to reproduce in book form the clinical training of Rogerian type. The attempt almost succeeds, and that is no small contribution. Faber and van der Schoot add their theological concept of the specific nature of the pastoral conversation:

1. The pastoral conversation takes place, because the church—and through the church, Christ—commissioned the pastor. This awareness of not speaking on your own authority but in service of the Lord appears to me to be the fundamental presupposition. 2. The pastoral conversation finds its fulfillment there where the Strange Word is heard, where the Third Party enters the conversation, where people know themselves to be standing in God’s presence [p. 175].

Many evangelicals fear the client-centered approach to pastoral counseling. Any approach other than an authoritative one raises the specter of relativity. The authors develop a penetrating distinction between necessary authority in counseling and the authoritative approach.

This book should become a standard introductory text for pastoral counseling courses in Protestant seminaries.


One Baptism Or Two?

Baptism Today and Tomorrow, by G. R. Beasley-Murray (St. Martin’s Press, 1966, 176 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by James Daane, assistant editor,CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

This is one of the most fascinating books that I, an endorser of infant baptism, have read against infant baptism. The author, principal of Spurgeon’s College, London, and a participant in the discussions that produced the World Council of Churches’ One Lord, One Baptism, recognizes that there is renewed interest in this subject within the ecumenical movement because baptism involves the question both of the sacraments and of the nature of the Church. He agrees with the statement of Cambridge theologian A. Vidler: “All the chief Christian doctrines are involved in the theology of baptism.”

As a Baptist, Beasley-Murray, rejects baptism as a sacrament, of course. But he is highly critical of Baptists who reduce baptism to a mere symbol and points out that it is foolish indeed to live and die for nothing but a symbol. He also scores Baptists for spending vast energies on debating the proper subjects of baptism without ever seriously attempting to develop a theology of baptism.

The author himself rejects infant baptism on the ground that the meaning of baptism in the New Testament is much more than infant baptism can bear. And after pointing out that various churches which practice infant baptism have defined infant baptism in smaller terms than that of New Testament baptism, he says bluntly that these churches have in fact not one but two baptisms.

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Beasley-Murray sees certain values in infant baptism: it eloquently demonstrates the priority of grace and its initiation of all matters of redemption; and it demonstrates that children of believers are set apart from the world and exist within the “outer court” of the Church. Indeed, he asserts that some rite to demonstrate these truths is needed and suggests that the Church form a rite that would meet this need without beclouding the truth of New Testament baptism. It seems to me that this is a telling admission.

Pedobaptists have always urged that without infant baptism the children of believers in the fuller New Testament dispensation of grace would be more impoverished than the Jewish children of the Old Testament. Beasley-Murray does not go into this—indeed, he quite ignores the whole Old Testament background of infant baptism. But the admission, after infant baptism is rejected, that the children of the Church need some kind of rite that the Lord has not provided is one whose significance ought to be pondered. Either the Bible, and the Lord, fail the children of the Church at this point, and the Church itself by biblical definition is deficient, or Beasley-Murray has given us an incomplete version of New Testament baptism. To admit that the Church has a need which the Bible does not meet is particularly significant in the light of Beasley-Mur-ray’s belief that “all the chief Christian doctrines are involved in the theology of baptism.”

Ultimately Beasley-Murray’s Baptist church is left with a need that it must itself fulfill, for he holds that “faith is not merely an accompaniment of baptism but an inherent element of it.” And he approvingly quotes W. G. Kümmers comment that faith is “an ingredient of the event of baptism, as it is of justification.” But this is a violation of the Reformation’s “by grace alone,” in regard to both baptism and justification. The objectivity of the sacrament for ordinance) of baptism and the distinctive priority of grace are surrendered in both baptism and justification when man’s act of faith becomes an inherent element or ingredient in baptism and in justification. Beasley-Murray asserts the priority of grace, but he cannot have it both ways.

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Even so, the argument of the book is intelligent and interesting, and its spirit irenic. The book may serve to prod pedobaptists into thinking through the full meaning of New Testament baptism, for infant baptism and reveal the folly of reducing infant baptism to something less than full baptism.

This little book carries a price that suggests either that the publishers expect it to have a small sale or something less charitable. But the author is right; given the ecumenical movement and the increased interest in biblical study, the problem of baptism is going to be with the churches a long time.


The Central Point

The Theology of the Resurrection, by Walter Künneth, translated by James W. Leitch (Concordia, 1965, 302 pp., $5), is reviewed by Robert D. Preus, professor of systematic theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.

Professor Künneth has done a great service to all committed Christian theologians with this study of the theology of the Resurrection. First published in German in 1951 and now translated most adequately by James Leitch, the volume presents the most rigidly systematic and complete study of the Resurrection to appear in our generation, and this by a conservative scholar.

The book is divided into three parts: (1) the reality of the Resurrection, (2) the dogmatic significance of the Resurrection, and (3) the Resurrection and eschatology. Interspersed in the discussion are some of the most valid and telling polemics this reader has ever run across. For instance, the critique of Bultmann and his attempt to demythologize the Resurrection is devastating; Künneth shows that it is upon the resurrection and its reality (its anti-mythical character), that the entire demythologizing enterprise founders. Tillich, too, is criticized for making the Resurrection a mythical sign of something transcendent and unconditional; to Künneth this levels down the particular to the universal and reduces all special revelation (as in the Resurrection) to a general revelation. Again, Brunner comes under severe criticism for finding a difference between Paul’s theology of the Resurrection and the gospel accounts. That Paul does not mention the empty tomb does not imply that he was influenced by Greek thought. On historical and exegetical rather than on theological (philosophical) grounds, Künneth contends against Brunner that there is a connection between the Resurrection and the empty tomb.

Of the three sections, the first is by far the most difficult for the reader to understand, and for at least this reason the most unsatisfactory. Künneth wishes to maintain the reality of the Resurrection against all possible heterodoxy. It is grounded in history, he says. But it is not historical. The weight and character of it “simply does not depend at all upon his historicality.” It is a reality “beyond history” and “outside history.” The Resurrection is not “an objectively ascertainable object of knowledge.”

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Such language, which may be used to guard against certain outmoded orthodox apologetics or the encroachments of scientific historicism today, is surely neither clear nor adequate. Now we must understand that Künneth is talking about the Resurrection as such and not the appearances of our Lord when he speaks this way. But the Scriptures do not make much distinction between the Resurrection and the appearances. And certainly the appearances lead each witness back to the Resurrection itself. If the Resurrection was a unicum that transcends historical analysis, as Künneth says, so also was each appearance; and so, for that matter, was the death of Christ, for it was an atoning death. Surely we would wish to call the Resurrection (although no one was present to observe it) historical simply because it took place on earth at a certain time and place (something which I am sure Künneth would profess).

By making the Resurrection “nonobjective” and by making the accounts of the Resurrection not purely eyewitness accounts but confessions, Künneth wishes to place the Resurrection theology above transitory world pictures and the Resurrection itself above scientific analysis or criticism. This is also his explanation for “possible contradictions” in the Resurrection accounts. One wonders, however, whether the author has not thereby paid too high a price to both scientism and the form critics. Certainly science is not competent to judge the Resurrection as something historical. And calling the traditions of the Resurrection “confessions” that involve a “believing knowledge” of the Resurrection, right as it is, will hardly satisfy the problem of “possible contradictions.” We will want to know that these “confessions” involving “believing knowledge” are true to what really happened and are not contradictory. Professor Künneth is most insistent upon the reality of the Resurrection, and one gets the impression that this involves also belief in the empty tomb. For this reason we wonder about the propriety of such vague, apologetic terminology.

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In the second section, Künneth shows the centrality of the Resurrection for all Christian theology. Christology is best approached from the point of the Resurrection rather than from the classic Logos-incarnation motif or the Spirit Christology of E. Hirsch. Beginning in this way we naturally progress to the themes of Sonship and Lordship so fundamental in any Christology. Künneth breaks with the old classic Lutheran and Protestant Christology in saying that both Sonship in the sense of divine authority and Lordship were “given” through the Resurrection. To Künneth, the Resurrection (as the exaltation of Jesus) does not manifest what was formerly hidden but effects something new in Jesus. And to Künneth Lordship is divinity. This would indicate that the ground for a confession of Christ’s deity is first laid by God’s action in the Resurrection, and that God cannot be found apart from Christ. This does not deny the Incarnation, in which the Logos became flesh; but the Incarnation is incomplete without the Resurrection and is “conditioned” by it. Künneth contends also that the Resurrection shows that Paul’s theology, though it goes beyond that of Jesus, is legitimate.

Creation, too, must be interpreted in the light of the Resurrection. Thus we are saved from falling into any philosophy of nature, either a pantheistic glorifying of nature or a Manichaean depreciation of it. Time, too, must be determined by the Resurrection, which marks the consummation of time. The Resurrection is also the basis for the presence of Christ and for the bestowal of the Spirit. It is even “the basis” (presumably in the sense of a principium cognoscendi) of the Trinity (again an advance from catholic theology). Even the Church is “realized” in the Resurrection, and the sacraments derive their meaning from it. In fact, all ethical effectiveness in the Church gains its power from the Risen One. Finally, ontology, in the sense of man’s “Dasein,” must be a resurrection ontology (against Heidegger). Particularly the meaning of death (against naturalism or a naïve ethico-religious conception) is made clear only by the Resurrection; for death is God’s “no” to the world of the Fall and sin. If nothing else, Künneth in this long section shows how fundamental the Resurrection is to all Christian theology, and does not do so by depreciating the life and death of Christ.

In the final section, which is perhaps the best, the author attempts to ground all eschatology in the Resurrection. Against Althaus, he insists that Christian eschatology looks for a bodily resurrection on the basis of Christ’s resurrection. And this must be maintained in defiance of all historical criticism. In fact, the Resurrection is the central point in history (although it is not “a historical fact as such”) that sheds light on all history and saves us from every speculative philosophy of history. Again against Althaus, who teaches the essential unity and simultaneousness of death and judgment, of homecoming to Christ and resurrection, Künneth insists that biblical eschatology is determined by a principle of succession and progression. This means that he holds to an intermediate state of bliss as well as to judgment and resurrection, and at this point his work is particularly convincing.

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In our day when the resurrection of our Lord is misunderstood, made peripheral and irrelevant, and called myth and legend—and this by theologians—it is gratifying to find a competent theologian not only defending the Resurrection against these many forms of unbelief but proclaiming it as central to our theology.


For The Shallow Life

Personal Religious Disciplines, by John E. Gardner (Eerdmans, 1966, 134 pp., $3), is reviewed by Gary R. Collins, assistant professor of psychology, Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Modern man lives a fragmented life—without meaning, direction, purpose, or clearly defined values. For many people, life is little more than a “tangled web or a frustrating pattern of multiple loose ends.” This is the message of contemporary philosophers and the observation of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. Even many Christians find that life is shallow and their religion irrelevant.

A number of writers have diagnosed this modern condition: Dr. Gardner is one of the few who have offered solutions. “The dream of being a whole person cannot be realized without great effort,” he writes. “Christ must be put at the center of all thought, feeling, and action, and kept there …” by the practice of devotional discipline. This book is a penetrating consideration of the three disciplines Jesus describes in Matthew 6: giving, prayer, and committed, disciplined living.

Dr. Gardner (who teaches at Memphis Theological Seminary and is not to be confused with John W. Gardner) has written a persuasive, thought-provoking book. His style and message discourage rapid reading but invite careful and frequent reflection. This is a book that deserves to be read and by any one seeking a richer relationship with God.

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Orthodoxy Confirmed

The Temptation and the Passion: The Markan Soteriology, by Ernest Best (Cambridge University Press, 1965, 222 pp., 32s. 6d.), is reviewed by I. Howard Marshall, lecturer in biblical criticism, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

The appearance of this book as the second monograph in the series recently begun by the Society for New Testament Studies indicates the character of the audience for which it is meant. In 1957, J. M. Robinson put forward the thesis that in Mark the ministry of Jesus is presented as a conflict with Satan, who acts through his agents, both human and demonic, until his defeat at the Cross. Dr. Best, an Irish scholar who has already made his mark in the world of scholarship with his study of Pauline theology, One Body in Christ (1955), attempts to rebut this thesis.

In Part One of the book, Best shows, by linking together the stories of the temptation and the Beelzebub controversy, that Jesus as “the stronger man” overcame Satan at the beginning of his ministry (Mark 3:27). Thereafter, Jesus was able to plunder Satan’s kingdom at will, the demons recognizing in him their Master. The other temptations that came to Jesus after the initial experience were not due to Satan but to other sources (Mark 8:33 means that Peter took on the role of Satan, not that he was possessed by him), and Best demonstrates from a study of the Bible and other relevant literature that Satan is only one of many sources of temptation.

In Part Two the author puts forward an alternative, positive interpretation of the ministry and death of Jesus. He examines in turn, sometimes rather tediously, the evidence for Mark’s theology in his editing of his material (especially in the “seams” that join up the individual pericopae), in his choice and ordering of the material, in the witness borne to Jesus and the titles assigned to him, and finally in the evangelist’s view of the Christian community. This study, which is conducted in the light of the latest scholarship, leads to a conclusion that readers of this review might have thought to be self-evident: Mark sees Jesus as the Teacher who brings men to an understanding of his Cross and calls them to repentance and as the One who in his death bears the judgment of God upon human sin and thus makes himself a vicarious sacrifice for men. Traditional though this conclusion may be, it is good to see it confirmed by careful, critical scholarship.

There are a number of points on which one could well take issue with Best, but mention of one must suffice. The author is concerned in this book to expound the theology of Mark rather than the mind and teaching of Jesus. Living as he does in the post-form-critical era in which the evangelists are regarded as theologians in their own right, he believes that a delineation of the theology of Mark is an essential preliminary to any attempt to work back to the historical Jesus. We may be glad that Dr. Best is plainly not disposed to agree with scholars who are telling us today that the historical Jesus is irrelevant to our faith. But it is a pity that in this book, where the opportunity to do so was often present, he has not made any attempt to indicate the relation between the historical Jesus and Mark’s portrait of him; indeed, he goes to great pains to tell us repeatedly that in this book he is not concerned with the question of historical reliability. One may surely ask what the value of Mark’s theology is if it is not in harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself, and it is a pity that Best has not shown whether what he calls “Mark’s inspired comment” is true to the facts. Attention to this point would have enhanced the value of what is a challenging piece of scholarship with which future interpreters of Mark will have to reckon.

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Book Briefs

The Next Christian Epoch, by Arthur A. Vogel (Harper and Row, 1966, 111 pp., $3.50). Vogel responds to the secular, linguistic, God-is-dead theology and insists it is “catchy” but superficial.

The Ways of Friendship, by Ignace Lepp, translated by Bernard Murchland (Macmillan, 1966, 127 pp., $3.95). A very competent discussion of the various possibilities of friendship.

What the Cults Believe, by Irvine Robertson (Moody, 1966, 128 pp., $2.95). Brief, popular treatments.

With the Whole Heart, by Bud Collyer (Revell, 1966, 96 pp., $2.75). A good confession if you close one eye to its theology.

The Minister’s Wife as a Counselor, by Wallace Denton (Westminster, 1965, 172 pp., $3.95). For the pastor’s wife who feels she must.

John XXIII and the City of Man, by Peter Riga (Newman, 1966, 239 pp., $5.50). A commentary on John XXIII’s Mater et magistra.

Christian Economics: Studies in the Christian Message to the Market Place, by John R. Richardson (St. Thomas Press, 1966, 169 pp., $4.95). Practical comments that grew out of camp work with young people.

Hymns and Songs of the Spirit (Judson and Bethany Presses, 1966, 223 pp., $1.90). A collection of excellent hymns.

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The Concept of Irony, by Sören Kierkegaard, translated by Lee M. Capel (Harper and Row, 1965, 442 pp., $7.50). One of Kierkegaard’s earliest major works and the last to be translated into English. Only for the most serious Kierkegaard students.

A History of the Jews in Babylonia, Part I: The Parthian Period, by Jacob Neusner (E. J. Brill, 1965, 236 pp., 36 Guilders). A scholarly work for scholars only.

The Generosity of Americans: Its Source, Its Achievements, by Arnaud C. Marts (Prentice-Hall, 1966, 240 pp., $5.95). Why do Americans give $11 billion a year in private generosity for the public good? An informative, historic survey of the major role Americans have played in philanthropy.

Luke and the Gnostics: An Examination of the Lucan Purpose, by Charles H. Talbert (Abingdon, 1966, 127 pp., $2.75). The author’s thesis is that Luke and Acts were written to counter Gnosticism. A scholarly work.

Joy to My Heart, by Gene Gleason (McGraw-Hill, 1966, 217 pp., $4.95). The true story of nurse Annie Skau, medical missionary to China and Hong Kong.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Portrait of an American Humanist, by Edward Wagenknecht (Oxford, 1966, 252 pp., $6). For the person who wants to know the smallest detail about Longfellow, who was not long.

More Beautiful than Flowers, by Joan M. Lexau, drawings by Don Bolognese (Lippincott, 1966, 28 pp., $2.95). A poem-prayer set to lovely drawings; its purpose is to show the small child what God is like.


Faith, Fact and Fantasy, by C. F. D. Moule, et al. (Westminster, 1966, 125 pp., $1.45). Provocative essays that should provoke critical evaluations. One is by John Wren-Lewis, to whom John A. T. Robinson often appeals.

A New Approach to Sex, by William Fay Luder (Farnsworth Books, 1966, 103 pp., $.85). Some good sense on sex offered in the name of Christianity by an author whose theology is essentially non-Christian.

Priest and Worker: The Autobiography of Henri Perrin, translated by Bernard Wall (Regnery, 1966. 247 pp., $1.95). The interesting story of the French priest-workers, particularly of one of its first and most famous.

Layman Extraordinary: John R. Mott, 1865–1955, by Robert C. Mackie (Association, 1965. 128 pp., $1.25). The story of the man who perhaps more than any other contributed to the birth of the World Council of Churches.

Understandings of Man, by Peter Le-Fevre (Westminster, 1966, 187 pp., $2.45). The understanding of man in the thought of such men as Freud, Reinhold Niebuhr, Marx, Buber, J. Huxley. For critical readers.

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Assignment: Overseas, compiled by John Rosengrant, edited by Stanley J. Rowland, Jr. (Crowell, 1966, 129 pp., $1.95). How to be a welcome resident and a worthy Christian abroad.

The First Southern Baptists, by Robert A. Baker (Broadman, 1966, 80 pp., $1.25). New, thorough research gives interesting insight into Baptist beginnings at Charleston, South Carolina.

Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?, by Gregory Baum, O. S. A. (Paulist, 1965, 350 pp., $1.25). A son of Jewish parents, now a Catholic theologian, whose vocabulary is reflected in the Vatican Council’s statement on the Jews, stresses that God continues to make himself known in the synagogue.

Abraham and Jonas, both by J.-M. Warbler and Harold Winstone and illustrated by Jacques le Scanff, and The Prophet and the Soldier, by J.-M. Warbler and Harold Winstone, illustrated by Alain le Foll (Macmillan; 1966; 25, 27, and 25 pp.; $.59 each). Well-written, evangelical in content, and delightfully illustrated. For small children.

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