Fletcher’S Euphoria

The Situation Ethics Debate, edited by Harvey Cox (Westminster, 1968, 285 pp., $1.95), is reviewed by Merville O. Vincent, assistant medical superintendent, Homewood Sanitarium, Guelph, Ontario.

A new law I give unto you: A best seller must have a follow-up. So now The Situation Ethics Debate follows on the heels of The Secular City Debate and The Honest to God Debate. Since there are fifty-six participants, it is impossible to do justice to all the contributions; but the shortest, from “Anonymous in Maine,” can be given in toto: “You Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.”

The book consists of a short introductory preview by Harvey Cox, a series of brief, pungent, sometimes cogent responses to Joseph Fletcher, thirteen reviews from a broad spectrum of Christendom, fourteen scholarly essays on situation ethics, and finally a “sharp reply from Joseph Fletcher,” who concurs with some of the analysis of problems within his system but categorically rejects and rarely interacts with the views of those who reject his central thesis of “accentuate the positive (love) and eliminate the negative (every universal law except love).”

Fletcher sees all ethical decisions in shades of gray. However, he dogmatically states that “a codeless love is the only alternative to a loveless code.” This is not my own experience in family life, and I find such an absolute difficult to accept. Fletcher makes no distinction between “legalism” and the grounding of some laws in love. As Wilford Cross states, “no effort is made, really, to distinguish between the use of law as guidelines and the imposition of legalistic requirements in morality.”

Fletcher has other absolutes besides love. “All isms are out. In the end there is nothing but process.” He claims that valid negative universal prohibitions do not exist: “We cannot absolutize both love and law, and the New Testament makes it perfectly clear which one to choose.” (What then does Christ mean by, “If you love me, keep my commandments”?) Only the end justifies the means.

Despite these absolutes, Fletcher approvingly quotes the warning of Eric Hoffer that “the fanatic absolutizes his beliefs and his principles.” He obviously does not have insight into his own pre-suppositions and conclusions. The presence of this irrational, subjective element even in a scholar of Fletcher’s stature makes it clear that a few absolutes are consistent with a loving God’s relationship to a fallen race.

All contributors concur on the centrality of the ethical dimension of the Christian life. All accept love as the basic principle of Christian ethics.

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A number of their criticisms of situation ethics were not adequately answered:

1. Love and law are not essential opposites. Paul Ramsey states, “The fact that nothing other than agape makes a thing right or wrong does not mean that nothing is right or wrong.”

2. Neither “love” nor “situation” is adequately defined. As James Gustafson colorfully puts it, “ ‘love,’ like ‘situation,’ is a word that runs through Fletcher’s book like a greased-pig. It refers to everything he wants it to refer to.”

3. The irrational element in man is not recognized. John Crane notes that “any man who knows himself to any important degree, any man who freely admits and accepts his limitations, knows all too well that he has a marvelous capacity to deceive himself and an ingenious ability to find sure, certain reasons for doing whatever he impulsively wishes to do.”

4. The significance and power of sin in fallen mankind is minimized.

5. In an imperfect world, we are sometimes presented with various choices, none of which represents what perfect love would demand. But we then make a choice and, as Norman Langford says, “bring our decisions to Christ that he might cover them afresh with his forgiveness.” The situationist sees the lesser evil as a positive good; this is related to his minimal emphasis on repentance, forgiveness, and the grace of God. Gustafson claims that “Fletcher seems to want an ethic that omits any possibility of a bad conscience.” Harmon Smith notes, “Forgiveness permits us to live without the choices we would have preferred but didn’t have. But it is precisely this quality of the moral life that one misses in the situationist’s baptism of existential necessity with the waters of normative relativism.”

6. The Bible authoritatively states principles of Christian ethics. The difference between the old morality and the new morality is basically theological.

I found the book interesting and informative. The essays come from a wide spectrum within both the old and the new morality. Some articles pleased me, some annoyed me. These experiences probably are worthwhile for a man struggling to “come of age”! I was fascinated by the varying backgrounds of those with whom I found myself in quite firm agreement, such as Richard McCormick (Roman Catholic, Jesuit), John C. Bennett (Baptist), John Crane (Unitarian), Robert Fitch (United Church of Christ), Wilford Cross (Anglican), and Charles Curran (Roman Catholic). I am led to think that there must indeed be some sheep in wolves’ clothing!

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Interestingly enough, the two portions of the book that seemed weakest to me were the opening section by Cox and the closing section by Fletcher.

The Reality Of Satan

Jesus and the Power of Satan, by James Kallas (Westminster, 1968, 215 pp., $6), is reviewed by Merrill F. Unger, emeritus professor of Semitics and Old Testament, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

James Kallas, chairman of the Division of Theology and Philosophy at California Lutheran College, has rendered a valuable service to critical study of the Gospels in demonstrating the futility of scholars’ attempts to remove the concept of Satan and demons from the narratives of the life of Jesus. Dr. Kallas shows not only that Jesus shared the conviction of the power and reality of the demonic with his contemporaries but also that this motif dominates the Synoptic narratives, and that apart from this they cannot be understood.

This study represents a healthy reaction against the naïve view that in a scientific and technological age one can no longer believe in evil supernaturalism, and that Synoptic references to Satan and demons are examples of antiquated thought patterns that must be rendered in modern scientifically acceptable terminology. Kallas shows the fallacy of this widespread desire to “demythologize” the Gospels of the demonic, or element that is inextricably interwoven with the basic meaning of the Synoptic accounts. Our choice is only to accept the New Testament on its own terms or forfeit any correct understanding of it.

I heartily agree with Kallas’s view that the critical school of Bultmann and C. H. Dodd, in giving lip service to demonology but failing to recognize it as a real factor in the life of Jesus, has forfeited any vital interpretation of his Person and work. The result has been an emasculated theology that fails to see sinful man’s full plight and the full splendor of Christ’s redemptive work on man’s behalf.

Call Of Cod And Cry Of Men

The Seven Worlds of the Minister, by Gerald Kennedy (Harper & Row, 1968, 173 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Oral Roberts, evangelist and president, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

This hard-hitting book earns a permanent place in my library of preaching tools. I identify with the frank attempt to prick and goad the reader into action. Bishop Kennedy invades the minister’s world intent on providing solutions to some of his problems.

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I respond enthusiastically to Kennedy’s claim that the minister, to fulfill his role as a God-sent man, must submerge himself in an atmosphere in which God speaks to him, the Holy Spirit anoints him, and the needs of the people encompass him. I concur heartily when he writes that the minister’s preaching must bring the individual face to face with Jesus in one great moment of experience. When such preaching leads the person to say, “I understand you,” or “God gave me a healing word today,” then the minister is meeting his obligation to God and humanity.

First as a young preacher—admittedly starry-eyed with liberalism—then as pastor, evangelist, and administrator, Bishop Kennedy came to learn that he had to meet people where they were. He realized that for speaking effectively to contemporary man, liberal theological jargon was not the answer. Rather, he found that a minister needed a deep personal relationship with Christ if he was to bring the Gospel to people at the point of their actual need.

And so he expresses the two great demands made upon the minister. The first is God’s very special call to him to preach the good news of the historical event of our Lord’s coming to earth, his death and resurrection, and his ministry as Living Lord every moment. The second is the demand of the people in their lost and painful state, a demand from which the minister must not flee, however tempted. He is not to hobnob primarily with the rich or the more influential members of his congregation. He must accept the tediousness of administrative detail just as he does the glorious spontaneity of the prophetic word of revelation. In short, he must enter his world as God sets it before him and deal with it as God enables him.

Bishop Kennedy has a discerning grasp of the many-sidedness of the minister in this age of complicated people-problems. First and always the minister must be a preacher of the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this role he must learn to teach, to stimulate others with the thrust of an evangelist, to show loving pastoral concern and patience, to know God and the theology of the Word of God sufficiently so that he can present Jesus Christ as a real Person, and to enter into the sometimes boring tasks of daily administration. Above all, he must be a man, a human being, responding to God and to people, admitting mistakes but always going forward in the loving ministry of the Living Christ.

If Bishop Kennedy’s own ministry reflects the Christian confrontation he has written about in this volume, I look forward to hearing him at the earliest opportunity.

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Naturalistic Theology

The Pusher and Puller, by J. Edward Carothers (Abingdon, 1968, 224 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by S. J. Schultz, professor of Bible and theology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

The title is intriguing, and the author’s perspective is pertinent to twentieth-century thought—an intellectual or philosophical approach to the concept of God. Reacting to the “God is dead” theologians, who have left Christians with a religion of Jesus without God, this author asserts that “Christianity without God is unthinkable.” He goes on to offer the thoughtful clergyman and layman “some reasons for believing that the Power pushing and pulling the evolutionary process can be understood in part.”

Have you ever thought about God as the “Pusher” and “Puller” in life? If not, you will find these pages stimulating. According to Carothers, the attributes of God are apparent in natural phenomena, specifically in:

Reading For Perspective


Christianaity and the World of Thought, edited by Hudon T. Armerding (Moody, $5.95). An evangelical “brain beat on contemporary issues in sizteen areas of study.

What’s New in Relgion?, by Kenneth Hamilton (Eerdmans, $3.95). An incisive explication and critique of the new theology that reveals its antisupernaturalism, humanism, and inordinate concern with newness for its own sake.

A Leopard Tamed, by Eleanor Vandevort, with an introduction by Elisabeth Elliot (Harper & Row, $5.95). A Presbyterian missionary presents an honest account of thirteen years of service in the Sudan, highlighted by her friendship with Kuac, a small boy who became a minister.

1. the existence of life, represented in its human form as an end-seeking, value-creating man;

2. existence in the feature of life known as the rational process, by which man gains ideal ends;

3. the increasing tendency of life to develop complex forms;

4. the emergence of novelty;

5. the feature of creative synthesis.

The author must be commended for his effort to guide the thoughtful man in recognizing from the naturalistic perspective that man is not alone and that God, whom Carothers identifies as the “Pusher” and “Puller,” is the Power on whom man’s life depends. It may be difficult, however, for many to share his optimism over man’s ability “to know enough about God to govern his life accordingly,” merely from the naturalistic perspective.

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Since Carothers wishes to affirm a “Christian natural theology,” he redefines such biblical terms as “heaven,” “hell,” and “love.” The Bible—which historically has been regarded as the basic source for man’s knowledge of what God requires of him—does not seem to be a live option, according to Carothers, since “the average person in our time cannot understand the Bible with its magnificent mythologies, its lofty symbolism, its roots in heritage from ages apart.”

The author regards Jesus as more than an example: “Jesus the man is Christ the Lord because in his person there was manifested all that was essential for the birth and the continuance of the church ecclesia.” However, his appraisal of Jesus is pointedly expressed in his introduction, where he says, “I wish to state as boldly as I can that Christianity is not acceptable to me if Jesus is to be worshipped.”

In a natural theology that could rightfully be called “Christian,” would not the Bible, which offers to man Jesus Christ as the One through whom God can be known, provide a more adequate source for man’s knowledge of God’s requirements than the natural resources of man’s own experience?

Fresh Breeze At Gordon

The Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Missions, Volume I, edited by Burton L. Goddard (Nelson, 1967, 743 pp., $18), is reviewed by Arthur F. Glasser, special lecturer in missions, Westminster Theological Seminary, and home director, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Significant changes are taking place in American evangelical seminaries. The appearance of this excellent encyclopedia is evidence. A decade ago, nothing would have been less likely than for a sizable segment of a seminary faculty to team up and produce something on this subject; few professors were creatively concerned with the problems encountered by missions, missionaries, and national churches overseas.

But the seminaries are now beginning to discover that they are on the front lines in the struggle of our times. The “doctors of the Church” are emerging from an ivory-towered preoccupation with theological battles and are sensing their responsibility to help the worldwide church in its mission of discipling the nations. They are finding themselves in demand; the Church needs their insights into such far-reaching issues as Church and mission, gospel proclamation and social involvement, the new encounter with resurgent ethnic religions, and the challenge of secularism and Communism. One has only to review seminary curricula of the fifties to become aware of the fresh winds blowing at such schools as Gordon, Westminster, Trinity, Dallas, and Fuller.

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Particularly at Gordon Divinity School, which received a wonderful heritage of missionary concern from its illustrious founder, Adoniram Judson Gordon. Several years ago, when the Gordon faculty first began to make plans for celebrating their seventy-fifth anniversary, they could easily have chosen to publish a joint work on some major theological subject. But they didn’t. Past heritage and present concern focused attention on the worldwide mission of the Church, and faculty members got to work, even though there was no professor of missions to spark the project. What they produced is described as “a publication of the faculty of Gordon Divinity School.”

Volume I (The Agencies), the first of three projected volumes, is the first complete directory of missionary organizations throughout the world ever to appear in the English language. It describes in detail the history, ethos, and activities of more than 1,400 missionary agencies and related organizations, 1890 to 1960. Although the specific listings are limited to Protestant agencies, survey articles describe Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox missionary activities as well. Libraries, churches, missions, clergymen, students, and various secular agencies will welcome this comprehensive work.

We eagerly await the next two volumes. Volume II will be a biographical dictionary describing the men and women who have played a significant part in world evangelism since 1890. Volume III will survey the actual work accomplished throughout the world in this time and will also offer extended articles on missionary philosophies and methods, institutions, and the spread of problems.

This volume is not dull reading. Many an agency managed to tell its story in an interesting way, and as I sampled here and there I enjoyed myself greatly. But I was more impressed with the difficulties the editor and his staff surmounted—how to judge, for instance, whether Scripture Union, with its unusual pattern of administration and promotion of evangelism and Bible reading, should be included in a missions encyclopedia. (It was.)

We gratefully salute Burton L. Goddard, the editor of this three-and-a-half-pound work. More, we rejoice over what is taking place at Gordon Divinity School.

The Preacher Who Stirred London

Spurgeon: Heir of the Puritans, by Ernest W. Bacon (Eerdmans, 1968, 183 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by J. Edwin Hartill, dean, Northwestern College, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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In these days when the sermons of Charles Haddon Spurgeon are being republished and restudied, this work on his life and extraordinary influence is welcome, especially since no Spurgeon biography has been published for more than thirty years. No minister of the Word will be able to read it without having his conscience stirred and his mind sharpened. Men from all over Britain who sat under the ministry of Spurgeon found their hearts rekindled as Spurgeon challenged them to a new vision of Christ.

The author, Ernest Bacon, reveals the extent to which Spurgeon was steeped in Puritan aims, principles, preaching, and writing. His preaching strongly emphasized biblical doctrine. Among the doctrines discussed in the book are inspiration of the Word, the sovereignty of God, predestination and election, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, justification by faith, the work of the Holy Spirit, holiness, and the return of the Lord.

Bacon reappraises the well-known “Down Grade” controversy, a problem involving Baptist ministers and churches, 1887–89. He objectively relates the considerable differences over the interpretation of the facts of the controversy. Admiration for Spurgeon is renewed as one reads the great preacher’s firm statement: “I shall not cease to expose doctrinal declension whenever I see it.”

The closing paragraphs of the book continually remind the reader that Spurgeon preached Christ—Christ only, and all the time. Little wonder that hearts were warmed and melted.

This Is Where I Came In

The Coming Christ and the Coming Church and After the Council, both by Edmund Schlink (Fortress, 1968, 333 and 261 pp., $8.75 and $4.95), are reviewed by John H. Gerstner, professor of church history, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In these volumes an outstanding German Lutheran scholar, Edmund Schlink, applies himself to ecumenism in general (The Coming Christ and the Coming Church) and to Vatican Council II in particular (After the Council). The first book consists of essays written over many years on many subjects, while the second concentrates on the council in its relation to Protestantism and ecumenical dialogue. The Heidelberg professor handles his obviously vast learning easily, without letting it become cumbersome. The reader of the two works, especially the first, will find himself introduced not only to the contemporary ecumenical situation but also to the history of doctrine from New Testament to the present, by a man as active in practical affairs as he is erudite.

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Schlink believes that viewing present ecclesiastical positions from their biblico-historical background enables us to appreciate or depreciate their significance. He himself tends to favor appreciation rather than depreciation: the “first step must be to understand the importance of other traditions” (by “importance” he means more than “importance”). This conviction is obvious throughout both books, but he never tells us why we should seek to appreciate rather than deplore. This may be his subtle, perhaps unconscious reintroduction of the “ecumenical actualism” (the ignoring of dogmatic differences) he censures. Is there much difference between callously disregarding differences and concentrating on them until we appreciate them? Paul’s teaching is not just “hold fast to what is good” but “hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” (Rom. 12:9)—though, alas, this counsel may not be as ecumenically sophisticated as Schlink’s.

This leads to the most basic ecumenical idea of all. Schlink claims no originality—in fact he traces it to Oxford, 1937—for his idea of church unity: “Our unity in Christ is not a theme for aspiration; it is an experienced fact.” I myself have no objection to this except that I do not know what it means. Does it distinguish the unity of the invisible Church in Christ from that of the visible church, whose unity is a “theme for aspiration”? If so, then I can understand it. But ecumenists object to this interpretation; first, because they suppose that a realized unity in the invisible Church alone causes zeal for visible unity to lag, and second, because it denies the reality of visible unity, which the ecumenical formula states. That is where I came in: the realized visible unity of the visible churches seems invisible to me. Again, if the unity of the Church is Christ himself (rather than the participation of his members in him), as Schlink maintains, then the distinction between Redeemer and redeemed is obliterated.

Dealing with Roman Catholicism, Schlink tends to be more “realistic.” The Second Vatican Council, at which he was a representative for all sessions, was much more ecumenically encouraging than Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos and Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis. Schlink notes with pleasure the absence of anathemas, the more biblically oriented discussions, prohibition of Roman missionary activity among younger churches of other Christian groups, a restriction of biblical inerrancy to matters of salvation(!), and the great influence of “progressives” such as Küng, de Lubac, Congar, Daniélou, and Ratzinger. Nevertheless, in the matter of church unity, the net result of these analyses is that the “ecumenism of the [council] decree is a specifically Roman ecumenism.” Still true to his basic conviction, our author concludes, probably wishfully, that even this ecumenical stance of Rome must be interpreted from a controlling center. No doubt he hopes that center will be, as he thinks it was in the early Church, Christ and not creed.

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Love Those Youths

Youth and the Church, edited by Roy G. Irving and Roy B. Zuck (Moody, 1967, 442 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Charles Miller, minister of Christian education, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, Maryland.

Twenty-nine leaders of Christian education here speak from their experience in working with young people. Their articles are grouped in five parts: (1) perspective on youth education—its challenges, biblical basis, goals and standards, history; (2) the contemporary world of adolescence; (3) youth in relation to the local church; (4) youth beyond the local church—in denominational and interchurch activities, at college or in military service, at camps and conferences, in extra-church youth movements; and (5) methods and materials for working with, and counseling, young people. The chapters are accompanied by excellent bibliographies.

I found the second part to be the strongest. Its four authors present valuable insights into the culture and needs of the everchanging adolescent and advice on how to cope with these needs.

The weakest part is the third, “Youth and the Local Church.” One author offers these suggestions for setting up a new youth group: “Let the youth work out the rules for membership”; “Carefully inform the youth what is expected of them.” When will we simply love teen-agers where they are for Christ’s sake? Why must we make membership an issue? Why must we require them to live up to a standard? Did Christ develop his ministry with membership cards? This is why so many youth have left the evangelical church. They cry, “You only love me if I fit into your mold.” Love produces organization; organization does not always produce love. The authors in Part III fail to stress that building a youth work takes time; it means beginning where the people are. People go where they are loved. When we love people to Christ and for Christ, a program will be the natural result. For years the churches have been grinding out programs and demanding that youth come. We’ve produced leaders of programs instead of lovers of people.

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Despite this weakness, Youth and the Church will serve as a good refresher for the director of Christian education and a good source of information and stimulation for the layman.

Communicating The Christian Faith

Religion Across Cultures: A Study in the Communication of Christian Faith, by Eugene A. Nida (Harper & Row, 1968, 111 pp., $4.95) is reviewed by Ella Erway, associate professor of speech, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York.

“Communication” is the modern scapegoat for the ills of society. The term has become trite in business and management. The linguists are doing research in the province of the rhetoricians, and the physical scientists are concerned not only with the transmission of messages but also with their language. Anthropologists and sociologists are making communication the center of an interdisciplinary approach.

Eugene Nida attempts to synthesize the findings of the psychologists with the patterns of prayer—or communication with the gods—in the major religions of the world. His first chapter is an interesting but inconclusive discussion of man’s aesthetic activity expressed in worship and prayer. His case for religious expression as an intrinsic drive lacks strong support.

The next section of the book is most valuable. Here Nida draws upon his anthropological background to study patterns of prayer in Hinduism, Buddhism. Islam, and Christianity. He presents simplified but helpful models to illustrate his points. However, the models are static and do not depict the process of response from the gods to man or the mediating factors of environment and culture. There is some discussion of “feedback,” or the behavior of the gods in response to man’s prayers. The models are particularly effective in showing communication with nature as well as with the supernatural. Nida also discusses the inclusion of elements from non-Christian religions and cultures in the communication patterns of Christianity.

In the final section, the tone of the book changes. Secular scholars would agree with the concepts of the early chapters but would not accept the concluding analysis of communication in contemporary Christianity. Nida claims that the task of communicating Christian faith is not hopeless; as evidence he cites several examples of “biblical renewal.” Although he makes no reference to research in mass communication, he illustrates one of the early findings: that value changes result from individual contact and persuasion rather than from mass presentation. He presents examples from South American countries, the Young Life movement, and others, but offers little interpretation. The conclusion of the book is an attack on the conventional patterns of communication of the Christian Church rather than an exploration of the principles involved.

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The final illustration of a value grid that reveals man as an expression of God’s love is useful for understanding Christian theology but should be examined with the criteria applied to non-Christian religions. The approach of the last two chapters will offer a fresh perspective to the theologian, but there is little analysis in scholarly terms.

The text is documented with notes from psychological and theological sources. Some reference is made to anthropology and sociology but none to the communication theorists. Since the central thesis is concerned with communication, this omission is a major weakness. However, the style is clear and interesting, and the innovative approach deserves expansion beyond 111 pages.

What Is Existentialism Really Like?

Restless Adventure: Essays on Contemporary Expressions of Existentialism, edited by Roger L. Shinn (Scribners, 1968, 217 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by H. Dermot McDonald, professor of historical theology, London Bible College, London, England.

The spate of books and articles on existentialism that have already appeared on the market might cause one to overlook another. That would be a pity, for this symposium should not be ignored. The editor has gathered together a number of interesting studies showing the influence of existentialism—both as a bane and as a blessing—on philosophy, theology, literature, art, and psychology. Professor Shinn in his editorial introduction makes it clear that existentialism is something of a radical rebel whose hand is more often against every other man’s, and yet who sometimes joins up with the strangest of allies. But he is an illusive sort of fellow for all that, says Shinn, and it is hard to track him down to discover what he really is.

Philip Hallie deals with the expression of existentialism within philosophy. He points to “rebellion” and “freedom” as specially characteristic here. This does not mean that existentialism offers any sort of political philosophy. The only interest existentialists have in institutions is to attack them, for existentialists seek to repudiate all externals and to shrug off the claim to objective knowledge as enough to make a decent man laugh. Hallie, however, confesses unhappiness about the “dogmatic” emphasis that existentialism gives to a masterless subjectivity and a reasonless freedom.

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Shinn sees existentialism as the prodigal son of biblical faith. Yet he regards biblical faith as radically existential in its perception of God. He then spends time restating some of Kierkegaard’s strong influence on theology: his repudiation of natural theology, of history, and of external authority. Shinn has no difficulty showing the weaknesses here. He concludes that “existentialism is not a biblical faith. It is a substitute for biblical faith. But the only answer to existentialism is an existential faith.”

Stanley Hooper reviews the existential influence on contemporary literature. Inevitably he speaks of Kierkegaard’s “subjectivity” and of the “negativity of the infinite in existence.” Such themes are shown to be given dogmatic form and force in Kafka, Sartre, Camus, and Heidegger and in all the strange and strained terms hatched out of this literature, such as “paradox,” “absurdity,” “nausea,” “estrangement,” and “inauthentic existence.”

Roger Ortmayer deals with art; the chapter is not intended to enlighten those who have little understanding of what modern art is all about. Rebellion and freedom are what the modern artist has learned from existentialism, says Ortmayer. The “know-alls” will, of course, classify and specify, eulogize and intellectualize, as if there were purpose in the program. But “only you (or I) can experience a work of art. No one can do it for us.” To say a work of existentialist art looks like this or that is virtually to offer an insult and to talk nonsense. It looks like something only by coincidence. In truth, it looks like nothing at all, for there are no absolutes, no standards, no definitions. In such an activity the artist seeks but to paint with infinite passion out of his own subjectivity and to find authentic living in the exercise.

Rollo May says existentialism has shown that contemporary man is characterized by repression of the sense of freedom and responsibility. By a happy misprint, William James’s Will to Believe comes out as the Will to Relieve. Here indeed we have the key to the activist outlook of existentialism, doing rather than being; to do merely what we wish gives supremacy to the irrational, whereas to believe makes demands on the mind. Misology, the distrust or hatred of reason, must surely be the ultimate madness.

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Contemporary expressions of existentialism do certainly show themselves in restless adventure, as the title of this book points out, though the word “adventure” might seem almost too purposeful, too meaningful. However, the book does show some of the range of influence of existential ideas. Inevitably, there is a good deal of repetition as each writer seeks to get into his theme; but perhaps some readers will count this an advantage.

A Holy Detergent

The Secular Congregation, by Robert A. Raines (Harper & Row, 1968, $3.95), is reviewed by William Edmund Bouslough, professor of biblical studies, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California.

In an ecclesiastical world where evangelical article after evangelical article stresses evangelism first and social concern second, where this emphasis is invariably interpreted as meaning, “Get their souls saved and don’t worry too much about their bodies,” The Secular Congregation comes as a worthy antidote to invalid ideas.

It is a holy detergent that dissolves away our accrued misinterpretations of Scripture and helps us find a viewpoint founded on the whole of the Bible. One often is tempted to select biblical passages that support his own stance and disregard those that don’t. Robert Raines attempts to look at the whole of Scripture and come up with a biblical position that ties evangelism and social concern into an integrated function sponsored by the local church and expressed in the needy community.

The evangelical has a theology that emphasizes the whole man. To him, the God who made the spirit is the same God who made the body. He has a Saviour who uses a human body as a vehicle of divine love and who through that body ministers to the bodies and souls of the distressed. He believes in a resurrection that culminates in a soul-body wholeness. But often he has an evangelism limited to the verbalization of “good news.” Raines would re-define the evangelical perspective in this way: the use of the whole man—his God-given talents, gifts, and capacities—to reach the whole man, body and soul, through all the channels of communication provided by body-soul possibilities. He writes:

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I think “evangelism” is a term worth renovating because it makes clear that proclaiming the good news involves both the Word and the deed of the Gospel. The deed without the Word is merely a matter of social service, important as it is, and the Word without the deed (and this is where the church has chiefly been guilty) is simply irrelevant piety, for which there is no longer any metropolitan audience.

The pastor who is striving to minister the love of Christ beyond mere verbalization of its ideas, who hungers to meet human need in the rich-young-ruler suburbs as well as in the distressed inner city, who longs to open the doors to understanding through a congregation without walls, will find here much that will challenge his spirit and bless his soul, and give him specific guidelines for the enrichment of his own ministry.

Ripples Or Riptides?

Protestant Crosscurrents in Mission, edited by Norman A. Horner (Abingdon, 1968, 224 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by C. Dorr Demaray, president, Seattle Pacific College, Seattle, Washington.

In preparation for this volume, Norman Horner, the editor, formulated certain questions that lie at the center of the issues dividing the ecumenical from the conservative religious world: What is the design, the basic criterion, for missionary effectiveness? What is the strategy of world mission? What is the process? He then asked informed persons from both ecumenical and conservative circles to answer the questions in a direct encounter of basic philosophy.

Replying to the first question, James A. Scherer concludes: “Integration between church and mission has taught the ecumenical movement to think of world mission as a single task of the churches everywhere.” Conservative scholar Harold Lindsell answers the question by stressing the deity of Christ and the vitality of his Church. He says that modern mission cannot be divorced from “revelation”; no truth can be validated unless it agrees with the Scriptures. “The mission of the Church,” he insists, “cannot be understood apart from God’s saving acts in the person and work of Jesus Christ.” He emphasizes the “missionary call” and the task of “soul-saving.” To him, world mission is evangelization.

In the answers to the second question, on the objectives of world mission, lies the heart of the dialogue. The ecumenical point of view is concerned with shifting series of objectives and with the changes that must necessarily take place to meet a modern civilization. The conservative answer is that there is one Christ, one Church, one message, and that change occurs in method only—not in message. The articles by M. Richard Shaull and Jack P. Shepherd on mission objectives help to clarify the nature of the struggle within Christianity.

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The third question concerns the Church’s response to what God is doing. David M. Stowe stresses God’s work in programs that encourage: (1) openness to persons and groups of all perspectives; (2) diversity; (3) unity; (4) experimentation. He suggests as strategies the joint survey, joint planning, joint action. On the other hand, Arthur F. Glasser emphasizes the evangelistic mandate. He defines it as “God’s call to his people to participate with him in the redemptive activity” and speaks of the necessity of “spirit-transformed, spirit-indwelt people.”

Protestant Crosscurrents in Mission will help readers gain a clear perspective of the ecumenical-conservative controversy of today. The writers offer a high level of understanding of the basic philosophy underlying the two schools of thought.

A Reservoir Of Insights

Psalms II, The Anchor Bible, Volume 17, by Mitchell Dahood (Doubleday, 1968, 399 pp., $6), is reviewed by David Allan Hubbard, president, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

Mitchell Dahood’s work on the Psalms, a landmark in the history of Old Testament scholarship, is not really a commentary but a vast reservoir of scholarly insights upon which all future commentaries will draw. References to it will dot the pages of tomorrow’s studies of the Psalms as citations from Brigg’s volumes in the “International Critical Commentary” have yesterday’s studies.

Most important of his several significant contributions is the philological material gleaned from Ugaritic and other Northwest Semitic literature. A covey of elusive words are flushed out by Dahood’s persistent bird-dogging. Teachers of Hebrew could well build an up-to-date course on biblical grammar on his notes: the manifold meanings of prepositions like b and l; double-duty suffixes and prepositions; the rich range of nuances in Hebrew moods and tenses; the recognition of traces of a Northern Hebrew dialect in Psalms like 81; and many more.

The various patterns of parallelism and other aspects of poetic structure are aptly analyzed and reflected in the language and form of the translation. Again Ugaritic texts lend a hand in helping to elucidate fixed pairs, inclusions, ballast variants, chiasm, merism, and other facets of rhythm and style.

Occasionally the translation misfires: “Let your achievement be manifest to your servants” (90:16) is hardly graceful; “from whose heart are your extolments” (84:6) is hardly idiomatic; “un-sin me” (51:9) is hardly English. But usually it conveys with clarity the color and power as it is found in the original Hebrew.

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Students of the Psalms will ponder Dahood’s interpretation of the difficult Psalm 68. Though indebted to Albright for some details of interpretation, he finds greater unity in the psalm than does Albright, who interpreted it as a list of the first lines of thirty poems. For Dahood, Psalm 68 is a triumphal hymn, like Exodus 15.

Awaiting further evaluation are Dahood’s emphasis on afterlife in Psalms like 73; 91, and 97; his interpretation of the so-called enthronement psalms as eschatological (e.g., 97; 98); and his identification of Psalms 54; 56; 57; 59; 61; 86; 91; 92 as laments or praises from the lips of Israel’s king. All in all, in cultic and theological questions Dahood manifests discretion and discernment, while his mature conservatism in the handling of the consonantal text is a welcome relief from the brashness frequently found in earlier psalm-criticism.

Dahood’s precise evaluations of the merits of the form-critical and cultic theories of H. Gunkel, S. Mowinckel, A. Weiser, C. Westermann, and H.-J. Kraus will hopefully come to light in the final volume. That he could project three jam-packed books on the Psalms without dealing substantially with form-critical or theological issues is a tribute to the immense gains biblical scholarship has made in recent decades. No reasonably sized commentary can contain all we now know about the Psalms. Dahood does not say everything, but he says enough to guarantee that all future commentators on the Psalms will be, to some degree, his pupils.

What Makes Churches Grow?

God’s Impatience in Liberia, by Joseph Conrad Wold (Eerdmans, 1968, 227 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by John T. Seamands, professor of Christian Missions, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.

This book grew out of the burden of a missionary heart. Pastor Wold is concerned because the expansion of the Liberian church has so far been limited almost entirely to the Americo-Liberians or the educated elite living near the coast. Only a small number of the tribal people in the hinterland—who make up 90 per cent of the population—have been won to Christ.

Certain historical factors have undoubtedly contributed to this, such as the long hostility between settlers and pagan tribes and the identification of Christianity with a foreign culture. However, Wold thinks the missions have enhanced the problem by using methods unsuited to rapid church growth. He is especially critical of “the mission-station approach,” in which work centers around a school system and produces “the gathered colony,” dominated by the mission and supported by foreign funds. The system brings about “social dislocation” by isolating the Christians from the pagans and severing the natural contacts essential for the spread of the Gospel.

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Wold claims that much of the former hostility between the educated elite and the tribal people has broken down in recent years, and that new social upheaval has prepared tribal people for the Gospel. Among the 900,000 villagers, whole sections are ready to turn to Christ in movements that promise to be amazing both in proportions and in vitality. God is thus impatient for his servants to reap the harvest, Wold believes.

He is convinced that if the church is to meet this new challenge in Liberia, it will have to discard outmoded patterns of mission work and adopt sound principles of church growth, leading to family accessions, people movements, self-support, and indigenous Christianity. Anthropology and theology must combine to produce a new strategy for advance.

Although the principles Wold advocates have a familiar ring to them—echoes of Donald McGavran!—they are expressed with a winsome freshness and great persuasion and are illustrated by accounts of actual situations. The author is speaking to God’s servants not only in Liberia but also in many other lands, for he deals with the universal question: What makes churches grow? Missionaries and ministers everywhere should read God’s Impatience in Liberia, for he is impatient in other places also.

Book Briefs

Strange Facts About the Bible, by Webb Garrison (Abingdon, 1968, 304 pp., $4.95). An interesting potpourri of human-interest material on four hundred biblical topics.

Big Day at Da Me, by Bob Pierce with Nguyen Van Due and Larry Ward (Word, 1968, 72 pp., $2.95). The founder of World Vision graphically relates the glories and hardships of Christian service to the Vietnamese in the midst of the horror of war. Includes many excellent photographs.

Left Luggage, by C. Northcote Parkinson (Houghton Mifflin, 1967, 236 pp., $4.95). The man who enunciated the law on the inevitable increase of bureaucratic workers in government offers a caustic critique of British socialism.

Gnosis and the New Testament, by R. McL. Wilson (Fortress, 1968, 149 pp., $4.50). Posits an interpenetration and interaction between Gnosticism and the New Testament writings in which Gnostics drew upon the Christian tradition more than Christians upon the Gnostic.

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Thy People Shall Be My People, by Ruth June Perl (Bethany Fellowship, 1968, 249 pp., $4.50). The joyful story of a Biola College graduate who, like Ruth the Moabitess, left her own people to embrace the Jewish people. Married to a Hebrew Christian, she is now involved in a vital Christian mission to Jews.

The Wisdom of the Psalms, by Romano Guardini (Regnery, 1968, 168 pp., $4.50). Expositions of uplifting Psalms by a German Catholic scholar that provide a good basis for dialogue between Protestants and Catholics.

Hymns and the Faith, by Erik Routley (Eerdmans, 1968, 311 pp., $4.95). Learned expositions of forty-nine great Christian hymns.


With Bands of Love, by David Allan Hubbard (Eerdmans, 1968, 114 pp., $1.95). Highly readable, theologically perceptive lessons on the Book of Hosea, in which the prophet “lashes out at the entangling alliances which in Israel became substitutes for trust in God.”

Church Architecture and Liturgical Reform, by Theodor Filthaut (Helicon, 1968, 110 pp., $1.75). This Catholic-oriented book on church architecture provides ideas helpful to Protestant planners also.

Foundations of Theory, by William Young (Craig, 1967, 122 pp., $3.75). A philosophical investigation of the basis of theoretical thought by a scholar influenced by Herman Dooyeweerd and Gordon Clark. From the “University Series of Philosophical Studies.”

Bonhoeffer in a World Come of Age, edited by Peter Vorkink, II (Fortress, 1968, 142 pp., $2.50). Essays on the elusive thought of the German martyr by Paul Van Buren, John Bennett, Eberhard Bethge, Paul Lehmann, and others.

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