God Help Me—I’m a Parent, by Gordon McLean (Creation House, 1972, 109 pp., $3.95), Help! I’m a Parent, by Bruce Narramore (Zondervan, 1972, 171 pp., $3.95), A Guide to Child Rearing: A Manual For Parents, by Bruce Narramore (Zondervan, 1972, 160 pp., $2.95 pb), and Promises to Peter, by Charlie W. Shedd (Word Books, 1970, 147 pp., $3.95), are reviewed by E. Russell Chandler, journalist, author, and teacher, Sonora, California.
These four books (actually three, because Narramore’s A Guide to Child Rearing is a workbook designed for his Help! I’m a Parent) have caused some real soul-searching at our house. My wife and I sat up till midnight the other night discussing their gems of wisdom. Books that can do that have got to be stimulating.
Some advice and principles are known by every parent already, but they need to be jerked to the surface of our consciousness occassionally. McLean’s God Help Me—I’m a Parent fits that category more closely than the other works. Shedd and Narramore break new ground in child rearing—at least for this father of three (aged two, eight, and ten).
All three authors come out loud, clear, and in harmony on several points: Be consistent, parent, when you discipline, and make sure the discipline is for the benefit of your offspring—not you.
Narramore and Shedd differ on spanking (Narramore thinks there is a time to spank; Shedd has sworn off bottom-blistering); pay rewards (Narramore: “The monetary reward system teaches children they deserve payment for routine duties”; Shedd: “Our practice is that we pay for jobs we would have to hire done”), and democracy. “God doesn’t advocate a family democracy; children need adult leadership and discipline,” says Narramore. Shedd would agree with the last half of that sentence but would preface it with:
The more sensible self-government we allow at the right time, the better things will be all the time—better for the children—better for us—better for their future—better for ours!… They care more what their parents think, the more their parents let them think for themselves.
Shedd’s goals for self-government include allowing his children to make all their own rules by the time they are seniors in high school, total financial management (except for food and housing) by their junior year, and a car (paid for 50–50 by parent and child) by driver’s-license age.
The latitude between Narramore and Shedd should be no barrier to the reader of both; responsible parents will tailor what they read to meet their own life-styles and expectations.
McLean’s nine basic character goals are helpful, but his focus is primarily on problem-oriented teens. His experience has been through Campus Life ministry and the juvenile courts. His listings of do’s and don’ts are rather elementary, though the final two chapters on spiritual development (religion should be a holy force, not a hollow farce) would be helpful to parents only nominally Christian.
The greatest value of the Narramore text is the companion guide, a workbook of discussion questions, exercises, and thought-provokers to be completed jointly by parents and children. His development of how power struggles between parent and child, and between siblings, destroy effective discipline was an eye-opener to me:
Practically every clash between parent and child involves a struggle for power. In some way or other the child is saying, “I will show you who’s boss.” Most parents take up this challenge without realizing the results. They try to prove their authority to the child, only to find they never win.
Narramore relates this to parental anger and to temper tantrums: “To eliminate tantrums we must … avoid being brought into the power struggle and we must ignore the tantrum.” If the parent tries to stop it, advises the psychologist, the child “has drawn you into the power struggle and you have lost already!”
His chapters on choosing the right method of discipline and allowing natural and logical consequences of inappropriate behavior to wreak their own inexorable discipline are especially helpful.
Shedd, veteran parent and author of the very popular Letters to Karen and Letters to Philip, is folksy and down-home—but he’s also with it. He knows the mind of youth. His staccato sentences may bother you at first, but pithy proverbs like “mature anger has a long fuse” more than compensate.
The title is a misnomer, probably chosen by the publisher. Rather than a unified exposition (as with Narramore), Promises to Peter is a compilation of fragments left over from earlier works and mellowed with further (and father) perspective. The subtitle is more accurate: “Building a Bridge From Parent to Child.”
Shedd’s thoughts on the importance of father-mother love are excellent: “The greatest thing I could do for my boy was to love his mother well.” I like his two-point program (so does my wife): once a week out together for dinner alone, and fifteen minutes a day visiting in depth. (I can’t help wondering, though, how well some of Shedd’s techniques would work for ghetto families.)
Parents searching for ways out of ruts will find practical ideas for family devotions, family council, family fun-nights, and jobs and allowances. The two chapters on sex education are only teasers from Shedd’s book The Stork Is Dead and would better have been omitted here.
Buy and study Shedd’s and Narramore’s books as preventive maintenance if you have a child two or older. And keep these volumes handy for when you feel like throwing up your hands for help. Or sitting up late with your spouse.
From Luther to Chemnitz on Scripture and the Word, by Eugene F. Klug (Eerdmans, 1972, 261 pp., $4.95 pb), is reviewed by Leigh D. Jordahl, associate professor of church history, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
It is good news when a major book is published dealing with such a subject as “from Luther to Chemnitz.” Martin Chemnitz was very possibly the greatest of that long line of Lutheran dogmaticians of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A very productive group they were, creating an extraordinarily influential tradition known to succeeding generations as “Lutheran Orthodoxy.”
Chemnitz himself stood on the bridge between two significant periods in Lutheran history—periods that were less discontinuous than some later interpreters would have us believe. Chemnitz, in all events, saw himself as Luther’s faithful disciple and made it his task to articulate and apply systematically Luther’s evangelical but unsystematized ad hoc theologizing.
The historical situation was such that all theologizing was in the context of sharp controversy. Chemnitz was intensely polemical but also immensely learned and decisively evangelical. As a theological bookkeeper he was scrupulously careful about details (intolerably so to the modern reader) but at the same time a bold innovator. Within the past two years Concordia has made two of his major works available in English: his brilliant Two Natures in Christ and his magnificently detailed Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I.
The old Lutheran dogmaticians have had a bad press lately. For a whole generation of seminary graduates, indiscriminate polemics have managed rather effectively to attach to the word “orthodoxy” an image of scholastic sterility (actually Chemnitz was unencumbered with Aristotelian scholasticism) and a narrowing of the Reformation spirit. Like a ball and chain this misconception hung on. One might grant that the dogmaticians managed to make Reformation theology intelligible to their own “baroque age” by way of an Aristotelian ontology, but even that concession would hardly recommend them to the contemporary theologian. And so it is pleasing when a scholar suggests, as E. F. Klug implicitly does throughout his book, that such a man as Chemnitz might help us also in our theologizing. The prejudices of the liberalism that so emphatically repudiated orthodoxy are, after all, still with us.
It is also good that Klug chose to study Chemnitz’s self-understanding of the Word. We are living in an age in which the entire question of the particularity of the Gospel is up for grabs. It is also an age in which even in the name of the Gospel we confront such clichés as, the world is littered with “anonymous Christians,” or the Gospel is any message or action that brings good news to a bad situation, or an “adequate witness” can be made to Christ without “verbalizing the Gospel.” And it is an age in which a popular theologian can warn us that “people who demand a higher norm of truth than human experience are asking for an idol.” Even those who continue to be “Word oriented” become confused by a new hermeneutic that appears to transform that Word into an obscure puzzle rather than a clear revelation; they become defensively anxious not to appear to be naïve biblicists. In such a situation it is good to be reminded that it was precisely penetration into and confident trust in that “strange world of the Bible” that gave to men like Luther and Chemnitz freedom for liberating proclamation.
Like Karl Barth generations later, the men of the Reformation age had to discover in the context of a crisis that freedom is a gift. For Barth, the crisis was his experience of the bankruptcy of his own liberal origins. For Chemnitz and Luther the crisis came when they had to examine and repudiate the position that placed “tradition” alongside of and even over against Scripture. This view, implicit before the Council of Trent and articulated by it, reversed the God-man relationship, as did later liberalism. Thus, while the historical contexts are different, and while the contemporary theologian must come to grips with a literary, historical criticism unknown to earlier ages, still the sixteenth-century battle for “sola scriptura” and the twentieth-century battle are surprisingly similar. The earlier battle was for Scripture undiluted by tradition; the contemporary one is for Scripture as revelation rather than as one of many expressions of religious experience.
Neither Luther nor Chemnitz had any new doctrine of inspiration. Chemnitz systematically developed Luther’s Christology, but on Scripture, as Klug points out, he made no systematic advance. Both men assumed an inherited position that was already classical Christian doctrine by at least the time of Augustine (writers on fundamentalism to the contrary, verbal inspiration was no nineteenth-century innovation). What was innovative rather and becomes so clear in Chemnitz’s Examination of the Council of Trent was the bold assertion that this inspired Scripture is a word above all experience and at the same time clear, accessible, and finally sufficient as the Word to which faith can point. Man needs no revelation beyond that. Neither can he do with less.
Klug shows an impressive familiarity with the source material, and he is obviously enthusiastic about his subject. Except for a habit, certainly irritating if not also pretentious, of putting untranslated quotations into the body of the text, the book reads well and offers a helpful survey of Luther’s and Chemnitz’s continuous appeal to Scripture.
Unfortunately, the book plows no new ground. What the author demonstrates was already firmly established. If one wants a careful study of Lutheran development regarding Scripture, he has that available to him in Robert Preus’s excellent Inspiration of Scripture or his also helpful Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism. One would hope that Klug, given his concern for his subject, will go on to do one of two other tasks: either confine himself to historical theology and produce a careful analysis of the critique of “tradition” as developed by Chemnitz, or, as a constructive theologian, use his historical material to help develop a tenable doctrine of Scripture for a contemporary Protestantism that is in the midst of a crisis of authority no less severe than that of the sixteenth century. From Luther to Chemnitz promises a good deal more than it delivers, and for that reason is disappointing.
Moses, the Servant of Yahweh, by Dewey Beegle (Eerdmans, 1972, 368 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Carl E. Armerding, assistant professor of Old Testament, Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Dewey M. Beegle, professor of Old Testament at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C., has written a “life” of Moses that combines study of the personality of the man with a running commentary on the Book of Exodus and much of the parallel material in the Pentateuch. The author states his goals in a short preface: (1) to encourage an interest in biblical study in those open-minded persons who have not had a meaningful experience with Scripture, and (2) to instruct all those who have the desire but lack the knowledge to interpret the Bible effectively. The stress on educating the pious but unsophisticated reader is carried through the book.
Beegle brings the combined insights of biblical research (particularly as formulated in the work of his teacher, W. F. Albright) to bear on the question at hand. The book might well be characterized as an application of the work of Albright and his students to the problems related to the study of Exodus. Frequent reference to the work of the great archaeologist and linguist is to be expected in any book of this nature, but (for those familiar with Albright’s positions in scholarly research) the present work seems almost slavishly dependent upon his opinions.
An opening chapter discusses critical battles that have been fought over the Pentateuch and the veracity of its traditions. Beegle concludes, after introducing various real and less-than-real problems, that “there was a Moses”! Reinforced with this knowledge, the reader may go on to appreciate the salient features of the lawgiver’s long and distinguished career.
The book’s strength lies in its helpful application to biblical research of insights gained from the study of the literature, customs, and culture of the Ancient Near East. As an example, the Decalogue, and indeed much of the additional legal material, is set in the context of ancient covenants, a fact within reach of even the lay reader as it is explained in this volume.
The book’s weaknesses lie in at least two directions. First, Beegle, though affirming an evangelical view of the Bible as a revelation from God, seems convinced that dividing the material into the J, E, D, and P strands of tradition is necessary for a proper understanding of the text. To many evangelicals this will be offensive, while to other lay Christians it will seem irrelevant. In other critical matters, Beegle is cautious and generally conservative, often stopping short of endorsing a radical position (e.g., the secondary nature of the murmuring motifs, à la G. W. Coats), though he is generally scrupulously objective in handling an opponent’s position.
Similarly disappointing is the poor quality of practical application. From a wealth of good biblical research has come a paucity of good Old Testament theology. Instead of pursuing the theological meaning of the passage at hand, Beegle treats us to a series of “morals,” some of which seem almost embarrassingly unconnected to the “original” meaning of the text.
In short, Beegle’s book is an attempt to popularize Albright for the contemporary reader of Moses. Since the book is essentially a popularization, he might have done well to eliminate some of the minutiae into which he delves at length. (Incidentally, for such an in-depth treatment of various “problems,” more footnoting would have been in order.) On the other hand, there may be readers who, though not scholars in a technical sense, will appreciate the careful research, the scrupulously objective analyses, and the rather cautious commitments of this gentle pedagogue.
The Delicate Creation: Towards a Theology of the Environment, by Christopher Derrick (Devin-Adair, 1972, 129 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Harold O. J. Brown, associate editor, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Amid the spate of books on the environment are many that speak from a religious or quasi-religious perspective, but their religion is usually some kind of pantheism or pantheistic nature-mysticism. Christopher Derrick is a somewhat unconventional and imaginative but very convinced traditionalist Roman Catholic. Like Francis Schaeffer’s Pollution and the Death of Man, his book is an incisive effort to analyze the environmental crisis from an orthodox Christian perspective.
Derrick sees the modern world, despite its apparent commitment to materialism, as strongly under the influence of what he calls Manichaeanism—the broad stream of dualistic thought that, in one form or another has been with us throughout the history of Christianity. The Manichaean tendency stamps matter as evil and denies that God, as good, could really be the Creator of the material world. Derrick sees evolution, whether “theistic” or not, as playing the role in modern thought of the demiurge in Gnostic or Manichaean thought—that of the “workman” who forms matter into the multitude of existing beings, so that God himself is not contaminated by any creative involvement with matter.
Derrick repudiates the modern tendency to blame the Judaeo-Christian tradition, specifically the command to “subdue the earth … and have dominion” (Gen. 1:28), for the destructive excesses of modern technomania, which instead embodies, he writes, “the Manichaean view of the world that was always Christianity’s chief enemy.” Like Schaeffer, he emphasizes the importance of the doctrine of the Fall into sin, and offers as our only possible escape from the present ecological predicament the development of a kind of “cosmic piety”—not nature-mysticism, but a healthy reverence for nature as the beautiful handiwork of God.
Reshaping Evangelical Higher Education, by Marvin Mayers, Lawrence Richards, and Robert Webber (Zondervan, 215 pp., $6.95). Three Wheaton professors collaborate to discuss evangelical higher education: historical background, contemporary perspective, crosscultural challenge, and future opportunities. A dynamic combination of creativity and scholarship.
The Openness of Being, by E. L. Mascall (Westminster, 278 pp., $9.75). An Anglican Thomist defends theism in this modern version of the cosmological argument. A technical masterpiece in current philosophical argument.
The Social History of the Reformation, edited by Laurence P. Buck and Jonathan W. Zophy (Ohio State, 397 pp., $12.50). A fine collection of seventeen scholarly essays dealing with the effects of the Reformation on social problems, institutions, and legal structures, and upon different groups of people in sixteenth-century Europe, from village peasants to men in cities and university towns.
The Enjoyment of Scripture, by Samuel Sandmel (Oxford, 300 pp., $8.95). This literary appraisal of the Old Testament, though cleverly done, lacks an appreciation of divine inspiration and sovereignty.
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament, by William S. LaSor (Eerdmans, 281 pp., $3.95 pb). An excellent account of the Qumran discoveries and the light they throw on the New Testament; gives the lie to the fantastic distortions of John Allegro and other sensationalists.
The Quest For Noah’s Ark, by John Warwick Montgomery (Bethany Fellowship, 335 pp., $6.95). First, there are five excerpts from other writers on the Genesis Flood. Next is a series of heavily footnoted accounts of more than 2,000 years of claimed sightings of the ark. The author then relates with great enthusiasm his own expeditions and reflections (published in abridged form in CHRISTIANITY TODAY, July 2, 1971, and January 7, 1972). Illustrations and index.
Haunted by God, by James McBride Dabbs (John Knox, $6.95, 255 pp.). A Southern writer discusses the paradoxical elements in his culture. He is sympathetic with, yet critical of, the South’s traditions as they have shaped its religion.
Essays on Religion and the Ancient World, by Arthur Darby Nock (Harvard, 2 volumes, 1,029 pp., $35). An important collection of fifty-eight papers and reviews by a man generally regarded during his lifetime (1902–63) to be the world’s leading authority on the religion of late antiquity. Five indexes. A must for every theological library!
Theologians Today Series, edited by Martin Redfern (Sheed and Ward, 8 vols., c. 125 pp. each, each $3.95, $1.95 pb). A useful collection of representative extracts from eight influential, contemporary Roman Catholic theologians (each in a separate volume): Sheed, von Balthasar, Küng, Durrwell, Rahner, Congar, de Lubac, Schillebeeckx.
Managing Our Work, by John W. Alexander (Inter-Varsity, 71 pp., $1.50 pb). The president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship gives us a manual for wise planning that combines sound principles of business management and Christian stewardship. A very helpful book for budgeting time effectively and organizing groups.
Scripture Animals, by Jonathan Fischer (Pyne Press [Nassau St., Princeton, N. J. 08540], 347 pp., $10). A charming reprint of an 1834 book in which the author’s woodcuts and poetry embellish a description of each animal mentioned in the Bible. Needs supplementing for accuracy in some cases by more recent books.
Donne at Sermons, by Gale H. Carithers, Jr. (State University of New York, 319 pp., $10). Tries to force Donner’s sermons in an existential, relativistic mode. While Carithers displays little understanding of seventeenth-century Anglican theology in this expanded doctrinal dissertation, he does raise critical points that need further study. Donne’s sermons have been inadequately studied, and Carrithers’s treatment is only a beginning.
The Historical Jesus: A Continuing Quest, by Charles C. Anderson (Eerdmans, 271 pp., $3.95 pb). In an earlier book the author surveyed what many others (such as Renan, Schweitzer, and Bultmann) had said on the life of Christ. Here he presents his own positive, well-thought-through evangelical position on such matters as the place of miracles, the Resurrection, and the accuracy of the Gospels.
George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, by John Pollock (Doubleday, 272 pp., $6.95). The moving biography of a Church of England evangelist who carried his zeal to the American colonies. While still in his twenties he became one of the best-known men along the Atlantic seaboard.
Bible Guidebook, by William N. McElrath (Broadman, 144 pp., $4.50). A missionary offers a simple, easy-to-understand volume on how to read the Bible, with information about each of its books, dates of biblical events, maps, and a guide for daily Bible study. Useful for young and new Christians.
The Apostles’ Creed: In the Light of Today’s Questions, by Wolfhart Pannenberg (Westminster, 178 pp., $5.95). A prominent German theologian interprets for the layman the meaning of each statement in the creed. The Resurrection is emphasized as the most important belief, that from which other phrases of the creed derive their significance; but other miracles are improperly weakened.
First Corinthians For Today, by Robert J. Dean (Broadman, 160 pp., $2.95 pb). Lively introductory application of First Corinthians to problems of the contemporary world. Avoids in-depth exposition.
The Christian Home in a Changing World, by Gene Getz (Moody, 107 pp., $1.95 pb). A good elementary study guide designed to introduce parents to the problems and biblical perspectives of the Christ-centered home.
Mediums and Spirit-Rappers and Roaring Radicals, by Howard Kerr (University of Illinois, 261 pp., $8.95), and The Christian and the Occult, by Roger C. Palms (Judson, 125 pp., $2.50 pb). Kerr offers an interesting overview of spiritualism in American literature. Mediums and spirits have invaded our society more deeply than many of us realize. Palms reinforces this, though his survey of various forms of spiritualism is shallow.
Stories of the Hindus: An Introduction Through Texts and Interpretation (Macmillan, 269 pp., $6.95, $2.95 pb). Fascinating stories, legends, and meditations to lead the reader in understanding Hindu thought and outlook from the inside. Includes commentaries and a bibliography.
The Way They Should Go, by D. Bruce Lockerbie (Oxford, 174 pp., $5.95). The head of the English department at Stony Brook School writes about Christian education as an alternative to public education, drawing heavily on the Stony Brook success story. A book to be read by all Christian parents and educators.
The Ministering Congregation, by Browne Barr and Mary Eakin (Pilgrim, 127 pp., $4.95). A United Church of Christ minister and his associate relate ideas on church vitality taken from experiences in their own congregation.
Unsecular Man, by Andrew M. Greeley (Schocken, 280 pp., $7.95). A Roman Catholic sociologist challenges the prevailing platitude of academicians and their counterparts in the media that modern man is religiously indifferent. Offers ample argument and doctrination to show that religious interest is as widespread as ever, though it often takes bizarre forms. Takes no stand on the objective validity of any religion.
The Black Preacher in America, by Charles V. Hamilton (Morrow, 246 pp., $7.95). An analysis by a Columbia University political scientist of the role of the black preacher as a leader in his culture yesterday and today. By the co-author of Black Power.
The Consciousness of Jesus, by Jacques Guillet (Newman, 216 pp., $6.95, pb). A scholarly and reverent treatment of the subject by a French Roman Catholic writer. Provides the serious student with a useful introduction to the theology of the Gospels.
Quaker Journals: Varieties of Religious Experience Among Friends, by Howard H. Brinton (Pendle Hill Publications [Wallingford, Pa. 19086], 130 pp., $4.75). A collection from the diaries of Quakers in ordinary walks of life, written primarily in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Arranged according to categories of experience, with exposition and commentary by the author. Interesting and illuminating.
Born to Serve, by Manford George Gutzke (Regal, 137 pp., $.95 pb). A brief, simply written discussion of the Christian as God’s servant. Good for beginning study on the subject.
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