The New Right

Listen America! by Jerry Falwell (Double-day-Galilee, 1980. 266 pp., $9.95), is reviewed by Carl Horn III, director of estate planning at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, and legal counsel to the Christian Legal Society, Oak Park, Illinois.

Reviewing Listen America! is tantamount to reviewing Moral Majority and the complex issues raised by the recent resurgence of conservative Christian involvement in politics. This is a noteworthy book precisely because it represents a significant movement signaling a return of fundamentalists and more conservative evangelicals to active participation in public life.

While it might be fair to call Falwell’s book a 266-page tract for Moral Majority, there is more depth to the convictions expressed in Listen America! than in the news media’s generally inadequate treatment of the man and his views.

There is much about Listen America! that even a moderate evangelical can and should affirm. Who can argue with the conclusion that our public law and policy have wandered far from their historical and ideological foundations? Elton Trueblood has observed, “Only by terrific moral recovery are we going to keep the world from becoming a dark age.” Harold J. Berman, Story Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has warned that the radical separation of law and religion has brought us to the point that, “Our whole culture seems to be facing the possibility of a nervous breakdown.” Moreover, the specific moral issues addressed in Listen America! should also be of great concern to the evangelical. These include abortion, pornography, homosexuality, the pervasive reign of secular humanism in public schools and public policy, and various issues affecting the family.

There are certain aspects of Falwell’s approach to mutual concerns that many evangelicals will find problematic. First, there is the assumption that conservative, free-enterprise capitalism is a biblical rather than a political system, and the attendant characterization of the perceived need for a strong national defense and for a balanced budget as “moral” issues. Second, there is a general failure to recognize that there are some moral absolutists who nevertheless remain unconvinced that the law in a secular society should reflect any moral position. Third, there is an unrecognized distinction between public support of traditional values (for example, heterosexuality) and the requiring of public religious practices (for example, prayer or Bible reading in the public schools).

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Evangelicals should be thankful to Falwell for bringing to the surface crucial issues that have been submerged and festering for many years. This book raises complex issues that must now be thoughtfully addressed without resorting to ad hominem arguments about fundamentalism.

The Worldwide Church Of God: Pro And Con

Against the Gates of Hell, by Stanley R. Rader (Everest House, 1980, 400 pp., $12.00), and Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web, by David Robinson (John Hadden Pub., 1980, approx. 270 pp., $10.00 pb), are reviewed by Joseph M. Hopkins, professor of religion at Westminster College, New Wilmington. Pennsylvania.

These two books, both privately published (Everest House is owned by Worldwide Church of God), deal with a common topic—Herbert W. Armstrong and his religious empire—but from radically different perspectives. Rader, although a baptized convert (from Judaism) for less than six years, has been in the church’s employ since 1952 and has been its treasurer and legal counsel as well as the founder’s constant companion in jet junkets to heads of state around the world.

The focus of his book is the church’s battle with the State of California, which on January 3, 1979, imposed a receivership on the organization in response to charges by six dissident members of financial mismanagement and corruption at the hands of its chief executives, Armstrong and Rader. With the passage of the Petris bill (severely limiting governmental intrusion into church affairs) by the California legislature a few months ago, and the subsequent termination of the state’s investigation of the WCG and 11 other religious groups, the relevance of Rader’s spirited defense has diminished.

Nevertheless, the volume, which documents the conflict and provides useful background on Rader, Armstrong, and the church, is of historical significance. Inevitably, the author’s treatment is colored by his personal involvement in the drama, and the careful reader will want to turn to more objective sources for balance.

Robinson’s book lacks the impressive format and literary finesse of Rader’s. Nevertheless, the former air force pilot, who was for 30 years a member and for 10 a pastor and junior executive in the WCG, writes with apparent forthrightness and conviction. Expelled from the church in 1979, reportedly because he advocated compliance with the California investigation, he launched a devastating attack upon Armstrong and other WCG officials. Drawing on recollections of private conversations with Armstrong when the latter’s tongue was allegedly well lubricated with liquor, the author portrays the 88-year-old “apostle” as unscrupulous, vindictive, given to drunkenness, fits of rage, extravagance, and carnal lust. In the final chapter he alleges that Armstrong was involved in shocking sexual behavior. Not surprisingly, the church sought to suppress the publication—but a temporary restraining order was overturned and copies were released for distribution last summer. A $2 million lawsuit by two WCG executives is pending.

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Authentically Christian Growth Strategies

Planning Strategies for World Evangelization, by Edward R. Dayton and David A. Fraser (Eerdmans, 1980, 537 pp., $14.95), and Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth, by C. Norman Kraus (Herald Press, 1980, 176 pp., $5.95 pb), are reviewed by Stuart R. Imbach, director of public ministries, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Robesonia, Pennsylvania.

Planning Strategies for World Evangelization has brought together in one handy volume much of the latest thinking from the Pasadena missiologists. It claims to be “the confluence of a number of different streams” and it is a gold mine of helpful charts, diagrams, graphs, and models.

This is an American management “how to” book—a manual about the process of planning mission strategies. It is an approach to thinking rather than doing. Recognizing each situation as unique, it suggests a ten-step model to analyze and plan any specific mission endeavor. We are encouraged to be thinking (planning) about the future. Goals help us communicate to one another how to believe God is leading us. In this sense, goals become “statements of faith.” This book seeks to present a navigational device that will help us take advantage of the winds of change. It is both a training and an operational tool.

Missions, Evangelism, and ChurchGrowth is a symposium of addresses given in the Discipleship Lecture Forum series at Goshen College. Six men investigate in seven chapters the history and theology of missions. They evaluate recent ideas and experience, gathering helpful insights to stimulate discussion. Written from a denominational perspective (Mennonite), it will challenge many with its high view of the church.

Our changing concept of mission, culture, role, and relationship are traced through the major features of the modern missionary movement. Even our concept of salvation is changing, says Kraus, after carefully analyzing our changing view of the world, our use of social sciences, our understanding of the Bible and missionary experience.

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Howard Snyder’s chapter is worth the price of the book. Before sharing seven key propositions for developing an evangelistic lifestyle for the congregation, he evaluates recent mass media evangelistic campaigns. Peter Wagner’s chapter, “How Churches Grow,” got me so excited with its practical characteristics of growing churches that I almost rushed out to join a local Mennonite church! Six probing implications for congregations are drawn out of a summary of Donald McGavran’s church-growth principles. I admire this team’s eagerness to learn and its willingness to ask fundamental, critical questions related to church, kingdom, evangelism, and discipling.

While all will not agree with the theological implications of this book, all face the same realities. This book records the struggles of experienced missionaries in the hurricane of past experience, biblical mandate, popular theories, and practical problems so as to refocus on the true goal and achieve a more vigorous, authentic witness to Jesus Christ.

Differing in scope and perspective, these books make a great pair. Don’t read one without the other.

Relating The Gospel To The Whole World

Down to Earth, by John Stott and Robert Coote (Eerdmans, 1980, 276 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Pete Hammond, director of specialized ministries, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.

Down to Earth is an exciting book that consists primarily of 17 papers delivered at the Willowbank Consultation on the Gospel and Culture held in January 1978. The meeting brought together 33 leaders for six days of thinking and debate focusing on issues growing out of the Lausanne Covenant’s section on culture. A report of these meetings is provided at the end of the book. The 17 papers are grouped in three sets: Focusing on Culture and the Bible; Culture, Evangelism and Conversion; and Culture and Ethnic Ethics.

John Stott linked his gifts of solid thinking and international leadership with Bob Coote’s skills as writer and critic to put this collection together. Individual authors include familiar Western names like I. H. Marshall, Charles Taber, J. I. Packer, Harvie Conn, Charles Kraft, and Allen Tippett. One limitation is that only five pieces come from Asian, Latin, or African leaders. This was also a problem at the meetings.

The value of Down to Earth is as a resource to help us learn how to relate the gospel to various systems and units of human history. It views culture as something to be engaged and appreciated rather than as something that ought to be fought or escaped. Those who are still wrestling with the ways faith applies to, takes shape within, and opposes elements of our societies will find help here. As stated on the cover: “It was once commonly assumed among missionaries that in the encounter between the gospel and culture, only culture changed. Many missiologists, however, have discovered that transformation occurs in two directions: not only are cultures reshaped and redirected by the power of the gospel, but the gospel inevitably adapts itself to different cultures.”

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This volume highlights the need to move with determination in asking hard questions of ourselves if we are not to hinder reaching around the world to those who have yet to hear and see the good news. We must constantly seek to develop our ability to love and learn, and to link up with leaders whom God is using for the sake of his kingdom throughout the world. This book may also drive us to read Scripture with a sharper lens to the end that our hermeneutical skills are being constantly developed and refined. This is a valuable volume for those who want to continue the struggle to think more like God: with greater breadth and increasing humility.

Christian Historiography

Patterns in History, by David Bebbington (InterVarsity, 1979, 204 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Thomas R. Peake, chairman of the social sciences division, King College, Bristol, Tennessee.

In eight, compact, well-structured chapters, David Bebbington has provided a refreshingly purposeful study of basic historiography. Though obviously familiar with the literature of historical analysis, Bebbington has done more than produce just another book about the history of history.

Rather, he has probed the basic content of the major approaches to history and has directed the reader to a consideration of the distinctive elements of a Christian view of history and historiography. It should be read by all students of history who have sought to understand how one’s faith affects understanding human development. It will make valuable reading material for courses in historiography, as well as other disciplines concerned with comprehensive synthesis. It is interesting enough, too, for personal enrichment.

On the surface, Bebbington’s approach is rather traditional. He begins with the typical delineation of the problems of the historian’s task. History as occurrence and history as written can never be precisely coordinated. The historian’s own mind and limitations of knowledge preclude perfect selection or evaluation. In the actual literature of history, five basic schools of historiography have emerged and Bebbington analyzes each: cyclical, Judeo-Christian linear, progress view of the eighteenth-century philosopher, historicist, and Marxist.

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Bebbington is at his best in cutting to the heart of the issues dividing the positivist and idealist approaches to history. Positivism derived from the progress view, idealism from historicism. The former sees man as part of a mechanism that operates according to laws, the latter as a free agent consciously seeking goals within history. To the historicist, history is all there is. Within it, each nation has unique features and challenges. Marxism, which shares features of positivism (especially under the impact of Engels) places specific focus on production as the key determinative of history.

A bold incisiveness marks Bebbington’s efforts at reconciling the positivist-idealist tension. Having carefully presented each school of historiography, he seeks to describe a Christian perspective on them, and particularly on this tension. He sees the value of both the positivist and idealist, and correctly takes the problem back to the realities of human nature. This is the point missed by many who have sought to understand history. Man is both the product of “laws” (that is, his behavior is determined) and a free agent (can act to shape his own, and general, history). This amounts to an antinomy, which the Christian historian must accept. Depending on his audience, the Christian historian may specifically allude to God’s providence in human affairs, or implicitly present it consistently in the overall product of his analysis. What counts is that he can discern it.

Recent Books On Pastoral Care

Recent books on pastoral care are reviewed by William F. Hunter, D. Min., registrar and director of admissions at Rosemead Graduate School of Professional Psychology, La Mirada, California.

As with other disciplines and specializations, publishing continues at an accelerated rate in the field of pastoral care—some of it good, some not so good. The field continues to struggle for identity, practicing a kind of brinkmanship between theology and psychology and between theory and practice in general. One wonders at times if pastoral care is in reality a confused set of practices in search of a supporting theoretical base.

A few attempts continue toward providing the field with an underlying raison d’être to guide its practice. Charles Gerkin’s Crisis Experience in the Church (Abingdon) distinguishes pastoral care as different from other helping sources because it is the means by which moderns can recover “a powerful sense of God’s providential care in times of crisis and vulnerability to the awareness of infinitude.” The pastor is urged to adopt an “incarnational style” in helping persons through crises, accidental and anticipated, throughout the life cycle. Leaning more to the psychological is Donald Capps’s Pastoral Care: A Thematic Approach (Westminster). Capps pulls together Erickson’s familiar list of psychosocial themes, with contributions from others (Murray, White, Lifton) as a theoretical base for the practice of pastoral care and counseling. Thematic analyses are meant to capture the basic intentionalities of the human personality. Capps’s concern is to clarify the pastor’s role in helping individuals change the characteristic and unproductive ways they respond to life situations. The book contains a creative integration of psychosocial themes with the theological perspectives suggested in the work of Paul Pruyser’s The Minister as Diagnostician (Westminster). Gerkin and Capps could profitably be read together.

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So much for theory. The random selection of volumes here reviewed is far more oriented to the practice than the theory of pastoral care and counseling. Varying approaches and emphases are to be found in this recent literature. David Augsburger’s Anger and Assertiveness in Pastoral Care (Fortress) targets a major area of concern in the minister’s own personal awareness. It urges constructive management of anger as a significant aspect of the minister’s professional development. It is one of the best of the volumes in Fortress’s Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling series and shows Augsburger at his best as a communicator. George Bennett’s When They Ask for Bread (John Knox) is a practical discourse emphasizing the importance of knowing what people want—the ability to hear the secret meanings found in their spoken messages and behaviors. He encourages recognition of the need for similar skills and attitudes in informal or formal pastoral helping.

Helping, not as an option but as a given item on God’s agenda for the church, is the thrust of C. W. Brister’s Take Care: Translating Christ’s Love into a Caring Ministry (Broadman). Helping is viewed here as the driving force at the center of Christian character: being is a necessary qualification for doing. In The Religious Care of the Psychiatric Patient (Westminster), Wayne Oates urges pastors to avoid prescriptive techniques with those who have severe emotional disorders. He affirms that professionals in theological as well as health care disciplines can inform and correct each other in the process of arriving at sound diagnostic and treatment decisions. This, of course, requires an interdisciplinary appreciation and insight regarding the psychiatric patient’s religious background and concerns. Oates can always be counted on for first-class writing on pastoral care, and this book is no exception.

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Psychiatrist William Oglesby, Jr.’s Referral in Pastoral Counseling, second edition (Abingdon), encourages accurate assessment and awareness of the minister’s own unique resources for helping, and an equally accurate knowledge of referral resources available in the other helping professions. In this regard, Robert Mason, a physician, and Carl Currier and John Curtis, psychologists, collaborated in Clergyman and the Psychiatrist (Nelson-Hall) to help ministers know when and when not to refer. The authors fault ministers who, anxious to be credible in a skeptical and scientifically oriented world, surrender much that is at the heart of theology and at the core of their uniqueness as ministers who are members of the team helping in the treatment of human emotional ills.

Several books are directed not so much to the professional minister as to lay people in the overall context of the church’s helping ministry. Judith Shelly’s Caring in Crisis (InterVarsity) is a study course designed to prepare lay people to meet the spiritual needs of people in crisis. Shelly emphasizes meeting spiritual needs as an integral part of Christian caring. Harold Burchett’s People Helping People (Moody) takes the position that pastoral care is a body function rather than merely a professional specialization. Building up of another person is seen as a basic expression of one’s own spiritual life. Burchett suggests the use of “seasonable, fitting words,” heavily laced with biblical passages, as the means of restoring perspective, challenging the rebel, undeceiving the mind, helping break the bonds of habitual sin, and breaking up the argument cycle. Well-intentioned, but tending to oversimplification of the helping process, the confrontational style implicit in this model could turn out to be a kind of spiritual one-upmanship in the hands of those seriously lacking in therapeutic attitudes and skills.

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Robert Somerville’s Help for Hotliners (Presbyterian and Reformed) is a training manual for telephone crisis counselors in which an overly confrontational style also may be criticized. The author cues his methodology to the literature and technique of Jay Adams’s “nouthetic” model, again emphasizing confrontation at the expense of therapeutic process. Much of what goes by the name of pastoral care in evangelical circles is too often characterized by “bomb” rather than “balm.”

Other volumes focus on pastoral care for specific groups or subgroups often neglected in the church’s priorities for caring and helping. Editor Geiko Müller-Farenholz’s Partners in Life: The Handicapped and the Church (World Council of Churches) is a useful compendium surveying the theological basis and practical outworking of ministry to the handicapped. Disability is viewed as an immense global problem affecting people of any class, sex, race, or nation. An insightful theological perspective concludes that the church itself is not whole without the handicapped.

Lowell Colston’s brief treatment of Pastoral Care with Handicapped Persons (Fortress) proposes an abiding advocacy on behalf of the handicapped, encompassing “a continuing, unfailing, persistent standing by, or moving with, or entering into” their sufferings. Colston suggests that most handicapped persons appreciate thoughtful and considerate, even confrontive, interactions with people who demonstrate trust and faith in their capacity to overcome the limitations imposed by their handicap. Edgar Lawrence’s fine little manual. Ministering to the Silent Minority (Gospel Publishing House), works at raising the consciousness of the church concerning ministry among the deaf, and expands the possibilities and directions in which caring and helping may be expressed. Ronald Hunt’s The Church’s Pilgrimage of Pastoral Care in Mental Retardation (Vantage) helps direct the attention of the church to the needs of the developmentally retarded.

Concern for the aging is another evidence of the expanding dimensions of ministry. Henry Rightor’s Pastoral Counseling in Work Crises (Judson) adds the vocational area for consideration by pastoral counselors, Rightor insists that the work crisis of a healthy, aging person facing retirement does not differ from the work crisis of a younger person.

This sampling from the current literature does not provide a comprehensive view of contemporary pastoral care. It may, however, be suggestive of two trends that will become more apparent with the passing of time. First, even a cursory glance at these titles makes it clear that the church has no intention of surrendering its traditional helping role to the proliferating secular human services agencies; and second, the real crisis in pastoral care is in its inadequate theoretical base. The latter makes the effort to meet the needs of people a patchwork of practices and approaches that are strongly influenced by psychology but do not have a creative integration of that discipline with theology.

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