A Look at Books

SPRINGBOARDS FOR DISCUSSION (No.2) by John H. Bratt. Published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1974. Reviewed by Rev. Robert Broekema, pastor of Christian Reformed Church of Rudyard, Michigan.

Dr. John Bratt has long served the Reformed faith with distinction. Until his recent retirement he served for some thirty years as professor and chairman of Calvin College’s Department of Religion and Theology. During this time he has written widely read books on the Reformed faith. However, he probably is best known to many through his column in The Banner, “The Reader Asks.”

Using the format of his column, Dr. Bratt has now rendered us another valuable service with his book Springboards for Discussion – 2. In this book Dr. Bratt explores 37 different questions, ranging from such vast ethical questions as, “Can There Be a Just War?” to the interesting, if not vital question, “Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on December 25?”

To be more precise, the book is divided into four sections – On Moral and Religious Problems; On the First Book of the Bible; On the Life, Character, and Teachings of Jesus; and On the Whys of Scripture. The format remains the same throughout the brief 37 units of the book. A question is raised at the beginning, Dr. Bratt offers us his usual thoughtful, careful answers and then raises related questions of his own leading to further discussion.

This writer intends to introduce the book to a “coffee and discussion” group that meets in his own church. In his opinion that would be the place where the book could best be utilized. Its readers may find themselves agreeing fully with Dr. Bratt’s answers; they may find themselves disagreeing with some of them. But that is just what the book is al! about – Springboards for Discussion. And some lively and profitable discussion could grow from reading this book.

THE BIBLE AND DRUG ABUSE, by Robert A. Morey – The Presbyterian The Giving Plan and Reformed Publishing Company 1973. Paperback, $1.45. Reviewed by Rev. Peter Vander Weide, pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Jenison, Michigan.

This is a marvelous little book. It is written by a man who has worked WitJl drug addicts in the drug society of Greenwich Village. He knows what he is talking about. It is a baSically Christian approach to the drug problem, in which addiction is viewed not as a disease, but a sin (p. 21); which, as in the case of alcoholism, is not caught like a disease, but taught and learned like a habit (11. 97). Thus the only real cure for addiction of any sort is the work of the Holy Spirit (p. 35), which involves repentance (p. 21). As the author observes, “But the mere fact that hard-core alcoholics have been converted and as a result they never needed or touched a drop of alcohol again but have become sober, upright citizens reveals that the condition is not really a disease” (p. 97).

The author approaches the subject in the light of the infallible Scriptures (p. 3), viewing addiction as it relates to the Creation, the Fall, and Redemption. Hc gives some excellent insights into various passages of Scripture that apply to addiction, including the observation that sercery in the Bible is usually associated with drug abuse (p. 33).

In the chapter titled “Parents, Pastors, and Teachers” the author offers excellent advice to such individuals when they become aware of a drug problem in their home, church, or school.

Many think that a drug experience can be a true religious or spiritual experience. The author catagorically rejects this notion. “With his heart gone, his soul high, his mind blown, and his strength evaporated, he cannot worship God” (p. 47). This reviewer appreciates the fact that the author stresses a strong Christian environment as the best antidote agains drug addiction. Every Christian home should have a copy on the shelf.