A Look at Books

1978 DAILY MANNA DEVOTIONS. Edited by Rev. Timothy M. Mousma. Published by Nelson Christian Book Store, 2007 Eastern Ave., S. E., Grand Rapids, Mich. $4.95.

An Indian of high caste once said to a missionary: “If you Christians in India, in Britain, or in America were like your hook, you would conquer India in live years.”

“To be like our Book” – it is that to which Daily Manna challenges us by means of its brief, pithy, well-written meditations—one for every day of the year. For many years the late Professor Martin Monsma faithfully edited Daily Manna to be used chiefly as an aid to family worship, and as such it has found its way into thousands of Christian homes in which the family altar is still intact. It has long been our custom (my wife’s and mine) at Christmas to present each of our live children and their families with a copy of Daily Manna, a spiritually useful gift to appreciate and profit from all year long. It is our fondest hope and prayer that, also by this daily reading, they and we together may ever become more and more like our precious Book, as we are called to be.

Rev. Tim Monsma, editor of Daily Manna, and his capable sister (Hester) arc now rendering valuable service as they carry on this helpful publication begun by their father many years ago. Although the majority of contributors to Daily Manna are of the CRC, there are also those of the RCA, two women (Katie Gunnink and Laurie Vanden Heuvel), and the wellknown Professor G. N. M. Collins of Edinburgh, Scotland.

The plan and format of Daily Manna are to be commended: (1) because the meditations for each month are printed in separate booklets easy to handle and readily available if kept in the family Bible; and (2) because each writer has a special topic for his or her week of meditations. The list includes such topics as “Christian homes,” “loneliness,” “Poverty,” “Women at Work,” etc.

In the Preface to this 1978 Daily Manna Calendar. Editor Tim Monsma  states: “Those who buy these devotional booklets . . . will receive spiritual nourishment as the Israelites received daily physical nourishment many years ago. They will also be plugging into the Mana (power) that can by God’s grace revitalize and energize their lives, such as no other mana can do.”


FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP, E SSAYS IN THE VAN TIL PERSPECTIVE. Edited by Cary North, A Chalcedon Study. Ross House Books, Vallecito, California, 1976, 334 pp. Reviewed by Rev. Elco H. Oostendorp, Hudsonville, Michigan.

The Preface of this book informs us that it is sponsored by Chalcedon, Inc., a non-profit educational foundation. “The goal of the editor and all the contributors is the spread of the Christian gospel into all realms of life, including the academic.” It is hoped that the work begun With this volume may be expanded in the future, and scholars who share Van Til’s presuppositional approach and who have a chapter which might fit into a new edition are asked to contact Chalcedon at P.O. Box 158, Vallecito, CA 92251. This book thus represents an ambitious effort to apply the teachings of Dr. C. Van Til to the entire field of Christian scholarship. Several of the contributors are connected with Westminster Seminary, either as graduates or faculty members.

The book is divided into three parts:

1. Epistemological Criticism, 2. Academic Disciplines, 3. Foundations for Christian Reconstruction. Part One contains two essays, The Epistemological Crisis of American Universities by Gary North and The Quest for Common Ground by Rousas J. Rushdoony. Both point out that man-centered thinking cannot give certainty and commend the position of Dr. Van Til as the only wound for true epistemology, that is, how man gets knowledge of reality.

Part Two contains seven essays on as many academic disciplines: Psychology by Rushdoony, History by C. Gregg Singer, Economics by Gary North, Education by William Blake, Political Science by Lawrence Pratt, SOCiology by North and Mathematics by Vern Poythress. From the nature of the case, these studies are not easy reading for those not somewhat at home in these disciplines. In each else the status of modern teaching in these fields is examined to show that the tensions between rationalism and irrationalism, inductive and deductive approaches, etc., has led to an impasse, and it is shown how Van Til’s revelational approach is the answer.

The last three essays in Part Three are on Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen, Philosophy also by Bahnsen and Theology by John M. Frame. I found the essay by Frame (Assistant professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster) very interesting and helpful and very readable for anyone who is at all versed in theology. It is an attempt to show that though Calvinism is paradoxical in teaching what seem to be contradictory doctrines this docs not mean that it is really inconsistent and illogical.

Space does not permit an evaluation of the basic position of the book. It is a tribute to a great defender of the Reformed faith.

THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10–13, by D. Martyn Lloyd Jones. 1977, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. $8.95. Reviewed by Anne Vanden Heuvel.

Because Dr. Jones felt strongly that Christians today need the same warnings as did the early Christians of Paul’s day, he wrote this great book. It is a series of sermons which he preached in Westminster Chapel, London, England.

Imagine a book of some 373 pages on just 3 verses!

He explains in detail the strength of the devil and the great struggle which goes on continuously in the life of the Christian. The devil uses many different, subtle ways to try to undermine the work of God’s grace such as False assurance, Discouragement, Worldliness, Worry, and Anxiety, to mention only a few.

Dr. Jones assures the children of God that God is Omnipotent and will give us the power to overcome these wiles of the devil if we put on the whole armor of God.

In these days when the existence of the devil is questioned by many on the one hand, and the devil is worshipped by some on the other hand, it is important that we Christians understand the Biblical teaching of the evil one and are warned about this strategy, so that we can be fully armed.

This hook should be on our church library shelves and used as a source book for Bible Studies on Ephesians.

A CHRISTIAN’S RESPONSE TO ISLAM by William M. Miller. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Box 185, Nutley, N.J. 07110, 1976. 178 pp., paperback, 53.50. Reviewed by J. W. Van Stempvoort, Leota, Minnesota.

This well-printed little volume, as its title indicates, is about one of the world’s leading religions. The author, Dr. William M. Miller, was himself a missionary of the Presbyterian church to the Muslims in Iran from 1919 to 1962. We have here thus an expert speaking to us on a subject close to his heart. I must confess that, before reading Dr. Miller‘s book, my knowledge of the religion of Islam and its adherents, the Muslims, was very limited. I didn’t realize, for instance, that one seventh of the present-day world’s population or about 600 million persons are Muslims. The book contains, among other things, a brief history of how the religion of Islam began. Then the author goes on to set forth some of the outstanding beliefs and practises of Muslims, which he follows tip with a chapter on the differences between Islam and Christianity.

There has not been, so Dr. Miller reports a large favorable response to Christianity in most of the Muslim world. But there have been fruits, some of which the author describes in the chapter entitled “From Darkness to Light.” The last two chapters deal with more practical matters related to mission work among the Muslims. The author gives helpful suggestions, based on his long experience as a missionary, as to how to present the Gospel to these people. He also presents us with sixteen reasons why there should be on-going mission work among the Muslims.

I would strongly recommend this book to any who are interested in learning more about the religion of Islam and missions to the Muslim world. The book is written in a simple non-technical style, which should be easily rend by all. A valuable addition to private or church libraries.

THE CHRISTIAN COUNSELORS MANUAL, Jay E. Adams. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1973, 429 pp. plus 50 pp. Appendices and Indexes, $7.95. Reviewed by Rev. Elco H. Oostendorp, Hudsonville, Michigan.

Since this book appeared on the market three years ago (published in 1973), it is no doubt already well known to those who are interested in the subject of Christian Counseling. The author, Dr. Jay Adams is well known among readers of THE OUTLOOK for his earlier books, especially Competent to Counsel, which was published in 1971 and has come out in several editions and printings. He has also lectured frequently in our circles. In view of these facts, this review can be brief and consist more in calling attention 10 this book and recommending it to our readers than in an evaluation.

Dr. Adams has developed a system of counseling which he calls nouthetic confrontation. This is described the oretically in Competent To Counsel, The Christian Counselor’s Manual is intended as a practical guide for Christian counselors, specifically ministers and elders, in practicing the principles of this distinctively biblical method to help people overcome their problems.

Anyone who thinks that this is a manual which would enable one to be come an expert counselor in ten easy lessons is bound to be disappointed. Adams stresses that counseling is hard, time consuming work. Although a Christian Counselor’s Starter Packet of materials referred to in the book is advertised, it is obvious from the book itself that one can only be “competent to counsel” when one is wholly committed to the principles upon which the method is based. Since nouthetic confrontation stresses repentance, prayer and obedience to God’s Word, as well as acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Manual can only be successfully used by a counselor who accepts this approach as the answer to our problems.

Reading the book can be valuable even for those who do not intend to become practicing counselors. There are many excellent discussions of Scripture passages that can be used in sermon preparation (preaching may be regarded as a form of group counseling). There are helpful discussions of how to deal with family problems, sexual difficulties and so-called mental problems such as depression and “schizophrenia.” Dr. Adams takes a position on homosexualism that differs from that Adopted by the Christian Reformed Synod in that he maintains there is no distinction between homosexual tendencies (not sinful in themselves) and homosexual acts (which are sinful).

What especially commends the book is that the principles and methods it advocates are being applied with great success by the author and his assistants in the Christian Counseling and Educational Center, 151 County Line Road, Hatboro, Pa. 19040.

Highly recommended.