A Look at Books

Jay E. Adams: YOUR PLACE IN THE COUNSELlNG REVOLUTION. Nutley, N.J.; Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976. 44 pp. $ .95. Reviewed by William H. Kooienga, Glen Rock, N.J.

Jay Adams continues to write at a pace faster than some are willing to read, The flow of books and pamphlets testifies to a great sense of purpose and energy which he brings 10 his task. What, however, is the goal which Adams so actively pursues? The answer is “revolution.”

The title might place him in a camp with pointless innovators, hut no, this revolution is with purpose. The world of counseling is in a state of confusion. The evidence he cites includes the ludicrous example of twelve same persons sent to leading mental hospitals to test the accuracy of today’s psychotherapeutic diagnosis. All were wrongly diagnosed as having serious “mental illness.” Further reflection says that this is no laughing matter.

The solution to modern confusion lics with counseling based on the Scriptures. Christ has given us everything we need for life and godliness through 0ur knowledge of Him (II Peter 1:3). II Timothy 3:16 speaks of both inspiration and the equipment of the mall of God. The Scriptures plainly teach that the pastor and the members of Christ’s church bear the responsibility for assist· ing others with the problems of daily living.

After discussing the distortions present in attempts to add God to a humanist counseling framework, and the futility of trying to find biblical themes in essentially pagan solutions, he begins to share his dreams of revolution. Counseling is related to the mission task of the church. The church filled with troubled families looses its power to witness to the world. Proper bibilical counseling is a prerequisite for effective evangelism.

Adams also shares the interesting observation that the fundamentalistliberal battle of this century left the evangelical churches in a weakened condition. Such churches were strong in knowledge of the doctrines necessary to combat liberal forces, but weak in the ability to apply biblical truths to daily living. He has no desire to undermine doctrinal knowledge, but urges that it be balanced by an emphasis on God’s counsel for daily life.

To the final chapter is left the biblical description of a pastor and the responsibilities of church members in the counseling ministry. There is also a challenge to get involved in the revolution which has begun,

If minister:s and others take Adams seriously (and many do), there will be a revolution in the church. The old gods of humanistic psychology and psychiatry will be toppled from their lofty position in the hearts of too many in the church. As a stimulating introduction to healthy changes in the field of pastoral counseling, this little book serves its purpose well.

THE WORKS OF RICHARD SIBBES; Edited with Memoir by Alexander H. Corsart, The Banner of Truth Trust, pages CXXI and 445, price $1.95. Reviewed by Rev. Elco H. O0stendorp, Hudsonville, Michigan.

This is a reprint of an edition of the works of Richard Sibbes originally published in 1882. There are six other volumes in that edition, but this first one contains the writings of Sibbes published in his lifetime and under his personal supervision. Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) was a Puritan preacher at Gray’s Inn and lecturer in Cambridge University. He was popularly known as the ‘“heavenly” Dr. Sibbes because of his character and the spiritual emphasis in his sermons.

The Memoir by the Editor gives a rather detailed account of his life and writings. He lived and ministered during the exciting and difficult years of the rise of Puritanism and expereniced much opposition from the high-church party. He had contacts with the leading people of the time. Gorsart has done a great deal of research and his enthusiasm and admiration for the Puritan cause come through strongly. Sibbes’ most famous work was “the Bruised Reed,” which was instrumental in the conversion nf the well-known Richard Baxter. This is a series of sermons on Matthew 12:20 (quoting Isaiah 42:3). In later editions the sermon form was changed and the whole divided into twenty-eight short chapters. A second major work, almost equally well-known, is “The Soul‘s Conflict, And Victory Over Itself By Faith.” This was a series of sermons on Psalm 42:10, but like “The Bruised Reed” it is also divided into chapters; it covers 159 pages of small type. In addition to these two major works there are several sermons, among which is a series of five on I Peter 4:17–19.

Sibbes was a staunch Calvinist and his sermons contain much solid theology. As is characteristic of the writers of that period (the so-called “Oude Schrijvers”) his strength is emphasis on the experiential aspects of salvation, involving knowledge both of sin and grace. Dr. J. I. Packer writes on the dust jacket: Known in his own day as the sweet dropper’ because of the confidence and joy to which his sermons gave rise, Sibbes concentrated on exploring the love, power and patience of Christ, and the riches of the promises of God. He was a pioneer in working out the devotional application of God’s covenant of grace.” In the publisher’s Preface it is said that C. H. Spurgeon and Dr. Lloyd-Jones both recommend the works of Sibbes very highly and found him a rich source of information and inspiration. Need I say more?

JOHN CALVIN, A BIOGRAPHY by T. H. L. Parker. Philadelphia: WestlllillWr Press, 1975. 190 pp. $10.95. Reviewed by John Bratt.

Is there warrant fo r a new biography of the Geneva Reformer? The obvious answer is that there is if a new contribution to Calvin studies is forthcoming. This one by a professor of theology at the University of Durham in England, a leading authority on Calvin, purports to be that. The author of this charmingly written, freshly-researched work concedes that there are no new hard facts emerging (you can find those basic facts in the major biographies of this century: Walker, 1906; Reyburn, 1914; Hunt, 1933 and MacKinnon, 1936) but insists at the s.1me time that the vast changes that have taken place in our world in the last 40 years and the contributions to Calvin studies by Karl Barth and the Roman Catholic scholars who now deem him not a “heretic” but a “separated brother” warrant another full scale biography.

In this work Dr. Parker does illuminate further the background, giving a rather full description of student life ill the limes of Calvin, and he comes up with some redating including the date of Calvin’s conversion. Reputable Calvin scholars like Ford Battles and the late J. T. McNeill acknowledged the paucity of our data on this question but felt inclined to set his conversion to Protestantism sometime between 1532 and 1534. Parker argues for an earlier date. He finds most crucial in this question a passage in Calvin‘s preface to his Commentary on the Psalms (1537) . Others found their basis for judgment in Calvin‘s Second Admonition to Westphal and in his Reply to Sadoleto but Parker does not think that they speak directly to the issue. On the basis of his analysis of the preface passage he comes to the conclusion that Calvin’s conversion occurred at Bourges in the course of his law studies. And it was at Bourges, so he claims, that Calvin began preaching and expounding the Scriptures to the evangelicals of the Protestant faith. It is true, he concedes, that Calvin did not resign his “benefice,” the grantin-aid that enabled him to further his education, until 1534 but that was, says Parker, because Calvin did not at once see the ethical implications of his newly-found faith. What keeps Parker‘s case from being totally convincing to my mind is this fact that Calvin, with his quickness of discerning implications, kept on receiving monetary help from the Roman Catholics some four or five years after he broke with them. But all in all this is a substantial contribution to Calvin studies.

UNCLE BEN’S QUOTEBOOK by Benjamin R. De Jong. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. $7.95. Reviewed by Rev. John Vander Ploeg.

Well-bound, intriguing in format, and chock-full of home bits of wisdom and spiritual counsel, Uncle Ben’s Quotebook is a 304-page compilation of clever and wholesome quotations gathered by the author from various sources over a period of fifty years, and, in the process, put to use by him while a Christian school principal, later in the ministry, and more recently as an instructor and counselor at Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music.

Never having met the author, I nevertheless feel that he is no stranger to me because of my fifty-year acquaintance with his brother, Rev. Fran\.: De Jong, whose wholesome wit and humor we, his classmates, enjoyed so much in our student days at Calvin Seminary, and also still appreciate from an occasional meeting or by way of a letter from distant California. One of the quotes in Uncle Bens book suggests a desirable and probably a family trait that must have stood both Ben and Frank in good stead during their long years of Christian service. The Quote: A child of God should be serious without being sour, and happy without being foolish.

When used with discretion, selectively, and without failing to cultivate one’s own originality as we should, Uncle Ben’s book may contribute a bit of Spice to what could otherwise be a dull performance in the classroom or even on the pulpit. This compilation is arranged under topics listed alphabetically.

A brief example: “Don‘t speak unless you can improve the silence.”

A longer one under EXAMPLE: A careful man I ought to be, A little fellow follows me. I do not dare to go astray For fear he’ll go the selfsame way. Not once can I escape his eyes; Whate’er he sees me do he tries. Like me he says he’s going to be, That little chap who follows me. I must remember as I go Through summer sun and winter snow, I’m molding for the years to be— The little chap who follow me.

Uncle Ben’s Quotebook is a treasure-trove of interesting and edifying quotations among which may be found nuggets of wisdom; yes, even “words fitly spoken like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Also an unfailing source of suitable and pithy sayings for the church bulletin board.

CHURCH GROWTH IS NOT THE POINT, by Hobert K. Hudnut. Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, N. Y. 10022. xi, 143 pages. $7.95. Reviewed by Henry Petersen.

The Rev. Hudnut, a Presbyterian minister in Minneapolis, is author of seven ether books. This book is a sequel to his The Sleeping Giant and Arousing the Sleeping Giant. In all three he maintains that “most churches could be two-thirds smaller and lose nothing in power. In most churches, the first third are committed, the second third are peripheral, and the third third are out.”

This book is provocative because the chief emphasis in our day is on numerical church growth and how to achieve it. People are concerned, even worried, because the church today is losing rather than gaining in membership. Hudnut says that the loss in church membership is a God-given opportunity to “turn the world upside down” for Christ. “Church growth is not the point. The point is whether the church is being true to the Gospel.”

In seventeen short but powerful chapters the theme of the book is developed. To be true to the Gospel we must toward God, be obedient, be passive, rather than active. This means that we must let God work in us and through us. We must learn what it means to be saved by grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and to live the Christ-like life. In order to be what God intends us to be we must be born again, converted, and then be servants (slaves) of Jesus Christ. We must be nothing that God may be all. The book abounds with Scriptural references and examples.

It is refreshing to be directed away from the often subjective and self-centered piety of many evangelicals to a God-centered and objective Christian faith in action. Read this book to be challenged and perhaps corrected.

APOCALYTIC by Leon Morris. Eeromans, Grand Rapids. 1972. 87 pages, paperback, $1.95. Reviewed by Rev. Jerome Julien, pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Pella, Iowa.

This little book has as its purpose to explain the form of literature common in Biblical times called apocalyptic. It is not a profound piece of work by the author’s own admission. In that way it becomes a valuable piece of writing. A student or an advanced scholar would benefit from this short, clear and tothe-point book. Many of the short chapters deal with various characteristics of this kind of writing. As you perhaps know, the Book of Revelation is commonly considered an apocalyptic book and of course because the word itself appears in the Greek text of the first verse. The author points out, however, that the last book of the Bible is more than apocalyptic. It is also prophecy, as the hook also tells us. To understand the Book of Revelation it is helpful to know the characteristic:; of apocalyptic but thankfully the book is more than that. In Revelation there is the Gospel.

This little book from the pen of the Principle of Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia, is a very helpful little book and worth reading.