A Look at Books

GRACE UNLIMITED. Edited by Clark H. Pinnock. Bethany Fellowship, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1975, 264 pp., $4.95, paper. Reviewed by Rev. Johan D. Tangelder.

This symposium was written explictly against Calvinism. Each essay supports one variety or another of the Wesley-Arminian tradition. The contributors are Clark Pinnock who wrote the Introduction and “Responsible Freedom and the Flow of Biblical History”; Vernon C. Grounds, “God’s Universal Salvific Grace”; Donald M. Lake, “He Died for All: The Universal Dimensions of the Atonement” and “Jacob Arminius’ Contribution to a Theology of Grace”; Jack W . Cottrell, “Conditional Election”; William G. MacDonald, “The Spirit of Grace”; David J. A. Clines, “Predestination in the Old Testament”; I. Howard Marshall, “Predestination in the New Testament”; Grant R. Osborne, “Soteriology in the Epistle to the Hebrews” and “Exegetical Notes on Calvinist Texts”; James D. Strauss, “God’s Promise and Universal History” and “A Puritan in a Post-Puritan World Jonathan Edwards”; A. Skevington Wood, “The Contribution of John Wesley to the Theology of Grace.” Since the book is written by prominent evangelicals for evangelicals, it will be widely read.

The basic presupposition of the authors is that “God is good in an unqualified manner, and that He desires the salvation of all sinners” (p. 11). The authors claim that the purpose of the work “is not to be polemical,” and that they don’t desire “to revive the old and tragic controversies of Calvinism and Arminianism” (p. 45). But this claim is false! The essays are slanted and polemical. For example, Clark Pinnock says about Calvinism: “This theology which, in its dreadful doctrine of double predestination, calls into question God’s desire to save all sinners and which as a logical consequence denies Christ died to save the world at large, is simply unacceptable exegetically, theologically, and morally, and to it we must say an emphatic “No” (p. 12). The authors are far from objective in setting forth the Calvinist position. They often paint caricatures. They leave the impression that their main concern is the scoring of points in their debate with Calvinists.

I was surprised to read that Karl Barth’s view of election was suggested as “yet another option for the evangelical theologian” (p. 14). Karl Barth’s position on election is not defensible. Barth taught that Christ is the foundation of election. Predestination is truth in Jesus Christ. Christ is the light of predestination. All men are chosen in Jesus Christ. Christ is both the reprobate and the elect for us all, so that all might be redeemed in Him. This teaching brought Barth to the brink of universalism, though he refused to identify himself with that position. I just cannot understand how an evangelical author can argue that Barth‘s view is an alternative for the evangelical.

Ephesians 1:4, 5, appealed to by Barth, refers to believers and not to all men. Paul tells us that God was motivated by sovereign love in choosing unto eternal life certain persons out of the fallen human race.

The authors refuse to accept the paradox of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. They argue for the either or position. Calvinism argues for the both-and position. The eternal destiny of every human being was determined by God’s decree but man is still responsible. God cannot be blamed for the lostness of the lost. Calvinism shows that divine sovereignty and human responsibility arc both taught in Scripture.

Arminians claim that grace is not weakened by their position. But how can one believe in the majesty of God’s sovereign grace and at the same time accept man’s self-determination in salvation? Donald M. Lake says: “Christ’s work on the cross was sufficient to redeem all mankind, but its application depends upon man’s response of faith, by which he lays hold of Christ and shares in the fulness of Christ’s atoning work” (pp. 41f.). Clark Pinnock states: “One of the deepest of all human intuitions, even in those persons with philosophical, theological, or psychological misgivings, is the sense of freedom to determine what they shall do and what they shall be” (p. 95).

I suggest that pastors buy this book. It will keep them abreast in the current Arminian-Calvinist debate. I hope that soon a Calvinist symposium will be forth-coming that will refute the old Arminian errors dressed in modern garb.

WHICH BIBLE? Edited by David Otis Fuller, D.D. Reviewed by Dr. William Hendriksen.

This book is a vigorous defense of the King James Version of the Bible. I heartily agree with the authors, Dr. Fuller, Z. C. Hodges, H. W. Coray in their defense of the Bible’s inerrancy against attacks being made upon it.

I regret that I cannot agree, however, with their all-out defense of the Greek text—that is, the Textus Receptus (Received text)—upon which the King James Version is based. I cannot endorse many such statements as “The King James Version has. the strongest possible claim to be regarded as authentic representation of the original text.”

This evaluation conflicts with the convictions of men who have made textual criticism one of their fields of special interest. Thus Dr. B. B. Warfield brands the elevation of the Textus Receptus to the level of the only true text a manifestation of “reverence for the Word perversely exercised” (Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p. 216). Dr. A. T. Robertson states, “There are still defenders of the Textus Receptus . but the tide has turned definitely against the traditional text” (Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p.22). And Dr. B. M. Metzger describes the Greek text on which the King James Version is based as being “essentially a handful of late and haphazardly collected miniscule manuscripts.” He adds, “In a dozen passages its reading is supported by no known Greek witness” (Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p. 106).

Besides, even if one should agree with Dr. Fullers high regard for the Greek text on which the King James Version is based, it would still remain a question whether it is wise to force that translation of the year 1611 upon our sons and daughters, who speak a different language. What, for example, can today’s younger generation make of such King James Version passages as the following: “With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even apparently” (Numbers 12:8), and “I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist” (Mark 6:25)?

We are thankful to God for the many blessings that have resulted from the publication of the King James Version, but let us move onward and read the precious Word of God in the language of today. When Jesus and the apostles addressed the people, they did this in the language of their own day. Let us therefore also allow Scripture to speak to our present generation in a language they can understand; that is in today’s English.

SOLI DEO GLORIA: ESSAYS IN REFORMED THEOLOGY—FESTSCHRIFT FOR JOHN GERSTNER. Edited by R. C. Sproul. Nutley, N. J., Presbyterian and Reformed. 1976·. 210 pp. $6.95. Review by Rev. Jerome Julien, pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Pella, Iowa.

Taking its place on the ever growing shelf of festschrifts (volumes commemorating the work of some theologian) is this one commemorating the work of John H. Gerstner, professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Besides a bibliography of Gerstner’s writings, this volume includes papers by many of the outstanding orthodox theologians of our day. John Warwick Montgomery (“Chemnitz on the Council of Trent”), Cornelius Van Til (“Calvin the Controversialist”), James I. Packer (“Sola Fide: The Reformed D0ctrine of Justification”), Philip Edgcumbe Hughes (“The Sovereignty of God—Has God Lost Control?”), Roger Nicole (“Introduction and Deduction with Reference to Inspiration”). There are fourteen papers in all. Others are about the Sabbath, Jonathan Edwards, Double Predestination, Total Depravity, the Pastor, Psalm 12 and Princeton piety as seen notably in Charles Hodge. Especially interesting is the contribution of Dr. John Murray on “Irresistible Grace” written shortly before his death. These essays are good additions to theological literature. Anyone who reads them will certainly benefit.

CHRIST AND CULTURE, by Dr. K. Schilder (translated from the Dutch by G. Van Rongen and W. Helder). Premier Printing, Ltd., 1249 Plessis Road, Winnipeg, Man., R2C 3L9. 1977. 89 pages, $5.90 (hard cover), $4.60 (soft cover). Reviewed by Rev. Henry Petersen, Pella, Iowa.

The original version of this book appeared in the Dutch language in 1932. The translators have performed a good service in making it available to a wider circle of readers. Their translation, for the most part, is smooth and lucid.

This small volume is packed full with stimulating thought and challenging ideas as are all of the late Dr. Schilder’s writings. The distinguished author emphasizes Christ’s office, continued in Christians. Christ is the foundation, redeemer, and renewer of culture. The Christian is laborer, co-worker with God. Schilder is so full of his subject that he takes half a page to define culture. He summarizes the Cultural task in this statement: “To serve God, in concrete life, to obey God in ally function, to fulfil God’s expressed will with all that is in us and to do so in the midst of and in organic relation and communion with all that is around us.” He refers to the definition of a Christian in Lord’s Day 12 of the Heidelberg Catechism as another good summary of our cultural task.

Head this book to be stimulated in performing your “endless task” in whatever occupation God has placed you.

NONE LIKE THEE, by CI. Stam. Premier Printing. Ltd., 149 Plessis Rd., Winnipeg, Man., R2C 3L9. 1977, 85 pp. (PH), $3.40. Reviewed by Rev. Henry Petersen, Pella, Iowa.

This is a book of seven sermons on Micah preached by Rev. Cl. Stam at Rehoboth Canadian Reformed Church of Burlington, Ontario. The book’s title is also the title of the last sermon on Micah 7:8–10.

The author stresses what he considers the basic line of prophecy: God’s redemptive work in Christ. Along with this he emphasizes the call to reformation that is prominent in Micah’s prophecy. In his applications he brings out what is “Reformed” and what characterizes the true church today. He makes frequent references to covenant theology. The book should be “useful for public worship and for individual study.”

FEAR NOT: A CHRISTlAN VIEW OF DEATH, by Manford G. Gunke. Baker, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1974. 96 pp., paper, $1.25. Reviewed by Paul E. Bakker of Rock Valley, Iowa.

The author states as his intent “to find out the Biblical view of death.” He succeeds very well in fulfilling that purpose. Recognizing the reality of death he deals with some of the unpleasant and painful aspects of death, that last enemy whom we all must face as the consequence of sin. He points out, however, that death is basically different for the Christian believer and the unbeliever. Because Christ defeated death through His death and resurrection, the Christian need no longer fear death but can live and die in the hope of eternal life and glory. The book closes with a section of “Aids for Consolation” which includes selections from Scripture, poetry, and hymn which should be of great comfort to the Christian bereaved. A good little booklet concerning a reality that is unavoidable.

MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM, by Ernest L. Green. Kregel, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1977. 86 pp., paper. Reviewed by Paul E. Balcker of Rock Valley, Iowa.

Green has written this book because of the widespread unhappiness and dissension in marriage today. He believes that it is possible for a husband and wife to experienee real love, real joy, and real harmony. It is possible if both husband and wife will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and if they will obey God’s Word regarding male and female, husband and wife in marriage.

In this small book the author, in a clear and practical way, presents the Biblical teaching on male and female, husband and wife relationships. God Himself created man male and female and in His Word He also prescribes the proper relationship between them. The major part of tho book deals with God’s rules regarding marriage, sex, roles, perversion, and contentment. The last section entitled “Potpourri” treats such matters as homosexuality, mixed-up roles, the sexual drive, and the ideal wife and mother and the ideal husband and father.

Green seeks his answers and advice from the Scriptures. At times his answers and suggestions seem a bit simplistic. Nevertheless, this little book brings to our attention much that the Bible teaches on the male-female, husband-wife relationships, and rightly points out that if God’s directives would be heeded there would be many more happy, harmonious marriages.

BIBLE PUZZLES FOR ADULTS, by Grace Vander Klay. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 64 pages, paper back, $1.95. Reviewed by Simon C. Walburg, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In the preface the author states, “These Bible puzzles will provide many hours of entertainment, and at the same time test and increase knowledge of Holy Scriptures.”

At first glance I thought, Bible Puzzles for Adults? Seems to me that’s kid stuff. But I have to admit on checking these puzzles the author must have a computer-brain to formulate such enigmas. Just to give you a few samples of the contents of this volume, here are some chapter titles: 1. Vowel-less Puzzles. 2. Psalm word Puzzles. 3. Short Bible Names. 4. Long Bible Names. 5. Hid. den Words. 6. Ladders. 7. Heart-love, and more, for a total of 15 chapters.

Intriguing to say the least, and certainly requiring an adult mind to comprehend. Very useful as a wholesome past-time, better than playing cards, by far. We would suggest these puzzles as ideal for family gatherings, showers, or informal programs. They could be used to arouse enthusiasm in Scripture facts and facets in an interesting manner.

The best part of the book—to me—is the fact that on page 57 you will find the right answers to all of these brain-teasers. To use the words of the author “Happy Puzzling.”

THE FARMER FROM TEKOA, ON THE BOOK OF AMOS, by Herman Veldkamp. Translated by Theodore Plantinga. Paideia Press, (P.O. Box 1450), St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2R 7J8. 1977. 236 pp., $6.95. Reviewed by Rev. Jerome Julien, pastor of First Christian Reformed Church, Pella, Iowa.

If I have read the publisher‘s note on the dust jacket correctly, there will be more of these volumes of Rev. Veldkamp translated for English readers. May the day of their appearance be very soon!

Anyone who thinks that the Old Testament prophecy of Amos is dry and without application today has a shock in store when he reads this volume. Out of the dust rises a prophetic voice that will leave nothing which men call sacred untouched. Outward form, social custom, personal ideas and ideals are subjected to the light of God‘s truth. All the cracks, smudges, scuffs and rough places are seen. As Rev. Veldkamp shows us what Amos says we are made to think in a serious and constructive way about our spiritual lives.

The author writes simply and clearly. No one need be afraid to read this hook. There will be no dull moment in the reading of it. God still speaks through Amos today!

(This book may be obtained from the Paideia Press, P.O. Box 1450, St. Catharines, Ont., Canada L2R 7J8).

ROMANS, A DIGEST OF REFORMED COMMENT, by Geoffrey B. Wilson. Edinburgh, Banner of Troth. 1977. 254 pp., paper, $2.95. Reviewed by Rev. Jerome Julien, pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Pella, Iowa.

The pastor of the Birkby Baptist Church of Huddersfield, England has returned to the first New Testament book on which he prepared a commentary. According to the publisher here is a complete new commentary.

The commentary is more a collection of quotes from noted Reformed writers than a work of the author, though he writes comments, too. Warfield, Murray, Denney, Vos, Shedd, Haldane and more are referred to.

What position docs he take concerning the meaning of Romans 7? Paul, according to Wilson, is speaking about the regenerate man.

The “all Israel” of Romans 11:26 is explained as meaning the elect from among Israel as a nation. It is not spiritualized to mean the Church from every tongue and tribe and nation.

All in all, this is an inexpensive, helpful, short but thorough commentary on a very important New Testament book. This is a good book for Bible study groups, personal use or even quick reference for sermon preparation.

May God give strength to the author so that more books may be added to this helpful series.

MARRIAGE IN HONOR, W. G. De Vries. Premier Printing, Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1976, 186 pp. No price given. Reviewed by Rev. Elco H. Oostendorp, Hudsonville, Michigan.

This is the English translation of the fifth edition of Het Huwelijk in Ere, which first appeared in 1967. The author is a minister in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. Since the book is published under the auspices of the Canadian Reformed churches, I take this to mean the “Liberated” churches.

The publisher has done us a service in translating this fine book and making it available in our circles. It deserves wide sale and extensive use. In a day when there is a flood of books on marriage and family problems, many of which leave much to be desired from our Reformed standpoint, this work presents a balanced discussion of Biblical guidelines for family living.

There are five chapters, varying considerably in length. After giving some scriptural data on marriage the author devotes 62 pages to “Preparation for Marriage.” This is followed by 70 pages about “Married Life.” A short chapter on “Life Without Marriage,” and another on “Marriage and the Family” round out the discussion.

Especially three characteristics of the book commend it to those interested in learning about marriage according to the ideals God gives us in His Word. 1. It is Scriptural. There is much exposition of relevant passages, including the Song of Solomon and Ephesians 5. The book lets the light of Scripture shine on our path as husbands and wives, parents and children.

2. It is frank and realistic without being offensive. There is no pollyanna romanticizing of life. The problems of our day are discussed in an up-to-date manner. Topics such as masturbation, the Kinsey Report, sexual education, homosexuality, abortion, the pill, family planning, the population explosion, methods of birth control are listed under chapters two and three. 3. It is balanced, by which I mean that the author avoids stressing just one aspect of the many problems of marriage. He is sympathetic to physical needs, but also points out important spiritual and social principles. The fact that the book is written from the perspective of conditions in the Netherlands shouldn’t limit its usefulness in our circles. This Dutch perspective may be reflected in the comparatively small attention given to divorce. There is a bibliography, but it contains only three English titles, and most of the Dutch books will not be readily available here.

All in all, the translation is excellent, with only occasional Dutchisms.

The book should be in many of our homes and will be excellent for use

JONATHAN EDWARDS THE YOUNGER, 1745–1801 – A COLONIAL PASTOR, by Robert L. Ferm. Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1976. 214 pp., $7.95. Reviewed by Rev. Jerome Julien, pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church, Pella, Iowa.

Most of us have heard of the famous Jonathan Edwards of New England, but few of us know much about his son of the same name. And we do not have much help in getting to know him, either. To my knowledge this volume on the younger Edwards is the only one available—and I have tried to check bibliographies. To be sure, there are sort entries in the Encyclopedia Americana and the Columbia Encyclopedia. (3rd ed.) and a bit longer entry in the Dictionary of American Biography but the only other biography is one, now out of print, by his grandson Tryon Edwards and published with his works. Fenn should be congratulated for his work and Eerdmans for their willingness to print such a helpful volume.

This book is more than a biography. It is a survey of the theological and ecclesiastical scene of that period. It shows how orthodoxy declined in spite of the fact that such a man as Edwards believed that he was being true to the orthodoxy of his father.

Any number of interesting points could be cited from this book. One is of special interest in these days of individualism in the church. Edwards wrote an impressive short statement of his faith when he purposed to come to the Lord’s Table for the first time.

Although one might question some of the value judgments of Dr. Form, such as the observation that the Synod of Dordt made its decisions “in favor of a stringent Calvinism,” this volume is a valuable aid to the understanding of the American church scene.