A Look at Books

A HANDBOOK OF CRC ISSUES 1968–1978; 600 pages; published by Association of Christian Reformed Laymen, P. O. Box 1303, Grand Rapids, Mich. 49501; $7.95. Reviewed by Rev. John Vander Ploeg.

By all means don’t buy or read this book or even get anywhere near it, unless you are willing to be disturbed and possibly also stung into action. All those in the CRC addicted to the primrose path of complacency and comfort will probably never crack this recent publication. Without bothering to become informed, they will rather blithely prejudge the writers as a coterie of malcontents as those beneath their notice of deserving of disdain.

However, these who constitute the Association of Christian Reformed Layman do serve and have served a purpose, and they are also filling an urgent needs as the CRC struggles in the throes of an ongoing controversy to determine whether or not she is to remain true to the faith of the fathers. Allowing for whatever errors in judgment for which these laymen may be faulted (as this observer sees it) they have nevertheless been second to none among those who have labored long and hard to alert the CRC constituency to the erosion of the Reformed faith that threatens the future of the denomination we profess to love and the cause to which we claim to be committed. If their efforts have met with frustration and even scorn from the side of those who are apathetic or who have their hearts set on being in the mainstream of today’s apostate Christendom it should be recognized that this has been par for the course for all those who well know that to remain Reformed one must always be reforming.

A Handbook of CRC Issues is largely a compilation of articles previously carried in the News Bulletins issued by the ACRL during the past ten years. The material is now arranged under three headings: Winds of Change, Frustration of Protest, and The Victorious Church. There would be no justification for keeping all these controversial issues alive if they had been satisfactorily resolved. However, it ought to make every responsible member of the CRC squirm to be told in the Preface to this book: “It should he sadly noted that not even one of the cases of apostasy exposed in the News Bulletin has ever been corrected.” There is just too much truth in that broadside to allow us to sit back and relax. As responsible members of the CRC it would be well for us to recognize that so often our severest critics prove in the end to be our very best friends.

A Handbook of CRC Issues is anything but wishy-washy. It uses strong language and minces no words. The book‘s Index listing subjects and names adds to its value. Some are quick to berate the laymen because of the way they go about this. But if their detractors (ministerial or otherwise) are doing nothing themselves to openly counteract the wrong trends within the CRC, the laymen may well reply, “Well, then we still like our way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” When ministers in the CRC (barring precious exceptions whose number may be increasing of late) condone, or approve of, evading issues or are too fearful to face up to them, let us thank God to find courageous laymen in the vanguard of those contending earnestIy “for the faith . . . once for all delivered unto the saints.”

THE CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH – Who and Why Are We? by Peter Y. De Jong. 72 pp., $1.50. Available from Reformed Fellowship, P.O. Box 7883, Grand Rapids, MI 49510. Reviewed by Rev. Peter De Jong, Editor.

This is a completely revised and updated edition of a book which first appeared 30 years ago on The Christian Reformed Church. Its wide use throughout the church especially as a study for young people’s classes which led to an earlier reprint is a tribute to its excellence and continuing usefulness. The author believes that our times of social, political and theological revolution make the use of such a booklet to help members, especially young members appreciate their church heritage more important now than in the past: I believe that he is right.

There have been a number of changes and improvements in an already good book. Suggested Scripture passages appear before each chapter and discussion questions after each chapter have been considerably changed. Attention is given to questions being raised in our time that did not trouble the church two or three decades ago. The history of the church is treated more extensively and brought up to date. Pictures have been added.

Not only is this a desirable manual to supplement other more “doctrinal” catechism books for young people in the church. It should be an excellent introduction of our church heritage to all who come into our denomination through evangelism. A “Report on Adult Education” appearing in our 1978 Synod Agenda (p. 108) calls attention to our “growing identity crisis,” “Who are we as CRC?” “What justifies our continued denominational existence?” It would be difficult to find or produce anything to help our members, old as well as young, meet such increasing questions than this little book does. It appears to be an excellent guide also for adult groups to study. The book is warmly recommended for a variety of uses.

(We correct a typographical error which crept into our June OUTLOOK ad listing this book as The American Reformed Church instead of The Christian Reformed Church.)

CHRISTIAN CHILD-REARING AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT by Paul D. Meier, M.D. Published by Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506, 1977. 199 pages. Price, $5.95, Hardcover. Reviewed by Mrs. Hattie Guichelaar.

Dr. Paul D. Meier believes that every child in a Christian home is entitled to wise, strong, loving and godly Christian parents. For this most difficult task, he has written this helpful book on Christian childrearing which might well be a frequently consulted reference volume. Concerned Christian parents will find in this guidebook advice that is both Scripturally and psychologically sound. Integrating Bible truth and psychiatric research, Dr. Meier points the way to development of wholesome family relationships based on preventive Christian psychiatry and the absolute authority of God’s divine revelation. Thoroughly discussed in language which the average parent can well understand are all aspects of growth—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual.

It contains a large helping of common sense know-how which should be welcomed by every parent. Lists of practical, positive as well as negative, suggestions are given for each level of the child‘s development from infancy to adulthood.

As a Christian physician and a psychiatrist as well as a Professor of Practical Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary and, most of all, the father of three young children, Dr. Paul Meier is eminently qualified to write this highly recommended volume. The foreword suggests it could be a “counselor-in-residence for the Christian parent and may well find itself comfortably at home on the reference shelf beside the Bible, Webster and Betty Crocker.”

The book has no less than 436 books and articles listed in 22 pages of bibliography.