A Look at Books

De Doop Met De Heilige Geest or The Baptism of the Holy Spirit by REV. D. G. MOLENAAR, Kampen, 1963, 270 pages

We learn from the Woord Vooraf that the author delivered his manuscript to the publisher just two weeks prior to his demise. It is really a posthumous work, and one reads this book with mixed emotions. First, there is a doop appreciation that the person and work of the Holy Spirit is receiving special attention. The author contends that the neglect of this subject has impoverished the church. It has created a vacuum, and who can live in a vacuum? One readily agrees with Molenaar that the present revival of interest in the Holy Spirit is wholesome. It is a serious mistake, so the author, to relegate the potentialities of the Spirit to the past. “If pentecost is repeatable, then the question can be answered ‘What is precisely the significance of the baptism of the Spirit also for the present?’” p. 7. The author means to show that this baptism is a spiritual experience which transcends his work in regeneration and conversion.

In seven chapters he hopes to establish his thesis. They are: Exegetical Foundations ch. II; A different attitude in Reformed theologians—ch. III; Support from Dooyeweerd’s philosophy—ch. IV; Supports from psychology—ch. V and VI; Historical examples—ch. VII. Incidentally, the last chapter occupies the major share of the book; from p. 112–270.

We now face the question: Has the author established his thesis? This reviewer has serious doubts. What should be the strongest part of the book seems very weak and God fusing. It is difficult to escape the impression that the author set up a thesis and then turned to the Bible for proof. This is a vice not altogether unknown among theologians. Many questions occur in connection with the exegesis. For instance, Pentecost was unique but it is constantly repeated. Indeed, on page 114 we get the idea that Pentecost is yet to come. Strange to read “Another question is whether God in the last days. when he pours out his Spirit upon all flesh, will not also in a special measure grant the extraordinary gifts. There is indeed every reason to expect this.” (translation mine). In the Dutch it reads:

“Een andere vraag is of God in het laaste der dagen, als Hij zijn geest uitstort op alle vlees, ook niet in bizondere mate de buiten gewone Geestesgaven zal gaan schenken. Voor die verwachting is inderdaad alle grond.”

The last chapter, which is the greatest part of the book, makes interesting reading. All the examples used are taken from post-reformation times. Interesting and heart-warming. But whether special dispensations of providence, remarkable answers to prayer, and certain pietistic emotions can be dubbed baptism of the Holy Spirit is not altogether dear.

This criticism is not intended to discourage reading this book. It is recommended and can be studied with profit.


Many Things in Parables, The Gospel Miracles and by RONALD S. WALLACE, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, Paperback, 397 pages, price $1.95

The reader is offered two books in one. This is meant to be a real bargain. Can it be adjudged such when viewed from the point of view of quality as well as quantity?

The author, a renowned Scottish preacher-theologian has seen fit to add to the already voluminous library on the parables and miracles of Jesus. The urge and courage to do so fire rooted in a set purpose summarized in the statement of the publisher, “The teaching values of the miracles and parables of Christ are portrayed in clear, concise, and logical statements, and are pointed straight to life-situations in today’s world.”

Most of the expositions were presented, first of all, in the form of sermons preached in the pulpit. This gives them a rich and ripened flavor since they have been produced under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the author’s own heart and in the hearts of the congregation. Since the chapters do vary a bit in quality, one is tempted to hazard a guess as to those which we added without having appeared in the pulpit.

It must be noted that although all the parables are considered some of the miracles are omitted. Since the analysis of those presented is keen and forceful, the omission is regrettable.

This book has a number of excellent qualities which ought to he underscored. The style is easy-Bowing and delightful. The tone is evangelical, and the treatment of the material is both sober and imaginative. Exposition and application are blended in exemplary fashion. Those who scoff at the preacher’s traditional theme and divisions, ought to consult this book to see organization which is helpful and effective. Tho author presents his thoughts in such a manner that they are not difficult to remember, but difficult to forget. At times new insights are expressed in deceptively simple fashion.

Occasionally it seems that the author emphasizes an idea in a parable or miracle at the expense of another thought which is more germane. For instance, in the Parable of the Sower one would expect that more weight would be attached to the nature of the soil and, therefore, to the responsibility of the hearer. At times, one would be Inclined to challenge certain statements made by the author, but when these statements are interpreted in their context one is less inclined to criticize. This is especially true of the general chapter: The Parable and the Preacher, which sets forth certain basic principles of parabolic interpretation.

Obviously, the author did not intend this book as a substitute for other books dealing with these subjects. He has succeeded in presenting a welcome and worthwhile contribution by demonstrating the meaning of the miracles and parables of our Lord for the church and world of today. Frequent use of this volume will lead to a growing appreciation of the guidance given.


The Relevance of Preaching, by PIERRE CH. MARCEL, translated from the French by ROB ROY MCGREGOR, Publisher, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 110 pages, price $2.95

The author is the pastor of the Reformed Church of St. Germainenlaye, France. He has gained wide recognition as a scholar and is best known in this country fOf his excellent book, “The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism.”

This volume on preaching is intended to underscore “the goal, power, and relevance of preaching.” It emphasizes the responsibilities of both pulpit and pew with regard to the proclamation of God’s Word, and may be read by preachers and parishioners with real benefit. It is not a detailed discussion, but rather a compact outline. The presentation is thoroughly Biblical. The Word of God is made to speak on the preaching of that Word.

One should not be misled by the title. Pastor Marcel is not joining forces with those who indict the church for being out of touch with modern life. He is not convinced that preaching is outmoded and out-of-date. He is aware of the fact that the power of the pulpit should be more clearly demonstrated, and insists that this is done when preaching is really preaching. The sermon is relevant not, first of all, because of the language used, the problems discussed, or the situations addressed, but because of its content. It is the proclamation of the Word of God in obedience to the command of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

According to the author, the preaching of the Spirit-inspired Word, both law and gospel, is accompanied by the activity of the Spirit. The preacher must perform his task in humble and con6dent reliance on the Spirit. Then he may rest assured that the same Spirit will apply that Word as it is proclaimed, and make it fruitful in the hearts of the hearers. Then the preaching of the Word is a means of grace.

The concluding chapters deal specifically with the relevance of preaching. The characteristics of relevant preaching are: Opportuneness, Forcefulness, Simplicity, and Vitality. One must read the book to appreciate how stimulatingly these thoughts are developed. Not Homiletical techniques, but basic principles of good preaching are highlighted.

One is not expected to agree with the author’s viewpoint on every score. He clearly indicates an awareness of the fact that some do and will differ. But this book offers welcome instruction and undeniable inspiration. May it be widely read and studied. The preacher will preach with renewed power, and the congregation will listen with renewed blessing.


Hebrews and I and II Peter, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, A new translation by W.B. JOHNSTON, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1963, 378 pages, price $6.00

Commending Calvin’s commentaries is superfluous as far as readers of TORCH AND TRUMPET is concerned. Calvin has so often been hailed as the prince of commentators that l need not attempt any comments on. the contents of this volume. Even though written more than 400 years ago, much of the material remains timely and there are many gems of spiritual insight.

Eerdmans has done an excellent job in printing and binding. A. set of these beautiful black books with their gold stamped titles on red background will not only be a spiritual asset but also an esthetic delight in a minister’s library. 11lis reviewer is not competent to judge the accuracy of the translation by comparison with the original., but can testify to its freshness and fluency. The English is modem and helps make Calvin’s comments more timely.

Included in the commentary are the dedications, of Hebrews to Sigismund, King of Poland, Lord and Heir of Moscovy; of the Catholic Epistles to Edward VI of England. One cannot help reflecting on the great difference it would have made in the history of Europe if Sigismund had been able and willing to apply the advice of Calvin and the Reformation had taken hold in the lands mentioned behind his name. The letter to Edward contains an interesting statement of Calvin’s view of the duly of kills relative to the true (Reformed) religion. Far from advocating the separation of State and Church he says: “As interpreters of Scripture according to their ability supply weapons to fight against Antichrist (i.e. the Pope, E.H.O.), .so you must also bear in mind that it is 11 duty which belongs to your Majesty, to vindicate from unworthy calumnies the true and genuine interpretation of Scripture, so that the true religion may nourish. In order that kings may know that they themselves need this remarkable doctrine, and that it is their special duty to defend and maintain it, the Lord assigns his Law a sacred habitation in their palaces.” (page 226 ) The similarity between these sentences and the (original) Belgic Confession, Article 36, is obvious.

Indices of Scripture references, names and subjects are appended and enhance the value of the work.



Under tile editorship of Marcellus J. Kik, minister in the Reformed Church in America. a series of treatises is being published on Theological and Biblical Studies. These appear in the form of paperback monographs. The studies are taken from the International Library of Philosophy and Theology, issued by the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing: Co., Philadelphia. It seems to this reviewer that Rev. Kik is performing an invaluable service by placing these works before the public. There is a great advantage in having the Views of these authors before you in pamphlet and compact form. This review covers three of them.

Election and Reprobation by THORNWELL, 97 pages

This author was a minister in the Southern Presbyterian Church in the previous century. The present treatise appeared first in 1840; the author was then twenty-eight years of age.

Anyone believing and defending the doctrine of election and reprobation must of necessity be loyal to the truths and inspiration of Scripture. Thomwell’s fundamental position is sound. Says he, “The doctrines of the Bible cannot prove hurtful unless they are perverted by ignorance or wrested by abuse”, p.l. The author remains true to his word. Here is a compact statement of the doctrine. His views are well balanced. The objections ace effectively refuted. Of course, “A man convinced against his will, Is of the same opinion still.” We recommend the perusal of this treatise to every theologian.

One word of criticism. In case of a reprint, why not break down the various sections in chapters, or paragraph headings, Due to numbering and paragraphing, the logic of the argument is sometimes not easy to follow. But it Is an excellent work; unreservedly commended.

II. The Atonement by JOHN MURRAY, 31 pages

This, so we are informed, will be published in Vol. I of the Encyclopedia of Christianity. Anyone acquainted with John Murray knows that when he puts a pen to paper one will get something worth reading. This treatises is up to Murray’s usual brilliance. His forte is to let his dogmatics be subjugated to his exegesis. It is difficult to find a theologian who so skillfully combines exegesis and dogmatics as does this scholar. Murray will never take his dogmatics to the Bible for confirmation. Of course, the author is true to the biblical teachings of limited atonement. Which means that Christ died for the elect and none other. The author’s reputation is the best recommendation for the book.

III. Limited Inspiration by B.B.  WARFIELD, 54 pages

The chief value or this treatise is historical. It was occasioned by C. A. Briggs’ Inaugural address on the Authority of Holy Scripture, delivered on January 20, 1891.

Two professors in Lane Theological Seminary, Drs. Henry Preserved Seminary and Llewellyn J. Evans rose to the defense of Briggs, and that in the form of an attack upon “the doctrine of inspiration as held by the Church and taught in her standards.” Dr. Smith was deposed from office on December 12, 1892.

There is scarcely a doctrine that commands more of the interest of theologians today. Warfield presents the logical outcome of the theory of limited inspiration. It destroys the authority of Scripture not only, but the authority of Christ himself. No theologian in this day and age can afford to ignore this burning question. Again, the author’s name is the book’s unqualified recommendation.