A Look at Books

The Four Major Cults, by ANTHONY HOEKEMA, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1963, 447 pages, price $5.95.

Another book on cults? This book de· serves a distinctive place among the works on the cults. In one volume there are actually four books. Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh·day Adventism, and Christian Science are treated in this one volume by Dr. Hoekema, associate professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. In addition the author has placed at the beginning a chapter on “The Challenge of the Cults,” and concludes with chapters on “The Distinctive Traits of the Cult,” and “Approaching the Cultist.”

It is evident that Professor Hoekema had done a great deal of home work. The footnotes indicate a wide range of research. Often he has used primary sources. He has sought for accuracy and fairness, often checking items by personal correspondence with leaders of the cults. He does not resort to name calling in an attempt to make his work an expose of the cults. He displays the interest of a theologian-evangelist in witnessing to the truths of divine revelation. At times he directs a warm-hearted appeal to the cultist -as, for instance, to the Seventh-day Adventist, p. 403. Although he writes appreciatively of the Adventist’s orthodox beliefs, he demonstrates convincingly why Adventism must be regarded as a cult.

The pattern of treatment for each cult is the same, beginning with the historical background. Separate consideration is given to the fundamental question of the source of authority. Then follows a treatment of the doctrines of Cod, man, Christ, salvation, the church and sacraments, and the last things.

Appendices are added to the treatment of three of the cults providing material for further study. In regard to Seventh-day Adventism there is an appendix dealing with the Sabbath and an excellent defense of the first day as set forth in the New Testament.

Here is a valuable book for the class room, home and church library. It holds the interest and is rather easy to read. An extensive index makes it a handy reference work. Although written in a kind spirit it does make clear that these cults cannot bear the light of God’s Word.

It is not a book that will leave you complacent and self-righteously satisfied that you are not like the cultists. One is pained by the evidence of the tremendous advances made by the cults and by the blame for this fact which the Christian church must accept. One is stimulated to do something in meeting, as Hoekema calls it, “the challenge of the cults.”

Holy shall we approach the cultists? Here are two pointed suggestions from the chapter dealing with this matter. “Let no untrained church member consider it an evasion of duty if he does not present a systematic refutation of the doctrines of a cultist who may happen to ring his doorbell Let him rather give the cultist a sincere testimony of his own personal faith in Jesus Christ and of the joy he experiences in fellowship with his Redeemer.” (p. 406) . “We must not confront the cultist with the church but with the Word and with Christ as the heart of that Word.” (410).


The Messianic Character of American Education, by ROUSAS JOHN RUSHDOONY (Presbyterian Publishing Co., Philadelphia, PA, 1963, 410 pages, $6.50).

“This study is intended to be not only an historical and analytical study of the philosophies of education in state education in the United States, but also a study in an important aspect of American Cultural history” (Preface p. X), according to the author. It is the contention of the author that with the breakdown of theological dominance of education in colonial New England (Calvinism) institutional Unitarianism prevailed with its “marginal doctrine of the church.” “The church thereafter became progressively irrelevant to the American scene as the schools became steadily the working embodiment of the Unitarian faith in salvation by statist education,” (p. 334). What Dr. Ivan R. Bierly correctly points out in the Introduction constitutes a main thrust of Rushdoony’s presentation. “What the educationists have forgotten is that the sense of meaning and purpose of life which they take for granted was bought with the blood of saints from the time of the prophets and Jesus until this day. And the end is not yet in sight. By taking for granted that which can only be acquired by faith, the rationalist tradition of American education has severed itself from its roots, and indeed is paying the penalty for trying to live by bread alone” (p. XIV).

Beginning with Horace Mann and continuing through Rugg, Counts, and Brameld, the author traces the developing statism in education, tIle subordination of the individual to group life in modern democracy, and the supreme position of the state-controlled school as builder of the Good Society. Freedom under law or within law, the author points out, has been replaced by freedom without or above law. Throughout he very correctly points out the root error of this entire trend, namely, a view of man as autonomous rather than subservient to the will of his Creator. This book is a straightforward, scathing indictment of American public education.

Every evangelical Christian who has at least a reading knowledge of the development of American education will, I am sure, welcome this contribution by Dr. Rushdoony. The book is well written, extensively documented, and lucid in the presentation of fact and argument. The author makes a contribution to the critique of American education and culture that should be read and studied by every teacher, in college classrooms, and by all Christians with a genuine concern for the current trends in American education.

Because of the many constructive and praiseworthy qualities of Rushdoony’s work, I regret all the more the weaknesses that will detract from its effectiveness, especially among readers who do not share with the author the presupposition of the Christian faith as expressed in Reformation Christianity.

Intellectual honesty and historical objectivity require that one recognize the failure of the Calvinistic community of New England and other Bible-believing Christians in other colonies to promote education. Puritan New England made a splendid start, but the district school established in New England failed to provide adequate education in the decades that followed. When Horace Mann appeared on the scene in the early part of the nineteenth century, schools, such as there were, were bleak, dismal, cruel places that failed to recognize in a child the worth and dignity of a human person. Teachers as Bronson Alcott, humane in their treatment of children, were castigated by New England schoolmasters, many of whom were Calvinists and other orthodox Christians, for their reforms in classroom teaching. The doctrines of total depravity and original sin were frequently quoted to justify the whipping post and foolscap as media of punishment for boys and girls. If Calvinists and other orthodox Christians had been among the leaders in educational reform and advancement, Unitarians as Mann and Barnard would not have been able to give to the statism which Rushdoony criticizes so severely the impetus they did. As a matter of fact the school systems of our nation might have taken a different direction. Statism came about by default on the part of Bible-believing Christians as much as by design of Unitarian and deist educational reformers.

Of this period E. W. Knight says in his Twenty Centuries of Education (p. 260): “The need for reform of the public schools was urgent in Massachusetts, as elsewhere at that time. In all the states there was a lack of financial support, the school term short, the equipment was poor, and the teachers were inadequately trained. There was no supervision, committees did not visit the schools, and in many places the teachers were allowed to begin the .. schools without being certificated, as required by law. There was confusion of textbooks, and many of the children were absent from school.”

I wish there were more appreciation in Rushdoony’s pertinent critique for the contribution of the behavioral sciences and educational research to the education of our time. One may disagree philosophically with modern educational theory and practice and at the same time appropriate the amazing accomplishments in the improvement of teaching. Christian education in church and day school is increasingly using the findings of the behavioral sciences in the improvement of instruction, sometimes uncritically so, I fear, because teachers fail to understand the philosophical implications which should constitute criteria for their selection and use. The evangelical Christian should criticize modern education with an uneasy conscience, since the direction American education in general is taking is in part due to the failure of Christian scholars and teachers, and the Christian community in general, to make their faith relevant to educational theory and practice. Had Rushdoony taken the evangelical Christian community to task for their neglect and indifference, his critique would be received with more grace by those who do not share the Reformation faith with him.

This book can serve as a gadfly to stir us to action. For a positive contribution to education one has to look elsewhere.


Church Growth in Mexico, by DONALD MCGAVRAN, JOHN HUGEL and JACK TAYLOR. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 136 pages, paper, 1963, price $1.95.

If you are looking for a compact, easy-to-read handbook of information on the expansion of Protestantism in Mexico, this book deserves your consideration. Its triple authorship includes a second-generation missionary in Mexico (Rev. John Huegel).

With Latin America so much in the news today, the work of Christian Missions in those countries, and particularly in Mexico, takes on new significance and importance. Latin America is being “rediscovered”. The estimated 7,000,000 Protestants (“Evangelicos”) represent the exciting Protestant growth of the past three decades. Mexico, which has the largest population of the Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, occupies a strategic place in this development.

I kept my pencil busy underlining sentences in this book. Here are a few of them: “While Mexico has carried out a successful social revolution in a land where the Church of Rome and the landed classes were united in exploiting the masses and keeping them ignorant, landless, and in subjection, this social revolution has not led to a Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church” (p. 18). “Mexico is a mosaic made up of hundreds of separate populations or societies. There are 88 distinct Indian languages grouped in eleven families of languages” (p. 36). “As soon as Mexicans get away from Mexico, most of them quit going to mass. It is estimated that of the two million Latins in Texas, 85 percent do not attend mass or any worship service at all.” (p. 55).


Apostle Extraordinary: A Modern Portrait of St. Paul, by REGINALD E. O. WHITE, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1962, 209 pages, $3.50.

Here is an excellent introduction to an extraordinary apostle. One can almost feel the heartbeat of St. Paul and hear the sound of his voice in this penetrating and lively portrayal of the thought and life of a firmly dedicated servant of Christ. Paul’s character is made to come alive as it can be known from the whole of his writings—his joys and his anguish. his hopes and his disappointments, his praise and his rebukes. his own weakness and God’s power in him and for him—and his character, in turn, enriches and helps to interpret each of his thoughts.

Paul’s sometimes supposed distinction as the founder of a new dispensation is clearly repudiated. His alleged borrowing from pagan philosophers is shown to be instead a striving to correct them. This is, in fact, that essential element in mission work even today: the finding of the point of contact between Christianity and the non-Christian philosophies.

In writing of Paul’s certainty of eternal salvation, the Rev. White says, “His (God’s) hold, not ours, is the strength of our security; His faithfulness, not ours, is the basis of our hope; His patience, not ours, is the foundation of our perseverance; His defence, not ours, the guarantee that we shall never fall away” (p. 69). However, “to believe in immortality was not, for Paul, an escapist trap-door into a world of wishful ease, but the inexhaustible stimulus to nobler living and more strenuous toil” (p. 72). Therefore, “he read Christian duty in social, civic, and humanitarian terms as well as those of piety, faith, and evangelism” (p. 114).

There are many other quotable statements in this superb and understanding treatment of the life of Paul the apostle. I recommend it highly and without reservation to nil. Here is a view of the world and life that is good because it is sound and vibrant because it is Scriptural.

The criticism that I have to offer is not directed to the author, but to the American publishers. The retention of British spellings detracts from the readability of the book. There are well over one hundred instances of such spellings, as in judgement, labour, gaol, and organisation. These should be revised lest the reader be distracted by annoying trifles.


The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians (a volume in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), by F. FOULKES, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 182 pages, price $3.00.

This is a commentary that has many desirable features. It measures 5 1/2 by 8 inches, is, accordingly, rather small and easy to handle. Its theology is conservative. Its author is a New Zealander with two master’s degrees and a bachelor of divinity degree. He was ordained in 1953 and has recently accepted an appointment to the Federal Church Missionary Society Training College at Melbourne. He gives evidence of acquaintance with Greek, and writes in a style that is generally clear. Many of his comments on individual passages are excellent. One more commendable feature that deserves mention is the fact that, considering the relatively small size of the book, the Introduction is rather thorough, covering no less than 29 of these rather small pages. The work can be heartily recommended. especially for those who lack the time or the energy to study one of the larger commentaries.

It is only fair to say that there arc also weaknesses. It is based on the Authorized (King James) Version, which means that whenever the commentator is not in agreement with that translation he has to use space to indicate why the text he is following is not the best. This means that remarks of a purely technical nature, including references to such matters as the shade of meaning of Greek participles, active or passive voice ( see, for example. p. 67), etc., are introduced right in the text, instead of being relegated to the footnotes. Footnotes, moreover, which would be a help to the scholar, are few and incomplete. The comments on individual passages, too, perhaps because of restricted space, are frequently not as thorough as one would desire, especially on difficult passages, such as Ephesians 1:23—where the word “fulness” deserved a more thorough discussion, and the conclusion reached by the author is rather ambiguous in my opinion—; and Ephesians 2:8, a very controversial text (Is it faith or is it being saved that is “the work of God”?), on which Dr. Kuyper wrote a few chapters, but which here receives rather scant treatment. The important doctrinal issue between Calvinists and Arminians with respect to this text is not even mentioned. The point of grammar involved (whether a neuter pronoun can refer to a feminine antecedent) is passed over in silence.

The good qualities which this book undoubtedly has are sufficient in number that it can be perused with profit.


The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (another volume in Tyndale Bible Commentaries), by F.F. BRUCE, Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1963, 288 pages, price $3.00.

Dr. F. F. Bruce is an eminent scholar. In my just completed N. T. Commentary on Colossians and Philemon I was happy to include the title of Bruce’s Commentary on Colossians (the second part of a volume in Tile New International Commentary) in my Select Bibliography. in which I mention the four books on Colossians which I would especially recommend.

It stands to reason that something of that same scholarship which Bruce evinced in his Colassians is also shown here in his Romans. However, it must be borne in mind that this is a volume in the Tyndale series. On the jacket this series is called “a concise, workable tool for laymen, teachers and ministers.” Well, it is concire, to be sure. Here, after a rather ample and excellent Introduction of some fifty pages, only about 220 pages are devoted to comments on the entire letter of Paul to the Romans! That means, of course, that thoroughness of treatment, a characteristic in which Bruce otherwise excels, is here not always in evidence. How could it be when weighty, controversial matters are treated in so small a compass? That is the weakness of the present volume. When we turn, for example, to p. 154, we notice that Bruce devotes half a page—and the pages are small!—to comments on verses 17-23 of the seventh chapter of Romans. But verses 17 and 20 receive only a line and a half of actual comment, verse 23 one line; verses 19 and 21 are not even mentioned at all! The treatment of Rom. 11:28 is similarly inadequate. For example, he interprets those who prefer the rendering, “And so [instead of “and then”] all Israel shall be saved” to mean thereby that “the ingathering of the full tale of the Gentiles” is “in itself the salvation of all Israel” (p. 222 ). He appears to forget that there are many interpreters who. though they accept the rendering, “And so all Israel shall be saved,” as being in line with the context, do not even think of interpreting this to mean “the ingathering of the full tole of the Gentiles.” Far to be preferred here is the explanation of “all Israel” by H. Bavinck, R. C. H. Lenski, and Herman Ridderbos, to mention only a few.

Personally I cannot see how it is possible to write a really satisfying Commentary on Romans (all sixteen chapters) in so brief a compass. By this I do not deny that much that is excellent is found in this book I do believe, however, that something is lacking here which is found in the larger works. Even Calvin needed more than 500 pages for his Commentary on Romans, And he did not need to reflect on various “finds and views” of subsequent years.


The Last Judgment in Protestant Theology from Orthodoxy to Ritschl by JAMES P. MARTIN, Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 214 pages, price $4.00.

In his Preface the author states, “I wish to express my sense of debt and gratitude to Dr. Otto A. Piper of Princeton Theological Seminary under whose illuminating direction this essay was first written as a dissertation for the Th.D. degree…” To detect in this hook the influence of Dr. Piper is not difficult

The author gives us a historical and some· wl)at philosophical review of the history of Protestant thinking with respect to the last judgment. The four chapter-headings are:

1. The Last Judgment in Protestant Orthodoxy, 2 . The Transformation in Later Orthodoxy, Puritanism, and Pietism, 3. The Rationalization of the Christian Substance, and 4. The Methodological Reduction of Eschatology in the Nineteenth Century, Dr. Martin has made a valuable contribution. He has shown that the important place which this judgment should occupy in theological thinking and in the total scheme of Protestant doctrine has not always been given to it. In connection with dispensationalism he remarks, “This method leads to an understanding of history as a disconnected system of judgments and human failures” (p. 191). With that estimate I am in complete agreement. However, Martin finds fault with the statement of Calvin, “…He will come to us as a Redeemer, to deliver us from this immense abyss of evils and miseries and to lead us into that blessed inheritance of his life and glory.” Of this he says, “…under the influence of Calvin the place given to death in the Last Things introduced an eschatological shortcut, by which all the blessings of heaven are the immediate possession of the believer.” Though this evaluation does not surprise me in the least, I beg to differ with it. On the same basis one might also criticize the author of I Corinthians 15 for having written II Corinthians 5:8. Calvinism receives another jab on p. 22, “The Reformed dogmaticians were in a worse position … than the Lutherans because of their spatial interpretation of ‘the right hand of God’.”

Though, to be sure, the contribution here made is definitely valuable and cannot be ignored, its importance would have been increased many times if the author had also given as a careful exegesis of those Scriptural (especially those New Testament) passages that mention the final judgment. As it is. the study is historical and philosophical. Nevertheless, again and again the author condemns certain positions and praises others. On what basis? Does the statement on p. 73 where he refers to “an interval of time between the end of Anti-christ’s kingdom and the coming for the last judgment” refer only to Spener’s view or also to the author’s own interpretation? Cf. p. 26.

Barring this or that evaluation with which I disagree I am thankfu l for this erudite historical study but would have been even more thankful had it been linked with exegesis.


Another Look at Seventh Day Adventism by NORMAN F. DOUTY, Baker, 206 pages, price $3.50.

The author of this volume is the pastor of the Berean Church of Lansing, Michigan. Here we have true Christian poltics. His attempt at fairness and objectivity, plus a spirit of helpfulness and of Christian charity, makes this volume attractive. It is a book to be used for reference rather than for casual reading. Anyone coming in contact with members of this cult \vill find here very handy references to the several doctrines which they hold.

The crucial question is: Has SDA really changed? The author contends that it has not, even though the “Brinsmead Movement” contends that the present leadership is not true to the original tenets of the movement.

No one will question that Douty means to be fair and Christian. Yet his conelusions are that SDA is neither evangelical nor in harmony with many of the plain teachings of Scripture.

The work is valuable and can be recommended. However, its mechanics leave somewhat to be desired. We do not refer to careless proof reading, but rather to the small print. Many of the appendices have this. In our day such print does not attract readers. We wish for the book, however, a good sale,


How We Got the Bible by NEIL R. LIGHTFOOT, Baker, 124 pages, price $2.50.

The author is Associate Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at Abilene Christian College, Abilene, Texas. He had pastored several churches, all located in Texas and North Carolina, before coming to Abilene.

His book is intended for Bible classes. Each chapter has a set of questions for discussion. It is written in simple and readable style and is meant to help those people who have no special training in these subjects and whose time is limited.

The over-all effect is, as intended, to help us see the wonder of God’s Book. The author stands unreservedly committed to the position that it is God’s Book. He has demonstrated the truth of the first sentence. “How the Bible has come down to us is a story of adventure and devotion” (p. 11). He presents the history of making books in ancient times, then relates the story of the various manuscripts, and tile accepted texts of the Old and New Testaments. The chapter on The Canon of the Scriptures is both good and sound, The books of the Bible did not become canonical by ecclesiastical decrees but were accepted gradually on the basis of their inherent authority. This book can be profitable for society discussions. We do not hesitate to recommend it.