A Look at Books

A VARIED HARVEST, by Frank E. Gaebelein. W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1967. Cloth. 198 pp. (Price $4.95).

This book is a collection of essays by a well-known author who for years was the headmaster of Stony Brook School and afterwards became co-editor of Christianity Today. His essays give evidence of a rich background in Christian thinking. They clearly reflect his conviction that “truth is the criterion for thought and action.”

The thirty essays deal with “education and youth, public affairs and social concern, culture and taste, mountain climbing, and the church’s task and message.”

Because the author believes Christian education to be education in captivity to the living God, education concerned with integrity and excellence under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, education involving the teaching of the “unity of all truth under God,” and education honoring the Scriptures as the integrating center—his book is good for teachers to read.

Because the author stresses a Christian’s “mandatory responsibility for unflagging interest in public affairs and informed participation in them” and then in the same section treats such social matters as cigarette smoking and abstinence the Christian citizen with a proper sense of Christian stewardship does well to read what Gaebelein has to offer.

Because the author has a section on “culture and taste,” a section consisting mostly of addresses to college students, and dealing with the students’ intellectual life, with the obligation to excellence, with the aesthetic problem, with debasement of taste in literature, entertainment and sex, with the use of leisure, and with the place of music in Christian education—the college-bred as well as any intelligent Christian will find this stimulating reading.

Because Gaebelein intrigues one with his two chapters on mountain climbing, he gives one a real incentive to persevere in any task until it is accomplished. “Mountains are climbed just by putting one foot above another over and over again until the summit is reached.” Mountain climbers see vistas that are for him alone—and God. As mountain climbers gain victory over hardships, so must the Christian gain victory through faith. Because the closing section contains a commencement address delivered at Calvin Seminary and at Fuller Theological Seminary as well as a sermon delivered in the chapel of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, with a chapter on “What Is Truth?” and others besides, our seminarians, ministers, and military men should be interested in reading this book.

This book is well worth reading by young and old. It will, for the most part, stimulate one to Christian thinking and living. How we all need to read books written by men that witness to the climbing of spiritual mountains! How we need it in our day when even seminaries and ministerial conferences invite men as speakers who show them how to tumble down the spiritual heights, or, if we have never been there, to show us how to by-pass them so that we can see only sights man has to offer rather than helping us to see the beauties of heaven which God has ordained and revealed.


THEOLOGY OF THE ENGLISH REFORMERS, by Philip E. Hughes. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co. 1966. 283 pp. $5.95.

The well-known editor of The Churchman has rendered a great service to the Reformed community all over the world by publishing this book on the theology of the English Reformers. The names of these reformers, perhaps with the exception of that of Cranmer, arc largely forgotten among us; and their works are buried in the volumes of 19th century Parker Society. Now Hughes has traversed these volumes in all directions, and the result offered to us in his well-organized survey is a veritable gold mine.

Most striking is the fact that because these reformers ( William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and John Jewel) as contemporaries of John Calvin were also in almost all respects congenial with him, they may be really called true Calvinists. With many quotations the author shows what their insights and convictions were regarding the doctrines of Holy Scripture, Justification, Sanctification, Preaching and Worship, Ministry, the Sacraments, and Church and State; the teaching of his seven chapters is not only historically instructive but also strengthening and edifying.

Some parts of the book are extremely meaningful. It has often been claimed that the doctrine of verbal inspiration was alien to the spirit of the early reformers; that it was a product of post-reformation orthodoxy. But listen to bishop Jewel who writes in It Timothy 3:16; “Many think the apostle’s speech is hardly true of the whole Scripture, that all and every part of the Scripture is profitable. Much is spoken of genealogies and pedigrees, of lepers, of sacrificing goats and oxen, etc. These seem to have little profit in them, but to be vain and idle. If they show vain in thine eyes, yet hath not God set them down in vain. There is no sentence, no clause, no word, no syllable, no letter, but it is written for thy instruction; there is not one jot but it is sealed and signed with the blood of the Lamb” (p. 39 ). It is interesting to read that the reformers were not unfamiliar with the doctrine of common grace (p. 60) and instructive to find out in which way they felt free to speak of the English king (or queen ) as head of the national church. In the middle of the book we find a kind of Appendix (on the chapter on Sanctification) with abstracts of the “Captivity Epistles” of the English Reformation; these men had to pay the price of their blood for their faith, and their courage, even their gladness, was marvelous. They were, as the author writes, examples to us in their practice as well as in their preaching, in their dying as well as in their living.


Gerhard Kittel (editor), THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids  (Mich.); Eerdmans, 1967. Vol. IV. $22.50.

While every volume in this set merits high praise, the present Vol. IV is almost a “must” for every scholarly interpreter of the New Testament. The only substitute for a diligent study of this work would be to read it in the original German. The peculiar value of the volume now under review derives from the fact that it contains very many articles on important New Testament concepts, for it covers the words beginning with the letters l, m,  and n. Hence, such ideas of central significance as logos (word ), mythos (myth), mimeomai (imitate), and nomos (law) are treated here. Not only are they discussed but they are explained in great detail. Thus, the article on lego (I collect, say, speak), logos, and other related words, covers no less than 124 pages, and is therefore almost a book all by itself.

Much of what is found here is excellent. Thus, on p. 342 we are informed that the preposition anti, as found in Mark 10:45 (“to give his life a ransom for many”) means “in the place of,” and not merely “to the advantage of.” On the basis of word-study and grammar the substitutionary atonement doctrine is fully justificd. On p. 491 the “cloud of witnesses” is said to consist “of those who according to chapter 11 have received witness (acknowledgment) from God because of their faith, and as such bear witness by the very fact of their existence to the authenticity of faith.” The factual witness has become a confessing witness. Fanciful ideas, as if, for example, the redeemed in heaven actually behold what we are doing here below, are excluded by this interpretation. The fact that synonyms often overlap in meaning is nicely illustrated in the article on neos (new), pp. 896 ff. The lengthy and very valuable article on nomos (law) is worthy of diligent study. If the information which it contains is grasped it will keep people from uttering the foolishness, “The Christian has nothing whatever to do with the law.”

It would be easy to continue setting forth the virtues of this volume of 1126 pages. Is it even necessary to remark that there are also flaws? Is not the presence of imperfections in any human work what we should expect? Thus, the statement on p. 192, “The community as a whole is elected for the whole of the human race,” does injustice to the doctrine of individual election, clearly set forth in Holy Writ. And the blunt conclusion, “The call for an imitation of Christ finds no support in the statements of Paul” (p. 672) is clearly contradicted by such passages as Eph. 5;1, 2 and Phil. 2;5ff. Naturally, the work has to be read “with discretion.” When this is done, one has discovered a true goldmine!

The tremendous energy, as well as ability, of the translator deserves unstinted praise. And so does the publisher for enriching our theological libraries with these justly famous books!