A Look at Books

DOTMOED OF HOOGMOED (Geloofs gehoogaamheid of nieurve theologie?) Or. M. J. Arntzen Oosterman en Le Cointre B.V. Goes 1973. Paper Cover, 142 Dagcs. Price £10.75 or $4.00. Reviewed by Rev. Lambertus VanLaar (emeritus) of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Dr. Arntzen, the author, may be considered the main spokesman of the “verontrusten” (the concerned) with regard to present-day spiritual conditions in the Geseformeerde Kerken of the Netherlands.

In this book he accomplishes two main things.

First, he presents an updated review of the chief tenets and teachings of the so-called New Theology, represented by Dr. Kuitert’s own series, together with a critical evaluation of it from a Biblical, Reformed point of view.

Second, the author presents a critical consideration of the way the Synod in the Netherlands has thus far handled this matter of the New Theology. He deplores the total lack of disciplinary action on the part of the Synod. He is convinced that the rather weak and tolerant attitude of the Synod with regard to the New Theology, unless reversed, will eventually be the 11Iin of the Reformed Faith in the Genformcarle Kerken.

In our judgment, the author gives a fair and objective presentation of this whole matter which is deeply agitating the churches in Ule Netherlands today and, to an extent, also as in the U.S.A.

The book is well documented and presents an abundance of Scriptural and confessional material in its denouncements of the New Theology. All who are able to read Dutch ought to read and study this book As the Dutch saying goes: “Die zich aan een andes spiegelt, spiegelt zich zacht.”

SEEK AND FlND THE MESSIAH – Old Testament Prophecies regarding the promised Messiah briefly explained by Rev. Gerrit J. Haan from the 1912 Dutch edition of “The Messiah Sought and Found.” 179 pages. Paperback. $2.00. Kregel’s Book Store, Grand Rapids, Mich. Reviewed by Rev. L. VanLaar.

This book of 179 pages is an excellent translation in idiomatic English of the original Dutch edition. All honor to its  translator, Henry Wezeman, a catechumen and ardent admirer of the author, the late Rev. G. J. Haan, a Christian Reformed minister for over 50 years.

In this book the author reviews almost fifty different Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. He endeavors, to quote his own words, “to present them as clearly as possible 10 the average teacher, briefly and without embellishment or complexities. Obviously, the entire range of prophecies could not be included in a small volume, and for our present purpose this was not necessary. Among those omitted are prophecies which arc identical in meaning. Those included constitute a series in which the image of Christ is developed as it is represented in the New Testament, from his incarnation to his second coming.”

Having reviewed this book, we concluded that the late Rev. Haan succeeded very well in his endeavors. In this book he presents an excellent study of tho Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, and with sound scholarship, proving over and over again from the Bible, that the Christ of the New Testament is truly the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. A valuable guide indeed  for those who desire to have their faith strengthened in Jesus Christ, as the God-appointed Savior.

We considcr this an excellent book, worthy of a place in any theological library. Excellent, because of its sound Reformed scholarship, evident in the exposition of the texts analyzed and explained. The author explains Scripture with Scripture. For him, the Bible is its own interpreter. The Old Testament is explained in the light of the New Testament. Following this sound hermeneutic method, the author admirably succeeds in proving that Jesus Christ is truly the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. He really “sought and found the Messiah” in the Old Testament.

Then, too, we consider this book an excellent one, because it is practical and devotional, as well as informative and instructive. The reader is challenged from time to time to examine himself as to how ho stands in his relationship to Jesus Christ.

Once again, here is a book that ought to he found on the shelves of every theological library. Ministers, evangelists, and church librarians take notice! It contains a wealth of Scriptural information on a very important subject: “Seeking and Finding the Messiah.”

The Christian public is obligated to the Rev. Raymond Haan, a s0n of the author, for having made this study of his father available for the present generation. Truly, it is a fine effort put forth, as he states in the introduction, “to preserve the heritage of the fathers, and to guide the present generation—especially the youth who are seeking Christ—in finding the Messiah, the world’s only hope.”

THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM, by Dr. Edwin H. Palmer. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, 109 pp., $ 1.95. Reviewed by Rev. J. W. Van Stempvoort, Lucknow, Ontario, Canada.

This well-printed paperback is intended to be “a study guide” or “a study manual.” The material is divided into seven sections the first five of which deal with the traditional five points of Calvinism, and the last two containing a supplementary discussion and a section entitled “Resource Materials.” The book is preceded by a foreword in which the author carefully explains his usage of the title, “The Five Points of Calvinism.” Palmer rightly maintains, among other things, that “Calvinism does not have live points; and, neither is Calvin the author of five points.”

The first five sections or chapters are developed according to the familiar TULIP scheme. At the close of each of these sections, and the following section, there are lists of discussion questions. The last section on resource materials contains extensive quotations from the Belgic and Westminster Confessions of Faith. The final page lists a bibliography of eleven works, with short comments as to the nature of their contents.

As we would expect from Dr. Palmer, this little book is thorough, very readable, and so\md. There are many helpful illustrations included in the lucid treatment of the various subjects. Not all the problems, of course, are solved. But Palmer is very helpful in telling us how we must approach these problems, avoiding the pitfalls of false theological systems an extremism.

I would highly recommend this little book for use in both “younger” and “older” Bible study groups. There is great need in the theological climate of today for reminding ourselves of (or, perhaps learning for the first time) the great truths of Scripture set forth in Palmer’s book. Both the author and Baker Book House are to be commended for making this volume available to us.

MINISTERIAL LIFE AND WORK, W. H. Griffith Thomas. Baker 1974. 236 pp. $2.95 (paper). Reviewed by Rev. Harold Hollander, pastor of the First: Christian Reformed Church of Wellsburg, Iowa.

Dr. S. Volbeda counselled us students to read one book a year on some aspect of preaching. I think he would have approved this one for his former students. In this book W. H. Griffith Thomas examines Biblical data concerning the task of tIle minister and goes on to describe some of its practical aspects with a lot of emphasis on preaching and sermon making.

This is a reprint of a revision of an earlier work by Mr. Thomas, an Anglican pastor and professor. The back cover tells us that the material in this book was originally given in lecture form to ministerial students at Oxford. This adds rather than detracts from its value.

THE ARAB ISRAELI STRUGGLE by Charles F. Pfeiffer. Bakel’ Book House, Grnnd Rapids, Michigan. 1972, pp. 112. $.95, paperback. Reviewed by Rev. Jerome Julien, pastor of tile Faith Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This little book summarizes the history of the struggle between the Arabs and the Israelis for the land of Palestine. The author analyzes the struggle from both sides, seeing fault in both. He believes that the Jews have a right to exist as a nation and he rightly laments the fact that Russia is involved on the side of the Arabs. Thankfully, he does not try to justify any of the actions of the israelis on the so-called fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Perhaps this little book will be of help to us as we weigh and then discuss the very important current events clustered in that part of the world we call Palestine.

GOD LOVES . . . by John Gritter. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1970, 123 pages. Price $2.95. Reviewed by Rev. Charles Greenfield (emeritus) of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In this little book the late Rev. John Gritter has left us a moving testimony to his faith in the Triune God and Savior, as well as an insight into his saved-by-grace personality. To those who knew him quite well, it is not surprising that he should choose to write on the love of God, nor that he should do so in such a pastoral and confessional way. He calls himself a common preacher who takes on himself to write on this subject because the Bible itself says that God is love, and because he himself in preaching on this theme very often has found that “my heart has been greatly warmed, my soul has at times been thrilled, and audiences have responded with words of joy.” That others too may respond with joy, his treatment is always devotional as well as instructive. He does not quote many human authorities, but the treatise abounds with hundreds of references to relevant passages from the Divine authoritative Word. Many aspects of the love of God are difficult to understand, the author acknowledges, but he submits to the declarations of God himself.

The final chapter deals carefully and reverently with God’s call to all men, seeing that call as sincerely meant by God. In HIs mercy, His love, God sends the gospel to men. God’s love cannot be faulted because some men refuse to believe it.

This booklet is a legacy of brother Critter‘s Faith in and his life for his awesomely gracious God. Note this quotation from the chapter onEven Me.” “By the grace of God r want to say that I am firmly convinced that I am a child of God, that He loves me . . . And by His grace I have responded. I know I love Him.”

THE CREATIVE HOMEMAKER – Mary LaGrand Bouma – Published by Bethany Fellowship, Minneapolis, Minnesota – Price $2.45. Reviewed by Grace (Mrs. Rev. H.) VanderKlay.

This 182 page paperback book makes rather interesting reading. Some of the chapter titles are: “On Being a Wife,” “Hospitality,”Child Raising,”Money Matters.” No doubt, the book can be helpful to many homemakers and mothers. I personally found very few new ideas or suggestions in this book. The author’s chapter on getting housework into the proper perspective, gives one something to think about. On page 36 Mrs. Bouma gives a sample work schedule for homemakers. Schedules similar to this one may work for her, but I’m sure it never would have worked for me, and I too have lived in the parsonage—41 years. I very much disagree with her utter dislike of artificial flowers. Many of the man-made flowers today are very pretty and lifelike. In fact, I have a white milk-glass bud vase which I set out from time to time with one lone large red artificial rose. Many people have Felt of the flower when I have told them it is not real. While I do appreciate fully the beautiful flowers that God has made for us to enjoy, I would milch prefer to see a lovely artificial bouquet (kept dusted and clean) than to see a half wilted bouquet of real flowers in a glass vase half filled with dirty water. This hook ends with a few of the writer‘s favorite recipes—some of which I hope to try soon.

BAPTISM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, by G. R. Beasley-Murray. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich. 1973, 422 pages (paper). Price: S4.95. Reviewed by Rev. Harlan Vanden Einde, paster of the Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.

This scholarly and well-documented study of the subject of Baptism is the outcome of annual lectures delivered in 1959–60 under the auspices of the Dr. W. T. Whitley Lectureship in England. These lectures were repented before a number of audiences in America, Italy, and Holland, and were not put into book form in 1962. The Eerdmans PublishinCompany has now offered this American Paperback Edition, released in April, 1973.

The author states in tim Preface of the book that it is his intent to “offer a Baptist contribution to the discussions on baptism that arc taking place throughout the Christian world.” Though the author is himself a Baptist, it is his contention that he has attempted to “interpret the evidence of the New Testament as a Christian scholar, rather than as a member of a particular Christian Confession.”

In how far he has succeeded in doing so is a debatable point. That he gives the subject a very thorough treatment from his perspective, there can be no doubt. This is not a book which one can read in a leisurely manner as one would read a novel; nor should that be expected by virtue of the subject matter. It is replete with references to other authors and dolled with footnotes. Thus to follow his line of thought requires careful reading.

A review such as this is not the place to go into detailed discussion relative to the proper exegesis of the many Scriptural references in this book Knowing that the author is of Baptist persuasion theologically causes us to inquire immediately into the author’s treatment of the relation between the Old and New Testaments. Though the first chapter is entitled “The Antecedents of Christian Baptism”, he does not treat the subject of the covenant until near the end of the book Without the conviction that there is continuity between both Old and New Testaments with respect to the intent of this sacrament—that is bound to have an effect on everything he says about the subject.

It is in chapter six where the author givcs quite a wordy treatment of infant baptism, in which he treats some of tile supposedly traditional arguments in its favor. Among them he includes household baptisms. Jesus’ attitude toward children and proselyte baptism. He also gets to the subject of the covenant circumcision and baptism, bill concludes that “baptism differs from circumcision as the new aeon differs from the old; the two rites belong to different worlds” (p. 342).

The thesis which the writer then proceeds to develop is that “infant baptism originated in a capitulation to pressures exerted upon the Church both from without and from within” (p. 352).

From a covenantal perspective, which 10 this reviewer runs like a golden thread through the Old and New Testaments, this book falls short of doing justice to the meaning of the sacrament of baptism. At the same time, however, it may he read with interest and profit, in that it clarifies a position with which we wish to differ and thus helps us to re-examine and clarify our own.