The Kingdom of God, A Guide for Old Testament Study
by Francis Breisch, Jr.
National Union of Christian Schools, 243 pages. Cloth bound, $3.00 paper bound, $2.40.
Many commentaries and guides for Old Testament study are unsuitable as textbooks because they lack an organizing principle which carries the student systematically and progressively through the Old Testament. The Old Testament is usually treated either as history or as literature, a collection of books. The historical method of Bible study allows for a certain amount of interpretation and application of Bible truth, but tends to neglect the redemptive message of the Old Testament, while the introductory or book-by-book method often fails to do justice to the historical character of revelation. This book avoids both of these weaknesses because it combines the history of the Old Testament and the message of each Old Testament book in a thematic unfolding of an organizing principle. The unity and progress of the Old Testament revelation is preserved by means of the theme, The Kingdom of God. “No other theme,” states the author, “so well summarizes the message of the Old Testament. It exhibits the unity which exists in the Old Testament. It shows the historical development of God’s work of redemption. It emphasizes the fact that the entire Old Testament prepares for the coming of Christ, the eternal King. To trace the growth of the Kingdom of God is to keep one’s finger on the pulse of God’s redemptive program” (Preface).
Bible should be taught in the Christian school along the lines of Biblical theology rather than as Bible history. This means that the students will learn to interpret the filets of Bible history in terms of their organic relationship to the plan of redemption revealed in the Old Testament and unfolded in the course of Old Testament history. Thus, Abraham is studied not so much as an example of faithfulness as a servant of God who occupied a unique place in the plan of redemption. Moses is studied, not as a great statesman or leader, but as a typical redeemer whose work was pari of the historical process of redemption.
This book serves as an excellent textbook for the course in Old Testament Bible in the Christian high school because it is sound in its method as well as in its con· tent. In a simple way it shows the progressive revelation of the plan of redemption and the organic deVelopment of the Kingdom of God. At the same time, there is a strong covenantal emphasis, which is clearly observable in tho table of contents. The chapter headings arc a profitable study in themselves. The following are a few of the forty-eight chapters: 5. “The Covenant People AIe Delivered” – Exodus. 6. “The Covenant Nation Is Organized” – Exodus. 7. “The Covenant Nation Receives Its Laws” – Leviticus. 8. “The Covenant Nation is Disciplined” – Numbers. 9. “The Covenant Nation is Consecrated” – Deuteronomy. 10. The Covenant Nation Receives Its Land” – Joshua. A very commendable textbook feature is the written exercise containing questions, notes, and memory suggestions at the end of each chapter.
Perhaps in a future revision the few minor errors will be weeded out – Salomon (Solomon), p. 109; rime (rhyme) p. 93; Lev. 2 and Lev. 4 should read Num. 2 and Num. 4 (questions 5 and 6, p. 56 ). Also, it is inaccurate to say that man would earn eternal life through the covenant of works (p. 25). Although he might have received it in the way of obedience, eternal life would not have been grounded in merit but in God’s covenant.
The author, the Rev. Francis Breisch, Jr., Is teacher of Bible at Kalamazoo Christian High School, Kalamazoo, Michigan. A graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary, he exemplifies truly Reformed, truly biblical scholarship. His textbook on Old Testament study is a fine contribution to the teaching of Bible in the Christian high school.
JOSEPH A. HILL
Bible Teacher, Unity Christian
High School, Hudsonville. Mich.
The New Testament in Modern English
Translated by J.B. Phillips
The Macmillan Company, New York, 1958.
Hardly have we completed the examination of a new translation of the Holy Scriptures before word reaches us that another translation is about to be published. With J D. Phillips still prominent in current reviews, we hear that the complete Berkeley translation with its “fresh rendering in today’s tongue” is ready for sale. Close on the trail of this announcement comes word from Great Britain that top British scholars, under the direction of Dr. C. H. Dodd, are working on a new translation. Publication of the New Testament is scheduled for early in 19th, with the Old Testament coming several years later. Nothing is more apparent than that there is a surge of interest in new renderings of the Bible, in Roman Catholic circles as well as in Protestant.
During World War II Mr. Phillips, serving as vicar of The Church of the Good Shepherd in southeast London, became aware that his youth groups were having difficulty appreciating the King James Version of Paul’s Epistles. So he set himself to the task of putting these Epistles into words that might encourage his young people to take a fresh look at the New Testament. Subsequently his work was published under the title, Letters to Young Churches, which sold more than a million copies in the United States. He followed it with the rest of the New Testament in three more volumes. The four now comprise the present book.
An admirer of C. S. Lewis, who was perhaps his most enthusiastic supporter in the enterprise, Mr. Phillips has duplicated something of the same liveliness and raciness for which the author of The Screwtape Letters is so well known. Do we have here a uniformly accurate translation? By no means! But neither was that Mr. Phillips’ intent. In his foreword he plainly states that it was not his aim to give a precise rendering in every instance. For that reason this volume has to be handled cautiously – by adults, and even more so by children and young people.
One who has a mania for “modern meaningfulness” will have a good time with this translation. Hc will chuckle over Second Corinthians 4:9 – “we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out!” Very delightsome reading, indeed, and in many parts illuminating.
But one can never say that this is a careful work. It is true to its title but not to the text. Moreover, the translator has passed up opportunities to transmit meaning from Greek into English. He might have noted, in keeping with his quest for illumination, that the first verb in James 1:25 really means to look with a curiosity that wants to sec all that can be seen. And in Matthew 11:28, to cite another instance, his “reflective digestion” would have been more productive had he said what the Greek actually says, “I myself will rest you”.
The Great Texts of the Bible
Edited by James Hastings
Volume VIII, St. Matthew
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids 3, Mich. 451 pages. Price $4.00
For “pulpit preaching aids” this series of 20 volumes, which first appeared some 50 years ago, is one of the best. We are grateful to the Eerdmans Publishing Company for making it again available.
The volume under review, like all the others in the series, is a compilation of homiletical and illustrative material with choice bits of poetry gathered from sources that range all the way from such works as The Life and Letters of James Martineau to the theological writings of James Denney and William G. T. Shedd.
A variety of sources like that is bound to produce materials that are not uniformly satisfying. But even so, this is a valuable set of books and I heartily recommend it to pastors and Sunday School teachers.
1. Tracts and Treatises
Calvin Memorial Publications – Eerdmans
John Calvin’s Tracts and Treatises, three volumes translated by Henry Beveridge and first published by the Calvin Translation Society, Edinburgh, in 1844. Accompanied by a short life of Calvin by Theodore Beza and some historical notes and an introduction by Th. F. Torrance.
It is my duty and privilege to introduce these writings of the foremost reformed and defender of the faith during the times of the Reformation. TORCH AND TRUMPET commends Eerdmans Publishing Company for its unflagging devotion to the cause of presenting the works of John Calvin to this generation, and we arc happy to high. light the various publications in which the contributions of Calvin to the Reformation of the Church are set forth.
The first volume of the Tracts and Treatises is Ou The Reformation of the Church. It contains, among other things, Calvin’s “Reply to Cardinal Sadolet,” written from Strassbourg in September, 1539, where Calvin was temporarily in exile because he had resisted the Council of Geneva. Sadolet, as the most persuasive voice the Pope could muster, tried to woo the people of Geneva back to the bosom of the Mother Church by sending an open letter to the people of Geneva in which he denounced the Reformers as licentious imposters. Calvin’s Reply (the Geneva Council had no other advocate worthy of Sadolel’s steel) exemplifies the precept, suavtier in modo, fortiter in re (gentle in manner, strong in the matter) and nothing further was heard from Sadolel. The long essay on “The necessity of Reforming the Church” (pp. 121–235) briefly enumerates the evils which compelled the Reformers to action, it shows the particular remedies to have been apt and salutary, and it proves that the Reformers were not at liberty to postpone “any longer to put forth our hand, in as much as the matter demanded instant amendment” (I, p. 126). Both these writings are classic in their cogent marshaling of the evidence, in their passion for truth and justice, and their incisiveness of thought.
The last two essays are of a slightly different nature. The “Remarks on a Letter of Pope Paul III” (the letter of Paul is also given) is of a more personal nature and abounds in barbed satire against the Vatican and the person of the Pope. Here is a sample. “One Paul Farnese has a son, and by him grandsons, besides bastards, who still spring from the old dotard, and his half-rotten carcase…Italy never produced such a monster before! Paul, why do you bestir yourself? When the execrable lusts of this your son have risen to heaven, when the land is polluted by their abominations, when the whole world is crying out, do you not think it time to exercise severity? What shall I say of his avarice? What of his rapacity? What of his cruelty?…Does not the justice of God here alarm you?…enough of actual sons…In what state is your See, which ought to be to you a family? What are your vicars doing? What kind of traffic is going on in your court? How do your clergy comport themselves? What Sodom will you find for me, where there ever was greater impunity for all kinds of evil? More abandoned shamelessness? More unbridled licentiousness?” (I, p. 258).
Or, in a more doctrinal vein. “For Christ is the only bond of holy unity. He who departs from him disturbs and violates unity, while out of him there is nothing but sacrilegious conspiracy” (I, p. 259). “I indeed admit that dire vengeance from God impends over all who make it their endeavor to violate the unity of the Church. But what greater violation of unity than when purity of doctrine is adulterated, and agreement in it destroyed, and Christ, in consequence, torn as it were to pieces?” (I, p. 273). This whole essay is sharp ill its rebuke against the perverseness with which the Pope closed his eyes to the situation in the Church and turned his fury against those who sought her reformation.
In the second of these essays, “An Admonition Showing the Advantages Which Christendom Might Derive from AN INVENTORY OF RELICS”, Calvin uses his satire as chief weapon to discredit the Romish custom of worshipping at shrines of saints. By this Inventory Calvin proved the whole reUc fetish to be an imposture upon the gullibility of the populace, and he gave the impulse to what is known in French letters as Calvinistic satire.
In volume two, of the Doctrine and Worship of the Church, we see Calvin laboring diligently to build the Church by providing the necessary means of instruction for the youth (catechisms), the proper forms of worship (liturgies for administration of the sacraments and the manner of celebrating marriage, forms for making confession of faith and instructions for the visiting of the sick). However, the greatest part deals with the proper understanding of the Lord’s Supper. There are two long discussions of Calvin’s view of the matter in opposition to the attacks of Joachim Westphal (pp. 245–494).
It is dear from these discussions that for Calvin the covenant was the heart of true religion. But the covenant is one and the same in both dispensations. In its essence it is the promise of God in Christ that He will be a gracious Father to his people, who on their part are to walk as his dear children in a crooked and perverse generation. Union with Christ is the heart of the New Covenant and the sacraments arc a sign and seal of this personal union with Christ. Calvin insisted that the body and blood of Christ were truly present in the Holy Supper and that the communicant also partakes of that sacred substance, without any commingling or transfusion of substance, however. Many, many pages were written by Calvin to clarify his position over against that of Rome and over against that of the Lutherans.
But the sum of all these efforts on the part of Calvin was to establish the unity of the Church, whether he wrote a catechism as “a seed to keep the good grain from dying out”, or whether he carried on a disputation with Westphal or Heshusius. The treatises on the Supper “were all deliberately written in the endeavor to remove misunderstanding and to heal divisions between Churches” (Intro., XXXII).
The third volume, In Defense of the Reformed Faith, contains Calvin’s swift and penetrating refutation of the “Acts of the Council of Trent” and his rejection of the “Interim Declaration of Religion”, sponsored by the Emperor. To this he added “The True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and of Reforming the Church”. Calvin rejected the Council’s interpretation of the disputed points and maintained the supremacy of the Word of God, justification by faith alone (this had been mischievously interpreted by the Papists to mean that the act of faith saves without the grace or God) without the works of the law; the unique and unrepealable sacrifice of Christ for sin, which can not be supplemented by any righteousness of man; the doctrine of Christ as the head of the Church, which is made up of believers and their seed. Calvin also emphasized the Kingship of Christ, the ascended Lord and Head of the Church, who roles by his Word and Spirit over his people, and by his sovereign power over all the nations of the earth until his return in glory.
Over against the compromise proposed by the Emperor, Calvin presented his true method of reforming the church, namely, return to and adherence to sound doctrine. Whereas the Papists “demand from us an open adjuration of true doctrine”, said Calvin, these pacifiers of the Interim “leave us a half Christ, but in such a manner that there is no part of his doctrine which they do not obscure or bespatter with some kind of falsehood” ( III , p. 241). “Whatever may happen, let it be our resolute determination to listen to no terms of peace, which mingle the figments of men with the pure truth of God. Let it, I say, be our fixed principle that the voice of the Shepherd alone is to be heard, that of strangers guarded against and rejected” (III, p. 242).
Volume three also contains two letters, written to former friends of Calvin, warning them against the sin of failing to confess Christ openly. These appear under the title, “On Shunning the Unlawful Rites of the Ungodly and Preserving the Purity of the Christian Religion” (1537). Finally, there Is Psychopannychia ( 1534), Calvin’s second literary production, which however was not published until 1542. In it Calvin refutes the Anabaptistic heresy of the sleep of the soul.
In the former Calvin pleads the cause of Christ without any bitterness or invective, “so that no one shall be able to complain of being hurt, or even slightly offended” (III, p. 413). But against those who plead the unity of the Church and the rights of Charity to cover their lack of courage Calvin replies: “we acknowledge no Unity except in Christ; no Charity of which He is not the bond; and that, therefore, the chief point in preserving Charity is to maintain Faith sacred and entire. Secondly, that this discussion may proceed without any violation of charity, provided the ears with which they listen correspond with the tongue which I employ” ( Ill, p. 416). The last statement reminds one of the careful distinction made by Calvin in the Institutes between giving and taking offense (III, 19, 11). For Calvin ever maintained that “necessary duties must not be omitted through fear of any offence” and, “as our liberty should be subject to charity, so charity itself ought to be subservient to the purity of faith” (Ibid.).
Psychopannychia is a gem of biblical exegesis and merits re-printing and distribution as a monograph for the instruction of the Church today, since the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists are flooding the world with their pernicious propaganda. Calvin meets all the arguments head-on, demolishing them one by one, with the sword of the Spirit. The entire pamphlet is a perfect demonstration of Calvin’s superb insight into and knowledge of the Scriptures even at this early stage of his Christian life. He is also quite thorough in bringing all the facts to bear upon the case at hand. Calvin was not one to be satisfied with a job half done. He was thorough and painstaking in all his labors, as this apologetic piece also testifies.
In summary, the publication of these three volumes of Calvin’s works constitutes a major contribution to the life of the Church of our day. Congratulations to Eerdmans! Let us study these documents, savor their spirit, and master their contents! May God give us all more of the warm and passionate spirit of John Calvin, that, loving the truth, we may stand in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, resisting the satanic strategy of achieving unity minus the truth.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
2. The Rise and Development of Calvinism
Calvin Memorial Publications – Eerdmans
1959. ED. John Bratt
This concise little history (132 pages), written by Calvin College professors, aims to give the contemporary student an understanding of and an appreciation for the religious and cultural significance of Calvinism as an historical phenomenon. Prof. Bratt, who is also editor, presents the life and work of Calvin as well as the history and development of Calvinism in America. Charles Miller gives a sketch of the history and spread of Calvinism in Switzerland, Germany, and France, while Earl Strikwerda does the same with respect to England and Scotland. Finally, Walter Lagerwey presents the history of Calvinism in the Netherlands. Bibliographies lire appended at the end of each chapter. The work is easy to rend and makes a handy reference for the layman; therefore, I recommend it heartily to all of our societies and churches.
However, there is one suggestion that I would offer my colleagues in all humility and charity. The book docs not form a unity of interpretation. On the one hand. we read, “The Synod of Dort is a symbol of the triumph of orthodox Calvinism in the Netherlands” (p. 82); but, on the other hand, we read that the five points of Calvinism arc said to be the best illustration of a scholastic trend by which “Calvinism is defined as little more than a narrow, syllogistic, theological system” (p. 27).
Besides, although I can agree that Calvin did not single out the doctrine of predestination as the end-all and be-all of truth, he did, nevertheless, lay unique stress on it in his major theological work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, devoting chapters 21–24 to the exposition of its biblical character. He treats it in the same serious, systematic manner as he did the doctrines of the trinity and of the sacraments. But, contrary to our present usage, Calvin did not take up the doctrine of predestination under the rubric of theology proper (logos re theos) but he comes to it after a consideration of prayer. He tries to explain, as far as that is possible on the basis of revelation, why “The covenant of life (is) not equally preached to all, and among those to whom it is preached (it is) not always finding the some reception.” Neither is it quite factual to say that Calvin did not treat this doctrine except “as the result of his conflict with (I member of the Reformed community”. Besides the treatment in the Institutes just mentioned, there is a book called Calvin’s Calvinism, containing two major treatises of Calvin against the Roman Catholic scholar, Pighius of Kampen. Both treat the subject of predestination and the secret will of God against the Pelagian denial of Pighius. Calvin also excuses himself because of various engagements he has had no time to treat the doctrine of predestination before.
To my mind, it sets up a false antithesis to say that Calvin did not especially treat this subject. For he treated it just as systematically as he did the sacraments (Cf. Institutes ); and he gave it the same special consideration in his controversial writings as he did the Supper in opposition to Westphal.
Another instance of such a false antithesisis found in the statement, “He worked to redress the wrongs not only of degenerate Catholicism but more particularly of inadequate Lutheranism and Anabaptism” (underscoring added, V.T.). But as I read the Institutes, the Letters, the “Reply to Sadolet”, his “Reply to Pighius”, his essays addressed to the hope, to the Emperor and to the Diets, the comments on the Decrees of Trent, his Antidote to the Sorbonne, etc. etc., I find not a scintilla of evidence to indicate that Calvin’s major efforts were directed against Lutherans and Anabaptists. The main work of the Reformation, namely, of breaking down the structure of the antichrist as Luther and Calvin conceived of it, had by no means been accomplished when Calvin came upon the scene. Although Luther’s passionate protest against salvation by works had roused many out of their lethargy, the consistent application of the authority of the Word over against that of the hope and the consolidation of the beach head established by Luther fell upon the shoulders of Calvin. Hence it is better to say that Calvin fought every unbiblical approach with passion, whether that of Rome, of the Anabaptists, the Lutherans, or the Humanists of his day.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
An Expanded Translation Philippians Through the Revelation
by Kenneth S. Wuest
Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest has done an amazing amount of work, good work. He accepts Scripture as God’s infallible Word. That accounts for the fact that he takes the words of the Bible so very seriously. The present volume is Number III in the author’s Expanded Translation of the Greek New Testament.
Probably the best way to describe the book is to quote from the author’s “Personal Word to the Reader.” Says Dr. Wuest:
“This is a commentary translation, the purpose of which is to clarify the text of the Authorized Version where its condensed phraseology requires the explanation which an expanded translation can give…The commentary material in this translation comes from the rules of Greek grammar and syntax, from idioms in the Greek language which cannot be brought over into the English language and from the richness of content of certain Creek words, untranslatable truth which only an expanded rendering of the Creek text is able to handle.”
Dr. Wuest does justice to such things as the order of words in the Greek original, the distinction between synonyms, the action implied in verb tenses, etc.
Each Bible-book is introduecd in a concise manner by mcans of a brief Outline.
I regard this as an cxcellent book for everyone who is interested in a bettcr understanding of the New Testament, and I offer my hearty congratulations to author and publisher.
And Four To Grow On
by Francis Palmer
Rinehart and Company Inc., N.Y. 222 pages, $3.50.
Many a childless couple desiring to adopt children seek counsel from their pastors. “Is it right?” “Should we express preference?” You will find an answer and sound religious advice in the book AND FOUR TO GROW ON by Frances Palmer.
After eight years of living alone in a large country home Frances and Bill Palmer decided to adopt two children. Rather than judge them by their appearance they wished to accept them sight unseen. The first day was a tense and trying one and Frances knew that God must answer her prayers for wisdom, patience, and understanding or she couldn’t possibly carry on.
Now follow many and varied incidents—some pathetic, some humorous. Gradually Joe and Ruth adapted themselves to a Christian environment and learned what a home filled with love and understanding is like. They needed to be disciplined, and Ruth was the firs t one to be spanked by Frances. The look she received from Ruth was filled with respect rather than hate. Later on Joe was disobedient and when Frances asked, “What in the world is the matter with you?” Joe replied, “Well, you and daddy love Ruth more than you do me”. Joe’s next words marked another step in Frances’ education: “Aren’t the ones that get the most spanking the ones you love the most?”
Later on, when Frances and Bill decided to adopt two more children, Joe and Ruth played an important role in making them feel loved and wanted. They learned to be unselfish, and to share with their new brother and sister. They became a harmonious family in which the fear of God guided and controlled all the members.
This book should be read by all parents, especially those who contemplate adopting children. Have you fears or misgivings? Frances Palmer writes in her closing lines, “Who knows, when a child is born, what its ultimate end will be? .. we are far too busy trying to ‘train up a child in the way he should go,’ believing that, ‘and even when he is old, he will not depart from it’”.
MRS. HELEN PEKELDER
The Fundamentals For Today, I and II
Ed. by Ch. L. Feinberg under sponsorship of The Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Inc.
Published by Kregel, Grand Rapids 6, Michigan 1958. 657 pages. $7.95.
These volumes constitute an up-to-date revision of The Fundamentals, first published by The Bible Institute in 1909. This Jubilee Edition signifies that “the school and its affiliates adhere to the time-honored position of the founders” (foreword). Since the position of the founders is grounded in the holy, infallible Scriptures, and since the authors reproduced in the present two-volume work give all diligence to contend for the faith once delivered to the fathers, we of the Reformed Fellowship, Inc. rejoice with our brethren in the Lord in their Jubilee Celebration.
One of the things that warms the cockles of one’s heart in reading these two volumes is the central place that is. given to the doctrine of Scripture, both in its positive exposition and in its defense against attack. Articles by Orr, Bettex, Caven, Kyle, Wright, Cray, Pierson, Mauro, Warfield, Torrey, and others, all deal with the doctrine of Scripture and its modem denials in Higher Criticism. The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the unity of Isaiah, the antiquity and authenticity of Daniel, the verbal inspiration and consequent infallibility of Scripture—these are all maintained and defended against modern unbelief. There are articles on the deity of Christ, his virgin birth, and bodily resurrection, the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit and his indwelling power in the sons of God.
The second volume deals more particularly with anthropology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology. The biblical doctrine of sin and atonement is dealt with in detail, as well as that of salvation by grace. The nature of regeneration, conversion, justification, consecration, etc. are set forth. Evangelism and the preaching of the Word are given great prominence, as well as prayer and its uses and efficacy. There arc two excellent articles on the religion of Home, demonstrating that it is not to be confounded with Christianity, and, that it is “the Antagonist of the Nation” (Vol. II, pp. 475–505). Philip Mauro shows how modem philosophy spoils those studying at our universities by its vain deceit and the traditions of men, which arc not after Christ (II, p. 525f.). An article by Prof. Wright details the passing modes of the theory of evolution under the somewhat misleading title, ”The Passing of Evolution”. A chapter on the hope of the church shows that the early Christians did not look forward to death or to the entrance into heaven, nor yet to the conversion of the world, but to the personal return of her Lord. This is the blessed hope of believers and the consummation of our redemption. “It provides the most inspiring motive for Christian life and service” (II, p. 635). This fundamental, Scriptural, controverted doctrine is also set forth by Professor Erdman in the following chapter in which he maintains the personal, glorious, and imminent return of Christ.
All in all, these fundamentals still constitute the very marrow of Christian doctrine, without which the Church cannot exist. But more than that, they represent the teachings of Scripture as interpreted by the mind of the Church throughout the ages. And Christ promised that he would lead his Church into all the truth.
However, that docs not mean that this reviewer is in perfect accord with every interpretation presented in these volumes. One can agree with Dr. Feinberg that it is wrong to speak of the “Christian Sabbath”, since the Sabbath is a peculiarly Jewish institution. However, the author of this chapter docs not come to grips with the principle of a day of rest in the New Testament, except to negate it by saying that the Sabbath has been abolished since Pentecost but that it will again be in force in the Millennial age. But the absolute antithesis between law and grace presented by C. I. Schofield is even more objectionable to this reviewer. The rejection of Judaism, against which Paul also carried on his polemic in Galatians, is commendable. There is a sense, of course, in which the antithesis between law and grace is absolute. Salvation is by grace without any admixture of works on the part of man. All synergism must be rigorously excluded. However, one must demur when the author speaks of law as the Old Testament method in opposition to grace as the method of the New Testament. And to say that grace “in the sense of some revelation of God’s goodness” always existed is certainly an understatement. In fact, the typical nature of Old Testament revelation in its pre. figuration of Christ, and the fact that the saints before Christ were saved by no other way than through the way of the Cross is totally obscured. It is true that the law is a curse to man in the state of sin, for “cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” But Paul also says that the Jaw is good and just and holy (Romans 7:12), and it remains the instrument of God by which man discovers himself as sinner.
The main difficulty is that Schofield does not distinguish, on the one hand, between the ceremonial and civil law of Israel and, on the other hand, the Jaw of God in its moral.spiritual essence as given in the Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and in many passages in Paul’s epistles. Examples of this could be multiplied but I take just one. The author cites the civil legislation of the law of retribution given in Exodus 21:21, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” over against the exhortation of the Gospel “Resist not evil”, and, “avenge not yourselves”. But instead, the civil law of Moses should be compared with Romans 13, where God gives the government the power of the sword to avenge evil and to mete out proper punishment in the name of God, “for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil” (13:4). Besides, when Christ is saying, “Ye have heard that is was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy”, he is not quoting the law, nor the spirit of the law, for the law of Moses also demanded love toward personal enemies, and care for one’s ox and possessions. But the enemy in the Old Testament is the uncircumcised, the Philistine, who is the enemy of God and with respect to such David speaks of hating the enemy of God with perfect hatred. The interpretation of the scribes that one may hate his personal adversary is rejected by Jesus and this is confirmed by Paul, when he says, “Beloved, avenge not yourselves.”
It is all wry well to speak of the freedom that there is in the Spirit, but our own sinful hearts have grave antinomian tendencies, which keep cropping out. How is the Christian to know what that good and holy and acceptable will of the Lord is without the norm of the holy law of God? “Moral law is the moral perfection of God coming to expression for the regulation of life and conduct” (Prof. John Murray, “The Sanctity of the Moral Law,” p. 3). Even the sanctified conscience needs this objective standard, for love is the fulfillment of the law, not the abolition of the law. “If ye love me, keep my commandments”, said our Lord . But there can be no doubt as to what he had in mind for Christ refers again and again to the sixth, seventh, and tenth commandment. (See Matthew 5:22, 28.)
For those who want to make a basic study of the relationship of the law to grace, Allis’ Prophecy and the Church is recommended (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Box 185, Nutley, N. J.).
l want to re-emphasize by the way of conclusion, that these strictures do not invalidate the relevance of this publication for our day. I wish to endorse the effort as a whole and recommend these books to our theological students as well as the ministry and the teaching profession in our Christian schools. Calvin College.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Archaeology and The Pre-Christian Centuries
by J.A. Thompson
Wm. B. Eerdmans Co., pp. 5–139. Price $1.50.
The period covered by this little book is not as well known among Christians as it should be. We often speak of it as the period of the exile and restoration. The Bible refers to it as the Indignation. For many of us it is a time of obscurity, and we are merely aware that between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New there is a long gap.
Now we have a popular, well written book that will help us to understand what took place during this gap. In short compass the author manages to include a tremendous amount of useful material which is the fruit of wide and careful reading. Not the least useful feature of the book is the clear chart of the period found on page 134.
The careful reading of this little work should give a clearer understanding of the period covered. There is a brief chapter on Qumran which is a model of concise and common-sense treatment. The author seems to hold a high view of the Scriptures. We heartily commend this book. It is a most useful addition to the Pathway Series. Westminster Seminary
EDWARD J. YOUNG
The Expository Method of G. Campbell Morgan
by Don M. Wagner
Copyright 1957 by Fleming H. Revell Company, 128 pages, price $2.00.
It seems to this reviewer that the writer of this book knows what he is talking about and that he has given us a reliable analysis of Dr. Morgan’s methods. For those somewhat acquainted with the writings of Dr. Morgan this book will answer many questions. Rev. Wagner has great praise for Dr. Morgan but also senses his weaknesses. Since we are in no position to adequately judge Rev. Wagner’s conclusions we can only say that they impress us as being quite accurate. In reading some of Dr. Morgan’s sermons we have come upon statements that have puzzled us. We wondered how Dr. Morgan could make them and fit them into his theology. We have in mind statements such as this: ‘“The unregenerate man admires goodness and even would be good, and makes the attempt but fails ; his volitional power is not set free. He is free to choose, but he cannot do the thing he chooses, and so his choosing reacts on him and fills him with despair” (The Westminster Pulpit, Vol. VIII, p. 147). Or again on page 144 of the same volume he writes, “All other religions, the highest and noblest of them, have in them light, walking in which men will surely be acceptable to God. All of them arc attempts by man to find God, humanity climbing toward him.” But after reading this analysis by the Rev. Mr. Wagner we can easily see how Dr. Morgan could make such statements since he did not want to be bound by any theological system and his teachings were all colored by a dispensational and undenominational outlook.
This little book has value especially in its emphasis on the proper exposition of Scripture. It is an emphasis that we do well to heed also in our Christian Reformed Church. We can appreciate and at the same time deplore Dr. Morgan’s refusal to be bound by systematic theology. He wanted to listen to God’s Word without any prejudice. But in his refusal to be guided by a theological system he also denied and failed to make use of the Spirit’s work in leading the church into the truth.
However we do well to listen to what this analysis has to tell us. We must not be bound hy systematic theology without critically testing it by a careful exposition of Scripture. What a great man Dr. Morgan would have been had he carefully studied Reformed theology! It is surely an unwise and conceited attempt on the part of any man to try to comprehcnd all of Scripture through an expository method without the help of creeds or systematics. We can easily understand this statement of Rev. Wagner: “This structural analogy suggests the progress of Morgan’s works toward theological conclusion which he never quite reached, if, indeed, he ever tried to reach it” (p. 97). At the same time, I cannot appreciate the statement of Mr. Waguer when he says, “The singular glory of Dr. Morgan’s work is its non-theological nature in the systematic sense.” There is nothing more glorious than to see Scripture’s message in its unity, and although we must praise Dr, Morgan’s expository method we must regret that he failed to see the system of theology which is implicit in the teaching of Scripture.
The Question Box
by Dr. William N. Emch
Copyright 1956 by the Wartburg Press, Columbus, Ohio. 188 pages, price $2.50.
This book contains a careful selection of answers given ·over a twenty-five year period in The Lutheran Standard under the title “The Question Box.” The answers cover almost every phase of life and many can he endorsed by the Reformed believer. They manifest an honest attempt to let Scripture speak on man’s problems.
This book can be read with profit by discerning readers in our church.
However, we are disappointed with Dr. Emch’s views on the observance of the Sabbath Day. About our Sunday he writes, “To us Christians every day is sacred and holy. We observe the first day of the week in a special way, not because of any direct command of God, but because good order demands that we have a certain time for public worship required by God, and because Sunday has been kept since the days of the apostles” (p. 23). About Sabbath-day observance he writes, “There is no warning against Sabbath-breaking in any of the New Testament epistles.”
Dr. Emch’s explanation of the Lutheran practice and teaching of absolution also leaves one with many questions. On page 05 we read tMs statement, “We are to say to everybody; ‘Listen, I have good news for you. You may have perfect pardon for all your sins through your Substitute, our Lord Christ Jesus,’” and on page 66, “Who pardons the guilty man? Only the infinite, merciful God can do that, against whom the offense has been committed…We lay all the stress upon the Word of Cod which the pastor brings to us. It must be the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, for that alone is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” We wish the Lutheran church would stop right there but we go on to page 63, “Lutherans teach that this power to forgive sins was given to the church, hence to every believer.” This is confusing to say the least!
We also meet with an explanation of consubstantiation versus transubstantiation. Lutherans believe, “…that the bread and wine are present in the natural way, but that the body and blood arc present in a supernatural way” (p. 92) . Concerning infant baptism we read statements as these, “We teach that baptism kindles spiritual life in the infant.” Why does the Lutheran church teach this? Because, “We know that our baptized little folks are in a state of grace with God, for the very nature of a sacrament is such that it bestows and imparts grace where there is no willful resistance” (p. 120) . And again, “This imparting of divine grace always takes place in baptism if the baptized one does not willfully resist and thus reject the proffered gift. A little child never thus resists”, p. 122.
One other of Dr. Emch’s answers merits mention. Writing about fatalism on page 153, Dr. Emch asks, “Is the length of man’s life so fixed and determined by our Creator that man cannot change it?” To this question he replies, “That is certainly not true.” On page 154 we read, “…the time and the manner of each man’s death are largely determined by himself.” This is clearly contrary to the teaching of Scripture on divine providence and God’s eternal decrees. Therefore we add this caution that in spite of the many excellent answers given in this book it should be read only by those who can try the spirits. Ladner, B. C. Canada