Book Reviews

The Church’s Ministry to the Older Unmarried

Dr. M. Hugen

J.H. Kok, p. 120

This little volume of four chapters was written as Dr. Hugen’s thesis.

The introductory chapter describing the “’Theological Foundation”—which is said to be restorative as to goal and organic in its function—lays the groundwork for this study. The intent of the thesis is the application of the theological concept to the unmarried group. The area is the never married women above 30 years of age. They are selected because relatively few marry after reaching that age; and it is also at this age that they accept their unmarried status. The study of this group is important and warranted because of their social and personal problems.

The social problem is discussed in Chapter II. According to the author, the problem is due to society’s attitude toward the unmarried woman—one of “condescending pity”, p . 25.

Chapter III deals with the personal problems of the older unmarried. The substance of the problems dealt with is the need of accepting the single state, the problem of aloneness, and their sexual problem.

The authur has done a commendable piece of work in his documentations, analysis, and conclusions found in chapters II and III.

In the concluding chapter the author recommends specific forms of the church, ministry to the older unmarried. They are described as: a great need for more sociological and psychological studies, the unambiguous condemnation of society’s attitude by means of the Word, and the possibility of a church-operated marriage bureau. This reviewer is left with the impression that Dr. Hugen conceives of the church as primarily a social agency, A much clearer statement of the church’s ministry than that described in chapters I and IV is necessary to convince this reader that Dr. Hugen has a proper understanding of the church’s task.

The author is undoubtedly correct in contending that almost complete silence has prevailed on this subject, especially in our circles. However, I doubt that the older unmarried will benefit greatly from this recent study.


Christian Home and Family Living

Frances Vander Velde

Zondervan Publishing House, $2.00

This excellent book dealing with a vital subject is one that should not only be read but the contents should be digested and retained. From the Foreword we learn that these were Outlines prepared for Ladies’ Bible study groups in Chicagoland.

In the first six chapters subjects pertaining to Christian Marriage, the Christian Home, the role of Husband and Wife, Parent-and Children-Relationship are discussed. This material forms a unified treatment. Chapters 8–13 deal with such themes as Christian Hospitality, Envy, Friendship, Stewardship of Leisure Time, and Personal Bible Study. Another writer might have chosen other subjects but the author’s purpose is realized as she links up these subjects with the Christian Family. The chapter dealing with Personal Bible Study is instinctive and most edifying. The last chapter contains a thought-provoking discussion centering about the Older Woman. (Older men can benefit from it.)

No, this book does not deal with all kinds of theories as some students in Sociology might expect. Its thrust is simple, Biblical, Evangelical, extremely practical, soul-searching. It will prove a blessing to young and old alike. It’s up-to-date as it deals with the problems of juvenile delinquency, parental selfishness, birth-control, use of the rod, leisure time, spending of money, etc.

This book of 119 pages is replete with Scriptural references. I counted forty texts in the chapter dealing with Friendship. Furthermore, it abounds with terse, meaningful sentences. Let me illustrate:

“How much oil are we, as a Christian church, pouring upon the troubled waters?”—p. 17. “Basic ideals and moral value must remain the same”—p. 18. Women “forget that marriage itself is a career that is exacting in its demands upon a woman as wife and mother”—p. 40. “By the proper nature of things, a woman functions best as wife and mother”—p. 40. “The proper boundary between strictness and leniency is hard to determine but firmness in important matters is deemed essential”—p. 49. “Parents might be called the principal teachers and directors, for they are legally responsible for the next generation”—p. 57. “We have been born into a society that has little or no sense of divine mission in daily work”—p. 82. “Because modern life is full to overflowing with interests and activities, we cannot wait until we find time, but will have to take time, to read the Bible”—p. 106.

We congratulate the author with her second work. She has done a fine job. May hundreds of women strive to live up to her instruction—rooted in God’s infallible Word—and save our homes, our churches, our beloved land!



Bijbelse Landen Kalender

Samengesteld door Dr. A. Van Deursen en Dr. H. Mulder

Uitgeverij van Keulen, N.V., Den Haag

This is a beautiful Bible Lands Art Calendar compiled and in its descriptions composed by two well known scholars of The Netherlands who have ample reason to be proud of their 1960 Calendar. In addition to a very attractive photo in color on the frontispiece it contains 26 cuts in black and white of various scenes in Palestine and other biblical lands, each one of which is not only an example of fine photography but also of historical or archeological interest. All of them arc linked up with some relivant Bible passage. Among the 26 we find, for example, the following: View of Ain Karim, the Sea of Galilee, the plain of Jezreel, the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, the Passover ritual of the Copts, the plain of Sharon, the grave of the family of Herod, an Egyptian Scribe, Image of a Canaanitish Baal, and Orange Harvest at Beit-Hanan.

A rather elaborate description is given of each photo on the reverse side. These descriptive paragraphs offer a wealth of information in compact form. The preparation of tMs material doubtless required much labor on the part of the aforementioned authors.

One of the admirable features of the Kalender is the fact that the calendar part is attached to the lower end of the photos in perforated fashion and can be detach.xi, together with the suggested daily Bible readings, at the end of the year. When these are removed a beautiful set of 26 photos (27 with the frontispiece) on high quality glossy paper remains. However, the authors suggest that the calendar strips, with the Bible roster on the reverse side, each of which covers a period of 14 days, can be detached at the beginning of each period and placed in the Bible which is used for daily family worship. A Bible passage is suggested for each “ochtend” and “avond” (morning and evening). This indicates that in the Netherlands as well as here in America our modem industrial era makes Bible reading at the noon hour very difficult. Nevertheless, there arc still many homes in which this is possible. Perhaps a considerable number of our readers who can still read the Dutch language will be tempted, after reading this review, to send to the publishcrs Keulen for a copy of his fine Art Calendar. The address is Houtzagerssingel 76, The Hague; the price f. 3.40. Ask your banker to write you a draft for the corresponding amount in American money.


Man in Modern Fiction

Edmund Fuller’s literary criticism aimed to reveal and judge “Man in Modern Fiction” is a small volume, interesting and revelatory. He has very definite standards of Judgment and is keen1y analytical In applying them to the subject matter he discusses. He Is incensed at the standards of judgment used by some who are accepted in the world of letters as expert critics. Too many are more interested in extolling the clever way in which a writer is saying something than in evaluating what he is saying. This fosters superficiality and insincerity.

Mr. Fuller’s wide acquaintance with leadIng novelists on the contemporary scene allows him to make pertinent observations about individual novelists and groups. He judges them in the light of his perspective on man which is found in the Judeo-Christian tradition which, he says, still primarily influences our moral and ethical thought. He becomes indignant when he reveals how far some novelists have wandered from the Biblical premise of total depravity, ranging from the Shavian-Bergsonian view of an emergent, creative-evolutionary God to a view very prevalent today, namely, that of existentialism, in which man is pictured “as an ironic biological accident, inadequate, aimless…inherently evil…morally answerable to no one, clasped in the vice of determinisms economic or biological and hence without God and without hope and therefore without ideals.”

All Men of the Bible

by Herbert Lockyer, D.D., D. Litt.

Published by Zondervan Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 381 pages, Price $4.95

The book is divided into four parts.

The first section, comprising only four pages, serves as an introduction. The author proceeds on the basis that all Bible names have roeaning and shows how names often denote personal qualities, occupation, and other ~uliarities of the individual.

The second section is by far the largest one in the book, containing some three thousand names, listed in alphabetical order. Wherever possible a brief historical account is given in commentary form which can be considered to be the most valuable part of the book.

In the third section many unnamed men are listed, such as the two builders in Matthew 7, and many others.

In the final section, which is also very brief, the various names of the Savior are listed.

The book is a concordance of names with brief historical information wherever it can be given, with a few explanatory notes of the author added. For those interested in that kind of information the book has some value.


Faith and its Difficulties

by J.H. Bavinck

Translated from the Dutch by William B. Eerdmans, Sr. Published by Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich., 85 pages, Price $2.00

In the three chapters of this book the author leads the bewildered heart of man through the labyrinth of his own burdened soul to the light of God’s presence in Christ. The road to that light is the way of faith. But faith experiences so many difficulties obstructions on every side that imprison man within the cold cell of himself. The troubled heart looks up to catch n glimpse of God, only to find himself spring into the space of a great Unknown. The very God he confesses is so little known to him. He looks within and the darkness deepens. He is an enigma, a stranger to himself.

Can the soul unravel nil the dark mysteries and weave n web to climb to heaven? Not an unreserved faith in God and his promises, a total commitment to the Lord in Christ, an unqualified willingness to be what the Lord would have him be, a living from the victory of Christ—these and these only can give the victory.

This book is a translation from the Dutch, and is eminently worth being translated. It is heartily recommended for everyone. Read this book for instruction, for inspiration, and for direction upon the difficult but blessed road of faith—the faith without which no;) man shall see God.


Philosophische Orientatie

Dr. C.A. Van Peursen

J.H. Kok, Kampen, 1958. f 11.50, 275 pp.

Philosophische Orientatie is a work which “offers an introduction into philosophical problematics” (p. 257). It is written by Professor C. A. Van Peursen, a contemporary Dutch thinker from the State University of Groningen. He is one among many in the Netherlands who try to abide by Scriptural norms in their philosophic activities. It is not surprising, therefore, that every new emphasis or new direction calls for an explanation of philosophical problematics. The myth of. objective presentations has long been exploded. Thus, only the writer who is convinced that his approach can shed new light on the sundry problems of theoretic thought is justified in presenting a work which will present such a fresh emphasis. What with a market flooded by introductory texts, there in no sense in adding another unless it says something that has not been said before or said as well.

Van Peursen, whose reading public is limited largely to the Netherlands, and therefore, itself has a limited access to the myriad of introductory text!!, is justified in writing his Philosophlische Orientatie.

One of the commendable features of the booI. is its literary fluency and lucidity. The author’s thoughts are gracefully expressed in easy, moving lines. Certainly, this is no mean quality in a philosophic work, In which a truly creative style usually glitters by its absence. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Van Peursen is no stranger in the cadre of existential thought, and it is in this framework that one often finds writers of unusual ability. One only has to think of Kierkegaard in this respect.

Further, the author gives the reader a large amount of beautiful stimulus to thought. He achieves this by dealing with a great many topics without exhausting them, and by giving sufficient indications of alternative possibilities.

There are, however, a number of characteristics which seriously detract from the value of this publication.

The most immediately evident shortcoming is its crammed treatment. Such. huge amount of variety and detail is jammed into less than 300 pages, that much more than elementary knowledge of the history and systematics of philosophy is needed before Philosophlische Orietltotie can be appreciated. For example, of the five main parts of the book, one deals with epistemology. This has been divided into six chapters. The second one handles the problem of knowledge proper in five subdivisions. The fourth of these covers four pages in which transcendental idealism, critical idealism, and absolute idealism must be discussed.

Closely connected with this is the very Irritating problem that very often it is impossible to find out who has the floor. Sometimes a particular school of thought is treated by letting a representative speak, sometimes by giving the comments of another school, and at other times the author himself gives his opinion. But seldom will the reader be able to say who speaks and how the comment is meant to be taken.

This brings us to the third limitation: the book does not answer to its title. As n philosophical orientation, its first requirement is to give a certain amount of guidance and direction. But the over·emphasis on detail with no clear indication of intended interpretation leaves the reader in a sense of bewilderment, a state of being lost. Certainly, such is not the proper manner of introducing philosophical problems. Especially not when the author desires to think Scripturally.

The cause of all this—and no doubt we have here the most serious indictment of the book this the wrong existential approach. “Philosophizing is like the restless going to and fro of the sours breath, through which man lives in the ceaseless exchange with what surrounds him” (p. 9). Van Peursen commits himself throughout the book never to say anything definite. Not in so many words, but in his presuppositions. Christian philosophy is characterized as “a philosophy without the absolute” (p. 136). It is, like all other thought, always becoming, progressing, striving, because God’s revelations are of this nature. What meaning can we attach then to the statement that “the biblical message forces a radical review and self.investigation of every philosophical systematics” (p. 127)? For Van Peursen, “philosophy as a system is put problematically” (p. 128). And his system is one “whereby philosophy is especially philosophizing” (p. 137). But what is philosophy for him offer than restless activity? Over against this we confess that our heart is restless within us, till it find rest in God. If Van Peursen, having access to the living Word of God, and wanting to abide by it, has only a message of restlessness, his message is not one to be taken to heart by those who attempt to think Scripturally!


Christianity and American Freemasonry

by William J. Whalen

Price $3.75. The Bruce Publishing Company of Milwaukee.

Here is a book of 195 pages that should be in every church library and should be read. It is concise, contains a wealth of material, is written in simple language, and contains strong arguments that should satisfy every doubter. The age-old question, “Should a true Christian affiliate with the lodge?” receives a definite and negative answer. You will be convinced, I am sure.

This book will be of use to you if you are interested in the Structure of the Masonic Order (which numbers some 4,000,000 men) and how it operates through the various steps and degrees (Ch. I). Would you know something about the origin of Masonry, you will find it in Chapter II. We have all heard about the initiation rites of this secret organizations. Thirty-three pages are devoted to this subject and you will learn about the rituals, the awful oaths, the prayers, the interior of a lodge, etc.—all based upon those who are authorities on Masonry.

There is much historical material in this book as e.g. Allied Masonic organizations such as Nobles of the Mystie Shrine; Latin and European Masonry (Ch. X); other secret societies such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of pythias (Ch. XI); Papal Condemnations of the Lodge (Ch. VIII).

Members of the Christian Reformed Church should read this book and be convinced that the stand of our church is Scripturally justified. It should also be of encouragement to know that the vast majority of the world’s church members (Roman Catholic etc.) belong to denominations that condemn lodge-membership.

We were particularly interested in the writer’s objections to lodge membership. Again and again he maintains that the Masonic “religion” is not Christianity. What is it then? “It possesses all the elements of a religion of naturalism”—p. 72…“It becomes Christianity without Christ, Judaism without the Law, Islam without the Prophet”—p. 72. “Freemasonry Is a religion which simply demands belief in God and immortality and inculcates a natural morality of salvation by character”—p. 75. Further, the use of oaths is referred to. “The chief objection of the Church to the Masonic oath is that it fails to meet the essential requirement for a valid extra-judicial oath, namely, that the matter of the oath be of a serious nature. To call upon the Almighty to witness an oath concerning some trifle is to take the name of God in vain”—p. 83. Again, the church “also declares the oath immoral in that it binds the candidate in uncertain things…in things which are hidden to him”—p. 85. “Finally, we must state that Masonry has no right to impose an oath on its initiates. That right is reserved to the Church and to legitimate civil authorities”—p. 86. Finally, the work of benevolence as carried on by Masonry is scrutinized and found wanting. We quote just one statement, “Unlike the Christian Church which admits young and old, rich and poor, male and female, sick and healthy, white and Negro, the lodge selects only those who are unlikely to need any assistance and who are able to contribute generously from their surplus”—p. 11.

WHY are church members enticed to affiliate with the lodge? What possible advantages are there?

The writer adduces four, namely, initiation to supposedly great secrets; the promise of preference; good fellowship; simple vanity.

WHY don’t all denominations take a firm stand against lodge membership? Four reasons are given. We like these two: (1) “Many Protestant bodies…take no stand on other doctrinal issues and therefore cannot be expected to take a stand on the lodge”; (2) “Some large denominations are so infiltrated by Masonic ministers and so dependent on Masonic benefactors that they lack the courage to call for an investigation of the lodge question.” In this connection the answer of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (in a recent issue of Look magazine) is quoted. He replies to a distraught wife whose husband joined a lodge. Wrote Dr. Peale, “As a fraternal-organization member, I can assure you that you should be glad of your husband’s membership. Such lodges teach the highest standards of conduct and are creative influences. There is no ‘secret’ that isn’t good. Since most fraternal orders are founded on the Bible, the ‘secrets’ are all there. Relax and have a sense of humor…Why not join the women’s auxiliary such fraternal orders usually have, and have a few ‘sisters’ and ‘secrets’ yourself? You’ll have lots of fun”—p. 161. What a colorless stand!

The writer of this book closes on this note “….we have a Christian obligation to love Masons. When we deny the compatibility of the lodge and the Christian faith we do not question the sincerity of Protestant Masons but their consistency…We pray that those who receive no guidance from their churches in this matter will investigate for themselves the mutually exclusive claims of Jesus Christ and the Grand Architect”—p. 167.

The format and the printing of the book are a credit to the publishers. The author mentions our Christian Reformed Church on more than one occasion.