Baker’s Dictionary of Theology Edited by Everett F. Harrison, Geoffrey W. Bromley, and Carl F.H. Henry Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1960, 566 pp. $8.95.
There has been a need for a long time for a one-volume, up-to-date dictionary of theology by evangelical editors. Here is one. Its list of some 140 contributors is a cross section of evangelical scholarship in the English-speaking world. O. T. Allis, F. F. Broce, Carnell, Gordon Clark, Goddard, Laird Harris, Paul Jewelt, Kantzer, Kerr, Kromminga, Masselink, Leon Morris, John Murray, Packer, Stanford Reid, Wilbur Smith, Tenney, Van Til, Edward J. Young are a sampling of names undoubtedly familiar to readers of Torch and Trumpet.
The articles, necessarily brief, for the most part, are alphabetically listed, with cross references when appropriate. Most articles list helpful bibliography (though usually limited to English titles). Contributors’ full names appear at the end of the articles. Printing and paragraphing arc good, and headings are in large, easy-to-read print. Scripture references are in the more conventional form (as Rom. 5:3) and abbreviations are minimal. Attractively bound, though not as strongly backed as one could wish, it is a welcome and valuable addition to the shelves of any student of theology and the Bible.
Among the longer and most valuable articles are Biblical Theology by Bromiley, Eschatology by F. F. Bruce, Inspiration by Carl Henry, Neo-Orthodoxy by Paul Jewett. Henry strongly argues the infallibility of Scripture from the words of Jesus Himself.
This volume takes an unmistakable stand for orthodoxy and yet shows remarkable objectivity in its reporting. Its assessment 01 Barthianism is seen in many different articles, though it is unfortunate that in an American volume no treatment of Tillich’s position is in evidence.
Unfortunately the book seems hastily gotten together. The chief excellences are in the individual articles, not in the planning. To be sure, some unexpected bonuses are present—as interesting word studies on such common themes as lear, fire, laughter, might, work. Some phrases appear as article headings, as Respect of Persons, Element of the World. Unexpectedly long articles appear on Myth (nearly 6 columns), Psychology (over 4 columns) and Spiritual Gifts (7 columns). But omissions and arbitrary selection of themes are much in evidence. For example, though there is an article on the Augsburg Confession, there are no articles on any of the Reformed standards, Presbyterian or continental. Some of the cults are treated, but Jehovah’s Witnesses are not. One explanation is probably that not movements of people or events, but isms and ideologies are treated. Articles entitled Epistemology and Ethics appear, but not metaphysics or ontology or being. Heilsgeschichle appears, but not Geschichte as an article. There is a dearth of treatment of recent exstentialistic terms such as Dasein, Angst, being, non-being, though there is one column on the article Existential, Existenlialism. Only 2 1/2 columns are given to Missions. Boptists is listed, but not Methodists or Presbyterians. Waldensions and Albigensians are listed, but not Huguenots, for example.
Articles on Lutheranism and Unitarianism are half again as long and articles on Arianism and Arminianism twice as long as the article on Calvinism (by Cornelius Van Til). The article Baptists (doctrine of) is over four times as long! This last unusual emphasis may also be seen in five separate articles on various aspects of baptism.
A few articles appear under Hebrew, Greek, or Latin terminology, but not many. Am Ha-ares, God, Theophoroi, Filioque, Opus Operatum are examples.
This review makes no attempt to assess the accuracy of the information included in this volume, The individual contributors are such that we fool confident in this area, however. One hopes that a new edition will appear soon in which a better plan, fuller listings, and a lack of arbitrariness may be in evidence. It will then serve better what it already serves very helpfully.
Divorce by Loraine Boettner Published by Rush Printing Co., Maryville, Mo., 1960, 38 pages, 25¢, $2.50 per dozen.
The well-known Presbyterian author and free·lance writer seeks to set forth the biblical doctrine of divorce in this little treatise. First the problem is stated, then the teaching of Jesus that divorce is permissible on grounds of adultery is set forth. In the third section the learned author discusses separation on the basis of desertion and presents both sides of the issue whether or not desertion ought to he allowed as ground for divorce. Finally, the Roman Catholic attitude is set forth and summarized as follows: “Thus the Roman Catholic Church, while pretending to be zealous in maintaining the marriage bond, makes exceptions on the basis of excuses so flimsy that they would not be given serious consideration in a civil court. Fortunately in the United States these church decrees do not give legal annulments or divorces, since American civil law is superior to Roman Catholic Law…Any departure from Scripture roles invariably works evil in one form or another” (p. 28).
This is not the place to enlarge on this vexing sociological and ecclesiastical problem, but it is certain that the last word has not been said on divorce. Dr. Boettner’s pamphlet is a good introduction to the biblical material on the subject and ougbt to stimulate our thinking on the problems involved.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Avond-Zegen (Bijbels dagboek) by W. Schouten and S. De Vries J.H. Kok, Kampen, 1960.
This beautifully bound and well-written calendar for daily devotions is especially aimed at the aged. It is filled with short meditations on the blessed promises of the Bible to those who put their trust in the God of the covenant. It breathes a spirit of quietness and strength.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Daily Manna Calendar – 1961 Editor: Prof. M. Monsma. Publishers: Zondervan.
We have used this Calendar of 365 leaflets, one for every day of the year, in our home ever since it was first introduced and would feel lost without it. There is nothing we can say in favor of this calendar with its weekly change of writer which we have not already said before. Some, not a few, of the meditations are jewels, both in thought and expression. This time we shall quote one of this year’s meditations to substantiate our claim. The author is Rev. C. N. M. Collins, of Edinburgh, Scotland. (See page 2.) Not all the meditations are as unique and beautiful as those of the Rev. Mr. Collins but most of them offer satisfying food for the soul.
H. J. KUIPER
The Gospel According to Rome by John H. Gerstner Baker Book House, Grand Rapids 6, Michigan, 1960. 34 pages at 50¢ each, $5.00 a dozen.
This is a valuable and authentic presentation of the Roman Catholic view of the basic beliefs of the Christian faith, dealing with such important items as justification by faith, the Bible, the Church. In his conclusion tIle author points out the fundamental defect of Rome with its consequent errors. In an appendix the problem of Protestant-Catholic marriages is set forth with documentation. Eminently worth while and highly recommended!
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Van Thales tot Satre (Wijsgeren uit oude en nieuwe tijd) by J.M. Spier J.H. Kok, Kampen, 1959. Price f 9.75.
A short introduction dealing with the nature, types, questions, and eras of philosophy precedes the historical treatment of philosophers from Thales to Sartre. The ancients are divided into pagan and Christian; the Middle Ages arc characterized as synthesis philosophy; with a transition period from Bradwardine to Francis Bacon. Modern times arc divided into old and new rationalists and irrationalists. The latter section starts with Kierkegnard and ends with Sartre and presents a brief item on Nietzsche, James, Dewey, Bergson, Blondel. Marcel, Scheler, Spengler, Jaspers, Heidegger, and Smire.
The hegemony of rationalism, the glorification of reason, which for three centuries had enthralled the spirits, came to an end as IDen realized that all of life could not be regulated by thought. The idea that not all things are causally determined gained ground in many sciences, and men saw that analysis of component parts did not produce an answer to the question concerning the nature of things, but that reality is baSically something mysterious. Besides, it became clear that cultural development docs not proceed according to rational normativity. And man became aware that through technique he could not only achieve some of his greatest triumphs but that this could also turn into a curse for mankind, as became evident in the industrial proletariat and the carnage of two world-wars. Thus the ideal of progress and the perfectibility of man, which was the product of rationalism, broke as a soap-bubble and man became an enigma to himself. However, the hegemony of reason was n0t denied for every field of science, but rather it was restricted and the degree of its restriction gives us the following movements in irrationalism: pragmatism, philosophy of life (levensphilosophie) and existentialism.
In each case thc author briefly sketches the life of the philosopher, his works are listed, and his philosophy is characterized. Kierkegaard, for example, is said to have a certain duality (tweeslachtigheid) in his life and thought. He wavers between philosophy and theology, humanism and Christendom, existence and faith, Socrates and Christ, personal fulfillment and redemption. However, the accent is on the second part. The intention of his life was religious, to illuminate what is truly Christian; but the deepest motif or his thought was the humanistic freedom-idea!
For the busy pastor this book gives a good review of philosophy from a Calvinistic point of view. Highly recommended!
HENRY R. VAN TIL
J.H. Kok Pocket Book Series, Kampen, 1959. Price f 1.50 each Het Calvinisme, Abraham Kuyper De Christenreis, John Bunyan Verleidende geesten, a.b.w.m. Kok Heden zo gij zijn stem hoort (bijbels dagboek) by many Reformed ministers Johannes Calvijn, R. Schippers Lutheran werken (Babylonishe Gevangenschap der Kerk, Brief aan Paus Leo X, De Vrijheid van een Christen)
For those who can still read such a modem foreign language as the Dutch, here are six fine books, some of them classics of Protestant literature. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress has not lost any of its relevancy for our day. Kuyper’s classic statement of Calvinism ought to be studied with renewed zeal in the churches. Luther’s basic works concerning the reformation of the church are not narrowly ecclesiastical but concern all those who love the Lord and who pray for the coming of his kingdom.
The little volume on deceiving spirits was first printed in 1939 and is now in its fourth printing. It is a useful reference hook for the common man. Schipper’s treatment of the life of Calvin is popular and appeared in the Calvin Memorial year to stimulate popular interest and to educate ordinary church members in their spiritual heritage. Each of the volumes named above has an appeal of its own. The publishers are to be congratulated for making them available at such a low price. All of them are worth-while reading materials for the Christian home and make good additions to the church library in a bi-lingual community.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Obadja en Jona verklaard door Dr. G. Ch. Aalders (Commentaar op het Oude Testament) Kampen, 1958, pp. 7–118.
Here is another excellent work in the modern series of Dutch commentaries appearing under the title, Commentaar op het Oude Testament, and this volume in every way measures up to the high standard of its predecessors. How Professor Aalders is able to put out so much work of such consistently high quality is difficult to understand. This work shows the same breadth of reading and skill in treating difficult problems that characterizes all of Aalders’ writing. Best of all, the commentary exhibits loyalty to the trustworthiness and authority of Holy Scripture.
Aalders dates the ministry of Obadiah after the destruction of Jerusalem in 588 (p. 10 ), a view which the present reviewer is unable to accept (d. Introduction to the Old Testament, Eerdmans, p. 253). He inclines to regard Jonah as the author of the entire book (p. 68). The treatment of the miracle is excellent; there is no hedging, and Aalders stands by the supernatural in splendid fashion.
There is a satisfactory treatment of divergent views and full discussion of the Hebrew text One who studies the Hebrew with the aid of this commentary will find that his ministry will be greatly enriched. We pray that the Lord will spare the life of Dr. Aalders so that he may give the church more sucll fruit of his studies. Westminster Theological Seminary
EDWARD J. YOUNG
Baanbrekers van het Humanisme Ed. by Prof. S.U. Zuidema Published by T. Wever, Franeker (n.d.) Price f12.
This book gives a solid, scholarly treatment of such outstanding humanist thinkers as Erasmus, Locke, Rousseau, and Feuerbach; concluding with a discussion of the contemporary humanistic covenant in the Netherlands. It is in every way a worthwhile project and the men who take part in the symposium are eminently qualified. For the busy pastor and teacher who does not have the time to read the sources, this kind of treatment of outstanding thinkers will at least give one the ability to judge the impact of humanism on our present culture. The value for most of us lies not only in the factual presentation of the thinker’s contribution to human thought, but in the criticism which is made on the basis of Scripture.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Man in Nature and Grace by Stuart Barton Babbage Pathway Books, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids, 1957. 123 pp. $1.50.
Another lively, succinct and highly pertinent monograph, this volume in the Pathway Books series posits the Christian doctrine of man in contrast to its predominant gainsayers. After a treatment of Bible teaching about man, Babbage proceeds to summarize and criticize, in five following chapters, the view of man presented in classical culture, in “Christian thought,” in contemporary political theory, in modern existentialism, and in recent English literature. The seventh chapter, on man’s mortality, brings the book to a climax in an urgent warning to men that they see death for what it really is.
Not to be thought a work in systematic or Biblical theology, this is rather a spirited summary and commentary on Western man’s thought about himself in his more earnest moments or in his self-consciously self-appraising statements. The chapter headings show the organization, but the material is selective, for sake of focus. Babbage wields a deft and highly literate pen, and has searched out for us from his sources an amazing number of arresting quotations, and poignant life-incidents of various thinkers for illustrative material.
Unfortunately, the book is marred by several flaws. Though Babbage appears committed to an evangelical position he is frustratingly and unnecessarily silent on a great many matters within the scope of his subject. And on theme after theme he quotes liberal or Barthian theologians. In the first chapter entitled “Man and Biblical Revelation” he approvingly quotes Barth on creation, Tillich on the inevitability of death. Reinhold Niebuhr on man’s nature as soul and body, and Barth and Brunner on the nature of the imago dei. He summarizes man’s life situation in the existentialist “existence-in-contradiction” here and in a later passage. Though a man of his academic position and Christian commitment must surely know the philosophical basis of these opponents of evangelical Christianity, he rarely takes issue with them—only lifts their quotes for his use, as if the best available. This may seem contemporary and abreast of the times, but it is poor theology and worse apologetics. When he does refer to Augustine and Calvin’s position in that chapter it is only to indicate that their understanding of the imago dei as reason is wrong, and that Barth and Brunner, whom he quotes, have the better understanding. Nowhere in his treatment of the fall does he assert its historicity categorically, but quotes approvingly several men’s analysis of the fall who deny its historicity and who are known to state sin as the unavoidable state of human creaturehood.
The book is highly useful in its expert handling of its description of several nonChristian views of man, Its summary of existentialist thought on the subject is quite good, but one is at a loss to know, at many points, whether Babbage approves or derogates that philosophy. His analysis of modem English literature is, however, very clear and convincing. The largest flaw in the book is that it so seldom delineates positive Christian teaching on the nature of man. And in contrast to his lavish quoting from modern liberals he quotes almost no conservative scholar since Calvin. For all his emphasis on the Christian estimate of man, he makes no mention of the treatment of that theme by the Puritan writers, nor the leading Reformed writers of the last 200 years. James Orr gets not a mention—nor does Jonathan Edwards on the will. Most serious, references to the Bible are infrequent, and exegesis is very spotty. To be sure, the scope and brevity of the book demands certain selective treatment of themes, but not so as to justify the above-mentioned failings.
“Pathway Books,” say the publishers, “are designed to help the reader bear witness to the Christian faith in the modern world.” We are forced to conclude, however, that this particular book has given forth several uncertain trumpet notes.
Indices are good, footnoting is full, and the format is fine. The price is high, however, and we are glad to see less expensive paper-backs now appearing from the same publishers.
The Theology of Calvin for Today by Harold J. Whitney Published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1959. 203 pages, $2.95.
This book presents the substance of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, “in a handy, understandable form,” plus a profile of the man, Calvin.
In sixty-two pages the writer pictures Calvin as man, as Reformation champion, and his regime in Geneva as a theocracy. Besides, the author discusses Calvin and capitalism, Calvin’s influence, the approach to Calvinism, and Calvin as theologian. Aside from the remark that Calvin was the Pope of Protestantism the author shows good perspective concerning the alleged harshness of Calvin’s power in Geneva. He rightly sees that Calvin’s work in Geneva carried through the work begun by Luther, but I do not see eye to eye with the author when he calls the Genevan Reformation a Puritan movement (p. 37). On the other hand he calls it “a magnificent attempt to apply the will of God as mirrored in His Holy Word to the whole range of life” (p. 33). This contradicts the statement that Calvin drafted the constitution for a combined college and academy on specifically humanist basis (p. 45), unless one thinks of “humanism” merely as a method of learning, which is not made clear.
On the other hand, the author clearly sets forth Calvin’s contribution to the economic life since he “wished to abolish the artificial division of life into secular and sacred and the reservation of the idea of ‘vocation’ purely for the cloister. He wished to extend the idea of vocation to the merchant, the banker, the artisan no less than to the preacher. He wished to embrace all life within the ambit of God’s operation—even economies and industry so that while be did risk. making economics ‘a lost province of religion,’ he did take the fruitful step of striving to bring that whole range of life within the influence of the Church. Business either had to be abandoned as banditry or exalted into a form of service to man through the motive of the glory of God” (p. 50).
Whitney is quite right in stressing that Calvin is not troubled by mystery in religion. He accepts both the sovereignty of God and human responsibility and does not try to reconcile the two (p. 58). Again, “To him Scripture in its entirety is the veritable Word of God. and to it be must bow unconditionally…Scripture in all its parts is inspired by the Holy Ghost” (pp. 59–60).
This “substance of the Institutes” (pages 70–203 ) is, indeed, handy and understandable. The author has achieved his purpose very well. This will serve as a fine introduction for the average person, and may be of great aid to the student for grasping the heart of the matter.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Christ Our Passover by Stephen Charnock Sovereign Grace Book Club, Evansville, 1959. 303 pp. $3.95.
It has been said, and perhaps with some truth, that the day of great preaching is past. If this is the ease, it is doubtlessly due in part at least to the fact that the day of great listening is also past. Great listening, if not the cause, is nevertheless a concomitant of great preaching. Judging from this book. we are prompted to remark, What great listeners the Puritans must have been!
Here is a series of eleven discourses by the Puritan divine, Stephen Charnock (1628–1680), on the subject of the atonement of Christ in connection with the Passover and the Lord’s Supper, or in more or less loose relationship with them. And the whole of its 303 pages is solid meat as well as small type!
Never in a hurry, Charnock takes 34 pages (by no means the longest discourse) to expound the text of 1 Corinthians 11:26 which he entitles, “The End of the Lord’s Supper.” In this text. “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come,” he notes; (1) the action (eating, drinking); (2) the object (this bread, this cup); (3) the end of the action expressed by a command (showing the Lord’s death), ( 4 ) the frequency (implied); (5) and the durableness of it (till He come) (p. 179). Then, the hut three above points are further dealt with in minute detaiL For instance. under the heading, “The Lord’s Supper is chiefly instituted for remembering and showing forth the death of Christ” (point 3 above), he gives the following sub-headings with full elaboration of each; (1) the painful. ness of Christ’s death; (2) the intention of his death for us; (3) the sufficiency of this death for us; (4) the acceptableness of this death to God, (5) the present efficacy of this death. After which he gives four pages of application to this heading as to how we are to show forth and remember Christ’s death (reverentially, holily, believingly. humbly, and thankfully). And this is only the first of two more major headings in this discourse which follow. The Puritans deserve our admiration, not only for being great listeners, but also for being patient readers!
This book, while probably too detailed and cumbersome for complete reading generally, should still prove useful to ministers of the Word, at least, for judicious use in the preparation of meditations on the Lord’s Supper.
RAYMOND O. ZORN