Of Law and Love: The Ten Commandments and the Cross of Christ
PETER H. ELDERSVELD
(Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1954, pp. 85. $1.50.)
It was a heartwarming experience to read this slender book. The thirteen sermons are on a timely subject. They display that same quiet but compelling style that has distinguished Mr. Eldersveld as one of the best radio preachers. They blend truth and evangelical passion in the way that makes for great preaching. As usual, there is a modest but skillful use of illustration, Biblical, and not falling into the sensational or self-parading.
The title of the book is carefully chosen. “… if we have never been to Mount Calvary, we will never get there unless we go by way of “Mount Sinai” (p. 16). To come to God we must know His justice; then we can understand His mercy. Then…“if we have gone to Mount Calvary by way of Mount Sinai, we will want to go back again and see what kind of people God wants us to be” (Ibid.). We are not free when we break this law of God; we are bound as slaves (p. 52).
Eldersveld emphasizes the internality of God’s law and the internal freedom which it brings. He does not emaciate the law by reducing it to certain external “don’ts.” It is spiritual; it is summarized in love (p. 75 ), a love for God and for one’s neighbor.
How God’s law points to His love! “Mount Calvary is only for those who have been to Mount Sinai” (p. 84). “We may not like what we see on Mount Sinai but we may love what we see on Mount Calvary. And having seen both, we will want both. For the law of God leads to the love of God, and the love of God fulfills the law of God” (pp. 84–85).
These messages are particularly timely. In a recent column Dorothy Thompson spoke of an insensibility to conscience, to good and evil, among our youth, and she laid the blame at the door of false trends in education—in home, school, and church an education that has become pragmatic and functional. Against this evangelical Fundamentalism does not erect sufficient barriers. It has whittled down the full message of the law. There is little thoroughgoing antinomianism, but we seldom hear “… this is the first and great commandment.” That is replaced by a vague “Seek the will of the Lord.” We need an injection of the vaccine of the commandments, so that the grace of God will appear in all its wonderfulness, as it can be seen only when viewed against the background of the awful holiness of God.
The best commendation I can think of is to advise: Get the book, read it, and pass it on!
– ROBERT D. KNUDSEN Philadelphia, Pa.