A pop treatment of the weighty subject of the Christian and culture.
“Once, after a morning service in which guitars had been used to lead the congregation in praise songs, I was making my way back to the pulpit to retrieve my Bible and sermon notes. One of the young men of our congregation was standing with his back to me, playing something on one of the guitars. As I approached, I discerned the familiar opening riff of Jim Morrison’s ‘Love Me Two Times, Baby.’ I crept quietly up behind the young man, and at just the right moment, sang softly over his shoulder, ‘Love me two times, baby; love me twice today.’ He turned quickly around, with a look of astonishment on his face, and said, ‘Do you know that song?’ I answered that I did, and that I had seen The Doors in concert while in college. A brief conversation ensued about the merits of their music, but, more importantly, a friendship began with … which has continued to this day” (p. 141).
In some respects, this book is a fresh, sound, helpful study of the important Old Testament office of prophet. In word, deed, and affections, the prophet of the Lord revealed God to His people. At the same time, the prophet represented the people of God. All of the Old Testament prophets, their speech, their prophetic behavior, and their prophetic feelings prefigured the consummate prophet, Jesus Christ.
The chapter on the prophetic role of Israel contains a significant treatment of typology. Williams gives guidelines for the identification of Old Testament types. He issues a necessary warning against the illegitimate restriction of types. “A greater danger than misuse of types is their neglect” (p. 129).
While recognizing the threat of allegory, Williams contends that “the experiences of Israel recorded in Scripture, taken as a whole, may be considered a type of God’s coming redemptive activity with humankind on a broader level” (p. 128).
It is a weakness, however, that the explanation of the Old Testament prophet’s calling toward the nations leaves the impression that that calling was mainly, if not exclusively, positive witness to the gospel. That the prophet condemned the nations, as in Amos 1 andAmos 2, and that the prophets did not, as a rule, bring the message of salvation to the nations are simply ignored. Jehovah showed His Word unto Jacob. He did not deal so with any nation (Psalm 147:19, 20).
When Williams, rightly, comes to apply the prophetic office to the New Testament congregation, he leaves much to be desired. The first model of a church held up to criticism, if not ridicule, is the preaching church. This congregation is a mere “lecture hall” (p. 162). The calling to preach, evidently, refers only to the evangelizing of the unbelieving neighborhood, not to the weekly edifying of the body of Christ, believers and their children. And all the members are made out to be evangelistic preachers, thus denying the office of preacher, as taught in Ephesians 4 and in Romans 10.
Obsession with missions and evangelism swallows up concern for the preservation and building up of the established church. This forebodes the death of the church.
The author so stresses the importance of the godly behavior of the members for the church’s prophetic ministry that love and peace virtually become the marks of the true church. The Reformed faith, on the other hand, without denying the importance, even necessity, of peace and love, confess the preaching of the “pure doctrine of the gospel” to be the chief mark of the true (and prophetic) church.