The Drama of Redemption, by Dr. Samuel Jackson Cartledge. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich. (142 pages, price $1.00)
This is a very readable book. The subject is the redemption from the guilt and power of sin through the work of Christ as applied by the Holy Spirit.
The book is divided into four parts, the first part treating of God’s work of redemption, the second of man’s response to God’s work, and under this the author speaks of conversion, of sonship, of the separate life and of the value of a life; the third parts treats of God’s hand in human life, and the last part of the glorious consummation, the future life, the temple in heaven and the number of the redeemed.
The book is usually quite sound, though we would express things in different words sometimes. Some parts of it are positively refreshing, as, e.g. the author’s description of and preference for a gradual, covenant conversion. The language is good, the style is clear and strong. The author’s vocabulary as he employs it in this book is largely Anglo-Saxon, which is a point in favor of any style.
On some points we must disagree with the author’s presentation. This is true, for instance, of what the author writes about saving faith. Quite sound is his definition of regeneration: “Regeneration, then, is that radical change wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit working through the Word, by which one becomes partaker of the divine nature, the adopted child now becoming a born-again child of God.” But all the more strange sounds his description of faith in the following paragraph: “Why faith? Why are not Adoption and Regeneration sufficient? Because, in the plan of salvation, God has a part, and man has a part. Have you ever noticed that God nowhere commands us to be adopted, or, to be born again? He says: ‘Ye must be born again’, but never does He say, ‘Be born again’; and never ‘Be adopted.’ But He does command us to believe. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved’ (Acts 16:31). Why the difference? Because Adoption and Regeneration are God’s part, and He’ll take care of these; while Faith is man’s part, and man must take care of that.”
Why we cannot subscribe to this will be evident to the Reformed reader.
Read, therefore, with discretion as always.
The Way of a Man with a Maid, by Oscar Lowry. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich. (160 pages, price $1.00)
This book is designed to be a “companion volume” to the similar work by the same author: “A Virtuous Woman,” reviewed in our paper some time ago. It discusses certain problems of sexology, as the title suggests. While “A Virtuous Woman” was primarily written for women and girls, the present book seeks its readers chiefly among men and boys.
In an introduction the author stresses the fact that it belongs to the calling of a minister of the gospel to warn his people against sexual sins. Says he: “Woe be it unto that generation when the ministers seek to be more nice than God, or modest than Jesus Christ and the Apostles who used the plainest possible language when dealing with sexual sins. Especially does the author feel the minister’s responsibility for teaching these truths, in view of the fact that the Scriptures contain the plainest statements regarding sexual sins and their dreadful consequences that have ever been put in print.”
With this we may agree. And in Reformed Churches, where the minister follows the line of the Catechism once on each Sunday, this is done, too, of course; in its proper place and at the proper time and in the proper connection.
The book can very well be read, and may serve a good practical purpose.
Nevertheless, what I wrote about “A Virtuous Woman” I would not hesitate to repeat here. Books of this nature, that isolate a certain sin and picture it in all its horror and dire consequences, inform us how generally it is practiced and how numerous are the cases of venereal diseases, etc. are apt to be one-sided. Besides, I do not believe that in order to instruct our people in the knowledge of sin, in this form or any other, it is either necessary or edifying to acquaint them with all the corruption there is in the world. Much more spiritually healthful it is to instruct our people in the entire system of the truth, and consider also this sin in its light.
So does also the Word of God.
But let him who is interested read.
Principles of Teaching for Christian Teachers, by C. B. Eavy, Ph. D. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich. (364 pages, price $2.75)
We would recommend this book to all that are interested in Christian Instruction, especially to our Christian School and Sunday school teachers. It is a scholarly, systematic, rather thorough discussion of the subject announced, and affords pleasant and easy reading because of its lucid style.
II write this in spite of the fact that the book is, evidently, written with a view to a church-community where the instruction in Catechism and Christian School is unknown, and even the minister of the gospel does no longer instruct in his preaching, at least, does not emphasize doctrine in his preaching. The author makes a distinction between the ministry of the pastor and the “teaching ministry.” Thus he writes:
“There can be no question as to the need for the work of the pastor in the church. He is set aside exclusively for the high calling of preaching which constitutes an important part of his work but which, quite too often in our day, tends to become the only part. . . . He is trained in Schools that exist for the sole purpose of preparing him for his task. . . . But for the teaching ministry, which exists for edifying and building up the church, there is no such adequate preparation or honorable recognition. At the same time, it is plainly taught in Scripture that the work of teaching is the divine plan of God. Surely the Protestant Church needs to awaken to the misapprehension under which it has been laboring with respect to the importance of this mighty ministry and to the tragic results of trifling with the titanic task of teaching. Why should not the work of the teacher be recognized as well as that of the evangelist or pastor? Why should not the claims of the teaching ministry be presented to our young people? Why should the office of the teacher not be magnified? Why should not the heroic high call of the teacher receive the emphasis God manifestly intended that it should have?”
Unless we bear in mind that the author writes with a view to wholly different circumstances from those that are known in our churches, language like the above is hardly intelligible.
Unless the author means something quite different from what I understand him to mean, he is quite Pelagian in the following paragraph:
“Original nature is neither good nor bad, but it has potentialities for either good or bad. The possibilities for the lowest and the most degrading inhere in it as also do the possibilities for the highest and the most noble behavior. In the qualities of his original nature man is not much different from the animal. In fact, he can be more savage and ruthless than the most cruel animal. He can descend in practice to depths of degradation never seen among animals. His nature teems with animal-like tendencies that often come into conflict with one another. But while the existence of these animal characteristics in man cannot be denied, it cannot reasonably be maintained that he is merely the sum of these characteristics. Undeniably there is in original nature that which can be laid hold upon by the power of God,” etc. etc. p. 142.
It will be understood that when I recommend the book to our people, I do not subscribe to paragraphs like the above. And as a writer is not usually Pelagian in one paragraph and Reformed in another, it also means that I do not agree with the doctrinal viewpoint of the author.
Hence, when you read, do not merely imbibe and absorb, but read critically.