Augustinus, by Prof. Dr. A. Sizoo. Published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands. Price (in American money) $4.00, in Dutch money f 13.75.
This book by Prof. Sizoo, Augustine, his life and works, I heartily recommend to all that are able to read the Holland language, not only to theologians but also to the average reader, Prof. Sizoo writes in a style ‘that makes his book accessible to every one that can read Dutch. Moreover, he writes in such a way that the book is more than a mere review of Augustine’s life and works. He makes this greatest of all church-fathers live before our eyes. In an introduction Prof. Sizoo writes that, in this book, it has been his purpose to picture Augustine to us as he lived in his own time as a historical figure and not simply to enter into his theological and philosophical conceptions. In this the writer succeeded admirably, although, of course, by reading this book, the reader also becomes acquainted with the theology and philosophy of Augustine.
As to the contents, the book describes Augustine’s youth in chapter I; his time as a student in chapter II, the time when he embraced the heresy of Manicheism: his appearance as professor of rhetoric in Carthage and Rome in chapter III; his time as teacher in Milan where he met Ambrosius and became estranged from his Manicheistic heresies in chapter IV; his conversion, for which his mother Monica had always longed and constantly prayed in chapter V; his last years in Italy in chapter VI; his mother Monica in chapter VII; his stay in Thagaste and his calling to presbyter and bishop in chapter VIII; his daily life as bishop in chapter IX; incidents from Augustine s practice as bishop in chapter X; his correspondence in chapter XI; his appearance and work as preacher in chapter XII; his opposition against Manicheism which he had formerly embraced in chapter XIII; his opposition against the schism of Donatism in chapter XIV: his controversy with Pelagius in chapter XV; his works in chapter XVI: his “confessions” and his work “De Civitate Dei” in chapter XVII; his last years and his death in chapter XVIII; and, finally, a chapter on his personality.
A very beautifully written and instructive book.
Filosofie van de Onbekende God. (Philosophy of the Unknown God) by the Rev. J.M. Spier. Published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands.
This is not a popular book that I can recommend to every reader. The Rev. Spier is deeply interested in philosophy as we have noticed before. In this book he describes the philosophy of extentialism as represented by Karl Jaspers. His purpose is, according to an introduction to show that one cannot find refuge in the unknown god of existentialism and of Karl Jaspers in particular but only in the God of the scriptures who has revealed Himself in Him who said: “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
In a closing chapter, the Rev. Spiers offers a criticism of the philosophy of Jaspers in which he, first of all, offers the opinion of others and then his own judgments. Again, in the latter he, first of all, mentions what we can appreciate in this philosophy in order then to offer his own and final critical conclusion. The god of this philosophy, he finally declares, is a Moloch which consumes his children.
With this we certainly agree.
We, therefore, recommend this book to all theologians who are more or less acquainted with recent philosophy and like to become acquainted more fully with the philosophy of existentialism as presented especially by Karl Jaspers.
Waar het om Ging, (What did it Concern) by Dr. C.N. Impeta. Published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands.
In this booklet of 113 pages the well-known Dr. Impeta reviews and criticizes the recent history of the schism and separation which recently occurred in the Reformed Churches (Gereformeerde Kerken) in the Netherlands, Dr. Impeta, in this booklet, chiefly refers to the official synodical decisions to prove that the Reformed (Gereformeerde) Churches in the Netherlands were right and did not depart from the truth that had always been maintained in those churches and that, for the same reason the churches under Article 31 were and are wrong.
With practically all of the, material offered we are, of course, quite thoroughly acquainted. Nevertheless, for those that are interested in the recent history of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands we gladly recommend this booklet which gives what I consider a rather objective and correct view and judgment of what happened at the time of this recent schism.
H.H. Zonder Toga (Without Toga) by the Rev. M.E.Voila. Published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands. Price f 4.25 (About $1.20).
This book I gladly recommend to anyone that can still read Holland. It is veryinterestinly and beautifully written. It ought to be interesting especially for our ministers, not because it deals with all kinds of theological problems, but because it is concerned with life in the parsonage and with the life of the pastor in relation to his flock. The book is cast in the form of correspondence, letters and answers.
Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible, by R. Laird Harris, Ph.D. Published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Price $4.50.
This book is an isagogical treatise, an introduction to the books of the Bible. It is thoroughly orthodox and is opposed to higher criticism of scripture. As such it could very well be used as a textbook in our own theological school. After a preface, the book is divided into three parts. Part I treats of the inspiration of the Bible and in this part the author does not hesitate to present and defend the verbal inspiration of scripture in the proper sense of the term. This we also believe. Part II discusses the canonicity of the Old Testament, first of all from the viewpoint of its determining principle, and, secondly, from the aspect of the extent of the Old Testament canon. And Part III treats of the canon of the New Testament. All this is followed by a conclusion in which the author expresses his view as to the determining principle of the canonicity of scripture. Of this we quote a few sentences:
“The view as to the determining principle of the canon expressed previously may be summarized by saying that the canonicity of the Bible depends upon its authorship. If the book was in the Old Testament, the people of the day accepted it because it was written by a prophet. If it was a part of the New Testament, it was recognized as inspired if it had been written by an apostle—either by himself or with the help of an understudy or amanuensis.” p. 272.
“The books did not become authoritative by church decision or as a result of the veneration attaching to things of antiquity. They were authoritative when written because given by inspiration of God. They were recognized as authoritative, inspired, and canonical by the generations to which they were addressed because of the position of the authors as acknowledged spokesmen of God.” p. 282.
With this we can in the main agree although I would still assign a more important place than does the author to the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
But I certainly most heartily recommend this thorough study on the inspiration and canonicity of the Bible. It can be read, not only by theologians, but also by laymen who re interested in a study about the Bible.
Biblical Criticism, by Wick Broomall. Published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Price $4.95.
This is another book which I can heartily recommend.
It is scholarly and conservative. And although I would recommend it, first of all, to our ministers, yet I see no reason why the average intelligent reader should not be able to read it with profit for himself. It is somewhat similar in contents to the book we reviewed above by R. Laird Harris, yet it is sufficiently different for me to recommend both books. It is quite a thorough critique of so-called higher criticism but at the same time it is not merely negative but positive: it is a defense throughout of the conservative position.
As to its contents, the author, first of all treats of the inspiration of the Bible in two chapters. Next he discusses the subject of revelation. Here he distinguishes between general and special revelation. Here he distinguishes between principles of criticism, refutes the stand of higher criticism, views the canon of the Old Testament in the light of criticism, discusses criticism in the light of recent archaeological discoveries. A special chapter he devotes to the book of Daniel in the light of criticism and he closes with a chapter on criticism and interpretation.
One or two remarks—First of all, it seems to me that, as far as the test of canonicity of the Bible and its books is concerned, the author seems to differ somewhat from Harris. He emphasizes the necessity of the testimony of the Holy Spirit: “Since the Holy Spirit is the real author behind all biblical books (II Tim. 3:16), it is logical for us to believe that He will leave of every book He inspires the impression of its divine nature. That men do not readily or always recognize this divine quality of every God-breathed book is due more to the blindness of man’s spiritual perception than to any defect in the book itself . . . But when a man is regenerate, the Holy Spirit bears witness with the human spirit of the regenerate that the books of the Bible were authored by the Spirit.” With this we agree. pp. 221, 222.
We also wholeheartedly agree with the author’s condemnation of the dispensationalists’ interpretation of the Old Testament. Cf. p. 312 ff.
Christ and the Church in the Old Testament, by Howard A. Hanke. Published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Price $2.50.
This book maintains and defends the unity of the Old and New Testaments of Scripture and, at the same time, the truth that the Church did not come into existence on the day of Pentecost but as in the world from the beginning. As the Heidelberg Catechism has it in Lord’s Day 21: “What believest thou concerning the holy catholic church of Christ? That the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life . . .” This truth the author abundantly substantiates from scripture as he makes plain that God, salvation and the church are eternally the same, that the divine names, the divine revelation, the redemptive economy, the true church as well as the false church are eternally the same.
This also is a good book which we may recommend to our readers.
I cannot agree with what the author writes on p. 101: “But this new birth has man’s conversion as a presupposition.” Regeneration is before conversion and the latter is not presupposed.
Nor do I agree with what he writes on pp. 117, 118 that both Jew and Gentile always have been eligible for the kingdom of God. Especially when we consider the Scriptural basis, Rom. 1:18 ff., for this contestation, I do not only fail to agree with the author, but I consider this a dangerous view.
For the rest I heartily recommend this book.
Isarel, Key to Prophecy, by William L. Hull. Published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Price $1.50.
This book I cannot approve. The reason is that it represents the premillennial view in its boldest form. In other words, it is not Scriptural. Just let me quote as only one illustration what the author writes about “the rapture”:
“A hush seemed to rest upon the earth, a breathless air of expectancy pervaded the atmosphere. Then they were gone! There could be no doubt of it, countless empty places testified to that fact. Not many in the higher positions of authority were missing, not many of the wealthy homes had been disrupted, but among the ordinary homes there were many empty homes. There were homes too that were now divided, husbands grieving for missing wives—wives for husbands. There were many who remained but who were not ignorant of what had transpired, for they had been warned but had not heeded.”
But let this be sufficient. I cannot recommend this book.