As To Books

Sterven . . . en dan? (Dying . . . and then), by Rev. B. Telder. Published by J.H. Kok, Kampen, the Netherlands. 

In this book the author attempts to prove that the people of God, when they die, do not immediately go to heaven but will enter into glory only at the time of the resurrection from the dead, or in other words at the second coming of Christ. 

Personally, I do not think that this is a very good book. My reason for this is not so much that it deprives the people of God of their comfort at the time of their death, for I agree with the author that all our comfort must be based only on the Word of God, and if the Bible teaches that the children of God do not enter into glory immediately after death but only at the second coming of Christ we must accept this. But my main objection to the book is exactly that the author does not prove. his view from the Scriptures and what is worse, twists those portions of Scripture that speak rather clearly of the fact that the intermediate state, the state between death and resurrection, is a state of glory in heaven, in such a way that they fit into his own conception. 

Of this I wish to furnish an example or two. 

On the cross Jesus spoke the well-known words: “today thou shalt be with Me in paradise,” addressed to one of the two murderers that were crucified with Him. How does Telder explain these words? After he has referred to the first paradise and the tree of life that was in the midst of the garden, he writes: “In this way more light is also shed on the promise of Jesus to His fellow-victim on the cross: ‘Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise.’ This malefactor had asked Him: ‘Jesus, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.’ Thereupon the promise was given him: In thy death thou mayest be with Me there where for all that believe on Me as the Lord of life, I will manifest my royal power. Also that realm of the dead is My realm, paradise, because I, as the tree of life, am there. 

“Of course, the Lord Jesus did not mean by the words: today with Me in paradise this afternoon thou comest with Me in heavenly glory; today thou comes; with Me in heaven. For it, would not be till 40 days later that Jesus would ascend to heaven. “He would as the Son of man first of all be three days in the heart of the earth, (Matt. 12:40). And, true, the prophecy had assured Him that God would not forsake Him in the realm of the dead, and that there He would not see corruption, nevertheless, during three days He would be with the dead.” 

In other words, when the Lord promised the malefactor that he would be in paradise, He simply meant to say that he would be in the realm of the dead, where is no knowledge or consciousness of anything at all. But why then the words “with Me”? Do they simply mean: “thou shalt be dead as I will be dead”? And did not Jesus say in His crossword that, although His body was in the grave, His human spirit was with the Father? Was not His human spirit alive then while the rest of His nature was in the grave? 

I could quote much more but let this be enough as far as Telder’s interpretation of Scripture is concerned. 

But I must call attention also to the author’s interpretation of the Heidelberg Catechism question 57. There we read: “What comfort doth the resurrection of the body afford thee? That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head; but also that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and be made like unto the glorious body of Christ.” 

It is especially to the first part of this answer that we call attention: “my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head.” 

Now Telder, in his book, writes more than once about this question of the Catechism. He, evidently; does not quite know what to do with it. But on p. 143 he suggests that we ought to read this answer of the Heidelberger as follows: “That all that die in the Lord may not only commit their spirit in the hands of the Lord but also may know that in their death they shall not be separated from Christ, etc.” 

This is of course, no explanation of question and answer 57, and the author knows that, too. By all means he wants to avoid the truth, that immediately after death the soul of the believer enters into heavenly glory. This is the reason for his paraphrase of answer 57 of the catechism. 

But it is evident that, if he does not agree with the Catechism, he ought to hand in a gravamen in the proper way. 

I have one important question: what does Telder mean by the spirit of man in distinction from his soul? Again and again he emphasizes that the whole man dies and the whole man goes into the grave. But what, then, is the spirit? And where is that spirit after death? What does it mean that at death the believer commends his spirit in the hands of his heavenly Father? 

—H.H. 

Millennial Studies; by George L. Murray. Published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Price $2.95. 

This book is a study, as the title indicates, of the various millennial theories. The author must have nothing of premillennialism. It enters into the various Scriptural passages to which the dispensationalist appeals to defend his view and offers his own interpretation. Hence, the book is quite thorough and convincing. No premillennialist or any one that is more or less inclined to the premillennial view can afford to ignore this book. I do not hesitate to say that, in my opinion, it, is one of the best books that, in recent years, has come off the press on this subject. 

When the author discusses: the “rapture” which, by the way, he calls a “sacrilegious and unscriptural view,” he can hardly refrain from becoming sarcastic. And I do not blame him. 

I cannot agree with his view of the great tribulation as mentioned in Matthew 241 I agree that the Lord is speaking here also and primarily of the destruction of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70. But many parts of that chapter cannot possibly refer to that destruction. I prefer to think of the destruction of Jerusalem and the accompanying tribulation as a type of the tribulation in the last days. 

Heartily recommended. 

—H.H. 

Calvin’s Commentaries, republished by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 

Eerdmans is publishing a new edition of Calvin’s Commentaries in a new form. So far I received two volumes. The first on the gospel according to John, chapters 1-10; which is translated by T.H.L. Parker; price $4.50. The second is on the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, translated by John W. Fraser; price $5.00. 

No one will expect me to make a thorough study of commentaries in a review. Besides, I am well acquainted with Calvin’s Commentaries, a complete set of which I have in my own library. And so I perused these volumes sent to me by Eerdmans. And then I find that it is true what Murray writes on the front flap of the cover of the commentary of John: “This translation will have to be accorded the tribute of outstanding merit. The breaking up of Calvin’s longer sentences into shorter sentences is skillfully done, with the result that Calvin’s thought is adequately conveyed and the English reader is furnished with greater clarity and pointedness of expression.” 

Heartily recommended. 

—H.H. 

Divine Election by G.C. Berkhouwer. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Price $4.50. 

This book is a translation from the Dutch: De Verkiezing Gods by Hugo Bekker. A review as well as an elaborate discussion and criticism may be found in,The Standard Bearer vols. 32 and 33. I will not repeat what I then wrote, seeing that I am still of the same opinion I expressed then. 

I may quote from a review of this book that occurs in “Torch and Trumpet” written by Rushdoony: “Berkhouwer, as this reviewer has pointed out elsewhere (Westminster Theological Journal, May 1960, page 174 f.) tends markedly to anthropocentric and subjectivist thinking which is inimical to orthodox faith. As a result he brings to his studies not only an extensive learning, but an air of confusion exercised with more ability than most of his contemporaries. This is not a study of divine election as such, but, as the book jacket testifies, an argument against the orthodox or traditional doctrine of election and the presentation of a novel doctrine thereof.” 

—H.H.