Pentecost and Missions by Harry R. Boer. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. Price $5.00.
This book is written, as tie learn from a “Foreword,” by W. A. Visser ‘t Hooft, as a doctor’s thesis. But let no one, for this reason, be induced not to procure and read it. The book is written in a very lucid style and may readily be read by any intelligent reader. The author is at present a professor at “The Theological College of Northern Nigeria,” something which has been an object of criticism and a bone of contention by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church.
As to the contents of the book we must necessarily be brief even though it is worthy of a detailed discussion. The heart of the book is clearly expressed in its title: “Pentecost and Missions.” The author finds that the motivation of missions of the early church was not found in what is called the “Great Commission” but rather in the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. To this outpouring of the Spirit the attention of the reader is, therefore, chiefly called throughout the book. He speaks of Pentecost and missions, of the meaning of Pentecost, of Pentecost and the witnessing Church, etc. He, gives a definition of the central task of missions on p. 251: “the central task of missions is to be instrumental in transmitting the life of the Spirit to those who do not yet enjoy it.”
He writes rather extensively on the well-known text inJohn 7:39: “The Holy Spirit was not yet.” Whether he succeeds in explaining this verse is not quite clear to me. To me it means that, although the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, was present with the people of God of the old dispensation, He could not possibly bestow the fullness of all the blessings of salvation upon them, because Christ was not yet glorified. I would like to write a little more on this important question, but space-limit forbids.
Now I have one word of criticism. It concerns the last part of the book under the heading: “Unity in witness.” If I understand Dr. Boer correctly he means to say that the missionary must not bring the various differences in doctrine that characterize the home Church to the mission field. TO me this appears impossible, unless the missionary fails to bring the entire contents of the Word of God. On p. 246 the author speaks of “central beliefs” which the missionary must preach. They are, according to, him, as follows: “By the ‘central beliefs’ we refer especially to the doctrine concerning the person and work of Christ. Here, too, difference of opinion is possible with respect to certain aspects from which the person and work of Christ may be viewed. But there is no room for a difference of opinion with respect to the reality of Christ’s atonement, His physical resurrection from the dead and His return to judge the world at the end of time.”
But how about other fundamental truths? What about the doctrine of election and reprobation, about limited atonement, of sovereign grace, of the perseverance of the saints, of the covenant and infant baptism and other fundamental truths? Must they not be taught in the mission field?
If the answer to these questions by the missionary is negative then he not only fails to bring the whole Word of God, but he must needs distort the rest of these fundamental truths, in fact, he cannot preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But although I cannot agree with this last part of the book, I commend it to the discerning reader.
Sharing His Suffering, by Peter H. Eldersveld. Published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. Price $2.50.
This book contains a series of radio sermons delivered on the “Back to God Hour.” This book leaves the same impression on me as do the sermons that are preached by the author over the radio. Some of these sermons are orthodox and edifying; some of them are, I will not say modern, but not Scriptural. As an example of the former, I may refer you to very first chapter of the book entitled “The Cross of Christ.” As an example of the latter turn to the chapter on “The Way of Persecution.” This is supposed to be on the text from Acts 22:4 where Paul speaks of his having persecuted the Church of Christ unto death which, of course, is quite the opposite of the Church’s being persecuted by the world. The main thought of the chapter is that the Church and the believer must improve or revolutionize the world by improving social conditions, which is not true at all.
On the whole I may remark that those sermons are the best in which the author takes a text and exegetes it.
David Brainerd the Beloved Yankee, by David Wynbeek. Published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Price $3.75.
This book might be called a historical novel. The main character in the book is David Brainerd “the Beloved Yankee.” He was missionary among the Indians for some years during his brief life. The book is largely based on his own diaries in which he tells, not only of his labors, but also of his own soul struggles. The book is divided into five parts: The Initiate, The Probationer, The Evangelist, The Apostle, The Saint.
This is, indeed, a very interesting story. If I would make any critical remark it is that there are too many details recorded in the book which makes the story rather long and drawn out. But I may recommend this book not only to adults but also to boys and girls.