Book Reviews

THE TRINITY IN THE UNIVERSE, by Nathan R. Wood; Kregel Publications, 1978; 220 pp., $5.95. (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko) 

This is a reprint of an older work. Nathan Wood was born in 1874 and spent the last years of his active life as President of Gordon College of Theology and Missions in Boston, Massachusetts.

This is a fascinating book and rather difficult to summarize. The author’s main thesis is that the trinity of God is reflected and revealed in every aspect of this earthly creation. But it is perhaps better to let the author speak himself. On page 210 he offers the following summary of what he has to say:

The Trinity, imaged in the universal law of Trinity, explains the deep things of the universe. It shows why space is what it is. It shows why matter is what it is. It shows why time is what it is. It explains why human existence is exactly what it is. The Trinity, imaged in the universal trinity, is the basis of unity in all things. It shows that unity lies, not in a common substance, which is impossible, but in a common structure and pattern. It underlies the relations of space, matter and time. It shows space as potential motion, motion as embodied-space, time as successive motion. It shows what is the vast and true relativity among them. It shows the infinite circuit of the universe, out from the mind and power of God, through space, motion and time, back into the mind and eternity of God. It shows the process of existence, the same in all things, and shows that there is no conflict between “being” and “becoming,” because “being” is, within itself, “becoming.” It shows the law of progress and of change and fixity in the universe, and the method of human progress. It shows the procedure and pattern of moral action, and the basis of the good. It shows the forms of reality, or the true, and why they are what they are, and why the process of reason is what it is. It shows the nature and reason of the beautiful. Wherever there is a universal thing, there, apparently, is trinity, and always with the same relations and characteristics. Trinity in the likeness of the Three in One is the structure, the pattern, the unity, the process, the progress, the reality, of the entire universe. The Triune being of God is the mighty solution of the riddles of the Universe.

It is not within the scope of this review to evaluate the argument of the author. There is only one remark which ought to be made. It seems to me that the author, in the development of his thesis, does not escape the error of Pantheism. As is evident from the quote above and from other remarks in the book, he expressly repudiates Pantheism. Nevertheless, in the course of the argument he “bridges the gap” between the spiritual essence of the creation and the material character of the world with God’s power. He then explains how God’s power becomes through “ether” (Note: rightly or wrongly, the so-called “ether theory” once held by almost all scientists, has since been disproved), light, space, and time. But the question remains: Can God’s power be so separated from His essence that in this way the evils of Pantheism are avoided? I think not. Our own Heidelberg Catechism defines God’s providence as being “the almighty and everywhere present power of God.” 

Nevertheless, this is a provocative and thought-stimulating book. It is somewhat difficult reading, but can be read by anyone who has a mind to do a little studying. It will bring many rewards—even though one may not always agree with the author. But I particularly recommend the book to the thoughtful reading of those Christian School teachers who are busy in math, the sciences, or philosophy. In fact, because they are better able to evaluate certain aspects of the book than I, I would like to hear the reactions of those teachers who take the time to read it and think about it.

WITHHOLD NOT CORRECTION, by Bruce A. Ray; Baker Book House, 1978; 140 pp., $3.45 (paper). (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko) 

There are occasionally books which come out which one wishes were found in every home and studied by every parent. This is one such book. It has to do with the discipline of children as an important and necessary part of their upbringing. The book makes a strong (and successful) attempt to be Biblical throughout and to point Christian parents to what the Scriptures have to say about this whole matter of discipline. In my judgment, chapter 4 was especially good, for in it the author deals with the necessity of leading children to conform to Scripture in all their life; he points out that this is the most important part of discipline. 

I cannot speak of all the good points in the book. I urge especially those who have younger children at home to read the book and study it. I also recommend it for discussion at Mr. and Mrs. Societies, if such societies are looking for interesting and important material for after-recess discussions. 

There are two points of criticism. The first point is that in chapter 1, the image of God in man is defined as that which makes man different from the animals; thus chiefly in terms of rationality rather than knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Secondly, the book does not take the approach of the covenant. The idea is that God uses discipline as a means to save. All our children, according to the book, are bound for hell; discipline will reverse this. The book would have been markedly improved if it had taken a covenant approach. 

There is one especially interesting passage in the book which I take the liberty to quote. It was originally written by Pastor Al Martin. It is worth pondering by all of us.