GOD IS DEAD, by Kenneth Hamilton; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1966; $1.25 (paper).
GOD IS NOT DEAD, by Gordon H. Girod; Baker Book House, 1966, $2.95.
The church of Jesus Christ is called to a sturdy and unremitting defense of the faith. This surely implies that the Church answer those who set about to destroy the faith and reiterate again and again the truth over against the lie. Yet, in spite of this calling, there comes a time when the defense of the faith seems to be Out of place. This time comes, it appears to me, when men so blatantly deny the very fundamentals of the truth, when men so blasphemously corrupt the very essence of the faith that there is no part of the truth left in their confessions. Something like this may very well be true of the men who teach the current “death of God” heresy. If the unbeliever wants to deny God Himself, he is, according to Scripture’s own words, a fool. Does a fool need answering, except according to his folly?
Nevertheless, a spate of books have been appearing ever since these evil men have raised their ugly and proud heads to deny God. These two books are examples of books which are written to defend the faith over against the denial of God.
Kenneth Hamilton’s book, “God Is Dead,” has the subtitle: “The Anatomy of a Slogan.” In his book he discusses the meaning of this new heresy and its relation to other theologians who, in the opinion of the author, have paved the way for this modern day “Christian atheism.” The book is more philosophical and therefore rather difficult to read. The author speaks of the theology of such men as Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Heidegger, Barth, Jaspers, Nietzsche, and ties in the new heresy with their thinking. The value of this is, as the author also makes clear, that it is apparent that men like Hamilton, Altizer, and other modern atheists are not bringing anything new, but are merely stating what others have said, even though in somewhat different language.
Rev. Girod’s book covers the whole field of modern day apostasy. He does not limit himself merely to the “God is Dead” thinkers, but discusses also such questions as the denial of Scripture, the new morality, secularism, universalism, evolution, etc. His treatment of the evil of civil disobedience is very good and should be read by all who are concerned about this problem.
The weakness of Hamilton’s book is that only at the very end does the author affirm strongly, “The God of the Scriptures is the Living God.” If there is to be any worthwhile criticism of these evil men who deny God, it would be much better if the truth of God were positively set forth. Hence, too, the author fails to demonstrate that God is the Author of revelation, and that the revelation of Himself as the living God can only be accepted by faith—a faith which God Himself gives to His people through Christ.
Girod’s book is much like his other books, not at all profound, yet clear. It is good reading and is recommended to our readers. I would have liked the book better if the author had emphasized that in spite of all the evils of our age, God is gathering His elect according to His own purpose and is preserving His Church throughout all history unto final salvation and glory. Nevertheless, the book is a worthwhile addition to our home libraries as a readily understandable answer to the evils of our modern day.
—Prof. H. Hanko