Book Reviews

The Morning Star (Two centuries of violence from Sycliffe to Luther); by G.H.W. Parker; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 1965; 248 pp.; $3.75.

The people of God have, throughout the ages, a certain obligation to know their past history. This is not because they are merely curious about their forbears in the sense of a family being curious about its genealogical tree. Rather the reasons are: 1) The history of the church of Christ is the history of the work of the Spirit of Christ within the Church gathering the Church, preserving the church and leading the church into all truth. Thus, knowledge of her past history gives the church knowledge of God’s work of salvation in Christ. 2) The church of today is deeply indebted to the church of the past. In fact, the truth which the church confesses today is a truth which she confesses in organic connection with the church of the past; it is a truth which she has received as a heritage from her spiritual forbears; it is a truth which she can defend against attack only by knowing what the church of yesteryear has confessed and how this truth has been defended. 

We live in an age when the church, with increasing scorn, turns away from her past, ignores her confessions, despises the fruit of the Spirit and ridicules her history. This ought never to be characteristic of the people of God. It is essential therefore that the people of God have access to some history of the Christian Church which is readable, interesting, sound, and written from the perspective of faith. 

This present volume is one of a series of eight volumes under the general subject: “The Advance of Christianity Through The Centuries.” It is edited by F.F. Bruce, Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester. 

In my opinion, this series fills exactly the need described above. There are more thorough works on church history, but they are written for the scholar. There are many other works that treat this same subject, but none which fills the need of Reformed people. The series is written by men who stand in the tradition of Calvinism and are deeply committed to it. The books are well-written, but are eminently readable by all who are interested in this important subject. 

In this present volume, the author leads us through the years preceding the Reformation, showing all along how God was preparing events for this most important reformation of the church of Christ. He discusses at length the two pre-reformers: Wycliffe and Hus, and interestingly enough, finds their basic doctrine to be the truth of predestination from which all their proposed reforms came forth. 

The series is not yet complete. The books available are: 

Vol. 1: The Spreading Flame by F.F. Bruce. 

Vol. 2: The Growing Storm by G.M.S. Walker

Vol. 3: The Morning Star by G.H.W. Parker. 

Vol. 6: Light In The North by J.D. Douglas. 

Vol. 7: The Inextinguishable Blaze by A. Skevington Wood. 

In preparation are: 

Vol. 4: The Great Light by Rev. Canon James Atkinson. 

Vol. 5: The Refining Fire by Dr. J.I. Packer. 

Vol. 8: The Light Of The World by J. Edwin Orr. 

We urge our people to purchase these books as valuable additions to their libraries, to read and study them, and to gain from them the spiritual advantages which comes from knowing the history of Christ’s church. 

—Prof. H. Hanko 

Several Sovereign Grace Union Tracts by various authors and of various prices. These tracts and a price list of other publications are available from Grace Literature, P.O. Box 879, Gaffney, S.C. 29340. 

Many of our older readers will recall that formerly we had some contacts with the Sovereign Grace Union of England, particularly through the friendship between the late Rev. Henry Atherton and my father. Recently several tracts from this organization were sent to me by a U.S. agent whose address I have given above. Among these were “Table Talk About Election,” a very brief tract about election; “An Accomplished Redemption,” a little pamphlet on particular atonement; and “What Is This Calvinism,” a brief exposition of the Five Points of Calvinism. 

Although much of what is contained in these tracts is a kind of Calvinism, yet I was frankly rather disappointed in what I read. I get the impression that the Sovereign Grace Union is not putting out the kind of literature that it formerly did; at least, this material does not compare with many former productions which I have in my library. The Calvinism of these tracts is “watered down” Calvinism. “Table Talk About Election” is definitely a failure when it comes to the crucial subject of reprobation. The pamphlet on “An Accomplished Redemption” speaks of common grace fruits of Christ’s death as well as of His atonement for the elect. As to “What Is This Calvinism?” I would have to say that Calvinism is much more than the Five Points of Calvinism. Hence, tracts of this nature are of very limited, and sometimes questionable, value. 

I also received the SGU quarterly, “Peace and Truth,” the subscription price of which is $1.05 per year. This little magazine contains some brief articles and sermons and items of interest concerning the SGU. 

Perhaps I might add that the SGU does not publish many large books any more. This seems to be done more by the Banner of Truth Trust. However, for those interested in SGU publications, here is some information. 

—H.C. Hoeksema