Book Reviews

INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA, Vol. II, E-J; G.W. Bromiley, General Editor; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 1175 pp. (cloth), $35.00. [Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema]

This is the second volume of Eerdmans’ new edition of “ISBE.” It is attractively published, well bound, and—though $35.00 is quite a chunk of money—not expensive, considering the size and scope of a volume like this. 

The claim that this new edition is fully revised is not mere propaganda or window-dressing. I compared this new volume with the second volume of the old edition and found the claim to be entirely true. Editors, contributors, and even subjects treated are in many, many instances new. Your library will be improved by the addition of the new “ISBE.” 

To be sure, this does not mean that you can swallow “hook, line, and sinker” everything that this or any other encyclopedia tells you. A look at the names of some of the contributors will warn you, “Approach with caution.” Thus, for example, when James Daane writes on ‘”Infallibility,” your Reformed antennae will send you signals. But this, after all, is true of any encyclopedia, be it secular or religious. As soon as it enters the area of explanation and interpretation, in distinction from the area of facts, the reader must also begin to make his own critical evaluation. 

Recommended: for ministers, seminarians, school libraries, and anyone who can afford a good Bible encyclopedia for his library.

RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD, Earl Schipper; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; 151 pp. (paper), $3.45. [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema]

This paperback is part of Baker’s Contemporary Discussion Series. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions and a bibliographic guide designed to kindle further study and discussion. The format of the book, therefore, is helpful. The factual contents of the book, as it treats Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam, are also helpful and, as far as I could judge after brief perusal, accurate—though rather brief and condensed. 

My objection—and it is a fundamental criticism of the book—is to its viewpoint. The author, who is teacher of religion at Grand Rapids Christian High School, rejects the position that all non-Christian religions are “completely immersed in the blackness of total depravity.” As might be expected, his appeal in this connection is to “general” revelation, to common grace, and even to influences of special revelation. As a result, we must have “our minds open to the insights and moral values held by people of other religions,” and “we may view non- Christian religions as human response to God’s revelation, even though disobedient and misdirected as a whole perspective.” 

Mr. Schipper is, of course, not the first to take this approach to false religions. You can find the same approach in many a “Reformed” theologian who holds to the theory of common grace and who misconstrues what is often referred to as “general” revelation.

My judgment is, however, that it is precisely this approach which makes the book worthless as a reliable guide in studying and evaluating the religions treated in this book.