Book Reviews

THE WORLD THAT PERISHED, by John C. Whitcomb, Jr: (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1973, 155 pp., $1.95 pb). Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema. 

The author of this little book is, perhaps, better known as the co-author, with Dr. Henry M. Morris, of The Genesis Flood, published in 1961 (and still one of the best books on the market concerning the Flood and related subjects). 

What is the purpose of this book? The author himself states it as follows: “It is the purpose of this study to restate in a more popular form the basic Biblical and scientific evidences for that Flood, as set forth originally in The Genesis Flood . . . and to bring up to date the great controversy which that and similar works have stirred up. The author has also attempted to analyze and to answer briefly the published objections that have been leveled against The Genesis Flood in the past twelve years.” 

In attaining the above-stated purpose the author succeeds admirably. 

To those of Reformed background, and particularly to those who have followed developments in the Netherlands, the last chapter will be of special interest.The Genesis Flood was severely criticized (a mild word!) by the Dutch Geologist, J. R. van de Flier, Professor of Historical and Tectonical Geology at the Free University of Amsterdam. This critique appeared in the International Reformed Bulletin (Spring, 1968) under the title, “Fundamentalism and the Fundamentals of Geology.” Dr. Clarence Menninga of Calvin College (The Banner, Nov. 27, 1970) is confident that “the arguments from the fossil record which (Morris and Whitcomb) present have been refuted by J. R. van de Fliert.” Other critics of Whitcomb and Morris have also hid behind the skirts of Dr. van de Fliert. In this chapter there is an extensive and competent reply of Dr. Morris to the criticism of van de Fliert. 

What is heart-warming about this book is the fact that the author unashamedly takes his stand on the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture. One may not agree with every detail of interpretation, but it is a rarity nowadays to find scholars who stand foursquare on the basis of Scripture. 

We highly recommend this little book, especially to our young people of high school and college age, whose faith is often assaulted exactly on this point of the authority of Holy Scripture. We believe that they may be encouraged and strengthened by such writings as these. The bubble of the conceit of “scholars” who inveigh against the plain teachings of God’s Word needs pricking; and it receives such pricking in this book. 

INTRODUCTION TO THEOLOGICAL GERMAN, by J. D. Manton (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1973, $2.95 pb). Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema. 

The purpose of this book is a good one: “This course is intended for those who wish to read theological German, but who have little or no previous knowledge of the language.” The criticism directed at ordinary textbooks and courses in German is, I believe, also correct: “Most of the textbooks and language courses available, however, have two major drawbacks from the theologian’s point of view: 1. They introduce a wide range of ‘everyday’ German vocabulary which is not directly relevant to the theologian’s needs; 2. they concentrate on promoting oral fluency, which again is not what he is seeking.” However this may be, I have yet to see the college course in German which produces students proficient in reading theological German. 

I have not tested this little book. It consists of twenty rather detailed lessons, plus grammatical tables, vocabulary, and index. I do not know how many pages this fills; this is the first time in, my life that I have seen a book without page numbers! I could conceive of it that through assiduous labor one could profit from this book — if he knew little or no German — to the point that he would not have to skip German quotations in theological works. 

Although the book does not aim at oral proficiency, nevertheless a certain amount of this is necessary — no matter how much the aim may be only a private-reading proficiency. To this end, perhaps a set of cassette-tapes to accompany the book might be helpful. 

Recommended to those who would like to try a do-it-yourself German course. But please, Mr. Publisher, if you ever reprint this book, add some page numbers! 

EXPOSITORY PREACHING: PLANS AND METHODS, by F. B. Meyer, with an Introduction by Ralph G. Turnbull. (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich., Reprinted 1974, 127 pp., $1.95 pb). Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema. 

This is one of the Baker series of Notable Books on Preaching. As noted, it is a reprint of a work by Frederick Brotherton Meyer, 1847-1929, an English Baptist preacher who is perhaps better known for some of his commentaries. 

With the main thrust of this book, which is a strong plea for expository preaching, we can agree. We can also agree with many of the suggestions of a practical, homiletical nature which the author makes. What the author means by expository preaching is not merely preaching on isolated and varied tests in an expository, or exegetical, manner. He has in mind what I would call “series preaching” on some book or extended portion of Scripture. And in my opinion, this is the ideal for expository preaching. Personally, homiletical ills — and, as a result, create a greater and healthier appetite for the preaching of the Word. 

If there is one point on which I would especially criticize this little book, it is this: the examples of expository preaching are disappointing because they are rather poor expositions, but loaded with illustrations and anecdotes. 

But students of homiletics and preachers who need a little homiletical refreshment can profitably read this book in a couple of hours. 

Here are a couple of quotations to whet the appetite: “We are now able, in the light of these distinctions, to define expository preaching as the consecutive treatment of some book or extended portion of Scripture on which the preacher has concentrated head and heart, brain and brawn, over which he has thought and wept and prayed, until it has yielded up its inner secret, and the spirit of it has passed into his spirit.” Or again: “The highest point of sermon-utterance is when a preacher is ‘possessed,’ and certainly, in the judgment of the writer, such possession comes oftenest and easiest to a man who has lived, slept, walked and eaten in fellowship with a passage for the best part of a week.” 

Or let a preacher take this advice for preparation of an expository series on a certain book: “He will perhaps have made his selection for the coming autumn and winter before he starts on his summer vacation (By all means! HCH). With all his other preparations for golf, or fishing, or camping out, he takes a handy pocket copy of the chosen Scripture. On the moor or in the hammock, within sound of the break of the waves or of the crunching of glaciers, he reads again and again, until the central lesson, the motif begins to reveal itself. The next step is to roughly divide the matter under some general divisions, which will be broken up ultimately into smaller and yet smaller ones, the one condition being that each paragraph or chapter shall contain one complete thought.” 

Recommended as helpful for students and preachers.