Book Reviews

THE CALVINISTIC CONCEPT OF CULTURE, by Henry R. Van Til; Baker Book House, 1972; 245 pp., $3.95 (paper). 

This is a reprint of a book written in 1959 by the late Prof. H. Van Til who, for a number of years, served as professor of Bible in Calvin College. The book is a rather extensive treatment of the thorny question of the Christian’s cultural calling. In the first part, Van Til defines the issue under the following subjects: The Problem Stated, The Concept of Culture, The Relationship of Religion and Culture, Calvinism Defined, The Calvinistic Conception of Sin and Its Effects on Culture. In the second part he gives a brief historical survey of the question and treats especially Augustine, Calvin, Abraham Kuyper and K. Schilder. In the third part he discusses the problem itself under the headings: The Authority of Scripture in Calvinistic Culture, The Motivation of Faith in Calvinistic Culture, Calvinistic Culture and the Antithesis, The Calvinist and the World, Calvinistic Culture and Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship, Calvinistic Culture and Christian Calling, Calvinistic Culture and Common Grace. 

While the book has a great deal of valuable information in it and is almost must reading for anyone interested in this subject, it has some glaring weaknesses. The chief of these is that it approaches the whole question of culture from the viewpoint of common grace which the author accepts as Scriptural. This so colors the book that it even distorts, on occasion, the historical material. The author interprets the views of Augustine and Calvin especially from the standpoint of common grace and does not do justice to their position. 

The book is somewhat hard going, for the author’s style is not smooth and easy to follow. Anyone however, who makes a study of the whole important question of the Christian and culture shall have to peruse this work.