Book Reviews

GOLDEN BOOKLET OF THE TRUE CHRTSTIAN LIFE, by John Calvin; Translated by Henry J. Van Andel; Baker Book House, 1975; 96 pp., $1.45. 

This booklet is a new translation of the material in Calvin’s Institutes entitled “On the Christian Life” However, since 1550, this material was published separately also in French, Latin and Dutch. It has been republished a large number of times, but now it appears in a new and more modern translation. For those who have neither the time nor the inclination to read the whole of the Institutes, and for those who desire this important material in a separate booklet, this is a worthwhile purchase.

DEVOTIONALS FOR TEACHERS, by Nelle Vander Ark; Baker Book House, 1975; 80 pp., (no price given.) 

A rather sentimental and moralistic book intended to help teachers through their difficult work by means of devotional readings based loosely on various Scripture passages.

WORD IN DEED, Theological Themes in Evangelism, by Gabriel Fackre; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975; 109 pp., $1.95 (paper). 

A rather liberal neo-evangelical approach to evangelism which is not much help to a Reformed man, but does give the current approach to much of evangelism. He treats the themes: Orientation, Proclamation, Authorization, Action, Conversion.

THE CALL TO HOLINESS, Spirituality in a Secular Age, by Martin Parsons; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975, 95 pp., $1.65 (paper). 

This primarily devotional book deals only briefly with the specific problems of the work of sanctification, and is, consequently, not much help in an understanding of this important doctrine. It contains a mild criticism of neo-pentacostalism and defines the means of holiness in terms of prayer and Bible reading. It is somewhat evangelically orientated. 

MORE PSALMS FOR ALL SEASONS, Expressions of the Believing Heart, by David Allan Hubbard; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975; 96 pp., $1.50 (paper). 

These meditations on the Psalms are a good example of how the Psalms may never be used. The author fails completely to see the Messianic character of the Psalms and even denies that Psalm 22 speaks of Christ. The result is little moral homilies tacked on to a particular Psalm. 

WILLIAM BARCLAY: A Spiritual Autobiography; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975; 121 pp., $5.95. 

Biographies are difficult to write. Autobiographies are, especially for a Christian, almost impossible. This book is not, in the true sense of the word, an autobiography. Although the author does give considerable information about himself, especially in the chapter entitled “Self-Portrait”, nevertheless, he is more interested in setting forth his own theology in the context of a description of his work. 

He was a pastor, a radio speaker, a writer of “Daily Study Bible”, and, for twenty-seven years, a member of the Divinity Faculty at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. 

The book is interesting reading, but the theology is very deficient, and, as a matter of fact, Antichristian. On page 40, e.g., the author comes very close to making his evolutionism a step to outright Arminianism. On pp. 44ff., he denies that sickness and suffering are God’s will. But by far the worst, on pp. 49, 50, 52, he denies the deity of Jesus Christ and the vicarious atonement of Christ for sin. 

After reading the book, one wonders why he continues to preach and teach Divinity if these truths are denied. 

THE GOSPEL OF MARK, by William Hendriksen; Baker Book House, 1975; 700 pp., $14.95. 

Baker has produced another in the series of New Testament Commentaries by Dr. Hendriksen. We are happy that additional commentaries are being published in this series, for they constitute some of the finest commentaries available. 

The desirable features of these commentaries are: 1) The text is clear and written in a style understandable by all. 2) The books of the Bible treated are all introduced by a rather lengthy discussion of date, authorship, and various problems of an introductory nature. 3) The author is firmly committed to the truth of infallible inspiration. 4) All technical material is placed in footnotes. There are two advantages to this. On the one hand, the reader is not interrupted by this technical material. On the other hand, those familiar with the Greek will find much material of value by a careful perusal of the footnotes. 5) The commentary is generally thorough and is of considerable value for Bible study whether that be in personal study or in preparation for Societies.

There are several features which are not too desirable. 1) The author believes in the theory of common grace and the general offer of the gospel. He brings these into his commentary at many points, sometimes in what seems to be a forced way. 2) The author, in this commentary as well as in others, is very fond of acrostics and various devices and schemes to divide or elucidate material. Sometimes these force the material into strange patterns somewhat foreign to the Scriptures. 

Our ministers are often asked to recommend commentaries to their people. Hendriksen’s commentaries can be recommended highly and will prove valuable additions in family, church and ministerial libraries.

A BASKET OF FRAGMENTS, by Robert Murray M’Cheyne; Christian Focus Publications, 118 Academy St., Inverness, IV1 ILX, Scotland; 194 pp., $7.95.

Christian Focus Publications is a recently formed organization in Scotland which was formed for the purpose of “the propagation of the Gospel through literature.” As far as I know, this is its second publishing venture. Its first was an exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by Robert Shaw. 

This present book contains some of the sermons preached by Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843) whose short ministry was spent as pastor of St. Peter’s in Dundee, Scotland.

These sermons were originally published five years after M’Cheyne’s death from notes taken down by his audience during the services. These sermons stand in the Puritan tradition for the most part. They are strongly Calvinistic, but have that undercurrent of mysticism which so characterized much of Puritan preaching. Although quite naturally the homiletics is quite different from what we are accustomed to, these sermons make fine reading. The book is well worthwhile to anyone who enjoys devotional reading and who would like to have some idea of circumstances in Scotland among Calvinists during the first half of the Nineteenth Century. 

The book can be ordered from the address given above and a publicity leaflet giving information about Christian Focus Publications can be obtained from the same address.