Open Letter To Evangelicals by Dr. R.E.O. White, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This book is of merit for anyone interested in the deep and ultimate ground of Christian hope, joy and certainty of faith, notwithstanding its limitation that its author does not sound the depths of faith’s certainty in the rock-bed of God’s elective love and sovereign predestination, but is satisfied by simply showing that we need more than shallow emotionalism, that we need a faith revealing itself in fruits of faith.
Dr. White, prolific writer of six other books, has a lucid style, clear and concise diction, and proves himself, in the main, to be a sound and orthodox scholar in the field of exegesis and textual criticism, as well as having a stimulating, constructive pen.
The section of the book “Notes and Quotes” are largely from the Baptistic authors of England, both contemporary and of the late nineteenth century, the exception being the extensive reference to Dr. J.E. Huther in the “Meyer’s Commentary Series” on1 John. We hear throughout what such scholars as Robert Law, C.H. Dodd, William Barclay, A.M. Hunter and others have said about John’s epistle. These gleanings are well-chosen and shed a great deal of light on the “Devotional Interpretations” of Dr. White.
The author holds that the key to the understanding of I John, which he calls “An Open Letter”, since it is anonymous, without “address, personal greetings, and reminiscences,” is to remember that John writes against the rising menace of Gnosticism. This is the ever recurring theme in each Chapter under “Devotional Interpretations”.
This section of the book treats the entire epistle under twenty one different headings. In many ways Dr. White opens new vistas of thought in these chapters. The section called “Contemporary Reflections” itself reflects Dr. White’s Pelagian-Arminian bias, and, at once, evidences the “Achilles’ Heel” in Dr. White’s Theological presuppositions. In spite of the author’s highly commendable attack on Evangelicalism’s tendency to subjectivism, and emotional moodiness, and the centrality of religious experience based on a shallow, inward-looking “cheap grace” preaching, he falls short of the mark of attaining to the jubilant note of faith which confesses of “observing in ourselves, with spiritual joy and holy pleasure, the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the word of God.”
Keeping the latter in mind, we recommend this book to-the readers of Reformed persuasion.