De Humor van de Bijbel (The Humor of the Bible) by Okke Jager. Published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands, Price f 4.90.
The author of this book is not known to me. In many ways the book reminds me of the writings of Thys Booy.
The first chapter, it seems to me, is intended to serve as the keynote of the whole book. In it the author gives what I regard as a caricature description and application of the wedding feast and those that were invited to attend it. It is evident that the author intends to apply this description of the parable as he interprets or applies it to the church of today, particularly to the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands and to Reformed Christians. He is evidently of the opinion that a hearty laugh and a little humor could go far in solving the problems and difficulties of those churches. He seems to agree with Billy Sunday when he said that many Christians walk about with faces so long that “they could eat oatmeal put of the end of a gas pipe.”
The author is, no doubt, an able writer: The book affords easy and pleasant reading: Moreover, he offers many good remarks about humor and irony.
But I cannot agree with the chief contents of the book. Some passages, if they were to be taken seriously, I would have to criticize severely. This is true, for instance, about the passage on p. 64, where the writer finds humor in the invitation of the angel in the open grave of the risen Lord: “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Humor he finds in the same passage in the sacrament of baptism. To me this means that he neither understands the importance of the place where the Lord lay, nor the sacrament of baptism.
The author, to my mind, confuses too much “humor” with what the Bible calls “joy in the Lord.”
De Sacramenten (The Sacraments) by Dr. G.C. Berkhouwer. Published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands. Price f 9.75.
Dr. Berkouwer as an author is, by this time, quite well known among us. His latest contribution to Reformed literature, under the general heading “Doctrinal studies” is a discussion of the sacraments. The book is worthy of a more thorough and elaborate discussion than is possible within the scope of a mere book review. But this must-wait till a later date, the Lord willing. In the meantime I shall briefly offer my evaluation of the book in the following remarks.
1. The book is divided into three main parts. The first part deals with the sacraments in general; the second discusses the sacrament of holy baptism; the third treats of the sacrament of holy communion.
2. The chief merit of the book, in my opinion, is not that if offers anything new or gives a fuller and richer development of the doctrine of the sacraments (this could hardly be expected), but rather that it moves on the plane of a comparative dogmen-historical study. Dr. Berkouwer is a student. From the present work, too, it is evident that he studied several works on the sacraments. In this particular treatise he compares the views of the Reformed writers and confessions with others of an earlier or a more recent date, defending the former. This I consider especially the value of the present book on the sacraments.
3. I found the book to be somewhat heavy to read and, at times, tedious. This is not due to the style of Dr. Berkouwer, which usually is clear, not to the subject material, but rather to too frequent repetition of the same material. When. Dr. Berkouwer discusses different views of various aspects of the sacraments by different authors and then defends the Reformed view over against them, he frequently repeats himself. Much of this repetition could, to my mind, have been avoided.
4. My chief objection to the book is that Dr. Berkouwer hardly ever mentions the doctrine of election. He does not give this doctrine a central and fundamental place. In fact, as I now recall, election is mentioned only once, i.e. in connection with the sacrament of baptism. I do not understand how one can explain Rom. 6:3-6, that believers are baptized into the death of Christ, buried and raised with Him, so that their old man is crucified with Him, without referring to the. truth of election.
5. If I would write a more elaborate criticism of the book I would certainly ask Dr. Berkhouwer to define clearly his conception of the promise of God and, at the same time, I would criticize his view of the conditionality of that promise.
6. Logically the entire passage on the necessity of baptism and of the sacraments in general does not belong where it occurs.
I heartily recommend the study of this book to all students of dogmatics.
Levende Woorden van Augutinus (Living Words of Augustine) by Dr. A. Sizoo; published by J.H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands.
This book is written in commemoration of the well-known church father Augustine whose birth will be exactly sixteen centuries ago on Nov. 13. 1954. Seeing that Augustine was not only the author of several theological works but also a preacher of the gospel for thirty nine years, Dr. Sizoo conceived of the plan to select and translate from the Latin several passages from his sermons, many of which are left to us, and present them to the modern reader.
Though these sermons are centuries old, the passages from them presented by Dr. Sizoo are still very readable and may be read, not only with interest, but also with spiritual benefit.
I gladly recommend this book to the Holland reader.