MIRACLES: YESTERDAY AND TODAY, TRUE AND FALSE, by Benjamin S. Warfield; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 1965; 327 pp.; $2.25; paper.
This volume contains the Thomas Smyth Lectures delivered by the author at Columbia Theological Seminary in 1917. It was originally published in 1918 under the title “Counterfeit Miracles” by Scribner’s. With this paperback volume, Eerdmans has made the book, long out of print, available.
The author was professor at Princeton Theological Seminary when that seminary was still a stronghold of Presbyterian Calvinism in this country. He takes the position that miracles ended with the apostolic age because miracles “were the credentials of the Apostles” and did not belong to the Church apart from them.
Upon the basis of this position, the author carefully examine s all the claims made for miracles in the early Church; by the Roman Catholic Church not only during the Middle Ages but also in more recent times, as for example, at the famous shrine of Lourdes; by the many faith-healing sects which arose in the latter part of the last century and in the early part of this one. The final chapter of the book deals with an examination of the claims of Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy.
This extended investigation certainly proves the author’s contention that miracles belonged to the apostolic Church only and that all other claims are spurious. This makes the book a valuable one. It is of value to anyone to whom the various claims of miracles made here and there have been a problem. But it is of value also to others interested in this question.
The one weakness of the book, it seems to me, is the lack of a definition of miracles and discussion of the true nature of miracles as they formed a part of the revelation of God.
There are 230 pages in the main part of the book, while more than 100 pages are needed for the extensive footnotes. Some of these footnotes are extremely important. When this is the case, I prefer the footnotes at the bottom of the pages of the text, rather than grouped together in the back of the book. It makes the reading of a book of this nature difficult.
—Prof. H. Hanko
LISTENING TO GOD ON CALVARY, by George Gritter; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1965; 143 pp., $2.50.
This book presents meditations on the seven cross words of Christ. It appears that they were originally preached in the author’s congregation.
The book has many commendable features about it and is worthy of being read by those to whom the cross of Christ is their blessedness. Nevertheless there are weaknesses to the book, some rather important. For one thing, the author, in speaking of the first crossword, rejects the interpretation that this prayer of Christ is for His elect for whom He died and interprets it as meaning being a prayer that judgment may be postponed. This interpretation (while it is certainly not new) detracts from the beauty of this intercessory prayer of the Lord and does violence to sound exegesis. For another thing, the book neglects to lay emphasis on the truth that Christ died only for His elect people. One hopes that when this fundamental truth is called into question (also in the author’s own denomination) that it would be strongly emphasized. The various crosswords give abundant occasion. But, alas, the book does not do this. Further, and in close connection with the foregoing, the efficacious and sovereign power of the cross of Christ is seriously minimized by speaking of the cross as a serious invitation to all men to come and drink of the waters of life. This was especially apparent in the treatment of the fifth crossword, “I thirst.”
There are several places where the interpretations offered by the author are questionable; He writes, for example, in connection with the fourth crossword: ‘”Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ Why did Matthew first of all introduce these words in their untranslated form? Turn to Mark and you find them untranslated too, but there they appear not in the Hebrew, but in the Aramaic. You wonder which is most accurate. Very likely, since the words of Jesus were misunderstood and confused with a call for Elijah, they were uttered in Hebrew. And at a later time when Mark wrote his Gospel, he leaves us with the impression that this word is translated so that we may understand; and left untranslated that we may know that this confession of forsakenness is beyond understanding.”
However, the book is recommended for general reading and for help in meditating upon the sublime mystery of the cross.
—Prof. H. Hanko