HET LAATSTE WOORD (The Last Word), Prof. Dr. J.L. Koole; J.H. Kok, Uitgeversmij, Kampen, The Netherlands; 19 pages; price, f 2, 75
This is No. 5 in a series of booklets issued by the Theological School of Kampen under the general heading Kamper Cahiers (Kampen Exercise books). I have not received the first three of these, which have been rather severely criticized, as not Reformed.
This booklet is on the subject of the Aaronitic blessing of Numbers 6:22-27. While it contains many interesting exegetical insights into this passage of Scripture, I am nevertheless not greatly impressed by the main thrust of this essay. My reasons are two: 1). The author is, to say the least, uncritical with respect to literary criticism of this passage which roots in the higher critical documentary hypothesis concerning the Pentateuch, (page 5, footnote 11). 2) The fundamental idea of this blessing as the efficacious and distinctive word of favor of the covenant God over His elect and covenant people in Christ Jesus does not come to the fore.
For those who can follow the Dutch, however, it is worthwhile to read material of this kind, if only to keep one’s self informed as to what is being produced in the Gereformeerde Kerken nowadays.
FAMOUS BIBLICAL HOAXES OR MODERN APOCRYPHA, by Edgar J. Goodspeed; Baker Book House; $1.95, 124 pp. (paper).
The author treats the genuineness of various documents which have appeared from time to time which claim to be very old and to give light or incidents related to Scripture but not included in Scripture. Such documents are, e.g., “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ,” “The Report of Pilate,” “The Confession of Pontius Pilate,” “The Letter From Heaven,” “The Book of dasher,” and others, The author briefly sketches their contents and demonstrates that they are forgeries, “pious frauds” or not so pious frauds. Interesting to anyone liking this kind of study.
THE AMERICAN FAR RIGHT (A Study of Billy James Hargis and Christian Crusade), by John H. Redekop; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 232 pp., $4.50.
This book gives a detailed, scholarly, dispassionate and honest evaluation of Billy Hargis’ Christian Crusade. And in doing so it gives an evaluation of much of the Far Right which is formed in different organizations. It is one of the most objective studies which I have seen and accordingly carries considerable weight. Its strength lies particularly in its evaluation of the odd mixture between religion and politics which characterizes many of these organizations. It points out that the Christian Crusade in particular and most rightwing organizations in general hold that the American people occupy a special place in God’s purpose similar to the place held by Israel; that this country is uniquely of divine origin, with special favor shown to it by God; that our Republic is the highest expression of God’s will for government, the Constitution being almost of divine origin. It demonstrates that while, as conservatives claim, it is true that America has always been Christian, this has been true only in a formal and external sense. The weakness of the book is that it presents no proper evaluation either from the Scriptural or political point of view of the whole role of government. It offers no alternative to the right wing nor spells out the Christian’s calling in relation to government. It is, from this point of view, wholly negative.
CREATIVE QUESTIONS ON CHRISTIAN LIVING (A Guidebook for Group Discussions), by Ralph Heyen; Baker Book House, 1967; 111 pp., $1.50 (paper).
The book is composed of 103 different lessons on such subjects as “Old Testament Characters,” “The Psalms and Proverbs,” “The Sermon On The Mount, ” “New Testament Parables,” “Gospel Characters,” “Characters From Acts” and “The Epistles.” Each lesson is a series of questions suggested by the title. Some of the questions are silly, some thought-provoking, some based on misinterpretations of Scripture; many are written from the viewpoint of mental health (the author is chaplain at Pine Rest Christian Hospital); all are of a very practical nature. The purpose of the book, suggested in the subtitle, is to stimulate group discussions. The book may be of some value to society leaders casting about for subjects to treat in after-recess programs.
AT THE LORD’S TABLE, by Ralph G. Turnbull; Baker Book House, 1967; 141 pp., $2.50.
A large number of books have recently been published by book houses specializing in religious publications on the subject of the Lord’s Supper. Evidently this gives indication of increased interest in this important sacrament. This book, written by an “evangelical” is part of “The New Minister’s Handbook Series” currently being published by Baker. It contains sermons the author preached and includes such subjects as “The Lord’s Supper: A Stewardship, A Witness, A Forecast, A Legacy, A Chorus, A Tryst, A Service, A Season.” It does not add anything of a doctrinal nature to recent discussions on the meaning and significance of the Lord’s Supper. It is more a devotional book. Recommended to anyone interested in this subject from a devotional point of view.
JOB, OUR CONTEMPORARY, by H. Harold Kent; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968; 65 pp., $1.25 (paper).
Many men have struggled with the problem of affliction. Those who have struggled with it within the context of faith have turned to the book of Job to seek answers to their questions. This is also what the author does in this short book. In many ways this is a nice book, and it is surely worth reading. It contains a brief survey of the discussions between Job and his three “friends”; between Job and Elihu; and between Job and God. It gives some valuable insights into these discussions and attempts to expose the basic argument. From this point of view, the book is really too brief. Its value lies in the concise survey it makes of the whole book. But it does attempt to answer the problems of suffering faced by saints even today in the light of this book of Scripture. And it concludes correctly that the ways of God are past finding out and that Jehovah is under no obligation to puny man to reveal His purposes. Perhaps the author is too severe with Job, and surely the author mistakes the intent of the speech of Elihu when he puts Elihu in the same camp as the “friends.” The price may be a little steep, but it makes good devotional reading.
THE VIETNAM WAR: CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES, edited by Michael P. Hamilton; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967; 140 pp., $3.50 (paper edition, $1.65).
Most of the chapters in this book were originally sermons preached in the Spring of this year in Washington Cathedral. The authors of these sermons range from Dr. R. Paul Ramsey through Rev. Martin Luther King to Rev. Eugene Carson Blake. They present the “hawks,” the “doves” and various positions in between. While the book attempts to put the distasteful war in Vietnam in Christian perspective, it does not attempt to discuss the problem of war in general for the Christian. This is an important omission because a correct Scriptural presentation of the Christian’s obligation towards his government in times of war would, no doubt, have shed light also upon the present conflict. The trouble is that the general perspective of the book (as one might well expect from these authors) is not the Christian perspective, but rather the perspective of those who seek a kind of heaven here upon earth. While interesting reading, it is of little help in the solution of the problem of the Christian and war.
GUIDING YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER TOWARD SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE, by Leslie E. Moser and Ruth Small Moser; Baker Book House, 1967, 110 pp., $2.50.
The book is just what the title suggests. The chapter titles give some idea of its contents: “Happy Marriages: A Matter for Christian Concern”; “Keeping Communication Lines Open”; “Guiding Your Young Person toward Marriage”; “Religious Influences on Successful Marriages”; “Preparing Your Young Person for the Roles of Marriage” among others. Written by a husband and wife team who had children of their own, it contains many practical and helpful ideas on the difficult task of giving covenant instruction to children in this area of their life. It is not as Scripturally orientated as one would like, but the references to Scripture are many and the suggestions worthwhile. We cannot agree with all that is written; but the book is highly recommended nonetheless to our covenant parents.
LETTERS TO AN AMERICAN LADY, by C.S. Lewis; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967; 121 pp., $3.95 (published posthumously).
It is a sad mistake which modern publishers make when they think that because an author’s writings sell well, everything that author has ever written has to be published—even his most intimate correspondence. This book is a mistake. It would be well that publishers learn from it. The book contains a large number of letters which C.S. Lewis had written to an American woman from 1950 to the time of his death but whom he never met. The letters were not intended to be for publication, as is pretty obvious from their contents. They ought not to have been made public. They shed no new light on Lewis’s thought. They make no contribution to Christian doctrine. They are filled with references which have meaning only in the light of the American woman’s letters—which are not included. This American woman comes out in the letters as being little else than a cantankerous hypochondriac—although she consented to their publication and furnished the manuscripts. They can all be read in a few hours. The book is not worth the steep price of $3.95.
JERUSALEM THROUGH THE AGES, by Charles F. Pfeiffer; Baker Book House, 1967, 94 pp., $1.95 (paper).
This book is one of a series published by Baker under the general heading “Baker Studies in Biblical Archaeology.” Making use of the latest archeological studies, the author traces the history of the holy city from the time of its founding prior to the days of Abraham through the recent conquest of the city of the Israeli armies. It is an interesting book, filled with photographs containing a great deal of important information. The section dealing with Jerusalem during Bible times is relatively small while most of the material is concentrated on the history of the city after the crucifixion of Christ. Recommended to those interested in archeological studies and to those who wish to increase their knowledge of Scripture. It is particularly valuable to teachers and ministers, but can easily be read by Junior High School children.