THE INVITATION SYSTEM, by Iain Murray; 32 pages (paper); Banner of Truth Trust, London, England; distributed by Puritan Publications, P.O. Box 652, Carlisle, PA 17013. Price: 15 cents.
This is a very worthwhile booklet, as are many of the books and booklets published by the Banner of Truth Trust.
By the “invitation system” is meant the practice of calling people to the front which is so widely followed by Arminian evangelists in their crusades. Probably the best known example of those who follow this practice is Billy Graham. This invitation system is regarded by many as an essential part of evangelism.
Iain Murray, who is pastor of Grove Chapel, London, and is also editor of The Banner of Truth, a bi-monthly magazine, examines the various arguments adduced in. favor of this invitation system. Such an examination, of course, is dependent on an accurate presentation of the arguments, first of all. And while this booklet is very brief, the author nevertheless succeeds in presenting the arguments fairly and accurately; and his presentation is well-documented by quotations from the proponents of the system being criticized.
The chief value of the booklet, however, lies in the thorough and Reformed manner in which the arguments are refuted. Moreover, the refutation is presented in a simple and thoroughly readable and interesting manner. Here is a sample of what the reader may expect: “The invitation system misconceives the role of an evangelist. The gospel preacher is not a ‘spiritual obstetrician’ appointed to supervise the new birth of sinners; still less is he called to propose ways which, if complied with, will accomplish the rebirth.” (p. 29)
It is encouraging to note that also in Great Britain there are still those who have not been deceived into departing from the truth of the gospel and from true methods of evangelism in this day of Arminianism gone wild. But American readers can profit greatly from the reading of this little booklet. In fact, if you are looking for good theological reading, you could do worse than to send for the latest catalogue of Banner of Truth Trust publications.
THE DAVIDSON AFFAIR, by Stuart Jackman; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; 181 pp., $3.50.
This is a novel; and it is both interesting and unusual.
It is an attempt to put the Resurrection of Jesus Christ into modern dress. It is an attempt to give the Passion of Jesus immediacy. As the dust jacket puts it, in this story Jesus Davidson is executed for treason on Friday, and is rumored to be along again on Sunday. “Cass Tennel, TV reporter, flies to Jerusalem to investigate and finds himself plunged into a tense political crisis. Or is it, perhaps, something more than that? In the space of thirty-six hours he interviews all sorts of people from the Governor General to a notorious belly-dancer. Out of a tangle of conflicting reports he struggles to construct a documentary program to be screened on Monday evening, which will reflect the truth about Davidson. But what, in fact, is the truth? And how can Tennel, and through him the millions of viewers, come to terms with it?”
This book has been widely praised by reviewers, even in magazines from which I would not expect such praise.
This reviewer has serious reservations as to the legitimacy of this kind of attempt to put the gospel, of the Resurrection into a twentieth-century setting. There is something very repulsive about making a novel out of the gospel.
But even apart from the above reservations, the book is to be criticized on one fundamental point. There is no blood of atonement in the story. Jesus Davidson was not crucified, but hanged. What the author fails to see, or deliberately ignores, is that there could have been no-resurrection without the cross. This is a fatal flaw. If for no other reason than this, the story is a failure if it purposes to present the gospel.
Once again: the book is unusually interesting, and it is fast moving. But it is a failure. Do not be deceived by it.