“The Passion and Death of Christ,” C.H. Spurgeon. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI (Paperback, 152 pp., $1.45)
This, as the title indicates, is a book for Lent. It is a book of twelve sermons; however, there is no single theme or viewpoint in this collection of sermons. They are aphoristic sermons which have only this in common, that they all deal with some aspect of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact that this work is published (or: republished) in paperback form, and therefore at a low price, would seem to indicate that it is intended for public consumption. Personally, I do not care much for paperbacks as a rule because paperbacks do not make very good additions to a library that is meant to be more or less permanent. However, for those who are interested in casual reading and who are not necessarily interested in keeping and using a book once it has been read, paperbacks probably serve a useful purpose. Possibly their handy and low cost format encourages more general reading in a day when reading, especially of religious works, is in many homes a lost art.
Spurgeon is good reading; and for anyone who is interested in doing a little “extra-curricular reading” on the passion of our Lord in this season of Lent, this collection of sermons by Spurgeon is no exception.
This does not mean that you will find the style of preaching in this book to which we are accustomed. Nor does it mean agreement with the exegesis,—or sometimes, the lack of it,—which you will find in these sermons. Nor does it mean agreement with the approach and application which Spurgeon makes often at the close of his sermons. A Reformed man would raise questions as he reads.
Nevertheless, one can do far worse than read these passion sermons of Spurgeon. And if you can read with discretion, you can gain a good deal of spiritual nourishment from your reading of this little paperback.
“The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,” Leonard Verduin, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI 292 pp. Price $5.75.
The term “Stepchildren” in the title of this book refers to the Anabaptists. The book takes us back to that ever-interesting and stormy period of the Reformation of the sixteenth century; and it concentrates on one of the more stormy aspects of the Reformation, one that is always discussion-provoking, the struggle between the Anabaptists and the Reformed.
Although brief characterizations are possibly less than fair for their very brevity, I would nevertheless characterize this book as an attempted defense of and justification of the Anabaptists over against the Reformers and the mainstream of the Reformation. It concentrates on the issue of what is called “sacralism” or “Constantinianism,”—briefly, the theory of a state, or established, church.
Verduin writes an interesting book. He has a style which is in a way pleasantly provocative. As is evident from many references and quotations, there has been a goodly amount of research involved in the writing of this book. In fact, the book is valuable for its information alone, if for no other reason.
All this, however, does not mean that I agree with the main thesis of the book. Somehow, as I read, I remained all along unconvinced, and received the impression that while Verduin makes many correct observations, he nevertheless ends by virtually clearing the Anabaptists of any guilt and shoving the Reformed and the Reformers into a corner where they do not belong. My analysis of the book’s fault in this respect would be that while it offers much evidence, the interpretation of that evidence is not always correct.
But read the book for yourself, and come to your own conclusion.
I would not, of course, agree with the statement on page 270 that the world “is populated with but two kinds of people, believers and not-yet-believers . . . .” The implication of that “not-yet” is not Reformed. There are not only “not-yet-believers” in the world, but also never-to-be-believers. All non-believers are not potential believers; some are reprobate.
While recommendation does not mean agreement in this case, I do recommend this book, especially to one who has a special interest in church history.