D. Martyn Lloyd -Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, by Iain H. Murray. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990. pp. xxiv-831. $36.95, cloth. [Reviewed by Prof. Robert D. Decker.]
This massive work is volume two of a biography of the late great preacher of Westminster Chapel in London. D. Martyn Loyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939, the first volume of the biography, was published in 1982, about a year after Lloyd-Jones’ death. The doctor himself authorized his long-time friend and former assistant pastor at the Chapel (1956-1959), Iain H. Murray, to write the biography.
The two volumes present a detailed account of the life of this great preacher. Both are enhanced by a number of photographs. The reader will find fascinating accounts of details in the life of the doctor. For example, one finds the story of how the doctor first met his predecessor, Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, at the Chapel. Fascinating too is the story of how Morgan picked Lloyd-Jones as his successor. The two preachers were quite different doctrinally. Morgan was Arminian in his theology, while Lloyd-Jones was a Calvinist. If one wonders how the one could succeed the other in the same pulpit, he learns that after the War an entirely different congregation emerged at Westminster.
These books, especially volume two, are more than a biography of the doctor. One gains insights into the ecumenical movement and its impact on the church in Great Britain. One also learns of the influences of Crusade Evangelism, which Lloyd-Jones steadfastly opposed, and of the influences of the charismatic movement.
While the cost of the two volumes is rather high, the books are worth having to anyone interested in the evangelical church in England during the first half of the twentieth century. Lloyd-Jones was a great preacher whose influence carried far beyond the large Westminster Chapel, through his travels, itinerant preaching, and publications.
The Epistle of James, by Joseph B. Mayor. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990. pp.1-621. $18.95, paper; $24.95, cloth. [Reviewed by Prof. Robert D. Decker.]
This is a reprint of the third edition of Mayor’s commentary on James which was published in 1913. Joseph Mayor (1828-1916), a theologian of the Church of England, taught at King’s College in London. Mayor was a careful Bible scholar. His work is detailed.
The Introduction alone consists of 309 pages of fine print divided into twelve chapters. In the Introduction, Mayor deals with such subjects as the author, the authenticity, the date, the addressees of The Epistle of James. New Testament Greek scholars will appreciate chapters 9 and 10 in which Mayor deals with the grammar and style of James. Chapter 12 contains a detailed discussion .of the “Critical Apparatus.” The Introduction clearly indicates that Mayor was thoroughly familiar with the critical scholarship extant in his day.
The heart of the Commentary is found in the section entitled, “Notes” (pp. 339-497). In this section Mayor offers detailed exposition of the Greek text, proceeding almost word by word. This section would be of little use to one not thoroughly acquainted with New Testament Greek. In this section too Mayor quotes other commentators and scholars in the original languages in which they wrote. Thus one finds Calvin quoted in Latin, German scholars in the German language, etc. For one able to use these languages this is a fine commentary.
The last main part of the book is called “Commentary.” Here Mayor gives his own paraphrase of each section of the Epistle of James, and then in paragraph form discusses the main concepts found in the passage. For example, in the first section (Chapter 1:1-15) there is a lengthy and helpful discussion of the difference between “trials” and “temptations.” This section of the Commentary could be used with profit by lay people.
Recommended for ministers, professors of theology, and seminary students, and those who are able to read both Greek and Latin.
Thoughts on Family Worship, by J. W. Alexander. Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990. 260 pages. $16.95, hardcover. [Reviewed by the Editor.]
This is a classic on family worship in the covenant by the 19th century Presbyterian pastor J. W. Alexander. Published in 1981 by Sprinkle Publications as part of the larger work, The Family, it is now made available as a separate volume by Soli Deo Gloria Publications. Not only does Alexander give detailed instruction as to what family worship should consist of and how it ought to be conducted, but he also urges covenant parents to this vital duty with powerful appeals to the glory of God, the well-being of the home, and the salvation of the children. Every newly married couple should have the book. Parents especially should read it yearly. This is not to suggest that family worship loses its importance where children are not present. Alexander tells the story, which rings perfectly true to life among us, of the old Scottish couple who continued their daily worship after the many olive plants that had grown up about their table had gone:
. . . til he and his old partner found themselves, just as at their outset in life, alone. But their family-worship continued as of old. At last his fellow-traveller left him. Still he carried on the worship by himself. So sweet was the memory of it in his father’s house, and so pleasant had he found it in his own, that he could not give it up. But as he sat in his silent habitation, morning and evening, his quivering voice was overheard singing the old psalm-tune, reading aloud the chapter, and praying as if others still worshipped by his side (p. 112).
The faithful, lively practice of family worship is a necessity. Alexander is right in regarding “the neglect of Family-Worship as springing from luke-warmness and worldliness in religion, and as a portentous evil of our day.”
God’s Wedding Band: Reflections on the Creation-Evolution Controversy, by Norman De Jong. Winamac, IN: Redeemer Books, 1990. 102 pages, $7.95, paper. [Reviewed by the Editor.]
This is a disappointing treatment of the controversy between creation and theistic evolution that is being fought in Reformed and evangelical churches at the present time. In the conflict, the professor at Trinity Christian College is on the side of the angels alright, not on the side of the monkeys. He identifies the real war as Satan’s attack on God’s Word in Genesis 1 and 2, rather than a conflict between genuine science and the doctrine of creation. He pleads for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11, with one notable exception.
But the book fails to take hold of the issues in the present controversy in any serious, thorough way. It asserts but does not demonstrate theistic evolution’s contradiction of basic biblical doctrine. It does not try to show how the apparent testimony of science might be harmonized with the contrary testimony of the Bible. It does not take up the arguments of Howard Van Till (to whom the book repeatedly refers) one by one, in order to expose and refute them. Even the reference to the crucially important scientific assumption of uniformitarianism is hardly more than that – a reference. Although De Jong correctly states that this assumption is contradicted by the Flood ofGenesis 7 and 8, he does not show how this is so, nor how the Flood might account for some of the apparent findings of science that the earth is very old. Similarly, although there is quotation of Scripture, there is virtually no interpretation.
One critically important weakness in De Jong’s defense of creation against theistic evolution is his position, or lack thereof, regarding the days of Genesis 1. First, he informs us that he is determined not “to get involved in a debate with anyone about the meaning of the word ‘day’ in Genesis” (p. 39). But then he goes on to assert that the matter of the days of Genesis 1, whether regular, twenty-four hour days or long periods, is “either problematic or inconsequential” (p. 41). In the meantime, he ridicules those who “insist that the days of creation, described for us in Genesis 1 and 2, are the twenty-four hour periods as we know them (emphasis his – DJE)” (pp. 39, 40).
The days of Genesis 1 are by no means “inconsequential” to the defense of the faith against theistic evolution. First, history has shown that the day-age theory taught in Reformed churches forty years ago softened up those churches for theistic evolution today. Second, how one explains the days of Genesis 1, each one of which is expressly limited by an evening and a morning, has a great deal to do with one’s literal or figurative interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 in their entirety. If the days are figurative, or symbolic, why not all the rest of Genesis 1 and 2? If De Jong may decide to take the days non-literally, why may not N. H. Ridderbos adopt the framework- hypothesis concerning the days? Why may Howard VanTill not take Adam and Eve non-literally? And third, one cannot make the days of Genesis long periods without coming into conflict with such truths as the entrance of death into the creation only after the disobedience of Adam; the reproduction of the species after their “kind”; and even the reality of Adam, made directly by the hand of God from the dust.
This is not a very helpful contribution to the struggle being waged for the doctrine of (biblical) creation in the Reformed community today.
Seven Men Who Rule the World From the Grave, by Dave Breese. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990. 235 pages, $14.95, hardcover. (Reviewed by the Editor)
The seven men are Charles Darwin; Karl Marx; Julius Wellhausen; Sigmund Freud; John Dewey; John Maynard Keynes; and Soren Kierkegaard. These men rule the modern world by their ideas. The areas of human life controlled by their ideas are biology (Darwin); economics, politics, and history (Marx); biblical studies (Wellhausen); psychology and psychiatry (Freud); education (Dewey); economics and government (Keynes); and theology and philosophy (Kierkegaard).
There is also a chapter on Albert Einstein. The author contends that Einstein’s theory of relativity concerning the physical universe has been taken over by the popular mind as a theory of relativism, particularly in the area of morals.
Breese gives a brief, simplified explanation of the world-shaking and world-dominating theories of these men in language that the layman with a high school education can grasp. The book serves a valuable purpose: It helps to make the world of the late 20th century understandable to the Christian. Since the thought of each of the seven men is hostile to the thought of Christ in Holy Scripture, the book arms the Christian for his, and the church’s, great struggle at the end of the ages. A first principle of all war is, “Know the enemy.”
The author is right, that “the essential battle of the world is exactly . . . a battle for the minds of men. The struggles that matter today and tomorrow are not fought with submarines, bombers, missiles, and moving armies” (p. 155). How a man’s thinking influences human life on the broad scale and results in trouble for Christ’s church is evident in John Maynard Keynes. Keynes advocated government intervention in a country’s economy, and deficit spending. The result is that
Keynes has succeeded in putting the nations of the world in the position where they must come together under a new form of international control. The final, stark necessity toward which all of the world is heading is an international economic community, an international management committee – yes, a world government (p. 201).
A lively young adult, or adult, Bible-study class could very profitably use the book for its program. Discussion at one meeting would be devoted to the thought of each of the seven men in succession. This would be followed the next week by a critique of each thinker in light of the teaching of Scripture.
The title may be misleading. The seven do control the ungodly world. This, of course, is the author’s meaning. But, in fact, seven men do not rule the world from the grave. There is One who rules the world. He rules from His seat on the right hand of God where He has gone in His resurrection from the grave. Through the preaching of the gospel by a faithful church, He is presently busy pulling down the strongholds of the theories of Darwin, Freud, Marx, and the others and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Himself (cf. II Cor. 10:4, 5).