THEY CHOSE TO LIVE: The Racial Agony of an American Church, by J. Herbert Gilmore, Jr.; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972; 206 pp., $2.95 (paper). [Reviewed by Prof. H Hanko]
Perhaps our readers will recall that about two years ago the news media in this country gave extensive coverage to an event in the First Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama. At that time the church refused to receive two blacks—a black woman and her daughter. This resulted in the resignation of the pastor and the formation of a new congregation.
This book, written by the pastor involved, details the events which preceded the split in the congregation which came at the time of the pastor’s resignation, led up to the split and culminated in the split. It contains the whole history of the controversy, a detailed description of the many meetings and the parliamentary maneuverings of both groups along with appendices which give verbatim some of the important speeches which were made by speakers on both sides of the issue.
The book, quite obviously, is intended to support Gilmore’s position in the controversy; but more importantly, it is intended to serve as a vivid illustration of what, in the author’s opinion, is the Church’s calling with respect to the race issue. Quite obviously the race issue lay at the heart of the controversy. This was the pastor’s contention, and this cannot be denied. However, many of his opponents insisted that the issue was also doctrinal unsoundness on the part of the pastor. While Gilmore denies this vehemently, the documents prove quite clearly that Gilmore was a theological “liberal” and denied key doctrines of Scripture, particularly the truth concerning the inspiration and authority of God’s Word.
It is for this reason also that the plea of the book that the Church become more deeply involved in the racial issues of the day is not sound. It is made from a liberal basis which teaches that God is the Father of all men and loves all, that Christ redeemed all and wills to save all.
I am not a segregationist and have little sympathy for some of the statements made by those who opposed Gilmore. But the solution to the race problem is not to be found in this book—though admittedly, this is the position taken by almost the entire church world.
The book makes for interesting reading, however, and gives insight into the bitter struggle which is going on over the race question in the American church world.
LABOR PROBLEMS IN CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE, edited by John H. Redenkop; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1972; $6.95. [reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko]
There are twenty-six different essays in this book written by almost as many different men and addressed to the problem of the Christian’s relation to labor unions.
It is but inevitable that, with such a large number of authors, there is wide variety both as to the quality of the essays and the particular viewpoint which the authors take as to the union problems which are discussed. Nevertheless, almost all the authors are, at least, united on this one point: secular unionism is good. The possible exceptions may be the essays by Gerald Vandezande, Executive secretary of the CLAC; Hendrik Hart from the AACS; Joel Nederhoed and Harry Antonides. These men favor strongly Christian Labor Organizations.
There is in the book a great deal of criticism of existing labor unions, though always within the context of their basic propriety. There are some essays which have almost nothing to do with Christian perspectives. If one is looking for a book which will give a basic and principal critique of secular labor unions, he will not find it here. The value of the book is in the fact that it presents a rather thorough description of the present status of *the labor movement. One who wishes to acquaint himself with this situation can learn a great deal from the book. For basic Christian perspectives one will have to go elsewhere.