BOOK reviews on Questions on Doctrine continue to come to our desk. Aside from one or two prejudiced reviewers, all have been favorable, some outstandingly so. But it is especially gratifying when one comes from a recognized authority such as Dr. Frank S. Mead. He is an incisive and stimulating commentator on the contemporary church scene, and for years has served as consulting editor to a number of large religious publishing houses and institutions. A Methodist by church affiliation, he is the author of a number of books, the latest being Handbook of Denominations in the United States. He has also been editor of such journals as Christian Herald and The Homiletic Review. Few men in the United States exert a wider influence in the field of religious reading. His evaluation should therefore prove an encouragement and inspiration.
In his review in Religion in Life, winter quarter, 1958-1959, he says:
Aside from being something of a publishing miracle (720 pages for $1.50!) this is an elaborate work of doctrinal clarification, written by a group of Seventh-day Adventist writers, counselors and editors. Lacking the imprimatur of their General Conference, it is not "official," but an explanation and expansion of their Fundamental Beliefs (pp. 11-18). There is nothing new about it, nor was there intended to be; it may win no converts, but it should correct many an error and unenlightened criticism on the part of those who have never quite understood what it is all about. For these it was written.
These Adventists, we gather, have more in common with conservative Christianity than most conservative Christians seem willing to admit; many of their items of faith have close parallels in orthodox Protestantism. But they take "one of two or more alternate views" on "certain controverted doctrines" (on salvation, immortality, baptism, hell and punishment, etc.), while on others they are still peculiarly Seventh-day (on the heavenly sanctuary, the investigative judgment, the interpretation of Revelation, and the unique position and contribution of Ellen G. White). The attempt to explain Mrs. White (she was neither prophet nor prophetess but a "messenger" with the gift of the Spirit of prophecy) will leave some still in confusion if not in doubt; but on the whole the book is refreshing in its clarity and candor. They know Whom they have believed, and what, and why. They show a freedom of interpretation and expression which will surprise many beyond the pale, commanding respect if not agreement. It is one of the ablest and most comprehensive books available in the field of denominational doctrine and, thank heaven and the editors, it is actually readable. Even the layman can enjoy it!
While Doctor Mead has reservations regarding some areas of our theology, yet his frank statement that Adventists have "more in common with conservative Christianity" than many have hitherto believed is important. We are sure our readers will appreciate this forthright appraisal, and the reviewer's recognition that this book in no way compromises our faith.
R. A. A.