Master Preachers, Harold L. Calkins, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 1960, 128 pages, $2.50.
Seldom have I read a book that has held my interest and inspired me as did Harold L. Calkins' Master Preachers. It is the kind of book one will not lay down until he has finished the last word. This is more than the story of twenty great preachers; it is a biographical X-ray into the lives of great men. It is a. gripping portrayal of their personal lives and habits. It discusses their spiritual concepts and reveals the secret of their evangelical power. The author's purpose is to take us into the preacher's home, into his study, and into his emotions. When did he get up in the morning? What were his eating and sleeping habits? What about his prayer and study life? How did he get ideas and prepare his sermons? What commentaries did these pulpit giants read? What books influenced their lives the most?
Reading this book is like having a personal visit with these men in their living rooms. It was of special interest to learn the secret of a man who could preach twelve to thirteen times a week for more than thirty years in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, baptizing 14,000 people! What enriched that man's spiritual life? Some of these men had a wild and dissolute youth—a shoddy background for a future minister. But marvelous are the ways of God with those who are willing to be emptied of self and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Another of these pulpit masters preached for 63 years after his ordination. He is stated as saying, "I would rather bring the poorest woman in the world to the feet of Jesus than I would be made Archbishop of Canterbury." And he did bring thousands to those nail-scarred feet.
Another man whose personal life is revealed in this book preached for 40 years in one church, drawing an audience of 3,000 for each service. It was said that his hearers went forth radiant with hope and trust after listening to his sermons.
Master Preachers is a well-written book. At the close of each chapter is a summary and a conclusion, and the closing chapter summarizes the whole book in an attractive way. There is also an extensive bibliography.
In one of his closing paragraphs, Calkins says: "The witnesses of this study attest that an educated ministry need not mean the loss of evangelical zeal. Finney and Dwight, keen-minded scholars and college presidents as they were, both conducted revivals in which many young men dedicated themselves to the ministry. Time should thus be dedicated to prayer and deeply spiritual books as well as to intellectual pursuits. The works of great preachers and their biographies should stir within the heart of the preacher the hope that in him also is at least a germ of creative ability akin to theirs."
Harold Calkins is pastor-evangelist of the Arcadia, California, Seventh-day Adventist church. The staff of the Ministerial Association highly recommends this book for workers in all phases of the Master's vineyard. It will bring to the reader "a unique stimulus to a deepening and enrichment of his spiritual life."
The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Leon Morris (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 249 pages, 1958, $3.00.
This series of commentaries by various scholars is a commendable attempt to put into the hands of readers that which avoids "the extremes of being unduly technical or unhelpfully brief." The author, Leon Morris, vice-president of Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia, has ably succeeded in his objective. This 250-page volume is a verse-by-verse commentary that captures the objective of Paul's Epistle. Not only will the exegete appreciate the author's clear analysis, but the homiletic student will receive much help from this commentary.
Most commentaries are large, ponderous volumes, and quite often they become unduly heavy reading because of the constant reference to other authorities. This treatise is refreshingly different and can be read with relish. His comments on some of the better-known chapters, such as the more excellent way of love as set forth in chapter 13, are full of new and compelling thoughts.
His statement of the great resurrection chapter is sound and scholarly. It is heartening to find a sound evangelical commentary accepting the simplicity of Biblical phraseology in the description of man's mortality. He refers to "sleep" as a beautiful way of referring to death, and his argument is devastating for those who press the point that Paul was expecting the Lord to come during his lifetime. He says: "Some have felt that Paul means that the second coming will take place within his own lifetime. But this is to press his words illegitimately. The same process applied to vi. 15 would show that he would then be dead. . . . The plain fact is that Paul did not know when these events would take place, and nowhere does he claim to know."
Reaching the climax of the apostle's song of victory over death, the author emphasizes that "it is not death in itself that is the harmful thing. It is death that is 'the wages of sin' (Rom. vi. 23) that matters. . . . Where sin is pardoned, death has no sting."
It is disappointing to find such a well-trained theologian exposing himself to the criticism of scholarship, however, which he certainly does in the closing chapter where the apostle mentions the first day of the week. Dr. Morris says: "This is the first piece of evidence to show that the Christians habitually observed that day, though there is no reason to doubt that it was their custom from the very first." He is aware that many scholars from Chrysostom down to the present—such stalwarts as Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Cranmer among the Reformers, to say nothing of the many modern translators—emphasize that Paul was not referring to a church collection, but rather to the setting aside of a gift to be stored "at home," "at one's house," et cetera. Morris makes only brief reference to this, but in doing so he reveals not only a regrettable bias but a clear tendency to exegesis, not uncommon even among scholars.
We heartily recommend this book as having much of real value.
R. Allan Anderson
Christ Our Example, James Stalker, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960, 332 pages, $2.95.
This 1960 edition of Imago Christi is a reprint of the 1908 British publication, then its nineteenth edition. James Stalker, a graduate of Edinburgh University, served many years as a pastor in the Free Church of Scotland. His widely circulated evangelical literature has appeal for originality of method, clearness of style, and comprehensiveness.
Christ Our Example is Christian ethics with a practical and devotional objective. Each chapter portrays some phase of the Lord's behavior. It reveals Him in the home, in the state, in society, in the church; as a student of the Scriptures, a man of prayer, a soul winner, a teacher, preacher, controversialist, and in many other important aspects of His life. Each chapter presents provocative issues that suggest special challenges to the reader. Some chapters enter into lofty thinking commanding further meditation. There are also a number of chapters with heart-warming appeal to follow the Great Exemplar.
Louise C. Kleuser
The Windows of Heaven, Ruth Gordon Short, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, 1960, 127 pages, $2.00.
Ruth Gordon Short is the wife of Dr. James Short, one of our Seventh-day Adventist physicians, at present serving a short term in Korea where he is relieving another doctor on furlough. She has authored several well-accepted Reformation books intended to acquaint young people with the issues of the Protestant cause during the sixteenth century. Ruth Short has a talent for writing, but considers her first responsibility to the Adventist cause. She speaks sincerely, right from her heart. Knowing well the fruitage of the ideals of this interesting family of missionaries, leaders in our medical, ministerial, and educational work, we recommend this beautiful classic to our workers generally.
Very skillfully the author of Windows of Heaven has brought to the reader's attention the heavenly Bible principles here complemented with the Spirit of Prophecy. The book's theme is Christian stewardship. We question if in our ranks at present we have a similar book that so attractively and appealingly sets forth the heavenly values of means and time. It is couched in approaches of wisdom, yet speaks without restraint to believers and unbelievers. This is the type of book a Seventh-day Adventist may share with his relatives and friends. For ministers and Bible instructors, this booklet may become a ground breaker for presenting the Bible principles of Christian stewardship. The author has drawn some phenomenal examples of the use and abuse of heavenly blessings.
Louise C. Kleuser