At this season of the year our minds are turned with more emphasis to the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross. A number of fresh, new books recently crossed my desk pertaining to the last week of the earthly life of Jesus, the meaning of His death upon the cross, the words He spoke, and what they mean to us in the twentieth century. Some chapters need to be read with caution and we may not care to use some of the titles given to specific days. Nevertheless, there are some interesting contemporary illustrations, devotional thoughts and spiritual truths, and a graphic portrayal of the last scenes of Christ's life contained therein. Among these books of merit are the following:
Christ's Words from the Cross, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, 120 pages, $1.95.
The chapters in this book are selected messages compiled from Spurgeon's published sermons of more than half a century of his ministry. This is the first time Spurgeon's thoughts pertaining to Calvary and the death of Christ have been available in one volume. These pages fairly ring with the victorious message of the gospel and the claims of Christ upon the sons of men. One could consider this book somewhat of a source book, a valuable devotional volume concerning forgiveness, salvation, affection, anguish, suffering, victory, and contentment.
Steps to Crucifixion, Paul P. Fryhling, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, 117 pages, $1.95.
Paul P. Fryhling is pastor of the large First Covenant church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his book Steps to Crucifixion he seeks to bring us afresh to the cross and invites us to consider anew the redeeming sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Mr. Fryhling presents old truths in a somewhat different way. The style is quite penetrating; the material content of his messages is sometimes practical and sometimes philosophical. He has a sincere love for his Saviour and desires to lead the reader step by step through the experience of the crucifixion. The actual steps to crucifixion are described in the first eight chapters of this book. The final chapter is an epilogue, a song of certainty.
Seven Days That Changed the World, Wallace T. Viets, Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1962, 126 pages, $2.00.
Seven sermons describe the event that occurred during the seven greatest days of history—the last seven days of the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Wallace Viets does well in adapting the eternal truths involved in the closing scenes of our Saviour's life, and relates them to modern behavior, emphasizing a special message for each one of the seven days. These seven sermons were delivered at the First Methodist church, New Haven, Connecticut, where Viets is the pastor.
Seven Last Words, John A. Holt, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, 95 pages, $1.50.
John A. Holt is pastor of the Lutheran Rice Memorial Baptist church at Silver Spring. Maryland. This book contains eight sermons that he preached in his present church. He invites us to "come again and take our places with the multitude and observe our Lord on the cross again. We have not come to talk; we have come to listen; we have not come to receive approval of some theory, but have come to receive the revelation of God."
O Angel of the Garden, G. Hall Todd, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, 96 pages, $1.50.
The author of this book, Dr. G. Hall Todd, is a successor to Dr. Clance Macartney in the pulpit of the Arch Street church in Philadelphia, and is the author of a number of books pertaining to the cross, the death of Christ, His resurrection, and the scenes, words, and acts surrounding these events. Within the pages of this little volume can be found background reading for sermon ideas and illustrations. It is also suitable for devotional reading. The title of the book is taken from his first chapter, based on the text Luke 22:43, "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." The author is quite profuse with his illustrations from works of literature. Some are quite acceptable but some seem to miss the mark. He is an able writer and presents much that is of value.
The Many-Sided Cross of Jesus, Allan Walker, Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee, S2.00.
Allan Walker is a native of Sydney, Australia, and currently superintendent of the largest Methodist church in Sydney. He is a well-known writer and speaker. In this book he endeavors to reveal how Christ is the reconciler and mediator between man and God. He wants us to understand how we may identify ourselves with the suffering of Christ in our day, and he desires to clarify the meaning of the cross for the twentieth century. "As we dare to grapple again with the meaning of the death of Jesus, I want to make a simple claim. The cross of Jesus is a many-sided cross. No insight, no doctrine, no school of thought, can possibly express the whole truth of God revealed in the death of His Son. All bring some partial insight into its meaning. The more angles from which we can view the cross the more adequately shall we penetrate the mystery of it."
Beneath the Cross of Jesus, A. Leonard Griffith, Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1962, paper back, $1.00.
Arthur Leonard Griffith is now serving as minister of the City Temple in London. Perhaps I can best give you an idea of the book by quoting a few lines from it. "The church will never recover its ancient power until we pay heed to the New Testament and restore the cross to its central place in our faith. Christianity may appeal to semi-neurotics but only Christianity capable of capturing the imagination and loyalty of intelligent, red-blooded men is a Christianity with the cross at its heart and center." He then proceeds to call for a vital faith, a religion of pardon and grace. The chapter titles are rather different: "The Scandal of the Cross"; "The Magnetism of the Cross"; "The Judgment of the Cross"; "The Triumph of the Cross"; "The Glory of the Cross"; "The Challenge of the Cross"; "The Paradox of the Cross"; "Beyond the Cross."
This Faith We Live By, James H. Jauncey, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, 157 pages, $2.50.
This is one of the most practical books on Christian living that I have ever read, and it will surely find a response in the hearts of all who read it.
Dr. James H. Jauncey, who is at present the minister of the First Christian church, El Paso, Texas, and carries several academic degrees, reveals a deep understanding of human nature. In this book he demonstrates the power of Christian faith in the life that is surrendered to God.
Obedience to the truths and practical counsel given in this book would bring profit and spiritual enrichment to the life. Many simple and down-to-earth illustrations of living the Christian life are demonstrated.
The author shows that even in these days of uncertainty and confusion one can live a full, successful life of assurance and hope. He discusses unhesitatingly, among other subjects, those of worldliness, human relationships, divorce, sex, suffering, the church, repentance, forgiveness, guidance, and the nature of God.
The chapter on "The Transforming Presence" has many statements that stir the heart and bring a desire for real friendship with Christ and draws one closer to God.
'Abundant living," says Dr. Jauncey, "is only possible through a God-permeated personality" and this can only be achieved by allowing the Holy Spirit to come into the life and transform it. God cannot give us this Spirit-filled life. We have first to remove the barriers that would prevent the Holy Spirit from accomplishing His purpose.
Running through the book is the assurance that God has a plan for every life, and I feel that This Faith We Live By can be read with pleasure and profit by worker and laity alike.
J. Ina White
Jesus Came Teaching, George H. Holwager, Christian Board of Publication, Missouri, 143 pages.
In this book the chapter entitled "How Is Sunday Different?" is one of the most frank and honest discussions of the subject that I have seen in recent months. This paper-covered treatise is volume 9, part 1, of a series entitled "Bethany Graded Youth Books." It could prove a useful book in your library.
For example, in speaking of Jesus and the Sabbath, the author says: "Jesus did not teach anything about worship on Sunday, or how to keep Sunday. He observed the Jewish Sabbath day, which began at sundown on Friday and closed at sundown on Saturday. The Sabbath day still comes at that time. It has never been changed."—Page 61.
That is a succinct but clear statement of the traditional teaching of the denomination known today as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), for it has consistently denied through the years that there is any connection between Sunday observance and the seventh-day Sabbath or the fourth commandment of the Decalogue.
While the author does not attempt to show when or how Sunday observance by Christians began, he does remark: "In the fourth century the Roman government made Sunday an official holiday, but Rome did not create the day as some have claimed." —Page 64. Also: "Eventually the day was legally designated as the Lord's Day."—Page 65.
Here is a significant statement from the same writer: "The Sabbath was, and still is, primarily a day of rest. But the Christian Sunday, or 'Lord's Day' as it is called, was not set up specifically as a day of rest. From the beginning it has been a day of worship of God and service to those in need. In other words, Sunday is a day set aside to meet the needs of Christians to worship and fellowship together. . . . Christians refrain from their usual work on Sunday whenever it is possible so they may have time to study together, worship together, and serve together in the name of Christ."—Page 64.
The other five sections of the book also contain thought-provoking reading matter penned for youth of the teen-age group. R. L. Odom
Your God and Your Gold, Leslie B. Flynn, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 137 pages, $2.50.
This is a book on the promotion of tithes and offerings. It is interspersed with apt illustrations, stories, poems, and wholesome wit. It points out that tithing makes man a partner with God. It tells how the men of old tithed, and suggests that if we do not tithe, maybe God has His own way of taking the tithe in the form of depression or war.
While we would not agree with all the author's ideas and doctrines, he gives a lot of good pointed counsel on tithing. He says: "God has a system. Tithing (and tithing plus) is God's way of financing His interests. How much money would a public school system receive if it depended on the passing of a hat at a local PTA meeting to foot its bills? How would our Federal Government make out if it derived its income to carry on national activities by taking up a collection at Memorial or Independance Day parades? The government operates on astronomical figures received in systematic channels. Is God less systematic or businesslike? God has a system. One tenth of our income should go immediately to His work. . . . Some folks who try to raise money for the church by various devices are trying to evade their responsibility to reach down in their own pockets and shell out ten per cent of their income. . . . Failure to tithe causes God's work to fall into disrepair and disrepute."
The author also states that the main purpose of tithing is not to secure the tithe but to secure the tither. Giving is not just a way of raising money, it is God's way of raising men. Tithing also cuts right through the core of covetousness. Covetousness is a deceptive sin, and is the tenth commandment. The best test of stewardship is not how much we give but how little we keep for ourselves. A penny can blot out the sun if held close enough to the eye. Money can eclipse the Sun of Righteousness. It is only as we tithe that we are acknowledging that God is owner of all that we enjoy, and it is only as we give back a portion of that which rightfully belongs to Him that we prepare ourselves for His kingdom.
This book will be helpful in meeting the different arguments against tithe paying.
The Patriarchal Age, Charles F. Pfeiffer, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, 128 pages, $2.95.
The author is professor of Old Testament at Gordon Divinity School, has taught in a number of Evangelical Bible schools, and also served as pastor. This book is a companion volume to his previously published Between the Testaments. These books are the first of a series of eight books on Old Testament history. The Patriarchal Age is recommended for students, pastors, and Bible teachers.
The following chapters reveal the completeness of such a course of study: "The Bible Patriarchs: History or Fancy?"; "Patriarchal Organization"; "Men and Tribes"; "The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob"; "The Peoples Among Whom the Patriarchs Lived"; "The Cities of the Patriarchs"; "Canaan During Patriarchal Times"; "An Episode in World Politics"; "The Religion of the Canaan-ites"; "The Daily Lives of the Patriarchs"; "Social and Business Life in Patriarchal Times"; "The God Whom the Patriarchs Worshiped"; "The Patriarchal Institutions"; "The Theology of the Patriarchs"; "The Patriarchs and Divine Revelation"; "Law in Patriarchal Times"; and "The Literature of the
Patriarchal Age." The wTork is suited to textbook use as a unit of Old Testament history. I have read it and found it both interesting and informative. Bible instructors will find The Patriarchal Age a most practical book for self-instruction. They will find it a ready source book also.
Louise C. Kleuser
The Pastor's Hospital Ministry, Richard K. Young, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, $2.50.
This book should prove to be useful to all our ministers because all have service to perform in hospitals. More and more the place of the triple team of nurse, doctor, and minister is becoming recognized in the healing profession.
The Pastor's Hospital Ministry is a valuable help in guiding a pastor's ministry to the sick. It is a practical volume, giving suggestions and counsel regarding hospital visitation and the needs of various kinds of patients.
The minister should learn how to serve most effectively on the healing team and how to work with all hospital personnel. He should also discover sound techniques of counseling.
This book contains a chapter on a verbatim report of a counselor's visit with a patient. It also answers such questions as How should prayer and the Bible be used in hospital visiting? How does the pastor reach the patient's deep spiritual needs without offending him? What rules apply to a closed hospital door? How does a pastor minister to the dying? How do morbid and normal grief differ?
I can heartily recommend this book both for careful reading and for reference.
You and Your Grief, Edgar N. Jackson, Channel Press, Inc., Great Neck, New York, 1961, 64 pages, $1.50.
Dr. Jackson is the author of a similar book, Understanding Grief, which is considered by physicians, psychologists, and ministers to be a classic. In his more recent work, You and Your Grief, he counsels understandingly the reader who is grieving over a death in the family. He skillfully deals with emotional and frustrating problems and gently suggests how these may be worked out. "A Quiet Talk With You," "Don't Be Afraid of Your Feelings," "The Roots of Grief," "What Not to Do," "When Grief Gets Out of Hand," "How to Help a Grieving Child," "The Funeral," "Let Yourself Be Helped," and "Facing the Future," are some of the interesting chapter headings. As I reviewed this book I remembered how often in my personal work I had wished for just such sensible counsel to bring to bereaved ones. Personal workers will especially appreciate this tool. Chaplains in their work will welcome its Christian counsel also.
Louise C. Kleuser