Recommended Reading

Monthly book reviews

Monthly book reviews by various authors.


Em Griffin, Tyndale House, 336 Gundersen Drive, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, 1976, 225 pages.

Certainly every Christian minister is in the business of persuasion. For that reason alone, Em Griffin's book is a worthwhile addition to any minister's library. Griffin reviews much of the research of the past twenty years in persuasion and presents it in a style that reads more like a storybook than like the scholarly work it is. A weakness is that it is written so completely in story style that it suffers from a lack of references, with only thirty-five footnotes and references and no bibliography.

However, that criticism is minor, since the book was not written for scholars but for nonscholar Christians who use persuasion. Griffin examines specific techniques that aid the persuasion process, and gives illustrations to show how these techniques can apply to Christian persuasion.

The author develops his own model for persuasion, based upon a candlemaking analogy. He says the three steps are (1) melt, (2) mold, and (3) make hard.

Candles cannot be fashioned until the wax is melted and made soft. Likewise, individuals are not open to Christian messages until they have been melted, or made aware of their need of Christ.

Candle wax that is melted but unmolded is of no particular value. Likewise, Christian per suasion must not only point out needs but mold the person to the pattern of Jesus Christ.

One of the unique aspects of Griffin's book is its emphasis on the third step, making hard. Griffin shows how the soft, molded candle loses its shape quickly unless it is made hard. He relates this to Christianity by showing that often people who have accepted Christ have not been successfully churched.

This three-step process, especially the make-hard step, has some interesting implications for Christian evangelism. Christian evangelism concentrates much harder on winning the lost than on keeping the recently converted. One of the disappointing facets of evangelism has been the high dropout rate within the first year or two after baptism, and the book suggests at least one method of looking at this problem.

Griffin, who teaches communication at Wheaton College, has written a book that should do more than just sit on a minister's shelf.

Kermit Netteburg


Glen Gabert, Jr., Kennikat Press, Port Washington, New York, 1973, 139 pages, $6.95.

This is a well-written presentation of the development of the school system of the Roman Catholic Church from the time that it was operated for the benefit of the moneyed membership to the present time when it is available to the poorer class via free tuition; from the time that it was strictly a parish school, being the only one, through the era when it was a common school, to the time when it again was a parish school, serving as an alternate to the public school.

It depicts the various phases of development, describing the struggle between the liberal Irish immigrants and others whose objective was assimilation into the American nation and the Ger mans, whose desire was the maintenance of their own culture, using the schools to reach this objective. This disparity in views had a definite effect on the growth and type of Catholic schools. The intervention of the popes in these matters was not always felicitous, since they were unable, it appears, to understand the American way of thinking and doing.

As to the present, the author feels that Catholic schools have played an important part in the success of the church in the United States. In his opinion the present drop in enrollment in relation to. the increase in church membership is not due mainly to financial problems, but is caused instead by a lack of member interest in parochial education. The real problem, he says, is faith, not finance.

He points out the peril of Federal aid in the Catholic school system in the following words (page 110): "One of the necessary concomitants of government aid is public regulation. The more state supervision, the more Catholic schools will become like public schools. The more that parochial schools appear to be carbon copies of state institutions, the less Catholics will see the need to do without to support them." Walton J. Brown


James E. Massey, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, 116 pages, $4.95.

"A sermon is a product of in tense thought," writes James Massey. "[It is] a creation whose meanings involve more than what can be left to chance." —Page 90.

To underscore this conviction, the author, who is an associate professor of homiletics at Anderson Graduate School of Theology, views the sermon from five perspectives: as communication, since it is a formal speech that delivers God's message to men; as commentary, because most sermons are, in one way or another, commentaries on Biblical texts; as counsel, since sermons often aim to help struggling persons deal with real needs and life situations; as creation, because only sermons forged by individual imagination truly utilize the preacher's ability; and as charisma, the projection of feeling and personality in the actual sermonic event.

This book breathes with the notion that sermons should be alive, moving, a work of art. Though Massey places strong emphasis on the need for careful study in sermon preparation, he does not stop there, but sprinkles the pages with practical tips.

Most instructive to the re viewer were the chapters on the "Sermon as Creation" and the "Sermon as Charisma." Rarely does one find such clear analyses of the role of imaginative creativity and the thrust of personality (pathos) in preaching. The preacher must see, feel, and hear the scenes he endeavors to place before his hearers. He must also deliver his message with a force bathed in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the crucial extra in preaching.

Reading books can't do the work for us. But this one surely kindles new inspiration for the task of preaching.

Jerry Gladson


Andrews W. Blackwood, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michi gan, 1977, 192 pages, $3.45, pa perback.

How much a minister owes to men like Dr. Blackwood! To have known this scholar and trainer of preachers was a privilege. This reviewer's personal association with him is a happy memory. More than once he addressed our students at the Seminary before we transferred the university from Washington, D.C., to Berrien Springs. A more affable, dedicated teacher one could never hope to find.

He wrote many books in the field of practics, but this one—The Growing Minister—was his last. It was written during his retirement. He therefore drew on his many years as a pastor and later as a seminary professor at Princeton. The problems a minister must meet and overcome he knew from personal experience. And in this last work from his pen he approached them very realistically.

Here are a few of the chapter titles: ministerial ideals "The Highest Work in the World"; personality power—"Power in the Pulpit; Power in Public Worship; Power as a Pastor"; devotional reading—"Looking at God in His Word"; intercessory prayer—"Habits of Private Prayer"; bodily discipline "The Holiness of the Body"; ministerial sins—"Sins That Seem Common"; personal anxieties—"Causes and Escape From Anxieties"; chronic immaturity —"Years Full of Promise 25-40; Days of Retirement 70-85."

The Growing Minister contains excellent guidance for personal and professional growth. To pas tors, administrators, or evangelists, I sincerely recommend this excellent volume.

Roy Allan Anderson


Barbara Phipps, Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, Michigan, paper back, $3.95; cloth, $5.95.

We can use a few heroes. Granted that the Christian must draw his finest inspiration from the Greatest of heroes, it is still heartwarming to come in contact with people who set examples worthy of emulation. Burton Phipps, whose life story is told by his daughter, Barbara, in Test Tubes and Chalk Dust, is such a person. The book is a sensitive portrayal of a frail child's development through boyhood to a respected place in a highly competitive field. Phipps, who taught at and served as administrator for several academies, is best known for his long-time service as head of the biology department at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University.

Designated the "Mr. Chips of AU" by the alumni association, Burton Phipps used both sympathy and humor in his relation ships with students. He was known as a careful scholar, and his classroom was a lively place where the search for truth was uninhibited.

The book abounds in anecdotes, many of which could be used as sermon illustrations. Most moving is an incident that occurred at Burton's graduation from college. He could not afford a new suit and was fiercely embarrassed to wear his four-year-old blue serge. On class night he was amazed to see the class president, who was also his best friend, get up to give his speech, wearing the old pin-stripe suit he'd worn to class all year.

"Man, you have a new suit, don't you?" questioned the puzzled Burton at the end of the pro gram.

"Yes, it's up in my closet," said the friend. "I just thought I'd wear this old one and keep you company, Burt."

Bobbie Jane Van Dolson


Hardin and Helen Jones, Cambridge University Press, London and New York, 1977, 374 pages, $3.95 paper, $15.95, cloth.

Here's a book that is particularly valuable for pastors, teachers, and leaders who have responsibility for counseling youth—and adults—in the drug age in which we live.

It is nearly impossible to find a clear account of what we know of our mind, the functional part of the brain where we live with our perceptions and thoughts. Sensual Drugs provides such an understandable account.

This work also explains the basic value of our pleasure and pain reflexes and how they condition us, providing our motivation and capacity to think. It explains how these reflexes can be turned on artificially but only at a hazard to sensory deprivation.

Many have come to realize that the body cannot be well-developed without good diet and physical conditioning. Here is a book that explains the wisdom and benefit from natural use of the mind, and the erosion of mental powers by artificial stimulation of the pleasure mechanisms. The fact that all forms of artificial, chemical-induced pleasure cause loss of natural capacity for pleasure establishes why the term drug abuse is used in this connection.

The book is equally advantageous and interesting for any person who deals with the effects of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, the hallucinogenic drugs, or narcotics.

Special mention should be made of marijuana, because of the prevalence of misleading in formation on this subject. The Drs. Jones show that this drug can have devastating physical, mental, and emotional effects.

Sensual Drugs explains mental, and emotional effects.

Sensual Drugs will explain away the romantic notion that drugs are recreational outlets that might as well be enjoyed. Another benefit for the person who has already begun the cycles of conditioning by drug-taking is that a new understanding of effects and dependency will be gained that can lead to regaining a drug-free, happier life.

Francis A. Soper

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