CRISIS IN THE CHURCH. A STUDY OF RELIGION IN AMERICA
Andrew M. Greeley, The Thomas More Press, Chicago, III., 1979, 264 pages, $14.95.
Organized religion in the U.S.A. faces a crisis. While the fundamentalist denominations flourish, the mainline churches are declining. The crisis is especially acute for the Roman Catholic Church. Sunday mass attendance has fallen precipitously since Vatican Council II. There have been numerous resignations from the priesthood and religious life. Vocations have declined markedly.
Crisis in the Church examines several theories for the present, dramatic decline in Catholic religious practice in the U.S.: influences such as materialism, paganism, secularism, apathy,, sensuality, and mass media. Father Greeley contends that none really accounts for the current emergency.
The purpose of Greeley's new book is to attack the Catholic Church's recent campaign of evangelization in its attempt to get Catholics back to the church. This, in the renowned sociologist's opinion, is a simplistic approach. He invites his church to face the more challenging question of why so many are disenchanted with institutional Catholicism. With pages of graphs and statistics he attacks five sets of "adversaries"—the intellectuals, the charismatics, the Catholic religious leaders, the secularists, and those who blame all the Catholic Church's problems on its leaders—in which category he places himself.
Greeley's basic conclusion is that religious enthusiasm and behavior are closely related to family intimacy. The Catholic Church's teachings on sex, chiefly the ban on birth control, have been largely rejected by Roman Catholics who have lost confidence in their spiritual leaders. It is Greeley's contention that until the Catholic Church regains its credibility in that basic area it will hardly attract people who have turned it off.
Crisis in the Church is admittedly a scholarly book, but Greeley's attempt to understand the reasons that lie behind America's disenchantment with organized religion can be of real help to the serious preacher and minister.
A GUIDE TO PASTORAL CARE
R. E. O. White, Picketing and Inglis, Ltd., London, 1976, £7.50.
White is too modest when he describes his book as "a primer for aspirants . . . intended for those entering upon pastoral responsibility." His book is much more than a primer.
Pastoral roles and functions have changed rapidly in the past fifteen years. New problems such as drug addiction and perverse moral abberations have to be confronted. Old problems have assumed new forms. Some, such as depression, are now more common than they were. Much of the material that has been produced to meet the changing pastoral scene has been inadequate and in many cases trite. Such strictures will not be passed upon this book. There is not a single topic of importance in the work of pastoral ministry that is not constructively handled. No pastor, novice or experienced, will find this book profitless. Many readers will find the last chapter, "The Pastor's Care of Himself," worth the price of the book. Certainly a pastor's wife will be encouraged and helped by reading it.
R. E. O. White is the principal of Cliff College in England and a man of wide experience as preacher, pastor, teacher, and author.
SCRIPTURAL WORSHIP AIDS
Leroy Koopman, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1978, 83 pages, $2.95.
This little volume, a collection of Scripture passages, can be very helpful to the pastor in his preparation for worship services. Appropriate portions of the Scriptures have been grouped under such headings as invocations, calls to worship, the law of God, offertory sentences, prayers of confession, assurances of pardon, readings for communion, and benedictions. The busy pastor will appreciate this easy access to the passages given.
RUGGED HEART: THE STORY OF GEORGE I. BUTLER
Emmett K. Vande Vere, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, 1979, $3.95, paperback.
Dr. Emmett K. Vande Vere, professor emeritus of history at Andrews University and a well-known historian among Seventh-day Adventists, has contributed several interesting volumes in the past several years. His present biography of George I. Butler, a former president of the General Conference, is a well-researched and well-written study of a man who led the General Conference during its formative years.
One of the benefits of Vande Vere's biography is its ability not only to portray Butler's work but also to review the interaction between Butler and the other leaders. His insights and references to James White, another General Conference president and a very strong individual, are most helpful.
Even though helpful footnotes are provided, an index and a bibliography would have added to the value of the book.