God's Design: Focusing on Old Testament Theology
Elmer A. Martens, Baker Book House, 1981, 368 pages, $12.95. Reviewed by Herbert Kiesler, associate director, Biblical Research Institute.
In the light of the current crisis in Old Testament theology, Martens' book invites us to consider a new approach. Unlike those who distinguish between various theological strands in the Old Testament, Martens sets out to prove that there is but a single central message in the Old Testament—God's design for building the kingdom on earth as in heaven. This design incorporates four essential components: deliverance, community, the knowledge of God, and the abundant life. This fourfold design, according to Mar tens, is articulated in a passage such as Exodus 5:22-6:8.
The author sees God's design operative in the New Testament, as well, with a certain progression or unfolding God's purpose throughout Old and New Testaments with theological implications for today's believer.
Martens' book is to be commended for its Biblical orientation. On the other hand, we question the author's insistence upon a single or central theme in the Old Testament. Such an approach can hardly do justice to the varieties of Old Testament viewpoints. A more fundamental problem lies with Martens' choice of Exodus 5:22- 6:8 as the key to the content of the Old Testament, for Martens leaves us in doubt as to whether another passage could serve the same purpose.
A Theology of Preaching
Richard Lischer, Abingdon, Nashville, Tennessee, 1981, 112 pages, $4.95, paper. Reviewed by Norman A. Yeager, pastor, Plymouth, Michigan.
This book on the relationship of theology and preaching will renew the desire to preach theologically sound sermons in the light of the Bible's teaching concerning the role of preaching. Lischer builds a sound theology of preaching based on the centrality of the Resurrection—the Resurrection gives authority to preaching and makes it possible to call men to the hearing of the gospel.
The oral word of God is a word of power. It is through His Word that God accomplishes His ends. Thus, it is important that the preacher understands the power of preaching. This is why the written sermon does not have the power of the spoken one. The sermon is "the word of God for a particular time, place and people" (page 79). This means there must be commitment on the part of the preacher. He must understand that the sermon works; not always at the moment it is preached, but as people hear at some point are confronted with situations that will bring forth responses in harmony with the Word of God.
The Christian in an Age of Sexual Eclipse
Michael Brawn and George Alan Rekers, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 1981, 224 pages, $6.95. Reviewed by Thomas A. Davis, acting editor of Your Life and Health.
This wide-ranging book written by a pastor-psychologist team, goes beyond the problems of sex and looks into the spiritual, philosophical, political, and psycho logical forces that have shaped the sexual attitudes and beliefs of America.
The authors hold that the sex abuse and perversion found in our present culture is the result of subtle (and not so subtle) forces. In their examination of these forces, the well-nigh universal philosophy of humanism is indicted. They also fault the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) movement, and the National Organization for Women (NOW) as influences tending to pervert sex and the home.
Several chapters are devoted to analyzing Biblical statements touching the question of sex. The authors show that Paul is often misunderstood and accused of sexism because of some of his observations in this area. In a concluding remark upholding Biblical standards of sex, the authors point out that "historically every alternate to biblically based morality has failed. Not only has each failed, but cumulatively, they have had a disastrous global impact on the well-being of human life" (p. 186).
Passages of a Pastor
Cecil R. Paul, Zondervan, 1981, 128 pages, $6.95. Reviewed by Myron Widmer, pastor, Walla Walla, Washington.
If tensions of the ministry are harrassing you, you are not alone! Psychologist Paul has vividly captured in numerous casescenarios the inherent stress factors in the progressive stages of a pastor's life. Dr. Paul concludes that tensions arise from the pastor's attempts to fulfill Christ's com mission to a sin-sick and resistant people and to fulfill his own needs, along with those of his family. Caught in the middle of all three, the author suggests a penetrating self-evaluation identifying personal needs, sources of pressures, and patterns for coping.
The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament). F. Charles Fensham, Eerdmans, 1982, 256 pages, $12.95.
The Daily Study Bible—Old Testament. (Genesis, vol. 1; Genesis, vol. 2; Exodus; Leviticus; Samuel; Psalms, vol. I; and Daniel now available.) Westminster Press; 1981, 1982; $10.95/$5.95.
How to Operate a Cassette Tape Ministry. John Hack, Broadman Press, 1981, 128 pages, $3.95, paper.
Managing Today's Church. Robert N. White, editor, Judson Press, 1981, 192 pages, $12.95.