Recommended reading

Monthly Book Reviews

Monthly book reviews by various authors.

Getting Through to God

Glenn A. Coon, Review and Herald, 1980, 126 pages, $4.95. Reviewed by N. R. Dower, Laurel, Maryland.

This is one in a series of books on prayer by a man who has done much in recent years to stimulate interest in prayer and study groups. It will prove a valuable aid to anyone interested in forming an effective, lasting prayer group.

Each of the fourteen chapters includes a study guide and helpful suggestions on how the study group can become a vibrant agency for the salvation of family, friends, and neighbors. The book probes such questions as, "Does God really care?" "Why do I have so many troubles?" and "Why are answers to my prayers so often delayed?" Coon points up the principles of communication with God, cooperating with God, and communicating with our neighbor. His special emphasis is on relating to God in order to be effective in redemptively relating to others.

Contemporary American Theologies: A Book of Readings

Deane William Ferm, ed., Seabury Press, New York, 1982, 374 pages, $15.95. Reviewed by Barry L. Casey, assistant professor of religion, Columbia Union College.

In his critical survey Perm provides an introductory chapter on Protestant theology from the turn of the century to the early 1960s that puts contemporary theology in its historical and sociological perspectives. He then turns to chapters on secular theology, black theology, South American liberation theology, feminist theology, evangelical theology, and Roman Catholic theology. He concludes with a chapter on the future of American theology in which he critiques the various theologies for contributing to the fragmenting of theological discussion and for failing to grasp the wider implications of the theological task.

While he is critical of their short comings in not adequately addressing questions of epistemology, Christian anthropology, and the doctrine of God, Ferm lauds the contemporary theologies for making clear the "inner history" of blacks, women, and other minorities.

Ferm's companion book of readings does an admirable job of covering the major figures and literature from the various theologies, although the omission of any discussion and literature of both process theology and the theology of hope is a serious lacuna.

For the busy pastor these books are helpful in summarizing the major trends in contemporary theology, providing a bibliography of significant literature in the field, and suggesting ways that American theology can meet the challenges of society.

Love Must Be Tough

Dr. James C. Dobson, Waco, Texas, Word Books, 1983, $10.95. Reviewed by Roger H. Fern's, pastor, Volunteer Park Seventh-day Adventist church, Seattle, Washington.

James Dobson has done it again! In the first eight short chapters he has conceptualized, organized, and crystalized the very intuitive ideas experienced counselors and pastors have fleetingly perceived in dealing with disintegrating marriages.

Dobson proposes a sequence of events that includes the discovery of a partner's unfaithfulness to the marriage vows: disbelief, grief, feelings of rejection, panic, anger, blaming, appeasement, clinging, begging, pleading, bargaining, and servility. Pastor, counselor, and friends quote scripture and offer advice that one should pray, hold steady, obey, submit, remain silent, and anticipate a miracle; These actions strip dignity and self-respect from the giver.

It won't work, Dobson declares—at least in most cases. Such a "grabbing" approach creates an atmosphere of suffocating entrapment for the deviant partner. Love is reduced to an obligation. Giving everything and requiring nothing encourages the deviance. He proposes "tough love" instead. God requires something in return for His love extended to repentant sinners: accountability.

"Tough love" pulls back from the deviant partner. It says, "You have the freedom to act as you wish. I respect your freedom, and I respect myself too." It places the responsibility for behavioral accountability with the deviant partner. Respect is reconstructed by "opening the cage door and letting the trapped partner out!" Dobson admits that this makes the "innocent" spouse vulnerable and there is no guarantee of success. But in his experience it avoids strangling the last bit of life from a relationship that still has a spark of love. "Genuine love demands toughness in moments of crisis," and more often than not, love wins!

You may not agree, you may not have the courage to carry the risk of failure, but you ought to read Dobson's description of the problem, hear his response, and then evaluate his method—tough love, accountability, mutual respect, forgiveness, and tender love!

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Monthly book reviews by various authors.

August 1984

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