Man: The Image of God h;,, G. C. Berkonwer (InterVarsity Press £3.50) Faith and Sanctification by G. C. Berkonwer (Inter-Varsity Press £2.35) The Providence of God by G. C. Berkonwer (Inter-Varsity Press f2.75)
The first of these books, now in its fourth printing, is the most ambitious of the three. In it the author, who is a professor in the Free University of Amsterdam, expounds his studies as to the relationship of Man to his
IONISE One of his contentions is Well sustained throughout the book — namely that the Bible normally treats of Man in his vertical relationship to God and is not concerned with Man as a biological or social unit,
But when he attempts to show how every aspect of this relationship is to be discovered
in the Bible, he overlays his argument with too many quotations, both scriptural and from his favourite authors who vary from time to time. Mostly he leans heavily on two modern Dutch Calvinists, Bavinck and Kuyper.
His chapter on the whole man does not lack interest, but the involved argumentation of the whole book makes reading difficult, and such values as it may possess, as an exercise in the theology of the Reformed Church, are not readily accessible except to the reader who is prepared to prescind the details of foliage to glimpse an overall view of the forest.
Much labour has gone to the making of this book, but it is no less laborious in the reading. Needless to say, Catholics will hold views at variance with many of the views expressed.
Faith and Sanctification, also in a fourth printing, makes lighter reading, but the author's style is often related to the obscure. The author is most at home in his style in the attempt to establish the sola fide basis of sancitification, but his best chapter is that derived from a reading of the "Imitation of Christ," which he seeks to explain in terms of his own theology.
He sometimes quotes papal teachings and, though he does not accept, them, he evaluates them not unfairly.
The Providence of God is a third printing. Catholic theologians will be most interested to read what the author has to say about miracles. He faces up to the problems, but his love of quotations seems to hinder him from arriving at conclusions.
Barth's denials of miracles and his attempts to demythologise the New Testament find little favour with the author, though he avoids open conflict. Of the three, this is the most readable book but it is still tot light reading; nonetheless, anyone who wants to study the Dutch Reform will wade through it — and not without profit.
By and large, these three volumes, which are attractively produced, contain some useful references and comments, but almost frenzied research that
afflicts non-Catholics contrasts
adversely with the calm and logical, ever consistent exposition of Catholic teaching.
Logic is perhaps, possible only in a Church which has an infallible magisterium, and the lack of it is clearly shown when private interpretation is the sole criterion of truth.
Not having seen the originals I cannot judge the translation, but it seems to be even, despite some few Americanisms, perhaps the use of Jehova where I would have used Yahweh tended to jar and even to date some of the argument,
Dom Peter Flood