Books and Things 4
1. Politics and Religion in the Early Republic: Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate, edited by Daniel L. Dreisbach (University Press of Kentucky) contains the cogent sermon preached in 1833 by Jasper Adams of the Protestant Episcopal Church, as well as response by luminaries of the age, including John Marshall and James Madison. The sermon and its copious notes (the text of the notes is longer than the sermon) furnish a striking parallel to the issues of today's church-state debate. Adams was deeply troubled by the secularization spawned by Jacksonian democracy and reminded his readers of the deeply Christian roots of the American Founding. His notes feature a goldmine of citations from the early state constitutions proving their dedication to Christianity. The work, beautifully printed and bound, with exquisite type, also contains a secular review published in 1835 criticizing Adams's sermon, as well as Adams's obituary and funeral sermon, and the editor's insightful introduction and epilogue. The index is quite extensive. No one after reading this work will ever be convinced the Founders were, by and large, secularists bent on undermining a Christian society; they may have been naive at some points; they were not disingenuous. Jasper Adams supported the legal disestablishment of any particular Christian church in the nation, but not the legal disestablishment of the Christian religion. This is the present reviewer's position. Other recent works expressing this general viewpoint include M. E. Bradford's Religion and the Framers (Plymouth Rock Foundation [P.O. Box 577, Fisk Hill on Water Street, Marlborough, NH 03455], 1991) and A Worthy Company (Plymouth Rock, 1982); John Eidsmoe's Christianity and the Constitution (Baker, 1987); and Gary Amos's Defending the Declaration (Providence Foundation [P.O. Box 6759, Charlottesville, VA 22906], 1994). All are worth serious attention.
2. Peter Hammond's Faith Under Fire in Sudan (Frontline Fellowship, P. O. Box 74, Newlands 7725, South Africa) relates the alternately informative, scintillating, horrifyingbut always grippingstory of the war-torn African Sudan and of the efforts of Frontline Fellowship to take the message of comprehensive, life- and world-transforming Christianity to Africa's "frontlines" of military conflict. The paperback outlines Sudan's history, then plunges into a narrative of the war there todaythe Islamic national government prosecuting genocide against the largely Christian South. The chapter "Corruption and DeceptionThe UN in Sudan" exposes the hypocrisy and duplicity of the United Nations and its assistance of the tyrannical Islamic North. Photographs enhance the value of the book. Please write Frontline Fellowship for a copy, and learn what is really happening to the church in Sudan and what can be done to fight for and advance the Faith there.
3. I cannot recommend highly enough the children's works generated by Inheritance Publications, P.O. Box 154, Neerlandia, Alberta, Canada TO6 1RO, toll-free order and fax line 1-800-563-3594. No one can say with any truth that there are no distinctively Reformed books for covenant children; Inheritance Publications is capably filling that need. My wife has read almost the entire book Augustine: the Farmer's Boy of Tagaste by P. De Zeeuw to our children, who are enthralled by the well-told biography of this church father. Inheritance has recently released two delightful musical compact disksSing to the Lord: The Children of Asaph Sing the Psalms of David on the Tunes of John Calvin, as well as God's Truth Abideth Still: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns. I urge all Christian parents to write or fax Inheritance Publications for a catalog. You will not be disappointed. I should mention that Inheritance publishes not merely children's books. Titles like The Covenantal Gospel and Covenant and Election whet the appetite of any thoughtful Reformed adult.
4.The Godly Family: Essays on the Duties of Parents and Children (Soli Deo Gloria [717 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222], 1993) contains sermons or other treatments of issues relating to the family by old-time Calvinists like George Whitefield ("The Great Duty of Family Religion"), Arthur Hildersham ("Disciplining Children"), and Philip Doddridge ("Four Sermons on the Religious Education"), plus several others. It is a valuable work for Christian parents. More modest but still useful is John Ashbrook's Family Fundamentals (from a fundamentalist perspective; Here I Stand relates in easy-to-understand language the fundamentals of economics and the American economy, debunking socialism and interventionism along the way.
8. R. J. O'Rourke's works are to be recommendedand readwith caution: as a former dope-smoking, conscientious-objecting, long-haired liberal-turned-libertarian, his criticisms of civil government are usually on target, though his scatological and ribald language often goes over the edge, and, more seriously, his libertarianism implies license. Nonetheless, his books are a delight. Get Give War a Chance, All the Trouble in the World, and Holidays in Hell.
9. Almost any of Leon Morris's works is worth owning. The conservative NT exegete and theologian produced what may be the most rigorous exegetical defense of traditional Protestant (i.e., Biblical) soteriology in his The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Eerdmans, still in print). Obtain also his The Cross in the New Testament and New Testament Theology. His work breathes a reverence for the word of God and the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
10. Those interested in great hymns in new settings and original music written and produced from a thoroughly Reconstructionist perspective and performed with a modern sound can obtain these from Frank Ulle, P.O. Box 1181, Fairport Harbor, OH 44077. Get two new cassette tapes of a double album, "On Earth as it is in Heaven." Both for a $15 donation.
11. Eric Hoffer's The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Harper, 1951) is still in print. It should be. It details with razor-sharp and dispassionate accuracy what makes "true believers" in mass movements "tick," including self-deception, hatred, fanaticism, imitation, and suspicion. He indiscriminately classifies Christianity among mass movements like communism and fascism; but what the book reveals, despite the author's intent, is the extent to which mass movements are secular inversions (and perversions) of historic Christianity. While I cannot endorse all its conclusions, Hoffer's book, along with his Reflections on the Human Condition, is a treasure.
12. Election Day Sermons, edited by David Hall of the Covenant Foundation (190 Manhattan Ave., Oak Ridge TN 37830, ) gathers seventeen brief but cogent sermons by both deceased (Samuel Langdon, James Thornwell, Charles Chauncy) and contemporary (George Grant, Byron Snapp, David Faulkner) ministers dedicated to the integration of the Christian Faith in the political sphere. The sermons are uncompromising (note especially Grant's [!]) in their insistence on a truly Christian civil government. This work is most helpful (foreword by D. James Kennedy).
13. An excellent critique of the popular Promise Keepers conferences is found in The ACC Challenge, Vol. 2, No, 2 [P. O. Box 19, Wallingford, PA 19086-0019, phone: 610-566-8154], by Ralph G. Colas. While the viewpoint is fundamentalist and therefore does not reflect the confessionally Reformed and the Reconstructionist position on certain points, in general the critique is soundand troubling. The author documents how leading evangelicals in PK are inclined to gloss over issues like women's ordination and the farcical "laughing revival." Most vexing is the revelation that women have started a parallel conference ("Renaissance Ministries") for the fairer sex! I imagine no sound Christian confessionalist would be seduced by Promise Keepers, but the information the ACC offers is nonetheless valuable.
14. Ken Gentry's Righteous Writing is a correspondence course teaching Christians how to write effectivelyand get published! (Dr. Gentry has been published by Baker, Zondervan, Kregal, and others). Writers and students will find this course particularly useful. Write P. O. Box 328, 46 Main St., Conestee, South Carolina 29636 (864-277-5455) or contact <Compuserve: 102544,2500>.
15. Credit P&R Publishing (formerly Presbyterian and Reformed, P. O. Box 817, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865-0817) with reprinting Patrick Fairbairn's classic The Revelation of Law in Scripture (publisher's preface by Sinclair Ferguson). This work exhibits just how seriously our Reformed forebears even as late as last century took the Old Testament law. Fairbairn, a notable Scottish theologian, is perhaps best known for his work on typology; but the present republished work is in no sense inferior to his other writings. Indeed, he presents one of the most comprehensive theological and interpretive treatments of Biblical law ever produced. The author evinces the relation of the law to man qua man, to the Jewish economy, and to the Christian church. Fairbairn preserves the historically Reformed distinction between the ceremonial, civil, and moral laws: the first expiring with Christ, to whom they point; the second being preserved in principle, though not always outward form; and the third remaining unchanged. Fairbairn (unlike Rushdoony in his masterly Institutes of Biblical Law) thus perpetuates the theological weaknesses of the traditional Reformed view which tends to impose classifications on the Biblical law rather than allow Scripture itself to tell us what particular classifications of law have been canceled in the new covenant era. Nonetheless, the work is quite valuable, and an asset to any student of the Scriptures.
16. Once in every few years a book comes along that deftly summarizes the previous works of its field; searingly penetrates to the heart of its chosen topic; and expresses its themes in such a cogent, winsome manner as to dissolve all resistance to its thesis. Thomas Sowell's writings often fit this classification, but so does Mikhail Heller's Cogs in the Wheel: The Formation of Soviet Man (Knopf). The thesis of this book is that the Soviet Union's society was driven by the relentless endeavor to recreate man, the New Man, refashioning him according to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. This thesis itself is not breathtakingly unprecedented, but the calm, painstaking, nearly exhaustive manner in which the Russian author now teaching in the Sorbonne demonstrates his case from original documents from the Revolutionary period right up to the late 80s almost stuns the reader. Heller's burden is not to evince the evil of the Soviet Union so much by relating the horror stories of the suppression, torture, and mass murder of its citizens as by marking out how the supreme Soviet dedication to ideology, the Plastic Man remade in the image of secular religion, governed all the Soviet regime did. If you can find a copy, buy it and read immediately. It has special relevance to out present situation in the West.
Topics: American History, Family & Marriage, Biblical Law, Reformed Thought, R. J. Rushdoony