Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 112:447 (Jul 55) p. 265
Men Who Shape Belief. By David Wesley Soper. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1955. 224 pp. $3.50.
Constituting the second volume in a series on Major Voices in American Theology, this book treats eleven carefully selected leaders of contemporary thought. The scope of the volume is indicated in the names of the men chosen and their characterization which the author presents in the following order: James Luther Adams, a theology of history and hope; Douglas V. Steere, a theology of practical mysticism; John A. Mackay, an ecumenical theology; Walter M. Horton, a theology of liberal classicism; John C. Bennett, a theology of social revolution; Wilhelm Pauck, a theology of crisis and continuity; Harris Franklin Rall, a theology of rational faith; W. Norman Pittenger, a church-centered theology; Louis Berkhof, a theology of Biblical literalism; Henry N. Wieman, a theology of exclusive immanence; and Edgar S. Brightman, a theology of theistic finitism. The book closes with a glance at the future.
Dr. Soper, who is chairman of the Department of Religion at Beloit College, states his purpose and plan in the introduction in the following words: “I have attempted, as honestly and sympathetically as I can, to think with each theologian studied, to outline his life, and to listen patiently and thoroughly to his message to understand him as he understands himself” (p. 9). While the book showed that he achieves this objective to some extent it is quite obvious to the reader that the summary and appraisal of the lives and writing of the men selected is definitely from the viewpoint of the modern liberal and there is undisguised antipathy to modern fundamentalism. The first chapter featuring the work of James Luther Adams describes with obvious approval the transformation of Adams in the following deseription: “Adams was born in 1902, the son of a premillenarian Baptist preacher, other worldly in theology and not less so in life. One of Adams’ earliest memories is family prayer in the midst of a death-dealing dust storm. The father was a circuit-riding evangelist, announcing the imminent Second Coming of Christ; young James often went along with his violin to help with the hymn singing. At eleven James knew, and accepted, the plan of salvation according to the Scofield Bible. He entered college an enthusiast for religion, and left an enthusiast against it” (p. 16).
The author’s prejudice against
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fundamentalist views is easily discerned in his treatment of Louis Berkhof. Of Berkhof he makes the following statement: “Another form of distortion, less familiar today but still with us, is bibliolatry—the claim of absolute Biblical infallibility. Louis Berkhof specifi...
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