Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 118:471 (Jul 61) p. 272
The Healing Ministry Of The Church. By Bernard Martin. John Knox Press, Richmond, Virginia, 1961. 125 pp. $3.00.
The author, who is Pastor of the Reformed Church in Geneva, Switzerland, is representative of a group reviving the doctrine of divine healing in Reformed and Episcopal churches in Europe and America. The thesis of the volume is that divine healing is the will of God for those who believe in Christ in the same sense that it is the will of God that sin should be forgiven. Divine healing is in the atonement. The author disclaims connection with the Pentecostal doctrine of divine healing though there are many similarities.
Written from a conservative theological position, the author accepts the miracles of divine healing in the Bible as authentic and builds his case on the Biblical explanation as well. Only in rare cases does he imply doubt as to the accuracy of Scripture. In some instances the influence of Barth and Cullman is evident (p. 41). Taken as a whole, the work is an appeal to Christians not to take for granted that God will not heal, but to pray believing that God will heal.
Evangelical Christians will find much with which they can agree in this volume. Undoubtedly Christians wrongly tend toward unbelief in the matter of divine intervention in cases of sickness. On the other hand, the author’s position is subject to a number of broad criticisms: (1) He assumes that it is God’s will to heal today just as in apostolic times and ignores the sign character of healing in the New Testament. (2) His handling of Paul’s thorn in the flesh is quite unsatisfactory. His assumption that it is God’s will to heal and failure to secure it is due to our unbelief is not adequate either as an explanation of sickness in the New Testament or in contemporary experience. (3) The healing of the body is not a part of God’s essential program today. The power of God can heal, to be sure, but the main purpose of God is spiritual healing—salvation and sanctification. Prominence given to divine healing tends to sidetrack the gospel. In spite of these criticisms, this work is an important contribution to contemporary theology in that it gives a comprehensive explanation of the phenomena of the resurgence of divine healing in Reformed and Episcopal churches.
J. F. Walvoord
The Spirit Of Protestantism. Robert Mcafee Brown, Oxford University Press, New York, 1961. 263 pp. $4.50.
This volume is a delineation of ecumenical Protestantism in such a way as to attempt to bridge the present impasse between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The author is the Auburn Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Attempting to explain
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