Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
GJ 1:2 (Fall 60) p. 34
Life in the Son. By Robert Shank. Westcott Publishers, Springfield, Missouri, 1960. 380 pp. $4.95.
According to the author’s preface, this book deals with “the perseverance of the saints” or what is today more popularly called “eternal security.” As to his own viewpoint, the author describes himself as “one whose study of the Scriptures led him to abandon a definition of doctrine he once cherished.” Thus, with commendable candor, the reader is warned in advance what to expect.
The Introduction is written by William W. Adams of Louisville Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Although he does not (at least, “at this time”) endorse the thesis of Mr. Shank’s book, Prof. Adams nevertheless praises both it and the author almost extravagantly. He thinks it a very wholesome thing that the author, a Baptist pastor, “remains free to challenge and reject a basic doctrine which long has been traditional among Baptists” (p. xiii).
The first three chapters present some excellent material on salvation by grace, God’s free gift of life, and eternal life in Christ. In the title of chapter IV the central question of the book is raised: “Can Eternal Life Be Forfeited?” The remainder of the volume, for the most part, is devoted to an examination of various Biblical passages for the purpose of proving that true Christians not only may lose regeneration and eternal life, but also that some have actually suffered such a loss. Among these alleged cases, Mr. Shank puts Judas (p. 179), and also Saul of Tarsus (p. 313), the latter, however, having been saved a second time on the Damascus road. In two of the five appendices certain views of Lewis Sperry Chafer and John Calvin are briefly examined. The final appendix is reserved, rather surprisingly, for an inadequate treatment of a number of the strongest Biblical passages favoring the doctrine rejected by the author.
In developing his argument, Mr. Shank found it necessary, of course, to deal with two classes of Biblical testimony—first, the warnings of God against sin; and, second, the promises of God to the saved. Obviously, any serious consideration of these matters inevitably becomes involved in the wider problem of divine sovereignty in relation to human responsibility and freedom. The author’s struggle with this problem is nothing new in the long history of theology and interpretation. The problem has been handled narrowly in two ways: (1) Some have affirmed the divine promises at their face value, and sought to modify or explain away the warnings; (2) others have affirmed the warnings at their face value and tried to modify or explain away the promises. Mr. Shank’s book appears clearly to have elected the second method of interpretation. In the ...
Click here to subscribe