General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God’s Word -- By: Herman A. Hoyt

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 03:3 (Fall 1962)
Article: General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God’s Word
Author: Herman A. Hoyt

General Review:
Events Viewed in the Light of God’s Word

Herman A. Hoyt

President, Grace Theological Seminary

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and the Negatives

On page 49 of the September 1962 Readers Digest appears an article bearing the title, “Can Protestantism Be Saved?” A subtitle reads, “A leading Protestant clergyman points boldly to the mistakes, shortcomings and creeping paralysis that he feels characterize his church today. Here is a ringing challenge to churchmen and laymen alike.” Dropping the eye one more line, the reader is introduced to this prominent clergyman. He is Norman Vincent Peale.

This article appears to be written exclusively for the Readers Digest. If the purpose of this article was to capture a reading audience and sell the magazine, it could not have succeeded more amazingly. Linking Dr. Peale’s name with this eye-catching title could not help but arouse an insistent curiosity to read the article. Famed for his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, now the reader is confronted with something that is positively negative. Who could resist the urge to read something that seems to be so completely out of form? This writer could not.

Against the stern background of Martin Luther and the early years of the Reformation, Dr. Peale levels a tremendous indictment at the Protestant Church. It consists of a whole series of negatives. “Protestantism today is losing ground…in spiritual effectiveness.” He cites a statement in The Church Herald, “Protestantism has lost its faith.” In response to “decaying society” there is “the church’s apathy.” An antireligious movement in the United States is greeted by “the church’s indifference.” The explanation for this situation is to be found “inside the Church itself.” There is the “ecumenical movement,” the willingness “to compromise,” making it “too easy to join the church,” ignoring of “Christian conduct,” the swing to “social welfare,” downgrading “the sermon in favor of sacerdotal ritual,” and the “current tendency…to doubt the Bible as revelation of the authentic word of God.” Could anything be more negative?

Analyzing this article, the writer hastens to point out that Dr. Peale writes like a conservative theologian, in fact like a fundamentalist, as he lashes out against the ills besetting present-day Protestantism. In fact, he speaks with the voice of a prophet as he diagnoses the conditions prevailing in present day Christianity in the United States of America. He does not hesitate to speak plainly of the “moral blight” on our land, the “filth” in the newsstands, “the sadism on television,” “the pornography in our books,” “p...

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