Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
GTJ 7:2 (Fall 86) p. 245
When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem, by Richard J. Mouw. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 77. $3.95. Paper.
Mouw is Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, Grand Rapids. Because of the differences that exist among Christians on the subject of cultural participation, Mouw has attempted to elucidate the relationship between Christ and culture and the Christian’s role in society. Mouw would identify himself with those who long for the “transformation of culture.” Isaiah 60, Revelation 21–22, and Heb 13:13–16 primarily form the basis for Mouw’s discussion. This is not a technical treatise, but is more of a Bible study with sermonic insertions. Mouw does not allude to background materials regarding the genre, date, or authorship of Isaiah or Revelation. He presupposes that Isaiah is a unified book and uses “Isaiah” to designate the author (pp. xii-xiii).
In the Introduction Mouw makes a rather startling statement that “biblical visions of the future are given to us so that we may have the kind of hope that issues forth into lives of active disobedience in the context of contemporary culture” (p. xv). Then he explains that his use of the term “culture” applies to the broad patterns of social life, including political, economic, technological, artistic, familial, and educational patterns. Later he summarizes his position when he asserts that human culture will someday be transformed. Then he asks,
Does this mean, then, that we must begin that process of transformation here and now? Are we as Christians called to transform culture in the present age? Not, I think, in any grandiose or triumphalistic manner. We are called to await the coming transformation. But we should wait actively, not passively. We must seek the City which is to come [p. 75].
Several activities are proper to this “seeking” life. For example, human institutions should be called to obey the Creator, and programs of racial justice should be proposed.
Several problems can be pointed out in Mouw’s understanding of Isaiah 60. In chap. 1 Mouw says that the cultural patterns of the eternal City will be more like our present cultural patterns than is usually acknowledged. He says that Isaiah pictures the Holy City as a center of commerce with the ships of Tarshish bringing wealth, honor, and glory to the Lord. He believes that this depicts God’s sovereignty over culture. However, Isa 60:9 says that the ships are bringing God’s people, Israel, back to the land. This ...
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