Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BETS 10:3 (Summer 1967) p. 173
Pascal’s Recovery of Man’s Wholeness, by Albert N. Wells, John Knox Press; 174 pp; $4.25. Reviewed by Dr. Paul Bechtel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.
Pascal’s “mystical” experience of the night of November 23, 1654, when he was 31, made him totally God’s man and his advocate among the intellectuals of his day. Renowned as a mathematician, but only a conventional Christian, Pascal became thereafter a fervant apologist for the faith, seeking ways to organize his own convictions and to persuade others of the reality of God in Christ Jesus. Was there a way in which the sovereignty of God in all things could be made clear to the seventeenth century mind with its emphasis on orderliness? Wells sees such a formulation set forth in Pensee 792, familiarly known as Pascal’s orders. There a hierarchical structure of planes is suggested, matter, mind, and charity or love. Each of these orders has its own function and operational principles. The laws of the lower will not function in the higher order—the laws of physics are not the laws of the intellect nor the laws of the intellect the substance of love, which is supernatural. But the principles of love may move downward to exercise surveillance over the whole of cosmic reality.
In such a way reality may be seen bound together in wholeness, rather than fractured by discontinuities. This concept, however, becomes conviction only in the transformed mind. Pascal could not have conceived his orders before 1654. In his final chapter Wells asks whether this Pascalian approach to wholeness has validity in our time. He concludes that even in a world bewildered by the knowledge explosion in science, inundated by secularism, and harassed by seemingly insoluble political realities Pascal’s orders still offer a route to a recovered wholeness. Like so many other resolutions of our vexatious problems, this one too would bring a bright new dawn if only the world would taste and see that it is good.
Albert Wells has written a fine book, a worthy contribution to the long heritage of Pascalian scholarship. His insights are valid, his style lucid and firm. The propositions here set forth are not new but are fresh restatements of continuing truths.
Paul M. Bechtel
Christian Responsibility in One World. By A. Theodore Eastman. New York: The Seabury Press, 1965. Pp. 119 plus notes and bibliography. $3.50. Reviewed by Dr. David J. Hesselgrave, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.
This addition to the growing ecumenical bibliography on the mission of the church is based upon the Kellogg Lectures delivered at the Episcopal Theological School at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1963. Mr. Ea...
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