Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
MSJ 13:2 (Fall 2002) p. 265
Ronald B. Allen. The Majesty of Man: The Dignity of Being Human. Revised and expanded. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000. 217pp. $12.99 [paper]. Reviewed by Trevor Craigen, Associate Professor of Theology.
The first edition of this book appeared in 1984 from Multnomah Press as part of its “Critical Concerns” series. Calling it a revised and expanded edition is certainly inaccurate since it is very difficult to find any noticeable change or upgrade or revision. All chapter headings and sub-headings remain the same as before except for two which were dropped, but with their content just becoming part of the material under the previous subheading. With more than a random check being done, it became increasingly obvious that the content of the book as a whole remains unchanged—the first edition was reviewed by this reviewer [Grace Theological Journal 7/1 (1986):135-36] and was practically read again, this time parallel with the second edition.
With a good turn of phrase, a pleasant style of writing, liberal use of anecdotes and illustrations, Allen does hold the reader’s attention, evoking murmurs of agreement with his observations and conclusions, and sometimes a rueful shake of the head or a questioning moue. Strikingly obvious was the fact that the questions asked about and the descriptions given of the contemporary world remain the same for both editions.
One realizes fairly soon after reading the book that it probably would not be read a second time since it is neither a study book, nor a commentary on selected passages of Scripture, nor a detailed presentation on the doctrine of man, nor a focused treatment of moral and ethical dilemmas, nor an in-depth analysis of worldly, ungodly, and secular-humanist elements and ideals harmful to present-day churches and Christian schools. Nor is it a discourse on what the author refers to as ‘biblical humanism.’ However, a blending of snatches of all of these makes it a primer on thinking about the badness of man and the goodness he can still show morally, culturally, and socially. The biblical emphasis and evidence on man’s depravity is clearly acknowledged and is not lessened or redefined by pointing to the good humanity can do and has done. Never does Allen suggest that this element of good could possibly win God’s favor. The portrayal of man as a noble savage well underscores why the question “What is man?” validly resurfaces in every generation. Years have come and gone yet the question still begs a philosophical and, even more so, a biblical response. That is what Allen begins to deal with. As a primer, then, it does pique the reader’s interest to pursue some issues in more
MSJ 13:2 (Fall 2002) p. 266
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