Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 03:2 (May 1941)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

John A. Mackay: A Preface to Christian Theology. New York: Macmillan. 1941. x, 187. $2.00.

Dr. John A. Mackay was invited by Union Theological Seminary in Virginia to deliver the James Sprunt Foundation lectures for 1940. This lectureship, established in 1911, has over the years secured for the institution the services of some of the most distinguished scholars of the Christian world. It will no doubt be remembered that out of his James Sprunt lectures grew Dr. J. Gresham Machen’s notable book, The Origin of Paul’s Religion. The book before us for review represents the substance of Dr. Mackay’s contribution to Christian thought through his service as Sprunt lecturer.

The biographical note on the jacket of the book indicates that Dr. Mackay has had a varied experience. He was graduated from the University of Aberdeen. Sixteen years of service in Latin America as educator and lecturer gave him an appreciation of Spanish letters and thought that more than once comes to expression in his Sprunt lectures. Dr. Mackay was for five years a secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. Since 1936 he has held the high office of President of Princeton Theological Seminary.

President Mackay calls his book a Preface because he intends in it only to give “a foreword to theological discussion, a glimpse at the border land between theology and religion” (p. vii). Writing for the “ordinary intelligent reader, both clerical and lay”, he yet seeks “to deal with matters which are not so much elementary as elemental” (pp. vii, viii). Although the ordinary intelligent reader will have difficulty with some of the quotations from, and discussions of, modern philosophical thinking, he will find that Dr. Mackay has indeed given him a very readable book. He will like the graceful style of its author and be willing to overlook an occasional lapse into the language of mysticism and the overuse of the archaic “adown”.

The major interest of a reader of this book who has any religious awareness will be in what it reveals concerning President Mackay’s relation to the Princeton tradition. That tradition, or that theological position, became well defined through the epochal work of such famous men as the Alexanders, the Hodges, F. L. Patton, and B. B. Warfield. In our

own day that tradition was worthily upheld in the writings of J. Gresham Machen. These leaders in the Christian warfare used a trumpet that gave no uncertain sound; they were men around whom to rally that a due preparation might be made for the battle. It is a serious and necessary question that we now ask: What sound do we hear today fr...

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