The People Of The Way: A Saint to the Saints; Bible Truth Depot, Swengel, Pa. U.S.A.
Inasmuch as two persons separated by many miles have asked that this book be reviewed, a copy was borrowed and perused.
One appreciates the stated purpose of the editor. “The writer, minister to a Baptist church, pleads with the saints the world over, to repent of the age-long strife of denominationalism and once more walk in the ways of unity commanded by the Lord and His Apostles.”
His positive approach to the problems and sin of denominationalism in his first chapters is followed with sympathetic approval. His teaching relative to the Church is endorsed with but little reservation. The premise upon which he rests his logic in these opening chapters encourages one to expect a candid yet gracious presentation of error and a persuasive and warm appeal for recovery of lost simplicity toward Christ.
It is this high expectation that intensifies one’s disappointment as he reads chapter by chapter. Professor Schoenfeld teaches that a journalist should possess four commendable qualities: courtesy, reliability, ability, and confidence. It is therefore disconcerting to discover that the greater part of this book develops into a wordy and discourteous discussion of Christian personalities, some of whom are now in the presence of their Lord. What at the first appears to be an expose’ of a wrong and unscriptural system degenerates into an attack upon the convictions and the consciences of other brethren in Christ, even to the point of questioning motives.
This becomes the more grievous as names of men are mentioned who, in spite of their affiliations, have left in their written ministry a legacy to the whole Church, as for example, Dr. J. Gresham Machen. Does the author think that his volume is more to the edification of the Church than the several excellent volumes left by Dr. Machen?
Is it not discreditable in a denounciation of a wrong and unscriptural system to misjudge the motives and misconstrue the language of an honourable gentleman like Mr. George Landis whose ministry on a nondenominational level has been a blessing to God’s people from the Atlantic to the Pacific? Is it necessary in order to attain the stated purpose of the author to hold in ridicule the exemplary action and noble behaviour of this devouted servant of Christ?
No one has ever denounced sectarianism as resolutely as the Apostle Paul, yet in so doing he politely refrains from literally mentioning those he considered wrong. He says, “These things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes” (1 Cor. 4:6). There is a holy delicacy and refinement in the manner in which he treats the offenders.
One is puzzled by the chapter, “The Way Out.” Could it be proper for Christians to do in mass what is wrong for them to do individually, forsake denominationalism? The proposal for Church unity in this chapter is best described by language from the front jacket, “unrealistic, impractical, and misleading.” The author should realize that, humanity being what it is, his visionary suggestion is impossible, but he should also acknowledge that what is impossible in the masses is blessedly possible in the few. It is possible for the people of The Way in a locality to reject all names, creeds, and parties, and to gather in Pentecostal simplicity, and thus give an expression to the oneness of the Body of Christ.
Do the statements, implications, deductions, and proposals given under a psuedonym present a sure and safe guide, especially when the one veiling his identity so readily publicizes the identity of those whom he considers in error?
This reviewer, without further comment, cannot recommend the purchase of this book.