To a world of parched souls, Jesus Christ offered the Water of Life. Unlike club soda, however this Water is not a good mixer: in order to refresh, it must be taken straight, and on the Rock For centuries, men have attempted to concoct heady new “Christianity-and-” brews, but the disappointing result is always temporary intoxication, not lasting rejuvenation. Lately, one of the most popular cocktail-cum-medicinals among the semipious is Christianity-and-psychology. William Kilpatrick, who imbibed the mix for several years, has now gone on the wagon. In his intelligent and insightful little book, he explains in terms accessible to the layman why psychology is so attractive to the modern mind, why it fails so dismally, and why unadulterated Christianity better meets human needs. Because it is made of less weighty stuff than Christianity, psychology always rises to the top, like a layer of oil, whenever the two come together. Hence, everyone without a long straw gets only psychology out of the combination, leaving him drunk yet still thirsty.
Stephen Davis’s effort in Logic and the Nature of God is not so much one of recombination as it is of repackaging. By applying rigorous analysis to traditional doctrine, he seeks to give Christianity a clearer logical consistency and a “philosophically defensible” form. But since, as Dr. Davis concedes, the content of Christian belief is ultimately known through divine revelation and not through human syllogism, the new intellectual bottles are hardly an improvement over the old scriptural ones.
Nicholas Wolterstorff pours a few drams out of Scripture into his Until Justice and Peace Embrace, and the truths they contain are important: God is on the side of the poor, not the powerful, and profit-lust is a form of idolatry that leads to oppression. As too many desiccated materialists have forgotten, to be a capitalist first and a Christian second is not to be a Christian at all. But the few drops of sacred revelation Dr. Wolterstorff offers have been so diluted and perfidiously vitiated by the addition of leftist politics that they barely tinge the resultant liquor. After tipping a few at the bar of liberation theology, Dr. Wolterstorff has such blurred vision that the United States, where worship is freely expressed, and the rigidly atheistic Soviet Union are “almost indistinguishable from one another” and thus equally responsible for global suffering. His thinking, too, has become so clouded by indulgence that he blames the blight in Eastern Europeon, yes, capitalism, since true socialism has yet to emerge. Memory fails the besotted professor as he forgets that Jesus taught an individual righteousness impelling generosity but never sanctioned any “rights” justifying compulsory or violent wealth redistribution. His speech becomes slurred as he glides over terrorism as a “struggle” against “unjust social structures.” He falls onto the floor in D.T.’s when censuring Israel, not the Arabs and the PLO, for violating the vision of Shalom given in Jewish Scripture. And doctrinal caution fades into blank stupor as he urges believers to act “fundamentally the same way” as Marxists, oblivious to the fact that Christian lambs have become mere belches when these lions have taken over. Indeed, although Dr. Wolterstorff concludes by inviting other Christians to join in the renewed devotion defined by his new synthesis, they must turn away: the cup he proffers is not a sacrament but a poison.(BC)