Monday, August 12, 2019

Review: The First Five Centuries

The First Five Centuries The First Five Centuries by Kenneth Scott Latourette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Latourette, after the most part of a Century has passed, is still the standard work on Missions from the Protestant standpoint. Yet its age shows: while an Evangelical, he does concede too much to secular conceptions of Historiography that even in today’s secular environment would be perhaps outdated, showing that it is better to stick to your tradition & convictions than to try to be modern.

While bringing in a huge amount of facts, still much is summed up, since while the field of missions can be quite detailed nowadays, at the period covered by this first volume much information is missing; on the other side, he spends quite some space on a historiographical set of questions that may today sound quite speculative and outdated.

There are more recent works that must be consulted for the developments of the last Century, but none I found of this extension & ambition. Either they are useful but specialised in a short span of time, or they are equally useful but way too short. Anyway, a global History of Missions that would cover the situation until, say, the turn of the XXI Century would certainly colour the previous periods differently.

As a Reformed Baptist reader, to me he also does sound quite Latitudinarian in his attitudes, refraining from a proper Protestant Biblical evaluation of his subject. One hungers, thus, for a new History of Missions that will be not only up to date, but also more Reformed in character; perhaps something definetly Reformed Baptist such as Nicholas R. Needham’s 2 000 years of Christ’s power would be best, as his work shows Baptists can face old realities better, not being attached to mediæval survivals in the magisterial strand of Reformation.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review: Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom

Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom by Peter J. Leithart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating book. One of these I think merits actually half a star plus, but I cannot bring myself to give it five — please do not hold that against me, as I find my use itself of stars shifts with time and humour.

Essentially it is a probing critique of John Howard Yoder’s anti-Constantinanism. While I myself am a critic of what one could call Constantinianism, this book would seem to challenge me, and it did, but not as I expected. Which is an index of a good book, when it actually surprises one positively.

He has to spend quite some effort delineating what Yoder understood — yes, the man is dead, so it is a pity Leithart wasn’t quite around at the time to initiate a public debate — by Constantinism, which is not quite my concept. So Leithart’s critique of Yoder’s anti-Constantinianism did not constitute a direct challenge to my own convictions; yet the book retained my interest because it mainly exhonerates Constantine, or at least enables us to understand him better, by a very balanced picture of Constantine himself and his times, correcting Yoder’s partisan & partial reading, while leaving open the door for better, more focused criticism.

Where it really lost the fifth star was only in the last pages of the final chapter, tellingly called ‘Rome baptized’, where Leithart’s ‘Federal vision’ leanings appear as given, which may make sense for adepts of the new perspective on Paul, for Iconodulics and the so, but will be baffling for the Evangelical reader, even the Reformed one that happens to have had no interest in the Federal vision.

In a series of baffling references:

He never explains what he means by ‘every baptism is a infant baptism’, which while probably meaning that all neophytes are babies in the faith, just waves away the very serious Radical Reformation (Anabaptist &, later, Baptist) challenge to the late Antiquity innovation of baby sprinkling;

He seems to say we should avert apocalypse, which may be related to some version of Postmillenniarism (I don’t know his position actually) but on the face of it sounds quite anti-Biblical, as we are to expect Jesus’ return, the sooner the better;

He seems to endorse Augustine’s baptismal regeneration convictions, which is a really big red flag for Biblical Christians, being the most radical, even heretical, extreme of the wide range of ideas broadly identified as Federal vision.

A very minor quibble is when he never explains why, in modernity, ‘there is blood, more… than ever… than any ancient tyranny would… and all of it human.’ I assume it is a reference to abortion, but I am baffled none the less.

Finally, he avoids the elephant in the room: Yoder’s having being posthumely discredited for having been a molester. But that is another issue.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 2, 2019

Review: 月影ベイベ 6

月影ベイベ 6 月影ベイベ 6 by Yuki Kodama
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicate tale of ſufferiŋ love after a broken family.

View all my reviews