Book Review: "The Way of Faith in an Evil Time"
Eugene P. Vedder Jr.
"The Way of Faith in an Evil Time", by H. H. Snell, 32pp, paperback, reprinted by Chapter Two, price £1.95.
Who would dare deny that we live in an evil time as we approach the close of 1996? The nearer we come to the end of our present dispensation of God's grace, the darker the times appear. Men of God have always been concerned about the trends of the times in which they lived. In Psalm 11: 3, David poses the question, "If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?" The author of this little booklet had similar concerns more than one hundred years ago. What he wrote then is still relevant today.
Unlike most contemporary writers, H. H. Snell does not concentrate primarily upon the declining moral standards and the increase in gross wickedness that even the world deplores as so pathetically commonplace today. He points out that "the natural conscience sometimes recognizes and recoils from moral evil," and goes on to say: "but to discern and repudiate doctrinal evil we need to be spiritual." It is this latter evil that he intends to focus on, both for the individual and for God's assembly. This is of great importance today, where so many gloss over doctrinal differences, and where mass movements even endorse indifference to doctrine as a principle by which to unite all kinds of people.
The author speaks plainly and straightforwardly. He points out that separation from evil is but a beginning: there is more to follow. Using Old Testament examples, he shows how in a time of ruin the judgment of evil was always followed by a returning to the Word of God and acting thereon. From the New Testament he points out what the essentials of Christianity are, at least as far as they directly relate to his subject. That which we "have heard from the beginning," especially with regard to the Person of the Son, the headship of Christ, and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit-these are precious subjects to which he devotes consideration.
While setting before his readers the importance of doctrinal soundness, the writer equally stresses the importance of an accompanying condition of faith and love and hope. He warns against being puffed up about separation from evil and warns also against "gliding" (an interesting word to use, isn't it) "into formality and dead orthodoxy." "God looks for reality," he tells us in conclusion. "Are our hearts set on pleasing Him by walking in the truth?"
From time to time we are told not to remove the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set. Often this verse is applied to pet customs and patterns that have become traditional among gatherings of Christians. In this little booklet we have some of those ancient landmarks that God prizes, for these are landmarks He has used our spiritual fathers, the apostles, to set for us in His Word. May we heed them-they are still appropriate today.