November 1999By David Arias Jr.

Bonaventure: Mystic of God’s Word.  By Timothy Johnson. New City Press. 176 pages. $9.95.

Pope Sixtus V and Pope Leo XIII proclaimed that St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure are the two greatest scholastic theologians with whom the Church has been blessed. Unfortunately, however, not many of the works of the Seraphic Doctor are well known or available in English. Johnson helps to remedy this by presenting twelve selections from St. Bonaventure’s works. Herein St. Bonaventure, who interprets all things in terms of the Incarnate Word, discusses many issues, from scriptural interpretation to the nature of human knowing, shining upon all of them a Christocentric light.

On the Lord’s Appearing: An Essay on Prayer and Tradition.  By Jonathan Robinson. Catholic University of America Press. 236 pages. $19.95.

Robinson concerns himself with the nature of Catholic Tradition as well as with what this Tradition teaches about personal prayer. He maintains that there are two inseparable aspects of Catholic Tradition, namely, that which is handed on (i.e., the content), and the activity itself of handing on the content. Some theologians tend to affirm the second aspect and deny the first, but to do so, Robinson holds, is to cause Tradition to lose its constant and normative character. It is precisely this constant and normative character of Tradition, Robinson shows, that guarantees to the Catholic an authentic connection with the living and redemptive faith that comes from the Lord.

Love, Marriage, and the Catholic Conscience: Understanding the Church’s Teaching on Birth Control.  By Dietrich von Hildebrand. Sophia Institute Press. 143 pages. $12.95.

Von Hildebrand outlines the nature of conjugal love and shows that it is naturally ordered to the fulfillment of God’s plan for the family. On the foundation of Humanae Vitae, the author distinguishes between artificial birth control and natural family planning, and he explains why the latter is compatible with God’s will and the former is not. Von Hildebrand also elucidates the relationship that ought to exist between the teachings of the Magisterium and the Catholic conscience. This new edition includes the full text of Humanae Vitae.

Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening.  By Vigen Guroian. Eerdmans. 95 pages. $9.

“I think that gardening is nearer to godliness than theology,” says Guroian. As a theologian, gardener, and Orthodox Christian, Guroian strives to see all creation in an incarnational and sacramental light. He presents seven meditations that concentrate on the mystical way in which the cycle of seasons reflects the cycle of the liturgical year. With many quotations from Church Fathers (both Eastern and Western) and from Scripture, Guroian illustrates the dignity of the created order and shows how the gift of our natural environment can raise our hearts and minds to the contemplation of the Gift-Giver Himself.

At War with the Word: Literary Theory and Liberal Education.  By R.V. Young. ISI [Intercollegiate Studies Institute] Books. 199 pages. $24.95.

Young’s claim is that works of literature are unique “imaginative representations of human experience” which transcend the particular circumstances in which they are conceived. Thus, these works can speak to diverse generations about what it means to be human. Moreover, the transcendent character of literature shows that there is something transcendent about man, namely, that he has an immortal soul. But for the past thirty years postmodern literary theory has been denying the transcendent character of the word in literature and thus waging war against the nature of man. Young fleshes out the various types and tenets of postmodern literary theory, and shows them to be self-refuting. Liberal education, he argues, needs to return to a fundamental “canon” of great books.

Marriage: The Mystery of Christ and the Church.  By David J. Engelsma. Reformed Free Publishing Association (616-224-1518). 239 pages. $24.95.

Engelsma, a Reformed minister, presents a rich, biblically based view of marriage. He follows Herman Hoeksema — and the Catholic Church! — in affirming that marriage between believers is an indissoluble bond that images the bond between our Lord and His Church. Convinced of the inerrancy of Scripture, Engelsma doesn’t water down the strength of those biblical texts that forbid divorce and fornication. Neither does he cower before the feminists when he presents the New Testament teaching on the roles of husband and wife. The second half of Engelsma’s book shows that the pre-Reformation Church unequivocally defended the unbreakable nature of the covenant-bond of marriage.

Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design.  Edited by William A. Dembski. InterVarsity Press. 475 pages. $24.99.

In recent years a growing number of scholars has been publicly proclaiming that the emperor has no clothes — the naked emperor-on-parade being none other than the Darwinian theory of evolution. Dembksi brings together essays from 20 scholars who argue that we need to understand the origin and nature of the cosmos in terms of the paradigm of “intelligent design.” Dembski says that the basic claims of intelligent design theory are that “intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology and that these causes are empirically detectable.” This theory attempts to remain empirical, without venturing into philosophy or theology. Contributors include Michael Behe, David Berlinski, Phillip Johnson, and Hugh Ross.

The Truth of Things: Liberal Arts and the Recovery of Reality.  . By Marion Montgomery. Spence. . 305 pages. .


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