Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 21, 1951

Earl West -- Book Reviewer


In keeping with our desire to make the Gospel Guardian as useful and helpful a journal as possible we are this week inaugurating a new feature—book reviews. We expect for the present to make this a biweekly department, with the hope a little later that we may add an additional reviewer and run a regular weekly column on books. In that way we can keep our readers constantly informed and up to date on what is new and what is best in reading fare. It is our plan not only to review the current publications, but to give careful evaluations of many of the older works with which our readers may, or may not, be familiar. The mere fact, for example, that a book was written by some pioneer preacher does not necessarily recommend it. It may, or may not, be worth reading. Our reviewer will from time to time deal with some of these older works, giving his own judgment as to their value.

Concerning Earl West

We feel very fortunate in securing the services of brother Earl West of Indianapolis, Indiana, to write these reviews for us. Although only thirty-one years of age, brother West has already begun to assume a stature of real magnitude in the minds of those who value the truth and are familiar with its struggles through the years. His two volume history of the restoration movement (Search For the Ancient Order) is undoubtedly the best and most comprehensive that has been written in that field. We believe no young man among us (and very few old men) can speak with more certain knowledge concerning the trials and trends, the toils and triumphs of our fathers in the gospel than can brother West. Possessed of a calm and deliberate judgment, he writes with the detached objectiveness of a historian, but combines with it the warm sympathy of a devoted and faithful friend. In his writings, the restoration leaders are human beings, not merely names in a book.

Brother West preaches for the Irvington congregation in Indianapolis. His relationship with this church is rather interesting. This is his home congregation; as a child he attended her Bible school; it was here he was baptized; with her members he has grown to maturity and manhood. He attended Pepperdine College in the earlier years of that institution (before the tragic clouds of modernism had begun to destroy her usefulness), and later took both his bachelor's and his master's degrees from Butler University, here in Indianapolis. For eight years now he has been preaching for the Irvington congregation. And if we are any judge at all of the attitude of a congregation toward a preacher he is the exception that proves the rule that " a prophet is not without honor save in his own country and among his own kindred.' We have seen few congregations in which the attitude existing between preacher and congregation is more nearly what it ought to be than here.

During the eight years of brother West's labor with the Irvington church there has been a steady and perceptible improvement in the cause of Christ in this whole area. Irvington, a fine church when he began his work there, has gone ahead into even greater usefulness. She has shown a consistent growth, and has, in a way, set the pace for the general growth and improvement in the Indianapolis area. There is full and fraternal fellowship now between many congregations in this area who formerly were not on speaking terms. Brother West has had no small part in bringing about this happier situation.

The Book Reviews

And why have we given you this background of our new book reviewer? The answer is simple: your evaluation of any review is bound to be influenced somewhat by your knowledge of the man who writes the review. A review of Joseph Stalin's political papers written by Andrei Gromyko would hardly be given the same weight by you as would a review of the same material by Winston Churchill. Your knowledge of Churchill and of Gromyko would undoubtedly influence your estimate as to the worth of their opinions in the matter under consideration.

As you read brother West's judgment of books from time to time, you will gradually come to understand him, and to know the kind and character of reading he values. You will come to depend on him, in a sense, to suggest to you the things that are worthy of your time, and to steer you off from widely bally-hooed books that may be a waste of time to read. It is impossible for most of us to devote the time to reading all that is called to our attention. Publishers and book-sellers naturally want to sell their products; their blurbs and puffs cannot be taken too seriously. And that produces the need for a balanced, objective, and dependable "Book Review' section in a journal such as this. We are confident you will enjoy reading the reviews, and will profit by them. Any book reviewed by brother West in this paper may be purchased through the Cogdill Publishing Company, Box 980, Lufkin, Texas, but that does not mean at all that every book reviewed here by him should be purchased. It is the obligation of a good reviewer to point out the weaknesses of a product as well as its excellencies is as fully obligated to condemn a worthless book as he is to commend a worthy one.

— F. Y. T.

Clifford's Articles

On the front page this week we publish the first in a series of four articles by brother Rufus Clifford on the general theme of "Modernism.' Brother Clifford preaches for the church in Old Hickory, Tennessee, and has had opportunity to know first hand these things of which he writes. The material for these articles was delivered last winter in the Florida Christian College lectures, and was hailed as one of the outstanding lectures in the whole series. Brother Clifford sounds a note of warning concerning a subject which is assuming alarming proportions. It is later than most of us think. The Guardian intends to publish other material against modernism, and we suggest that our readers examine brother Clifford's articles carefully that you may have a better understanding of forthcoming discussions.

F. Y. T.