Robert Russell Drake
Reviewed by: Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.
World and Life: As Viewed from the Biblical Theme of Creation, Fall, and Redemption, by Robert Russell Drake. Published by Morris Publishing, 2004. Softcover, 90 large pages, $12.00 (available by e-mail from Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church at firstname.lastname@example.org). Reviewed by Prof. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., of Westminster Seminary.
"I offer you my heart, Lord, promptly and sincerely." Calvin's well-known prayer voices the total, uninhibited commitment of the believer. All of life is religion. That is a truth particularly precious to Reformed Christians. In this book, the author, a former OP minister and now for many years pastor of a PCA congregation in Asheville, North Carolina, addresses this truth and the all-inclusive scope of being a Christian in a way that readers will find to be as helpful as it is engaging and stimulating. He is concerned with "a practical world-life perspective" (p. vii), not abstract philosophy. He writes mainly for a wide audience of Christians, but in a way that interested non-Christians will find both instructive and winsome.
Beginning with a discussion of religion, Drake moves on to consider matters associated with the church and its life - theology, denominations, worship, counseling, and evangelism. Then he deals more broadly with culture, societal institutions (marriage and the family, the state and politics, work, and education), and "pleasures" (art, athletics, "eating and drinking"), followed by treatments of philosophy and demonic activity. An appendix ("A World and Life View at a Glance") summarizes the book's case under the three headings of creation, fall, and redemption.
A major strength of the book is that this threefold theme controls the discussion from beginning to end. Drake shows that redemption (especially the salvation of sinners), though certainly at the heart of the biblical message, is not an end in itself. Redemption is for the sake of creation, being especially concerned with fallen image-bearers of the Creator.
Redemption in Christ restores and perfects the creation, bringing it to a consummation even greater than that forfeited in Adam. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Salvation sets them free for the service of the triune God, with Christ as the Lord over every area of their lives. Drake shows how this service works out in specific, practical ways. The discussion of evangelism in this regard is particularly compelling and edifying. Drake explains how our resurrection hope can function both for effectively presenting the gospel and answering objections to it. The book is well worth having for this section alone.
Striking as well is the inclusion of the topic of demons. Drake's balanced and thoughtful discussion of demonic activity is welcome and useful in the face of so much extravagant and largely unbiblical teaching on spiritual warfare that is around today. He shows how the reality of such activity has an integral place in a Reformed world-and-life view.
Other strengths could be mentioned. No doubt, too, there are places - none significant, in my view - where some readers will have questions or may disagree.
This book will benefit your congregation. It could serve well for study and discussion groups of older teens and adults in various settings. I commend it most highly.
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