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SHORTER NOTICES 441 No Graven Images: The Contemporary Relevance of the Ten Commandments . By CHARLES W. LESLIE. Toronto: The Ryerson Press. 1954. Pp. xxii, 88. $1.50. In this series of sennons delivered during the Lenten season of 1952 Professor Leslie re-examines the meaning and purpose of law for the Christian. He is concerned at the tendency of many Christians to confuse respectability with goodness, conformity to the social code with true morality. Social laws are temporary standards, negative in meaning; a rigid adherence to them is a mark of Pharisaism. The Christian must get beyond them to what is of pennanent value through the experience and practice of love. The fear of Pharisaism and an overemphasis on Grace have, on occasions, been made the ground for antinomianism. Professor Leslie is aware of this danger and admits the need for some social laws. "Freedom can be dangerous." The test of adequate social standards is found in the traditional view of Humanism in such laws as promote the social conditions necessary for the adequate development of personality . But the Christian while submissive to law must rise above law to his main responsibility to God. On this basis Professor Leslie makes many penetrating analyses of the Christian's duties. Unfortunately the inspirational needs of the Lenten audiences give rise to exaggerated and impractical solutions to pressing contemporary problems. In the section on social justice we are told that "as Christians we must be concerned that every one of God's creatures, every one of our fellowmen, has equal access to a just share of the material bounties which God the Creator has provided" (italics mine). This sounds very inspirational as an expression of love but it makes no sense and could not possibly be applied. It might be interpreted as a satisfactory principle for an ideal society but Professor Leslie is not relegating Christian ethics to some millenial episode. There is a similar tendency to inspirational exaggeration on other topics which make this book both challenging and chastising to Christians but of doubtful value to practical politicians. This criticism will not discomfort Professor Leslie since he considers Christian ethics a standing challenge to all human codes. The Christian, in his view, emphasizes .the divine redemptive purpose in history and seeks for the eternally true principles in the evolving revelation of God's law. And the key to all is love. Professor Leslie, as a scholar, is aware that the Ten Commandments , from which he takes his start, are a product of a particular 442 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY culture and, as such, have no necessary application beyond that culture . But he does not accept the implied relativism. He views these, and other laws, as a temporary expression of divine purpose embodying eternal truths. The task of the Christian is to distinguish the permanent from the temporal. This view permits rather drastic reinterpretations of the Commandments (for instance, the commandment on adultery) to free them from the limitations of the culture in which they were first expressed. Professor Leslie makes no claim to originality in this litde book. Instead he tries to bring the results of scholarship to bear on the problems of biblical morality for a popular audience. His main purpose is to inspire and to challenge Christians to a higher morality than mere legalism or conformity to contemporary middle-class respectability . MARcus LONG Freedom: A New Analysis. By MAURICE CRANSTON. London and Toronto: Longmans, Green and Co. 1953. Pp. viii, 177. $2.50. In this lilde volume, Mr. Cranston undertakes to point a new way of expressing the problem of freewill and to offer some notes. In the first section, making extended use of linguistic analysis he rejects the efforts of philosophers to define freedom positively as a faculty or power, as government by self or by reason, and as government by another will which could "force one to be free." He accepts the negative definition of freedom as ahsence of constraints, and notes that it therefore changes as the nature of the constraints change. In the second section he describes and interprets the variation in meaning of freedom, and hence of liberalism, in England, France, Germany, and America. In...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 441-442
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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