Dr George M. Ella
Eupener Weg 1
45481 Mülheim
Germany

st0008@aixrs1.hrz.uni-essen.de
7th June, 1998

The Editor
Evangelical Times
Grange Close
Faverdale North Industrial Estate
Darlington
Co Durham, DL3. OPH
England

Dear Brethren,

     Would you kindly publish this letter which is a response to Christopher Bennett’s supposed review of my book. It must have been a very rushed affair as the reviewer obviously had not time to read the book. This seems typical of today’s would-be writers. I recently tracked down the Christian author of one review of my book on Fuller who also gave a lecture on the book in which he admitted, amidst jokes at my expense, that he had never read it. No remorse was shown, only a display of cheek. Apparently this is the done thing. At least Brother Bennett has read a page of my Hervey, though he has got all his facts terribly wrong and appears totally out of his depth in understanding and discussing basic doctrines. What times we are living in! I recently did a review for an American magazine and was told by the editor that he rarely received reviews like mine which showed that the reviewer had read the book. I would consider it a shameful thing to present shoddy workmanship.

Yours sincerely,

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

     In his comments on my Hervey biography, Christopher Bennett ignores the saintly life and witness of my subject and the many pen-portraits of lesser-known 18th century characters provided as a background. He also refrains from comment on Hervey’s important teaching on the atonement yet comments on at least three doctrines Hervey never taught. Instead, his alleged review speculates at length on subject matter totally foreign to my book and limits detailed comment to a single page in the Appendix on which he bases further surmising. Here, I am accused of mistaking Berkof, and ‘scolding’ Pink and Murray concerning eternal justification, a doctrine I never mention as it was not held by Hervey.

     Though I state correctly on page 332 that Berkof viewed justification as God’s decree, Bennett reads this as a reference to eternal justification which Berkof rejects. Bennett’s remarks suggest either that he does not look on justification as God’s decree in opposition to Berkof, or he believes, again contra Berkof, that arguing for justification as a decree is the same as arguing for eternal justification. Bennett claims his interpretation can be substantiated by reading pages 517-523 in Berkof’s Systematic Theology, which is scarcely possible as Berkof discusses my topic on pages 100-108. Unlike Berkof, with whom I side, John Murray argues against the Westminster Confession’s teaching re justification as a decree. This was my criticism in my reference to Murray. Bennett has simply missed the point.

     Similarly, Bennett totally ignores the context in which I place Pink, i.e. Hervey’s great teaching on reconciliation. As I added an explanatory footnote to my comment on Pink on reconciliation and used my comments on page 332 to introduce Hervey’s own words on the subject, one wonders how Bennett can possibly have thought I was speaking about eternal justification. I certainly did not scold Pink for not believing that doctrine. For all I know, he probably did.

     Finally, Bennett’s looking down on me from his alleged High Calvinist citadel of intolerance, and his unkind criticism concerning Ephesians 4, are as inapt and unbalanced as his ‘review’. The doctrinal part of the book features Hervey’s defence of his doctrines against John Wesley’s fierce criticism. Against my pseudo-reviewer’s judgmental comments, Hervey’s doctrines (as mine) reflect widely-held Reformed Anglican, Presbyterian and Baptist Creeds and are even seen in the Arminian Orthodox Creed of 1678. If Bennett had read my book with more openness to these old evangelical doctrines, he would have learnt how my great mentor James Hervey fulfilled Ephesians 4:1ff in all respects and both my reviewer and I can do no better than follow him.”