Partial Or Perfect? - By Raymond H. Saxe
This is a short book of sixteen concise chapters, totalling 168 pages, and could comfortably be read at one sitting. The author will not be well known to many, but he has pedigree, completing his formal theological training at Dallas Theological Seminary and serving as a missionary in Africa for fifteen years.
The Preface suggests that the book grew out of a rising tide of Charismatic, neo-Pentecostalism in the author’s locality of Ann Arbor, Michigan. However, rather than setting out to directly combat the error propagated by such movements, the book seeks to re-affirm the Bible as ‘God’s single and only objective revelation’. This it does with admirable ease in a highly readable manner.
Notwithstanding the emphasis throughout on the complete revelation of Scripture, the book divides simply into two parts. The first eight chapters consider the Bible’s teaching in relation to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, with particular focus on the Day of Pentecost and its ‘horizontal extension’ to the Samaritans (Acts 8), Gentiles (Acts 10) and Ephesian disciples (Acts 19). The final eight chapters of the book focus on the nature and cessation of the revelatory gifts of tongues and prophecy.
In this reviewer’s opinion, the second half of the book is better than the first. In the first eight chapters, Saxe treats well of the Day of Pentecost, the Keys of the Kingdom and the Crusade at Samaria emphasising the importance of a dispensational view of Scripture. ‘The Bible is a closed book to those who fail to see it dispensationally.’
Unfortunately, the chapter on ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ makes some less than satisfactory statements. Saxe feels that both the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the baptisers ‘with the Spirit’ and that whilst this event took place on the Day of Pentecost, it was ‘the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of baptising’. He thus sees Spirit baptism as an on-going occurrence during the present age. As with a number of expositors linked to the Dallas Theological Seminary, he also advocates Spirit and not water baptism in Romans 6.1–4, Galatians 3:27, Colossians 2:12 and Ephesians 4.5. Nevertheless, the tone and flow of the argument against Spirit baptism as a ‘second blessing’ is not unduly affected.
In the second half of the book there are very useful summaries of the teaching of First Corinthians on the nature and use of tongues and prophecy. There is a solid and very readable defence of the completed canon of Scripture as the coming of that which is perfect. The book closes with an appeal to its readers to make the choice between the Charismatic emphasis on experience or the final authority of the word of God.
Overall, this book provides a helpful, intermediate level introduction to the study of the cessation of sign gifts and ultimate authority of the Word of God. As is accurately stated in the preface, the writing is clear, coherent and a plainly scriptural antidote to Charismatic confusion today. The editorial committee of Scripture Teaching Library have thus done the saints a good service in obtaining and reprinting this timely book. Recommended.
Reviewed by Dan Rudge