The Inevitable Encounter

Edward L. R. Elson, (Preaching For Today Series) – Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.
This little volume of 68 pages is a collection of nine sermons delivered by Dr. Elson in the National Presbyterian Church of Washington D.C. Elson claims to represent the Historic Presbyterian tradition saying that it is his purpose to preach the gospel of Christ to the modern world of the twentieth century, because the gospel is just as relevant as it was 1900 years ago. This is a lofty ideal and one to be striven after, however, whether or not Elson succeeds is another question. Elson makes many true and pertinent statements from which we may benefit, but at many crucial points his views are unscriptural. Elson makes the point for example that all men everywhere inevitably are encountered by God. God speaks in creation etc., this is true enough, but he goes on to say; “…for every man there is an inevitable encounter with the living God. A man may reject the offer. A man may accept God’s offer of Himself. Athwart all history, and in the midst of man’s life, stands the Cross of Christ, proclaiming the lengths to which God has gone in pursuing sinful man.” p. 60. Furthermore, he asserts that everyone instinctively hungers for God. It certainly is true that every man must encounter God (cf. Rom. 1:18ff), but Scripture does not teach that every man hungers for God, nor does Scripture present to us a begging God Who wants to save all men but is powerless to do so. Reprobate man rebels against the living God because he operates from the principles of enmity against God. The Cross of Christ, the supreme revelation of the Love of God, proclaims the wonder of salvation, free and unmerited, for God’s elect Church, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
The sermons are not built upon solid exegesis. The author takes a short phrase or text and uses it as a take-off point for his sermon. The book, however, is very well written and is pleasing to read. The author has a fine command of the English Language and this is to his and the book’s credit. The book is worthwhile and may be profitably read provided one read with discernment. It is powerfully written by a gifted writer.