The Forgotten Command: Be Holy. By William MacDonald. Kilmarnock, Scotland: John Ritchie, 1993. 239 pp. Paper, $7.99.
In this issue of JOTGES our founder and director presents a practical article on our part in sanctification. This book would be a good follow-up with its 31 short chapters of practical suggestions on how to obey the “forgotten command” in such areas as purity, gossip, temper, substance abuse, gambling, self-occupation, and many more. A few of the chapters (such as on politics) won’t please every Christian, nor is every insight “GES-approved,” though most are. But the need for such a book is clear.
Just this week I heard of a large eastern U.S. Bible Church with a grace-oriented pastor who found out to his dismay that the singles were ending up their Bible studies by going to bars and dances.
Closer to home, in my own city, which is famed for its many big evangelical churches, a similar large church has a singles group that a former (non-gossiping) male member could only characterize as resembling a singles’ bar in its “dating” techniques.
We’re not surprised when apostate denominations whose idea of religion is promoting “gay/lesbian rights,” militant feminism, and left-wing political agendas have morals to match. But when churches that actually teach God’s Word allow unholy lifestyles to go unchecked, we should be alarmed.
The author of Be Holy is the former President of Emmaus Bible College, author of 60 books, and a widely traveled preacher. He writes clearly with plenty of modern and compelling illustrations, a MacDonald hallmark.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but this one, in its two editions, summarizes the thrust of the book. The German translation, Der vergessene befehl, was published before the English original, has a color photo of a jogger whizzing by a neon-lit modern street. This may suggest: Run the race and don’t stop to sniff the garbage! The Scottish edition has a beautiful photo of 3 white doves perched at various angles against a black background. Clear message: Christians should stand out in purity against a dark and sinful world.
The author says he has written this book to help those who have had a serious moral fall to get back on track. But it is also written to steer believers away from ever getting into that position in the first place. “Experience is a costly school…Why should we learn through shame and disgrace what is so obvious to anyone who takes time to study the Bible?” (pp. vii-viii).
I definitely recommend this book, but would like to see a U.S. edition with American spelling preferences (including capitalizing Christian even when it’s only an adjective). In the meantime, the British edition can be ordered from D & K Press by calling 1-800-77-S-T-U-D-Y.*
Arthur L. Farstad
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society