December 03, 2006 Book Review

Humility: The Forgotten Virtue

Humility: The Forgotten Virtue

Wayne A. Mack

Reviewed by: James J. Cassidy

Humility: The Forgotten Virtue, by Wayne A. Mack. Published by P&R, 2005. Paperback, 180 pages, list price $10.99. Reviewed by Pastor James J. Cassidy.

Wayne Mack has produced a very helpful and timely volume on the much-forgotten Christian virtue of humility. This reviewer is thankful to God for this book, as it has helped to expose much of his own deep-seated sin and pride.

The book consists of seven chapters and has a foreword by Joel Beeke. Chapter 1 introduces us to the virtue of humility and how it contrasts starkly with the sin of pride. Chapter 2 explains how to manifest humility before God, while chapters 3 and 4 paint a portrait of humility before other people. Chapter 5 further explains why pride is folly, and chapters 6 and 7 contain practical suggestions on being more humble. At the end of each chapter, there are application and discussion questions for small-group settings.

The book is put together very well. However, there are some weaknesses that should be mentioned. First, Mack's use of Scripture is somewhat abstract. That is, rather than tracing the biblical idea of humility through the history of redemption, which culminates with the humility of God himself in the Incarnation, Mack takes passages of Scripture out of their historical and redemptive contexts, offering them as abstract proof texts. This results, in this reviewer's humble opinion, in occasional misinterpretation of the biblical text. For instance, Mack uses John the Baptist as an example of humility because, when asked by the Pharisees who he was, John spoke not of himself but of Jesus (pp. 70 ff.). However, this "humility" is primarily explained by the fact that John is a "hinge" figure, upon whom the great shift of salvation history turns.

Secondly, while Mack does mention the importance of worship as an expression of humility before God (pp. 47 ff.), he does not discuss the sacraments, in particular the Lord's Supper. If the sacraments are, as our standards say, "of benefit to the worthy receivers," and the Lord's Supper is for "their spiritual nourishment and growth," should this not be a chief means of our becoming more humble? After all, if the Supper is a "perpetual remembrance" of the humiliation of Christ for us, are we not, by God's grace, made low as we visibly witness the lowliness of our Savior?

However, these slight reservations should not lead the reader to think that the book is of little value. On the contrary, it is the best one out there on this topic from a Reformed perspective. The book comes, then, highly recommended for your edification.



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