July 1974 · Vol. 3 No. 2 · pp. 228–29 

Book Review

Bunglers and Visionaries

James Olthuis and Gerald Vandezande. Toronto, ON: Wedge, 1972. 38 pages.

Reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

Bunglers and Visionaries was the term applied by Emil Brunner in his Divine Imperative to anyone who felt politics or economics could {229} be pursued from a distinctly Christian perspective. But for over twenty years the Christian Labour Association of Canada has sought to elucidate just such a view in the field of employer-employee relationships. The two essays in this pamphlet are contributed by a professor of ethics (Olthuis) and the (former) executive secretary of the CLAC. A meaningful section is the Christian explication of work (p. 7-13). We recognize God’s already sovereignty (cf. Col. 1); Olthuis’ rejection of the view of Barth and Ellul demonstrates the watershed of the debate. In Althuis’ formulation of the possibility of the “whole-hearted, obedient response to the Word of God” (p. 16) there is seemingly a lack of the recognition that the kingdom is both already-but; that it is inaugurated but its fulfilment is to come; that salvation (and its outworkings) are not a function of the economic/social order but of time (eschatology). And despite his footnote that calls our attention to another series of essays (Out of Concern for the Church) that expand the supposed distinction between their viewpoint and that of Ellul/Brunner, that series also fails to adequately answer the question of the eschatologies involved. One hesitates to make what may appear to be invidious and unfair comparisons, but Bunglers and Visionaries is at many levels little more than a restatement of the thesis presented by Ralph Connor in The Gay Crusader, a 1936 Christian-socialist novel; that, however, could be seen as an indication of Connor’s prescience. One can only applaud CLAC’s attempt to present paradigms to the strife-ridden labour scene; the theology and the hopes underlying that attempt need to be examined more closely.

Vern Ratzlaff