"The Good Name" by Samuel T. Logan, Jr. A Review

The Good Name: The Power of Words to Hurt or Heal
Samuel T. Logan, Jr.
New Growth Press
ISBN: 978-1-64507-028-3; September 2019;  $17.99

Are you, like me, deeply concerned about the heavy “shock-and-awe” approach that is being taken on social media? Are you alarmed by the vitriol and venom poured out through broadcast and print? Are you beginning to become distressed with the ways the social environment is increasingly becoming anti-social and how it is impacting your congregation and community? If so, then there’s a new book out that may well be a helpful part of the remedy. Samuel T. Logan, Jr., ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, one-time president of Westminster Theological Seminary-PA, emeritus professor of church history, and associate international director of the World Reformed Fellowship, has recently published a helpful resource, “The Good Name: The Power of Words to Hurt or Heal.” This 192-page softback takes up God’s command, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” and presents it in a series of very contemporary applications. Specifically written for Christians, whether clerics or congregants, Logan addresses the power of words, beginning with his own past failures and moving out into up-to-date situations.

Logan unpacks what most Protestants number as the Ninth Commandment (some Lutherans and Anglicans, along with Catholics and Orthodox will call it the eighth). The author exposes his own failure in the past, which cost him his seminary presidency. He chronicles how this loss opened up to him several other ways he breached the command to not bear false witness against others. Then he pulls out historical catechisms – Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic and Orthodox – demonstrating in what ways this command has traditionally been understood. Next, he works through the Scriptures, showing what God has counseled in his Word and gives plentiful examples. Finally, Logan presents numerous illustrations and suggestions to aid readers in preserving their own and other’s good name.

And yet, the author is very clear that it is important we stand for the truth and the Truth. We cannot call evil good, nor good evil. And we cannot be silent, and thus become complicit, in the face of sin. Therefore, this book is more about how we deal with sin, stand up for right, and faithfully hold to biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxy. “When we stand for the truth, we will be seen as doing just that – standing for the truth. But how we stand for the truth can make all the difference between bearing true witness and bearing false witness” (74). Toward the goal of standing for the truth while not bearing false witness against our neighbor, the author piles on several helpful guidelines, and challenges a huge social media problem, the online disinhibition effect. This is that sense of anonymity, invisibility, and lack of accountability, which is boiling and cooking cyberspace, and beginning to seep out of its pores into our churches, and relationships.

I must say that throughout the entirety of “The Good Name” I found my toes stomped on, and my shins kicked. It has brought me to ruminate on my own words in the past, whether written, preached or conversed. Though some readers will find areas of disagreement with the author’s assessments here and there, nevertheless, if they will momentarily put those disagreements to the side and thoughtfully ponder the content and message of the book, and reflect on applications in their own lives, they will be richly profited. I highly recommend the book.

My thanks to New Growth Press for sending me the copy used for this review, at my request. Neither the publisher nor author gave me any marching orders. Hence, this analysis is my own, written with liberty.

The book may be obtained here: The Good Name

Addendum: After posting this review yesterday, I find myself still reflecting on the content of the book. It led me to write (and employ) the following prayer this morning:
     I implore you, God of truth, to grant me wisdom, strength, and a sober mind that I would not give into whatever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to my own or my neighbor's good name. Rather, that I would maintain and promote truth between man and man, as well as my own and my neighbor's good name (Westminster Shorter Catechism 77-78).
     Lord, it is all too easy to give into my own sourness, self-promotion or fear of failure, and to speak from there. But it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles me, for it proceeds from my heart. For out of my heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness and slander (Matthew 15.18-20). Good God! Have mercy on me, forgive me, and change me. Amen.


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