Praying the Bible: Book Review

9781433547843 I wish to start by saying that I’ve read a lot of books on prayer. Some have been helpful and some I wish I didn’t even take the time to finish them. For Don Whitney’s book, Praying the Bible, I can faithfully say this is a book that has been incredibly helpful.

The book is short and can be digested within a day if one truly wanted to – yet I would recommend slowing down and taking stock in what is written. It is an incredibly accessible book, organized well, and clearly articulated. Better yet, he advocates a simple methodology to enhance and revitalize your prayer life.

If you are anything like me, prayer can be a difficult thing to be enthralled with some days. We have hordes of literature giving ten easy steps to a better prayer life that impose upon the reader that if they neglect step 7, their prayer life will go unfulfilled. Beyond this, the repetitious task of completing such steps often removes the joy of prayer and places upon one’s self the yoke of burdensome prayer. Prayer should never be a burden.

Instead of tasking the reader with multiple steps to a better prayer life, Whitney simply advocates a simple approach: you pray using scripture as your source, namely, the Psalms. The reason being: we can avoid vain repetition in our prayers, use inspired text that covers a wide range of emotions, doctrines, and troubles, and initiate the conversation of prayer with God freely. It focuses our minds to keep us from wandering during prayer and is incredibly easy to implement. All one must do is open up the Psalms, pick a passage, and pray through it.

The task is not one in which we must pray every single line found within that Psalm; it is content driven, utilizing the text as a means to follow the paradigm of praise given in the Psalter. Thus, one can praise God’s character, give thanksgiving, express lament, petition Him to act, and close again in praise and thanksgiving.

In this, Whitney advocates that we allow our minds to bring certain things to light as we pray through the Psalm. Thus, an easy example from Psalm 23:1 would be as follows:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I praise You in Your provisions and leadership in all aspects of my life. You bring forth food for even the birds of the air – let me not be concerned with provision as the Gentiles are, but instead trust that You will be faithful in all things and uphold your beloved children. I thank you, as my shepherd, that You guide me. May You continue to guide me in righteousness, that I may display the richness of Your grace to all who see me. May You guide my children upon this path that they might fear you and come to see wisdom in Your Law – for it is good, and holy, and righteous. May You provide for them the way of salvation. Open their eyes to see and ears to hear of Your great mercy, so that they too shall see what it means to not be in want.

One verse can prompt content-rich, biblical prayer. Imagine what you can do with the rest of a Psalm that has been repeated throughout the church so much that most can recite it without hesitation – yet don’t meditate on what it means. In this, you not only meditate on what the passage is saying, but you take directly inspired words of God back to Him in prayer. You are speaking to the Lord using His language. In more simple words: you are seeing the Lord initiate the conversation through the scriptures, and you are simply responding to them.

I can promise you that if you struggle with prayer – and you read and faithfully implement the practice he lays out, you will have an enriched prayer life. It is so simple, yet so effective. Buy the book, read it, and put it into practice. Use what time you have, whether it be a few minutes or an hour (which before I felt was daunting, but if you have the time and want to continue – simply turn to the next Psalm. If you don’t know how to pray from that Psalm, turn to the next).

It really is that simple.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway Books through the Beyond the Page book reviewer program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic?

9780805446548_cvr_webIn reading Michael Rydelnik’s The Messianic Hope, one can’t quite help but see the effect of Enlightenment ideals upon modern critical scholarship. Interestingly, the primary concern isn’t liberal scholarship, but the growing tendency within conservative Evangelical scholarship to deny a strictly Messianic interpretation of many key Old Testament texts. While this does not indicate all of these scholars are denying a Messianic understanding of the text, Rydelnik’s concern is the detraction from a clear Messianic understanding to the original audience: the prophet delivering oracular (and later, written) revelation to God’s covenant people.

The Content:

Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the purpose of why Messianic prophecy is important. What is unique to this chapter is not simply the admonition of Rydelnik from Luke 24:44, but the perspective he brings to this study as a Messianic Jew. For Rydelnik, understanding the role of direct Messianic fulfillment is deeply personal. Growing up in an Orthodox Jewish home, he witnessed his father divorce his mother over her conversion to the Christian faith. Rydelnik, seeking to disprove his mother’s newfound faith, went to the Hebrew Scriptures, only to find they indeed spoke of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Chapter 2 addresses how modern interpreters approach the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy. In this section, he deals respectively with Historical Fulfillment, Dual Fulfillment, Typical Fulfillment, Progressive Fulfillment, Relecture Fulfillment, “Midrash” or “Peshur” Fulfillment. While he acknowledges there are various other interpretive methods, these are the most common found in Evangelical scholarship.

Chapters 3-7 yield evidence to defending his thesis that direct prophetic fulfillment of the Messiah is the most frequent form of interpretation that should be seen. Chapter 3 deals with text-critical evidence, espousing that variant texts supporting the Messianic reading are to be preferred over the MT. Chapter 4 builds the case by examining innerbiblical evidence, namely, to display that later biblical authors read the former as Messianic.

Chapter 5 present canonical evidence to display the united theme of the closed Hebrew canon to reveal a Messianic understanding in the specific shaping of the canon, as well as the books included. Chapter 6 brings New Testament evidence to display that the NT writers and Christ believed the OT writers knew they were writing about the coming Messiah, rather than the NT authors adding a more full, inspired Messianic meaning to OT prophecy. Chapter 7 explores the hermeneutical principles of the NT in regard to understanding messianic prophecy; not all examples are direct fulfillment – thus, it is important for us to take note of these principles in order to see Christ in the OT.

Chapter 8 is devoted to trace the influence of Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (otherwise known as Rashi) from his own time, the Reformers, and our current day. Most notably, Rydelnik builds the case that Rashi intentionally interpreted direct messianic passages in an anti-messianic fashion in order to dissuade Jews from believing in Yeshua.

Chapters 9-11 focus on key messianic texts, including Gen. 3:15, Isa. 7:14, 52:13-53:12, and the book of Psalms (namely Psalm 110). Genesis 3:15 he regards as Protoevangelium, that is, the “first gospel” account between the promised seed of the woman who will crush the head of the snake. From the prophets (Isa.) he critically defends reading the Hebrew almah as “virgin”, rather than “young maiden” and for the messianic interpretation of the passage rather than historical fulfillment. In using Psalm 110, Rydelnik again views this to be a messianic passage referring to the future King who will reign forever upon the throne of David.

Finally, in chapter 12 Rydelnik issues a plea to return to a messianic understanding of the Hebrew Bible, as this is the intended, historic meaning of the text.

Why Does This All Matter?

In anything we are studying, we ought to ask the simple question: what impact does this have upon the church? What are the natural consequences of rejecting a Messianic interpretation outright (Historical Fulfillment), holding to a Sensus Plenior interpretation (Dual Fulfillment), a Progressive Fulfillment, and so forth? Are there weaknesses for the argument of a Direct Fulfillment interpretation of these passages?

While I have generally viewed the discussed passages as inherently Messianic, it is troublesome for more than a few reasons to see many leaving these interpretations behind. One of the most problematic inferences to this would seem to pose an unintended detriment to scripture’s perspicuity. If the scriptures are clear in matters of Messianic expectation to us, it would seem self-evident that they should be so for those whom first heard the promises of God regarding Christ. The potential drawback to refraining from understanding the direct fulfillment of Isaiah 7 can easily lead to a slippery slope, failing to uphold the virgin birth of Christ. Many may claim this to be an overstatement – yet hermeneutically, we have seen this departure take place in more than one account of scholars who have espoused this view.

Beyond this, to assume the NT authors utilized creative exegesis to arrive at their conclusions emphasizes the inability for one to understand the text as it should be understood. I understand there are difficulties in arriving at the same conclusions regarding some of the NT usage of OT texts as messianic fulfillment, yet it would seem that this is not a hermeneutical problem of the NT authors. The problem of understanding is within us.

Final Thoughts on the Book:

While there were some things I could not fully get behind in Rydelnik’s treatment (such as Isa. 7:13-15 and v. 16 depicting another child other than the Messiah), the book was absolutely phenomenal. Within the footnotes is a treasure trove of information that the reader would be foolish to bypass; they are there for a reason. The format of the chapters and overall layout of the book is excellent and easy to follow, thus, it made for pleasurable reading.

There are difficult parts to follow if one doesn’t have a thorough background in the original languages (especially in dealing with text critical issues in why the MT should not be followed in certain passages) – yet it is not detrimental to understanding the breadth of his argument. I feel this work is pertinent to our time, as some Evangelical scholars are embracing more liberal treatments of the text and supplanting their own definition to particular doctrines (take for example, Blomberg’s current stance on inerrancy). It is an incredibly important topic, especially with regard to how we understand the revelation of Christ in the focus of redemptive history.

I would fully recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B & H Academic through the media reviewer program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

The content of this review was also posted on another site I contribute to: http://www.chorusinthechaos.com/

Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom

9781433525025In similar accord to Bonhoeffer and Lewis, Luther is often marginalized by the appeal to a broader evangelical context than he would fit within during his own lifetime. Trueman, recognizing the weaknesses of this approach, argues for a more sensible reading in moving beyond the modernly-evangelicalized Luther by studying the real Luther; the systematic thinking, often bombastic, Christian man, in his own historical context (22).

The reason for moving beyond this one-dimensional study of Luther is painfully obvious: we can never be challenged with a shallow reading focusing only upon areas of agreement. In the scope of many other works on Luther, Trueman devotes time discussing Luther’s high sacramentology, his post-1525 writings, the historical/personal context shaping his theological advancements, and the distinction to being a “theologian of the cross” as opposed to a “theologian of glory.”

Trueman’s basic framework draws mainly from Table Talk publications (among other notable works) in the following structure. Chapter one describes Luther’s biographical life, particularly linking Luther’s early life experiences to his existential crises, leading to the dominating shift into a Law-Gospel theology. Beyond this, Trueman highlights specific events shaping Luther’s theology, for example: The Bondage of the Will being not only a response to Erasmus, but undermining the authority of the Papacy. The second and third chapters deal more extensively with Luther’s understanding of the “theologian of the cross,” and subsequently, the power of the Word preached. Thus, the true “theologian of the cross” will be dominated by the idea of the scripture’s supremacy and power to effectively change the hearts of hearers.

The fourth and fifth chapters respectively deal with Luther’s liturgical values and how the Word addresses individual souls. Thus, maturation in the Christian life is not simply one of rote memorization and catechesis, but a profoundly moral exercise intended to grip our affections for God by the knowledge of scripture. Chapter 6 draws out Luther’s sacramentology on the effectiveness and importance of baptism and the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Chapter seven draws upon Luther’s response to the “long-haul,” recognizing the Immanent Return of Christ was delayed beyond his expectations, thus forcing a structured response to Christian living in lieu of licentiousness and antinomian tendencies. Finally, in chapter 8, Trueman reveals Luther’s pastoral nature, specifically with the ordinary aspects of every day life and common struggles of believers.

Trueman fairly reveals Luther, warts and all, as a sinner justified in Christ, mastered by the ideals of being a “theologian of the cross.” This was evidenced in seemingly small ways, such as a tract written on prayer for a barber, yet ultimately, in his ability to effectively point to the cross as a source of perseverance through doubt, trial, the pain of death, and the common struggles of man. Personally, what resonated most deeply was the pastoral devotion Luther had for his congregants, sparing time for hospitality, developing catechisms for the maturation of their faith, and utilizing the cross as the means by which we grow to love God. For the clarity with which Trueman writes and this brief, yet illuminating work upon the life of Luther, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway Books through the Beyond the Page book reviewer program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

Can You Believe It’s True?

CanYouBelieve While I disagree with Feinberg in respect to his approach to apologetics (he is evidential, I subscribe to presuppositional), I nonetheless appreciated reading this book. In the post-modern epoch, Feinberg seeks to build a defense in proposal of being able to definitively and qualitatively proclaim truth. Whether we agree on initial premises of apologetic approach, it was nonetheless beneficial for me to understand why he disagrees with presuppositional apologetics, yet also, glean from his understanding of post-modernism and his framework in dealing with the evidences he puts forth.

The book itself stands with much to merit. Feinberg splits the book into three sections, the first being an introduction to modernity and postmodernity. This is truly the point in which I think Feinberg does an excellent job, as he respectively moves through each of these intellectual fields. In this, he highlights both strengths and weaknesses associated with these post-enlightenment ideals, namely demonstrating how post-modernism displays a healthy skepticism of blind appeals to authority, yet on the far other end of the spectrum, casts doubts on the credibility of anything. In this, he rightfully attributes the folly behind the unequivocal, “there is no truth but what is true for you and what is true for me, even if they don’t coincide.”

Once we move beyond this point of the book, he introduces a section devoted to approaching Christian apologetics. While it is clear that Feinberg does not agree with the presuppositional stance, he does note five significant contributions to the field of apologetics.

  1. Everyone has presuppositions and this figures in to our worldview.
  2. The Holy Spirit is needed within apologetics for it to be successful.
  3. Human reason is finite and subjected to the affect of sin.
  4. Scripture does teach that God has been made apparent to everyone.
  5. The strategy of exposing contradictions and demonstrating absurdities in contrary worldviews.

In the third portion of the book, Feinberg moves on to giving defense to particular areas in debate from secular sources:

  • The problem of evil.
  • The reliability of the gospels.
  • The resurrection of Christ.
  • The issue of religious pluralism.

In either case, those looking to read on apologetics will stand to benefit from this section as well.

On the whole, while I disagree on a foundational level – I would recommend reading this book. Feinberg is charitable in his disagreements with presuppositional apologetics and argues winsomely for his case. Yet ultimately, I feel he falls short of the true nature of man in respect to their ability to know truth. If we factor in the ministry of Satan upon the earth to keep unbelievers in their respective blindness, their predisposed, utter inability to understand God in their darkened minds, and the devastating affect sin has upon our intellect, it would seem evident that mankind, apart from the illuminating work of the Spirit, cannot agree even on the relative bodies of Christian truth to their fullness. Instead, they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, leaving any evidences for God to be rejected along with the foundational truths of the scriptures.

Though common revelation is given to man on the basis of natural revelation, ultimately, this is only sufficient to condemn. For true agreement to be reached between a non-Christian and Christian, the common basis is found in the root of truth: the God of all truth. If one does not believe in God, the route by which they come to adhere to any Christian truth is not due to intellectual ability or logical deduction – it is revelatory.

While these truths can lead one to accept the probability of there being a god, it does not necessitate that they believe in the One true God. Hence, it is still an under-girded presupposition on the basis of their own intellectual ability and preconceived ways they are able to study/view the world and how it functions. These presuppositions, namely from a darkened soul that does not understand or seek God (Romans 3:11), gird how they view and explain the evidence. Even if consistent agreement is found, it does not indicate that they are any closer to believing it to be evidence for God than when they first started. Apart from the saving grace of God, they cannot come to believe the foundational truths, which lead one to salvation.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway Books through the Beyond the Page book reviewer program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

The First Time We Saw Him

9780801016301Matt Mikalatos sets out with a noble goal in his book, The First Time We Saw Him. The intended purpose of the book appeals to understanding the scriptures with fresh eyes, namely, the eyes we once saw them with at the initial point of salvation. In these early months of receiving the gift of faith, we read with veracity, having scales fall off of our eyes due to the cleansing effect of His word upon our souls.

While he never goes into an in depth description of what discipleship is, Matt aptly points out that discipleship is not simply a body of information that needs dissemination to new converts. Rather, it is modeling this behavior in light of having the correct information from scripture. Thus, it is akin to Paul saying, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Orthodoxy meets and informs Orthopraxy. Though we don’t know the principles by which Mikalatos informs his understanding of Orthodoxy – this statement is incredibly solid.

His writing is clear and articulates what he desires to within the text. Simply stated, this book is easily accessible to those who have difficulty reading and maintaining focus. However, Matt takes liberty with common parables of scripture by rewriting them. Many convey a similar intended meaning yet ultimately fail to do justice to the text.

One specific example is in respect to the parable of the Good Samaritan. However, instead of the Samaritan being a Samaritan, Mikalatos changes the character to a practicing Muslim. Surely, Matt displays the “Good Samaritan-Muslim” as the one who exhibits compassion upon the needy soul as others whom we would expect to act pass by unflinchingly. However, the context of this parable is in reference to salvation.

Remember, the expert in the law asks Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This parable hinges off of the premise that saving faith is one that understands not only the facts of salvation, but puts them into practice. Matt specifically writes in his dialogue of the parable, “Could the teacher be saying that a man like this is closer to eternal life than a respected pastor or seminary student [who do not respond accordingly]?”

The intended point in this passage is not to diminish a proper understanding of the Law – but that a true understanding of it brings about a heart of compassion. In other words, Matt’s “Muslim Samaritan” is not closer to eternal life, as his beliefs are still damnable. The illustration used asks that if one has poor or false teaching and is still merciful – how might the one who understands what the Law requires reconcile deliberate disobedience to it?

Beyond this, we see Christ portrayed on the cross in the manner of a kicking and struggling, unwilling participant in the crucifixion. This is horribly inadequate and against what scripture teaches. Christ went willingly to the cross, enduring the punishment and despising the shame of it – however, He did so with full intentionality and without complaint, bowing in submission to the Father to accomplish His will.

While Matt aptly highlights some of the costs associated with following Christ, and respectively, not following Him – one of them is not eternal separation. Beyond this, he treats the cost of following Christ without particular clarity. Part of this is obedience to the scriptures, another, losing one’s life (as Piper so eloquently puts it, “picking up the means of your execution and carrying it to the place of execution). Following Christ requires a large cost – yet not following Christ requires a large debt that cannot be satiated by those who are not in Christ. It is more than missing out on a transformed life – it is missing out on restored fellowship to your Creator and subsequently being damned to eternal punishment.

The larger problems in this book are not theological premises, but attitudinal. Namely, Matt never addresses the heart behind one’s lack of desire for scripture and how to read it, nor plainly, the sin in this. What is paraded instead is an appeal to emotion – ultimately implying that there is something wrong with the person who picks up their bible in the morning to be faithful, and doesn’t feel anything when they read it. In other words, when we read the scripture (especially the words of Christ – seemingly, displaying more of the red-letter preference nonsense) we ought to be touched in our hearts every single time.

To be clear – I am not saying that one ought not feel anything in the midst of reading scripture. However, I will emphatically argue that being faithful to dive deeply into the recesses of God’s revelation to mankind is not about getting the fuzzy-duzzies. For an excellent treatment of this, read this link.

The attitude with which one ought to bring to reading the scriptures is not one of sensationalism, but of desiring to know the Lord and His active plan in redemptive history and how that affects those whom are called. Moreover, ask questions like the following (and more): What do the scriptures teach about the condition of man? In what ways is the gospel applicable to my current situation? In what ways do I need to repent? In what ways can I further understand God, His purpose for the church, and His sanctifying work in my life? In what ways do I need to understand how to share this with others? How does this particular passage fit within its context – and how then does it apply to the church? What does the passage teach is the proper response to the truth I am reading? How then, do I practically respond in obedience to the truth that I am confronted with in order to please God?

Overall, I would not recommend this book. Another title I would recommend in its place would be: How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers http://www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

Why I Review Books

img_7378-stack-of-books-q67-303x500Before I publish my next book review, I want to give some insight into why I even bother with doing book reviews. In Evangelical Christianity, we see a plethora of new books added to the stockpile of literature every year. Some excellent titles are brought forth from publishers (even from within publishers we would not expect). However, some really bad books are also put to print.

Many have a tendency to read books without much of a filter. They take in everything they can from a piece of literature without thinking of the source, the theological statements, the added principles between those statements, or the philosophy of this age that is present within it. In other words, some will ingest and mimic an author’s poor hermeneutic and presuppositions in their own personal studies of God’s Word.

As a seminarian, my explicit goal is to weed through as many books as I am able and share not only my recommendations, but also the books I would stay far away from. This is why I am so keen to review books of all different genres within the sphere of Christian lit. By leaving the selection process as open as I have, I am given more opportunity to review books from various authors (some I have heard of, some I have not).

A vitally important part of this process, that I embark on in every book I read, is to do some research on the author. I try to find out their history. I ask questions like: what other publications, be it articles or books or blogs, do they have? What is their bible study method (liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between; allegorical or literal)? What is the quality of their character (do they exhibit godliness and a desire to please God)? Whom do they associate with?

Now this last question is asking in whom they would align themselves within the field of teachers. In clearer candor – do they call heretics “brothers”; are they part of the Emergent Church; etc.? In finding out whom they rub elbows with, I can get a fragmented, but useful bit of information on what they believe about the bible. The rest I glean from their writings to either confirm or disprove my speculations.

To be clear: this part of the process does not start until about halfway through the book. I want the book to be able to speak for itself. I desire to give it a chance to be removed from the author and examined on it’s own merit. Truthfully, that doesn’t really happen, as the author’s presuppositions will always carry into the text (just as mine do in these reviews).

However, I still do this in the hopes that I don’t let my opinion of the author carry over into their writing. The author’s writing will form more of an opinion to me than any other thing that I spend research time on. This is really where we find out what they believe. If their theology is lacking, it will present itself in the text. If they are lazy writers, have an unbiblical agenda, misquote or twist scripture, have liberal or conservative theology, have a legitimate love for God’s Word and His people; it will be present in the text.

It is through this whole process that I hope to build a library of resources I can confidently give to other people and know that it will be a profitable read for them. I would rather take time out of my own life to sift through some books in order to help others who may not have that same time. I am a fast reader; I love to read; I can consume a 300-page book in a few days and I know how to mine it for gold. That being said, I also know how to identify if it is just good kindling.

Some people don’t have those skills or simply have not developed them yet. It is my hope that they can choose a recommendation from me that is thoroughly biblical and enjoyable to read. What is more of a hope for me though is that they will see a bad review and understand that some things are simply not worth wasting your time to read. Choose a book that you know will be profitable for you and bring edification to the church. Choose a book that you know will be biblical.

There are so many bad books out there – especially within the field of Christian authors. I am amazed how many actually get published. But – there are some excellent authors who dive into the text, adequately handle the Word, and give us the fruit of their labors.

I can promise you – I have an agenda. It is to find books worthy of your time. It is to find books that proselytize a pure, unadulterated message.

Taking God at His Word

Taking-God-Word-3D-880x1024 copyIn light of the book reviews I have been doing lately, Kevin DeYoung provides a much-needed breath of fresh air in his basic primer to the defense of the biblical canon. He introduces the book, divulging that by no means will it be an exhaustive treatment of this topic, but rather, in saying that he will simply use the bible to explain why the bible is sufficient, inerrant,  perspicuous (clear), infallible, and inspired.

Opening with Psalm 119, DeYoung moves forward to demonstrate the believer’s response to all that scripture declares itself to be. Namely, that the believer delights in the revealed Word of God, he desires it, and he depends on it. In having the first chapter of this book sow the intended result, he now moves forward to demonstrate each of the aforementioned attributes associated to the Word of God.

Here are some notable quotes from the book:

  • “No one who truly delights in God’s word will be indifferent to the disregarding of it.” (Pg. 18)
  • “Nowhere do Jesus or the apostles ever treat the Old Testament as human reflections on the divine. It is instead the voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:25Heb. 3:7) and God’s own breath (2 Tim. 3:16).” (Pg. 64)
  • “Counselors can counsel meaningfully because Scripture is sufficient. Bible study leaders can lead confidently because Scripture is clear. Preachers can preach with boldness because their biblical text is authoritative. And evangelists can evangelize with urgency because Scripture is necessary.” (Pg. 90)
  • “Our Messiah sees himself as an expositor of Scripture, but never a corrector of Scripture. He fulfills it, but never falsifies it. He turns away wrong interpretations of Scripture, but insists there is nothing wrong with Scripture, down to the crossing of t’s and dotting of i’s.” (Pg. 100)
  • “The unity of Scripture also means we should be rid, once and for all, of this ‘red letter’ nonsense, as if the words of Jesus are the really important words in Scripture and carry more authority and are somehow more directly divine than other verses. . . . If we read about homosexuality from the pen of Paul in Romans, it has no less weight or relevance than if we read it from the lips of Jesus in Matthew. All Scripture is breathed out by God, not just the parts spoken by Jesus.” (Pgs. 116-17)
  • “Ultimately we believe the Bible because we believe in the power and wisdom and goodness and truthfulness of the God whose authority and veracity cannot be separated from the Bible. We trust the Bible because it is God’s Bible. And God being God, we have every reason to take him at his word.” (Pg. 122)

One can quickly see that if liberal treatment of scripture is your thing, you will not likely enjoy this book. It is a conservative approach to the defense of the scriptures. Frankly, in a generally biblically illiterate Christian culture, this book would serve well for many people as an introduction on how we ought to understand the quality and substance of our bibles.

Rather than emphatically placing weight on the experiential wares found in more charismatic circles, we find purpose in the revealed Word of God. There is no other perfect means by which we can understand the mind of God, nor is there any replacement to the invaluable, life-giving, breathed-out scriptures.

The content and clarity with which Kevin DeYoung writes, lends this book to be an engaging, profitable, and short read. Beyond a few clunky sentence structures and grammatical mistakes, I found nothing wrong with this book or the ideas he proposes. No dangerous theological statements – no misquoted scriptures; just a thoroughly enjoyable and biblical book to read.

When I think of books like this, it reminds me of the rich heritage the Christian faith has: men and women suffered and died simply to share a message from a book they believed with all their substance to be the very word of God.

I think of a man like William Tyndale, strangled and then burned, because he saw the power of the Word and desired to bring it to the masses in their native tongues for this simple, yet profound reason:

“I defy the pope and his laws! If God spares my life, in a few years a plow boy shall know more of the Scriptures than you do.”

When we deny the doctrines on the defense of the canon, we are forfeiting not only that rich heritage, but also the sentiment of Peter when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

This book we call scripture is not filled with truths – it is the truth.

 

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway Books through the Beyond the Page book reviewer program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.