Three New Books on the Bible
I’ve often been asked what, in my opinion, is the best book ever written on the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of the Scriptures. It’s not an easy question to answer. Continue reading . . .
I’ve often been asked what, in my opinion, is the best book ever written on the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of the Scriptures. It’s not an easy question to answer. When I first started out in ministry in the 1970’s there were few to which I might point. B. B. Warfield’s classic work, Revelation and Inspiration, was usually the go-to text on the subject. I would also direct people to two books by J. I. Packer: Fundamentalism and the Word of God (his first published volume on Scripture) and later, Truth & Power. More recently John Frame’s excellent treatment, The Doctrine of the Word of God, and Kevin DeYoung’s shorter volume, Taking God at His Word, have served us well.
But three new books are of an extraordinary quality and will likely be the first that I recommend in the days ahead.
I mention first John Piper’s new book, A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness (Crossway, 302 pp.). What makes this volume so helpful is that Piper does not amass classical historical, archaeological, and literary evidence that supports the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible (although he clearly believes that such has a place of value). Instead, he cites the Bible’s testimony concerning itself and its divine origin. The self-authenticating nature of Scripture is the focus of the book. Says Piper:
“What this implies is that when God says, ‘Thus says the Lord,’ we are obliged to believe it not merely because that’s what the word says, but because the glory of the speaker and what he says is manifestly divine. My argument is that the glory of God in and through the Scriptures is a real, objective, self-authenticating reality” (15).
The second volume is massive! D. A. Carson has edited a collection of incredibly insightful and scholarly articles on the origin, history, inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation of the Bible. It is titled, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 1240 pp.). Yes, that’s right . . . 1240 pages! This book about The Book is primarily compiled for scholars and pastors, but there is much that the average adult-educated Christian can gain from it. The range of topics covered is expansive and, dare I say, exhaustive.
The final volume may well become the one I recommend above and before all others. Next year is the 500th anniversary of the event that many identify as the launch of the Protestant Reformation (Oct. 31, 1517, and Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg). In conjunction with the many celebrations that are forthcoming, Zondervan is publishing five volumes, one each on the five “Solas” of the Reformation. Matthew Barrett has written the one on Sola Scriptura, entitled God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture (Zondervan, 402 pp.). This book is superb! Here is what I wrote in my endorsement of it:
“Perhaps the greatest crisis in the evangelical world today is the loss of any meaningful commitment to the functional authority of Scripture. While lip service is paid to biblical ‘inspiration’ and perhaps even some sense of the Bible’s ‘infallibility,’ the final, functional authority of inerrant Scripture to govern both our beliefs and behavior has gradually disappeared. This alone makes Matthew Barrett’s book on sola Scriptura so essential to the church in our day. If the Bible, and the Bible alone, isn’t our final and determinative authority, the church will have lost its bearings and be cast hopelessly adrift on the sea of personal subjectivity. It is a massive understatement to say this book is much needed today. I cannot recommend it too highly.”
I’m greatly encouraged by the release of these three volumes. By all means continue to draw on the insights of earlier contributions to this subject, but make these three your focus in the coming days. You won’t regret it!