There are aspects of the Christian faith, certain foundational truths, that are so crucial that if they were eliminated or even minimized, Christianity would soon lose its distinctiveness and its vitality. One of these is the evangelical, conservative view of the inspiration and inerrancy of God’s Word. If you have ever wanted to dig a little deeper into these issues, especially in a modern context, this book will get the job done!
This is an honest book that faces the challenges of changing attitudes towards the doctrine of Scripture, specifically in the past 150 years. The modern age has seen the rise of liberal criticism that often views the Bible as an ancient book with no relevance or authority in our lives now. This view has experienced major growth during this time, and Nichols and Brandt do well in not only giving both conservative and liberal sides a voice in this book, but also exposing the downfall of a higher criticism that raises man and reason above God and His Word.
The layout and method of the book is simple. It takes a look at three main issues regarding the truthfulness and authority of the Scriptures: inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation. Chapters 1, 3, and 5 treat the development of these doctrines respectively. Chapters 2, 4, and 6 are unique in that they provide readings in primary sources, letting those in the debate over these doctrines speak for themselves. This allows the reader to trace the development and the tension between both the conservative and liberal views, and to read straight from the source to see how damaging and harmful higher criticism has been for the doctrine of Scripture.
The thrust of the book can be summed up in this way:
“Scripture claims to be more than the words of ancient authors dispensing ancient wisdom for ancient people. The Bible claims to be inspired. As such, the Bible lays claim to transcending its age and speaking authoritatively to the modern age, the age of science and of reason.” (p. 20)
This was very helpful in giving a brief glimpse into the importance of these doctrines. Often many books are long and technical that cover the doctrines of Scripture, but this one is delightfully brief and does not feel like a systematic textbook (I have nothing against systematic theologies)! If read well, you will come away from this book with a stronger grounding in the truths of inspiration and inerrancy, seeing the reasons why it is necessary that God’s Word is truly words from God and is complete truth from beginning to end. You will also see the dangers of straying away from this standpoint.
E.J Young says:
“To maintain that there are flaws or errors in [the Bible] is the same as declaring that there are flaws or error in God Himself…” (p. 94)
There is a whole world out there that does not take God’s Word seriously. It is just assumed these days that the Scriptures are full of flaws and errors, and written by ancient people with no relevance to our modern (and now postmodern) lives. Nichols and Brandt do a great job calming these thoughts and questions we may have about the relevancy of the Scriptures, pointing us back to the value of a truly inspired and inerrant Word of God.
Read & Repeat