BOOK REVIEWS

Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture – John Feinberg

lightJohn S. Feinberg, Light in a Dark Place (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 799pp.

Many issues have come to the forefront for Christians in recent years. However, I cannot think of an issue of greater importance than our view of the Word of God. This crucial matter is addressed by John Feinberg in his recent work, Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture. This is the latest installment in the Foundations of Evangelical Theology Series, which is also edited by Dr. Feinberg.

The Doctrine of Scripture (or Bibliology) is one of the branches of systematic theology and is the starting place for anyone who desires a thorough look at sacred Scripture. Indeed, our doctrine of Scripture frames our whole approach to the Christian life.

John Feinberg clearly and comprehensively outlines what Scripture, theology, and reason teach about the Word of God. He discusses in great detail the usual themes that occur in the study of Bibliology, including revelation, inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, authority, canonicity, illumination, perspicuity, sufficiency, and preservation. Each of these themes is subjected to careful study and analysis. Feinberg is meticulous in his approach and holds views that are Reformational, conservative, and informed by church history.

No stone is left unturned here. Light in a Dark Place is a massive piece of literature. Weighing in at nearly 800 pages, readers who desire an in-depth look at Bibliology will not be disappointed. Like the other volumes in the Foundations of Evangelical Theology Series, Feinberg’s work educates, encourages, and helps equip the next generation with the unshakeable, authoritative Word of God.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

The Son of God and the New Creation

sonGoldsworthy, Graeme, The Son of God and the New Creation, Wheaton: Crossway, 2015, 142 pp. $12.24

Graeme Goldsworthy has become a bit of a household name, especially as one considers the field of biblical theology. The Son of God and the New Creation is another solid contribution by Goldsworthy where he focuses on the second member of the Trinity and alerts readers to the mission of Jesus.

The author makes sure he establishes his bottom line:

Jesus as Son of God is also God the Son, the eternal second person of the Godhead. But our salvation and eternal destiny depend on his being the incarnate one who is revealed as Son of God. Jesus in his person and work, sums up the pattern of creation that establishes the nature of the kingdom of God.

This central thought is exposed and re-articulated in several ways as Goldsworthy reveals the person and work of Jesus from creation to consummation. “Jesus as the Son of God, by his death and resurrection, was putting the whole universe back together from the futility to which it has been subjected because of human rebellion against the Creator.”

The Son of God and the New Creation is designed for laymen but is a challenging read, nonetheless. I expect Goldsworthy’s work to be used in Bible Colleges and Seminaries and should be a welcome addition to every pastor’s theological library.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS · Calvinism · Theology

A Peculiar Glory

piperJohn Piper. A Peculiar Glory. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2016. 302 pp. $20.98

How is the Bible confirmed by the peculiar glory of God? This critical question is addressed in John Piper’s latest book, A Peculiar Glory. The book is written to nourish and edify followers of Christ and help bring clarity on the matter of biblical authority. Yet, initial reviews are troubling. One critic accuses Piper of “circular reasoning and arrogance.” In a Christianity Today review, Jason Byassee laments a “lack of charity” in Piper’s new book. And while he affirms that liberals and mainline denominations need “Christ-centered, biblically attentive doctrines of Scripture,” he doubles down in his critical review of Piper. “This book doesn’t quite fit that need” argues Byassee. I will argue, much to the contrary that not only does Piper succeed, he does it with grace, unmatched skill. Indeed, this work will leave a significant mark that will be difficult to surpass.

Peculiar Glory gives readers an inside look into the words of the Westminster Larger Catechism (Question 4): “The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God, by … the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God.”

Readers will discover the glory that occupies Piper’s attention (and should occupy ours as well) is the glory of Jesus Christ. Piper argues there is “an essence or a center or a dominant peculiarity in the way God glorifies himself in Scripture.” He observes that God glorifies himself in “working for those who wait for him, through fulfilled prophecy, the miracles of Jesus, and through Scripture-shaped lives of radical love. That dominant peculiarity is the revelation of God’s majesty through meekness.” And in the final analysis, we learn that the most intense aspect of God’s glory shines brightest in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has died for sinners and was raised and seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Piper’s conclusion is simple: “The Bible has final authority over every area of our lives and that we should, therefore, try to bring all our thinking and feeling and acting into line with what the Bible teaches.” He admits this is a massive claim of epic proportions:

The Bible is not the private charter of a faith community among other faith communities. It is a total claim on the whole world. God, the creator owner, and governor of the world, has spoken. His words are valid and binding on all people everywhere. That is what it means to be God. And to our astonishment, his way of speaking with unique, infallible authority in the twenty-first century is through a book. One book. Not many. That is the breathtaking declaration of the Christian Scriptures.

Piper’s concluding argument is laced with precision and resolve:

Only the divine ‘light of the gospel of the glory of Christ’ transforms the soul. Only divine light yields certainty that secures the soul for a life of love through the worst sufferings. Only the sight of God’s glory in his inspired word gives certainty to the simplest and the most educated person.

I commend A Peculiar Glory to followers of Christ who want to gain a deeper understanding of God’s word. This book will no doubt ground many believers in the deep soil of God’s grace and help nourish many souls so that God’s peculiar glory will manifest itself in their lives.

BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD – Kevin DeYoung (2014)

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung is yet another reminder that Mr. DeYoungword is for real.  He consistently churns out books which are readable and practical.  But more importantly, DeYoung writes books which are biblical.  His newest book is no exception.

The subtitle of DeYoung’s work accurately describes the essence of the book: “Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means For You and Me.”

DeYoung challenges readers to consider the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of Scripture.  This fine work will thrill conservative Christians and enrage liberals and postmodern compromisers.

At the end of the day, our approach to Scripture is what really matters.  DeYoung summarizes: “Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God.  Rebellion against the Scriptures is rebellion against God.”  May Christ-followers maintain a strong and robust doctrine of Scripture in the difficult days to come.  Taking God at His Word is strong encouragement for faithful Christians who love the Bible.

4 stars

CHRISTIAN LIFE · JONAH

THE WORD OF THE LORD AND THE RELUCTANT PROPHET

“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”” (Jonah 1:1–2, ESV)

It must have hit Jonah like a load of bricks.  It’s not as if it came out of the blue, for Jonah was a prophet of God.  But when the word of the Lord came to Jonah on this day, his job was especially challenging.  God told Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”  Note three crucial realities that concern this word of the LORD.

First, the word of the LORD is divine speech

The word of the LORD is a sacred edict; it is a precept; indeed it is a royal mandate.  Since this word comes from Yahweh, it carries divine weight; it is laden with divine authority.  Four characteristics mark this divine speech:

1. It is non-negotiable.  The Psalmist says, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Ps. 119:89).  One might argue, “Did not Abraham negotiate with God?  Did not Moses try his hand at the sacred bargaining table?”  Clearly, there are examples of biblical characters who took turns at negotiating with God.  However, who wins in the final analysis?  Who gets the final say?  Yahweh always has the final word.  Therefore, the word of the LORD is non-negotiable.

2. It stands the test of time.  My late Grandfather, V.W. Steele used to say, “Men and movements die.  But the word of the LORD remains forever.”  Fads fade, ideology wanes, and the collective zeitgeist washes over culture like waves on the seashore.  But the word of the LORD stands eternally.  “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 40:8).  The word of the LORD stands the test of time.

3. It is dependable.  “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Ps. 119:160)

4. It fulfills the plan of God.  The word of the LORD is uniquely qualified to perfectly fulfill the intentions of a sovereign God.  “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

Second, the word of the LORD is God’s appointed way of communicating his character and commands

Herein lies the importance of propositional revelation.  Francis Schaeffer reminds us, “He has spoken, in verbalized, propositional form, and he has told us what his character is.”  Simply put, God uses words to tell us what he is like and what he expects from us, namely – he reveals himself to us.  Let us never forget that the unbelieving world rejects this propositional revelation.  For instance, the evolutionist who believes in the uniformity of natural causes in a closed-system rejects propositional revelation.  It is bunk.  It is nonsense.  This man is autonomous.  He’s not listening.  And this kind of irreverent thinking is tantamount to cosmic treason!

Third, the word of the LORD demands a response

Our response to the word of the LORD should be unconditional, unhindered, and enthusiastic.  In short, people everywhere are required to obey the word of the LORD.  When one receives a word from the LORD, one must remember who the word comes from .  Our response should be rooted and grounded in who we know the LORD to be:  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4).  “This is a confession of lordship,” argues John Frame.  “Therefore, he deserves all our love and allegiance.”

The prophet, Jonah struggled with obeying the word of the LORD.  Oh, the Christ-followers everywhere would learn the lesson of Jonah and respond favorably to the word of the LORD.  He is worthy our unfettered obedience!