Monday, November 23, 2009

Ancient Word, Changing Worlds: A Book Review

In the book of Genesis, we find in chapter 3 verse 1 the first recorded words of Satan—“Indeed, has God said…” (NASB) From the beginning, Satan has attempted to cast doubt or even to destroy the word of God. In the past 150 years, the word of God has come under attack as never before. However, the most vicious attacks have not come from outside the church by scientists who sneer at the idea of God creating the world out of nothing or by philosophers who dismiss the Bible as just another book.

In fact, the most sinister attacks have been from those who call themselves “Christians” but who reject the idea that the Bible is the word of God with all the authority that being the word of God entails. The book Ancient Word, Changing Worlds: The Doctrine of Scripture in a Modern Age written by Stephen J. Nichols and Eric T. Brandt seeks to give a solid overview of the fundamental doctrines of scripture (inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation) by reviewing some of the writings of major theological figures in the debate over these key issues regarding the Bible ranging across denominations from the end of the 19th century through the new millennium. While the book itself is not very long, it does an excellent job of packing quite a bit of information in a concise, accessible format that would be useful for all Christians interested in defending God’s word.

First of all, the book is a fairly quick read. Including three appendixes, the book totals only 175 pages. Furthermore, each chapter is laid out logically presenting both the arguments for and against the conservative evangelical position including material from a wide variety of scholars. The book is full of good information without being overly technical. A person could read the book in under a week without having to devote a undue amount of time to reading it.

Second of all, the book does an outstanding job of tracing the development of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the modern age, going all the way back to the Princeton Theologians Charles Hodge and B.B. Warfield. While not giving an exhaustive examination of all their writings, the authors do a splendid job of including some of their major writings on the subjects covered while also providing a fair examination of the opinions of dissenting theologians. In short, a person who read this book would come away with a solid foundation of the major points related to the inerrancy, inspiration, and interpretation of the sacred text.

In short, I highly recommend this book. It would make an excellent addition to any Christian’s library and would also work well for a small group study. In a world where the word of God is constantly under attack, it is imperative for all Christians to be able to give solid answers to the hard questions regarding the reliability of the word of God.

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