Sunday, October 30, 2016

Biblical Authority After Babel by Kevin J. Vanhoozer

Some say the Reformation “loosed interpretive anarchy upon the world.” The priesthood of every believer means lay individuals interpret Scripture just as theologians do. Is that a good idea? How do Christians judge when interpretations differ?

Vanhoozer contends that retrieving the five Reformation solas will help address the issue of interpretive pluralism. They “provide a pattern for reading Scripture theologically that enables Protestant unanimity on theological essentials...”

He begins with grace. To misunderstand grace means we'll go wrong everywhere else. In exploring faith, he investigates the Spirit's work in the believer and the principle of authority. He continues by looking at Scripture along in the context of the other solas and tradition. He explores the meaning of Christ alone and ends with the concept of all to God's glory alone.

Vanhoozer concludes that the answer to the variety of biblical interpretations is not found in a supreme church authority. Rather, he has given a framework within which Protestant churches can negotiate interpretive disagreements and even benefit from them. This can lead to a peaceful unity-in-diversity experience.

I really like his positive attitude about denominations. Just like there are four gospels to give a fuller picture of Christ on earth, perhaps there are various Protestant traditions to witness to Jesus in a variety of ways. No one Protestant church exhausts the richness of the gospel.

I recommend this book to those interested in ecumenism or promoting community among Protestant churches. It would be a good book for city pastor groups to read and discuss. It's also a good book for anyone wanting to review their practices of biblical interpretation.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He previously taught at Wheaton College and the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of several books.

Brazos Press, 288 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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