This year, 2017, marks the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. One of the fundamental commitments of the reformers was sola Scriptura, Scripture alone. Some question if that commitment to the ultimate authority of the Bible is relevant today.
Barrett argues for the divine inspiration and ultimate authority of Scripture. He defines sola Scriptura, “...only Scripture, because it is God's inspired Word, is our inerrant, sufficient, and final authority for the church.” (25) Scripture is not the only authority but it is the final authority over all others.
Barrett explores the history of the Bible and authority from the Reformation to modern times, including how views of biblical authority have changed over the centuries. He gives a biblical theology of God's Word in the context of covenant. He defends biblical authority, Scripture's clarity, inerrancy, efficiency, and sufficiency, all in light of modern challenges
Having a science background, I paid particular attention to Barrett's discussion about the Bible's inerrancy and science. He notes that many Christians today tend to rate science as having the same authority as the Bible, or perhaps superior to it. Many view Scripture through the grid of science. He suggests we give “attention to the many ways in which the Bible's authority can be compromised at the expense of adopting evolutionary claims.” (364) Science, he says, when done right “will always conform to the truths of Scripture.” (366) He writes in his section on the Bible's inerrancy, “So whether it is doctrine, morality, history, or even life sciences, its assertions are truthful and trustworthy.” (266) He does, however, suggest eight qualifiers, such as recognizing the literary genre and that the biblical authors did not use the technical language of modern science. While Barrett does well defending the authority of the Bible against philosophical challenges, he comes up short on the issue with science.
This book is a good introduction to the issue of Scripture and its authority. Barrett has included helpful explanations of postmodernism and deconstructionism. He includes a great deal of other information about the Bible, such as the six theories of inspiration. He also has good background information on Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin for the modern reader. It is a good book to draw Christians back to the Bible as our “final authority and sufficient rule...” (371) Just don't expect it to answer all of your questions.
This is one of five books being released by Zondervan to celebrate the five solas of the Reformation. You can see my reviews of the previously released books: Faith Alone and God's Glory Alone. Christ Alone and Grace Alone will be releasing in April of 2017.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Matthew Barrett (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville) is Tutor of Systematic Theology and Church History at Oak Hill Theological College in London. He is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine, is the author of several previous books, and the editor of the Zondervan sola series. He and his wife have four children. You can find out more at http://www.matthewmbarrett.com/. You can read the free online Credo Magazine at http://www.credomag.com/.
Zondervan, 416 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.