There are countless books out there on the topic of the canon. How exactly do we have the Scriptures, what are they exactly, who is the intended readership? There are plenty of books on covenant. What is a covenant, how exactly does the Old Testament real are to the New? There are plenty of books ok Christology. How was Jesus, what’s the significance of his life and death, why should I care?
Whilst many of these books are very helpful and are full of information that I think every Christian should know, they can be one sided. By that I mean they can either take a systematic theological approach of the respective topic, or a Biblical theology approach. In this great book, Matthew Barrett, does both. I liked this book so much because it explains deep theological truths in an understandable way. I’ve read a number of theological books that are simply verbose and archaic in their language to prove a point. However, this book is understandable whilst not loosing its depth.
Our doctrine of Scripture, how we divine what the Bible is and where it can from is very important. If as Christians we claim that Scripture is the Word of God,we need to be able to defend that and argue it. To do so people might go to a few well known passages in the New Testament, but this book help the Christian explore that in much more depth. Here’s what Barrett says about his own book…
“While this book is a positive presentation rather than a polemical one, I do hope it will fortify evangelicals and remind them that their doctrine of Scripture depends not on a few proof texts but is far more organic, grounded as it is in the character of God, his covenantal speech and Christological fulfilment. Biblical theology is crucial to a right understanding of Scripture’s inspiration and unity”
But how do we view Scripture? We often use the phrase God breathed from 2 Timothy 3:16 and that is absolutely right and necessary. However, often the discussion about the Bible can revolve around the human authors and not about God and His Grand story that’s revealed in the Bible.
“Rather than a collection of man’s highest thoughts about God, the Christian Scripture is God’s self-communication to humanity about who he is and what he has done to redeem a lost race in Adam. Inspiration guarantees that the canon’s many stories tell one story; there is a single story to be told, in other words, because there is a single divine author, who has declared himself to be its architect and creator. He is not only the main actor in the drama of redemption but the drama’s scriptwriter.”
Our view of Scripture is so important because it effects the way that we read and interpret Scripture…
“Whenever a text is interpreted one must not only consider the human author and his historical background but must also consider what God is saying through the human author, taking into account the rest of redemptive history, some of which the human author may or may not understand in its eschatological entirety.”
In the book you will find a helpful examination of certain doctrines, you will find exegetical work on key passage pertaining to the identity of Christ, and you will read the words of a man who love the Lord and His Word. I would recommend this book to theological students who are studying, or have a particular interest in, the topics of the canon, covenant theology, Christology and the doctrine of Scripture. It would also be a helpful book for pastors because Barrett expounds a number of Bible passages that could help us see the bigger picture.
This book is more academic than others i would normally review, but it would be worth your while if you took it up to read. I’ll end with the same words that Barrett concludes his book with…
“To conclude, it is time evangelicals stop letting others have all the dogmatic fun. It is also time to erase the myth that an evangelical doctrine of inerrancy is antithetical to Christology (i.e. without Christological warrant). For as it turns out, the evangelical doctrine of inerrancy has a Christological foundation that is far sturdier than that of its critics, for it not only solidifies itself in who Jesus is but also in what he has said.”
Matthew Barrett is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the executive editor of Credo Magazine. Author of numerous books, including None Greater, God’s Word Alone, 40 Questions About Salvation, John Owen on the Christian Life and Salvation by Grace. Editor of The Doctrine by Which the Church Stands or Falls and Reformation Theology. Host of the Credo podcast where he talks with fellow theologians about the most important doctrines of the faith.