Tuesday 9 June 2009

John Stott on the Bible 1

John R.W. Stott, You Can Trust the Bible: Our Foundation for Belief and Obedience (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1991, first published in the UK by IVP in 1982 with the title The Bible: Book for Today).

One of the self-made problems of evangelicals when thinking about the Bible is the tendency to separate it from other areas of Christian doctrine, and look at it in isolation, or treat it as part of so-called ‘prolegomena’ – the stuff we have to do before we can do any proper theology.

But our discussions of Scripture really need to be informed by an understanding of God, Christ, the Spirit, salvation, and the church. In fact, recent years have seen repeated calls to do exactly this. They are calls which say that we can’t really separate Scripture from the God who speaks through it, from the Spirit who inspired and illumines it, from the Christ to whom it witnesses, from its role in God’s work of salvation, from its place in the formation of the church, etc.

So, it was with some interest and delight when I pulled this old Stott book off the shelf and looked at the contents page:

• Chapter 1: God and the Bible
• Chapter 2: Christ and the Bible
• Chapter 3: The Holy Spirit and the Bible
• Chapter 4: The Church and the Bible
• Chapter 5: The Christian and the Bible

In the Preface, Stott notes that the substance of the book started as a series of sermons, and that this is still seen in the style and level of the material and the fact that that each chapter seeks to expound a particular biblical passage related to the theme.

His three points in the Introduction draw attention to the Bible’s best-selling status, its neglected status, and its trustworthy status.

‘Certainly submission to the authority of Scripture, or, as I think we should express it better, submission to the authority of God as it is mediated to us through Scripture, has always been and still remains a major hallmark of evangelical Christians. We believe its instruction. We embrace its promises. We seek to obey its commands. Why so? Mainly because we believe the Bible is the Word of God, but also because He speaks to us through it with a living voice… It is God’s Word for today’s world’ (10).

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