Crossway’s ‘Foundations of Evangelical Theology’ has been a great series of systematic theology over the past few years. Each volume has tackled a foundational aspect of theology, and I have appreciated a number of them over recent year.
In the latest volume, the editor of the series, John Feinberg turns the focus on to another foundation – the doctrine of Scripture. This book could not have come at a better time, both personally where I have been completing studies in the doctrine at college, and in society where society seems to be scraping around in the darkness looking for the light of truth.
So, what does this book add to the fray? Well, firstly, what comes across in this volume is a man who believes, and loves, the doctrine of Scripture. A number of these types of book can be very dry and academic, but Feinberg does a brilliant job of keeping the content heavy, but not weighing the reader down as they go. I must admit it is a bit of a slog, but anything worth the effort is!
This volume is split into four parts:
- Creating scripture (revelation and inspiration)
- Characteristics of scripture (Inerrancy, infallibility and authority)
- Setting the boundaries (Canon)
- The usefulness of scripture (Illumination, perspicuity/clarity, animation, sufficiency and preservation)
Each of these parts were well researched and documented. I particularly enjoyed the section on canon, and this book is worth the price for that segment alone.
I really appreciated that Feinberg was very careful to avoid of circular arguments. Each time he made a statement that could be taken that way, he made sure to prove that it was not. This particularly shone through in the section on the canon formation – where he provides a very good defence.
The book concludes with the question ‘does it matter’? With many books of this type I find this question is often ignored, and I was pleased to see this chapter here – after all theology should always lead to doxology. Feinberg points this out: “If the various bibliological doctrines I have presented in this book merely describe what people have thought Scripture to be and what Scripture itself claims to be, then Scripture may actually be of little practical value to people in real life. On the other hand, if the truths of God’s word can be lived with the results Scripture promises to those who follow its teaching, then no right thinking person should ignore Scripture or relegate it to an inconsequential role in their thought and action.” He then goes on to show that this makes all the difference, not in a theoretical sense, but in a deeply personal way by telling his own testimony, and how his parent’s understanding of this doctrine worked it’s way out in his childhood. This is a really fascinating and apt way to end this volume.
I really enjoyed working through this book, especially at the same time as studying 2 Peter in our church home groups.
Overall, despite being hard work, I really enjoyed wading through this book. We have been studying 2 Peter in our church home groups, and studying that along side this book has been extremely valuable. I highly recommend this series, and this particular book for anyone who wants a well thought out doctrine of scripture. And who wouldn’t since it’s the light in a dark place that we all need.
Once again, a big thanks to Crossway for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book through their Blog Review Program.
Light in a dark place is out now in the UK!