Evangelicals rightly stress that the Bible should shape all of our lives. But if the Bible weren’t the inspired and inerrant Word of God, then Christians would just be spinning their wheels and wasting their lives.
How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? John Piper’s new book A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal their Complete Truthfulness (free PDF courtesy of DesiringGod.org) is an apologetic for the truth and power and authenticity of the Bible.
The book started as introductory thoughts for a different book about how to get the most from reading Scripture, but Piper couldn’t turn off the mental spigot of rich ideas, and thus the introduction spawned into an entire book on the subject. (Listen to the backstory.)
Piper’s thesis stems from three main sources: the Westminster Larger Catechism, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 (along with Jonathan Edwards’ comments on this passage), and Romans 4:20-21.
Q: “How doth it appear that the scriptures are the word of God?”
A: “The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God by…the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God.
—from the Westminster Larger Catechism
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20-21
Piper divides A Peculiar Glory in five parts and 17 chapters:
- Part One tells his story of God’s grace and glory in His life through the Scriptures. “My seven decades of experience with the Bible have not been mainly a battle to hold on. They have been a blessing of being held on to, namely, by beauty—that is, glory.”
- Part Two shares why the books that make up the Old and New Testament are able to be called Scripture.
- Part Three unpacks the authority Scripture claims for itself.
- Part Four asks “How can we know the Christian Scriptures are true?” and interacts with Edwards, Pascal’s wager, and Calvin’s teaching on the Spirit’s internal testimony.
- Part Five shares several ways how Scripture is confirmed by God’s peculiar glory the world, in Christ, in the fulfillment of prophecy, in miracles, and in the church.
A couple personal highlights
My favorite chapter in A Peculiar Glory was on Jonathan Edwards’ concern that many feel the need for many years of advanced study to have confidence in the truthfulness of the Scriptures. The jist of Edwards’ response: Why would God design it that way knowing so many people would never have access to such an education? And wouldn’t that then make human wisdom and learning an authority over God’s self-revealing Word.
This is the same line of reasoning Piper uses to share limitations of historical reasoning and Christian apologetics:
What turned my focus (not my approval or my interest) away from historical reasoning as a support for faith was the realization that most people in the world—especially in the less-educated, developing world—have neither the training nor the time to pursue such detailed arguments in support of their faith. And yet the Bible assumes that those who hear the gospel may know the truth of it and may stake their lives on it—indeed must stake their lives on it.
A Peculiar Glory is a very helpful book for Christians wanting to enrich their theological and rational understanding of why Christians can call the Bible the Word of God, and will serve as a compelling reminder of how God reveals His glory through a book. This book isn’t the definitive work on the subject, but I do see it as one that will help many Christians think through the Scriptures from angles they never before considered.
Like many longer Piper books (this one is about 300 pages), finishing A Peculiar Glory was a bit of a challenge for me. Even so, I’m convinced if you trek through A Peculiar Glory your faith in the God of the Scriptures will be strengthened and you will be encouraged to behold His peculiar glory in and through the Scriptures.
Title: A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal their Complete Truthfulness
Author: John Piper
An interview about the book with Michael Reeves