The Bible is endlessly controversial.
I know because I’m a pastor and these are the things people argue with me about. Often they keep it to themselves, but I know most people have questions about the Bible.
Here are a few of the real conversations I’ve had recently:
- Isn’t most of the Bible just made up?
- Isn’t the Bible just full of rules?
- How do you believe the Bible since no archeology or science agrees with it?
- Doesn’t the Bible teach the world is flat?
- Since Paul and Jesus disagree, why don’t you just follow the gospel of John?
- Other things like this.
These questions aren’t weird to me. I’ve asked similar questions myself. For the record, I still trust the Scriptures and don’t think I’m ignorant or naive to do so. Still, I’ve listened to enough of Bart Ehrman and people like him where I’ve had to wrestle with challenges and concerns about the Bible.
The thing that I’ve always come back to seems perhaps too simple, but it’s compelling for me: Jesus trusted the Bible. That’s good enough for me.
That said, I’m not naive enough to believe that’s good enough for everyone. I’m also aware that there are still likely hundreds of questions that “Jesus trusted the Bible” doesn’t answer. Luckily, we have Andrew Wilson’s great book Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said about the Word of God. While this is a short read, it’s also a robust treatment of what Jesus taught about the Bible.
Since I finished reading it by the fire 15 minutes ago, it’s already become my go-to book for an initial answer about the Bible.
Why this book matters
Simply put, it checked all my boxes for practical resources that help everyday Christians.
- Simple and clear. I had a theology class in college where we had a discussion about at least 7 different views concerning the inerrancy of the Bible. That conversation wasn’t clear. It wasn’t simple. Wilson’s book is the opposite of that conversation.
- To the point. I love reading theologians, but few are know for being concise. Wilson has succinctly given us a gem here. For example, I read Unbreakable by the fire tonight, and I’ll finish this review before bed.
- Readable and engaging. The book reads like you’re having a pint or a cup of tea with a friend.
- Helpful! Don’t confuse accessible with overly simplistic. By laying out what Jesus said about God’s word, Wilson provides a profoundly helpful foundation for real discussions about the Bible.
I don’t think I’ve ever quoted an endorsement of a book when explaining it, but Justin Taylor summarizes the book well:
This short book is a perfect combination: one of my favourite writers, with brilliant thinking and a breezy style, tackles one of the most important issues you could ever consider. The argument is simple yet profound: when it comes to the doctrine of Scripture, we cannot go wrong if we hold to the perspective of Jesus.Justin Taylor
Why you should read it
We’re focused on being a church that multiplies healthy disciples of Jesus. If we’re serious about that, doesn’t it make sense that we should think about the Bible the way that Jesus did?
It seems so simple but it’s a rare approach. Christians tend to make theological proofs, define fancy words, and jump into textual criticism approaches before we ask the simple question, “What did Jesus say about the Word?”
Jesus trusted the Bible is enough for me, and Unbreakable has put flesh on that basic thought for me.
“When we read the Scriptures, Jesus is the centrepiece. He’s the one the photographer was trying to capture. We’re there too, in the background, and we can appreciate that and give thanks for it. But the Bible isn’t about you. It’s about him.”Wilson, Andrew. Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said About the Word of God. 10Publishing. Kindle Edition.
There are a number of fantastic metaphors and illustrations that put the Scriptures in a helpful light. His image of a minister being in a wedding photo but not the point is especially helpful to understand how we should think about ourselves in relation to the Bible.
Wilson’s explanation of the story of the Bible is worth the $2.89 on Kindle I paid for the book. Trust me.
Wilson includes five principles of biblical interpretation in the epilogue. They are gold for growing in faithful biblical interpretation. They aren’t perfect, and they aren’t complete, but they are a fantastic starting place:
- “When interpreted correctly, with careful attention paid to context, purpose, genre and authorial intention, the Scriptures do not contain mistakes.”
- “The primary way of establishing the meaning of a text is to establish what the original author meant their original audience to understand.”
- “The Bible is a big story, and the big story is authoritative for all Christians, although instructions given in one part of the story are not necessarily binding on those who live in other parts of the story.”
- “We live in the same part of the story as the New Testament church, and therefore we should obey all instructions given to believers in the New Testament, unless there are clear indications that they only apply to specific individuals.”
- “Obeying New Testament instructions will sometimes require cultural translation, where the meaning of symbols has changed across the centuries, in order to preserve the meaning of the original symbols.”
For any of us who desires to grow in your knowledge of the Scriptures, I can’t recommend Unbreakable enough.