Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God

As many readers of this blog are no doubt aware, there seems to be a continual stream of new books flowing off the presses these days on the doctrine of Scripture--many of them undermining the historic evangelical perspective, some implicitly but most explicitly. We are in serious need of new books that state the old truths in fresh ways interacting with the various problems and challenges that have arisen.

It looks like Timothy Ward--who did his doctoral dissertation under Kevin Vanhoozer and currently serves as vicar at Holy Trinity Hinckley in Leicestershire, England--has produced such a work at the thoughtful level: Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God, due out in North America from IVP in July 2009 (available now for pre-order).

Here is Vanhoozer's take on the book:
"I have been on the lookout for a compelling and contemporary treatment of the nature and authority of Scripture for years. I ask of every promising new title, 'Are you the one who is to come, or shall I look for another?' Ward's book may be the one. Words of Life rightly roots its thinking about Scripture in the doctrine of God, and that means trinitarian theology. His central insight: God's word is something that God does. The Bible is not simply an object to be studied but the principal means by which the Lord engages his people and administers his covenant. Ward is a British pastor-theologian in the best sense of the term. The deft treatment of inerrancy by one from the other side of the pond is an added bonus. Highly recommended!"
And here is Packer's:
"Timothy Ward's exposition of the nature and place of the Bible is well-informed and thoroughly thought through. It is a product of alert contemporary awareness, deep-level theological discernment and mature personal judgment. Rarely has a book on this subject stirred me to such emphatic agreement and admiration."
Paul Helm recently blogged about the book:
Timothy Ward’s Words of Life (IVP) is a beautifully written, clear, calm, reasonable – very English - treatment of the historical evangelical and classical Christian approach to Scripture. Besides being explicitly Reformed – he builds on Calvin, Turretin, Bavinck and Warfield - its orientation is also noteworthy for stressing the Bible’s own witness to itself, in particular to the closeness of God’s words and God’s action. He then proceeds to place this material in an explicitly theological, Trinitarian framework, and to apply it in the restatement of the traditional doctrinal attributes of scripture as necessary, sufficient and clear. Finally, the doctrinal formulation is brought to bear on the to the life and witness of the Christian and the church; doctrine, and then application. Most important of all, perhaps, Timothy Ward puts all this in his own way, not simply mouthing traditional doctrine in traditional ways. And he comes to theological conclusions the proper way, from the scriptural data to scriptural doctrine. To cap it all, he has an eye both to history and to contemporary discussion.

So this is a fresh, clear-headed and reliable treatment of an important topic. . . .
Read the whole thing, where Helm also explains why he is excited about Herman Selderhuis's new biography, John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life (which is now available):
Selderhuis is a notable Calvin scholar, but this is not a work of i-dotting and t-crossing from the Calvin academic guild. Rather it is scholarship with a light touch. Being witty and pointed about a serious subject may suggest satire, but Selderhuis has succeeded in being both skittish and penetrating about a serious man without undermining him, but instead helping the reader to get under Calvin’s skin, as he puts it.