A Particular Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness

a-particualr-gloryA Particular Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness
By John Piper
Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2016
302 pages. | $17.05

John Piper has done it again! The founder of DesiringGod.org., chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, former pastor of Bethlehem Bible Church and author of over fifty books has written another one. In typical John Piper style, we have another thoroughgoing and yet practical presentation of the truthfulness and authority of the book that is the foundation of our Christian faith—the Bible.

His conclusion after seventeen chapters of careful and detailed discussion is that “The Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts, and this can be known with a well-grounded confidence because the peculiar glory of God shines in and through these Scriptures” (p. 281).

Piper begins the book (Part 1) by sharing the story of his own encounter with the Bible, first in his home growing up, then in college and seminary, and finally during graduate studies in Germany. He explains that although his views on the Bible were challenged by his academic studies, especially in Germany, his understanding of God’s Word was “clarified, brightened, and deepened” by the experience (p. 26). Piper writes that it was not so much a matter of “holding on to my view,” but rather “the Bible was holding onto me.”

In Part 2 Piper considers the books that make up the Christian Scriptures and what it meant by the words “verbally inspired by God.” He introduces the subject of textual criticism and declares that “the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures we have today are essentially the same as the ones written by the original authors” (p. 85).

While Part 2 seems to be a bit of “preaching to the choir,” Piper digs deeper in Part 3 showing from the Hebrew Bible, the words of Jesus and the writings of the apostles that the Scriptures themselves support the view that the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God. Here he discusses such classic texts as 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim. 3:16 and 1 Cor. 2:12-23.

In Part 4, Piper addresses the question of “How can we know the Christian Scriptures are true?” Here, as one might expect Piper to do, he appeals to Jonathan Edwards (!) demonstrating that the glory of God’s moral perfection shines through the Scriptures revealing and affirming their truthfulness (p. 142). This divine glory pervades the Bible, proving its truthfulness better than arguments of logic or reason. In chapter 9 he discusses divine illumination and provides four analogies that shed light on the concept.

The final section of the book (Part 5) includes chapters on the fulfilment of prophecy, miracles of Jesus and the people the Word of God creates. In the last chapter, Piper considers the place of historical reason and contrasts persuasion by reason with persuasion by the Spirit. He concludes that “Only the sight of God’s glory in his inspired word give certainty to the simplest and the most educated person” (p. 279).

Piper has argued thorough his book that “the glory of God, in and through the Scriptures, is a real, objective, self-authenticating reality” (p. 283). The Christian faith is not a “leap in the dark.” God has made himself and his truth known by the way he glorifies himself in Scripture.

Having affirmed the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, Piper raises the question of the implications for believers in their daily living. That will be considered in the forthcoming volume 2, of A Particular Glory.

I commend Piper’s book for its thoroughness and clarity. While he affirms many things many Christians already believe, Piper’s pastoral yet scholarly style and particular focus on God’s glory make this book both a good read and significant contribution.

About J. Carl Laney

J. Carl Laney teaches Biblical Literature at Western Seminary and is an instructor for Western's Israel Study Program. Carl has authored numerous books, including most recently, “Discipleship: Training from the Master Disciple Maker” (2018).