Recently I was told by a young man who is doing a PhD in biblical studies that his authority for theology and ethics is his own “bodied experiences” and that the Bible is the “opinions of the people who wrote it.” This type of relativism has infected the 21st Century church. Increasingly, younger evangelicals are pitting sections of the Bible against each other and placing themselves as an authority over Scripture. It is not uncommon to hear professing Christians painting the Biblical writers as backwards and regressive. They claim to revere the words of Jesus while rejecting much of what he said about the reality of future judgment, his substitutionary atonement, and the exclusivity of his saving work. When people place themselves over Scripture rather than under it, our theology, mission, and discipleship are hindered.
In Sound Words: Listening to the Scriptures, Jeremy Carr seeks to reunite a thoroughgoing commitment to the inspiration and the authority of Scripture with our discipleship processes. Sound Words was written with the conviction not only that theology is important, but that it also must be practiced. It cannot be for the purpose of storing up knowledge in the head, but is learned for the purpose of changing a person’s heart and life.
Carr evaluates our view and use of Scripture in discipleship in Sound Words. Each of the five chapters overviews an aspect of the doctrine of Scripture with a view towards applying it to our understanding of discipleship. He covers authority, inspiration, revelation, regeneration, and sanctification. There is a definite logic to the way that he works through these doctrines as he shows what Scripture is and how it works in the life of the Christian. He argues for a thoroughgoing evangelical doctrine of Scripture. Scripture is the God-breathed revelation given to men to show us who God is and to serve our authority in life and godliness. He shows how Scripture is to be taught and how it is to be applied in the life of the Christian. The last two chapters show how the Holy Spirit works through Scripture to birth both initial spiritual life and ongoing sanctification.
Two different subsets within the church need to hear the message of Sound Words. First, those who deny the inspiration of Scripture need to come face to face with what the Bible says about itself and how Christians throughout the centuries have understood these teachings. They need a recovery of the evangelical view of the Bible as an inspired and authoritative revelation of who God is. This is needed, not just so that their theology will be change, but also so that their discipleship will be strengthened. It is difficult to build disciples who follow Jesus with their whole lives without a sound commitment to the teachings of Scripture.
This will also help those who think that their theology is sound, but who are not applying their theology to their growth as a Christian. Sound Words is not detached, academic theology. Instead it points readers to a living theology that is meant to grab the person who believes it and captivate them with the glory of God in Christ. The result should be that the person follows Jesus and becomes more like him.
I highly recommend Sound Words. It will be useful to gain a greater understanding of what Scripture is and how it calls us to follow Jesus.
(I was provided with a digital copy of Sound Words for the purpose of an honest review of the work.)
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