Thy Word Is Still Truth: A Brief Review

I typically don’t write reviews of books I haven’t read in full.  However, I think an exception can be made for Thy Word Is Still Truth ed. Peter Lillback and Richard Gaffin, Jr. (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2013).  It contains over 1,340 pages that discuss the nature, scope, interpretation, sufficiency, authority, infallibility, inerrancy, necessity, beauty, and clarity of Scripture from a Reformed perspective.  (For fellow book junkies, Thy Word Is Still Truth is almost exactly the same size and weight of BDAG).  I have already spent a lot of time in this book, and have read large portions of it in other publications, so I can confidently say Thy Word Is Still Truth is a great mini-library of Reformed writings on Scripture.

I’m not going to give a detailed overview of the contents of this book, since you can find that online (“look inside”).  A basic outline of the book is as follows:

Part 1: “Sola Scriptura: The Reformers’ Rediscovery of the Written Word of God”  This section gives several Reformers’ views of Scripture (Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger, and Calvin).

Part 2: “The Reformed Confessions”  This section includes the the wording of various 16th and 17th century Reformed confessions as they explained the doctrine of Scripture.  It was nice to see, for example, the Irish Articles and the Scots Confession, just to name two.

Part 3: “Early Reformed Interpretation”  Here there are about 50 pages of writings of what the Reformers said about interpreting Scripture (Calvin, Bullinger, Knox).  As a side, I wonder why Jonathan Edwards was included in this section, since he isn’t “early Reformed” and since there are Reformed theologians who are more helpful than Edwards on this topic.

Part 4: “The Doctrine of Scripture in Reformed Orthodoxy” This part gives selections of four Reformed scholastics’ views of Scripture.  Again, I’m wondering why Edwards makes this section as well, since he’s not a Reformed Scholastic properly speaking.  I would have also liked to see more Puritans here, such as Thomas Watson.

Part 5: “The Doctrine of Scripture in the Scottish and Dutch Legacy”  This fine section gives some great excerpts of Dutch and Scottish theologians as they wrote on Scripture.

Part 6: “Other Nineteenth Century European Contributions”  Here there are a few lesser known contributions to the doctrine of Scripture, such as Louis Gaussen and Adolphe Monod.  Charles Spurgeon is also in this section; although I appreciate Spurgeon’s sharp focus on the gospel, I’m not sure he’d be on my “must read” list when it comes to the Reformed doctrine of Scripture.

Part 7: “The Doctrine of Scripture in the Theology of Old Princeton”  As you may have guessed, here you’ll find writings of men like Hodge and Warfield.

Part 8: “The Theology of Scripture of the Founding Fathers of Westminster”  Again, this is pretty straightforward: Machen, Wilson, Van Til, and others make this list.

Part 9: “The Birth of Biblical Theology”  This part of the book gives writings from men like Vos and Clowney along with Silva and Gaffin.

Part 10: “The Authority of the Old Testament and New Testament Canon of Scripture” This section is a bit more focused, as it emphasizes the authority of Scripture with articles written by Young, Stonehouse, and Gaffin.

Part 11: “Challenges to the Reformed Doctrine of Scripture”  This part contains writings that deal with a few attacks on Scripture in the last 75 years or so.  Here you’ll read articles from Waltke, Dillard, and Ferguson, for example.

Part 12: “The Westminster Controversy”  This brief section contains documents from the 2008 Westminster Theological Seminary (in Philadelphia) dispute when Peter Enns left the seminary.  Actually, I think it’s safe to say that this book, Thy Word Is Still Truth, was put together as later response to that controversy, as the editors mention in the introduction.

If you’ve read the main historic Reformed discussions of Scripture, you’ll have already read about 30-40% of this book (i.e. Turretin, Bavinck, Berkhof, and the Confessions).  However, this shouldn’t hinder you from getting this book, since it does contain many other writings on Scripture that you may not have read (Bullinger, Knox, Cunningham, A. A. Hodge, etc.).

For those of you who want a mini-Reformed library on the doctrine of Scripture contained in a single volume, this one is for you.  It is true that almost everything in this book has been published previously elsewhere, but it is handy to have them all in one book.  And to top it off, there are very extensive indices (topical and scriptural).  Even though you probably won’t sit down and read Thy Word Is Still Truth straight through, it contains many excellent resources that will stimulate your studies for years to come.  I’m thankful that the editors and publisher put so much work into this volume.  I’m sure it’ll benefit Christ’s church in the upcoming years.  And it’ll help us to stand firmly upon the precious Word of God, which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

Thy Word Is Still Truth, ed. Peter Lillback & Richard Gaffin Jr. (Phillipsburg; P&R, 2013).

rev shane lems
covenant presbyterian chruch (OPC)
hammond, wi

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