Reviewed by Kurt Goedelman, Director of Personal Freedom Outreach
Efforts to undermine God’s Word are nothing new, but today’s assaults have become so refined and widespread that even some who claim to be Evangelicals have joined the campaign.
This is why Gabriel Fluhrer, in his editor’s preface of Solid Ground, writes, “Each generation must own for itself the cardinal truths of the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and ours is no exception. Indeed, in my own estimation, our generation is in danger of seeing what is perhaps the most central doctrine of the Christian faith — the doctrine of the inspired and concomitant inerrancy of Scripture — eclipsed to a degree previously unknown in the modern era” (pg. x, italic in original).
Solid Ground is an excellent collection of essays by eight prominent authors, pastors, and teachers who are committed to the “vital conviction that the Bible is the Word of God, and so without error in its original autographs, the only infallible rule of faith and practice” (pg. xi). Those contributing to this volume include J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, Mark Dever, the late James M. Boice (to whom the book is dedicated), and four others.
Fluhrer writes, “Without an errorless Bible, we cannot truly know the gospel, and without the gospel, we cannot know the Word incarnate and so would remain without hope, without God, in the world” (pg. xiii). And further along in the book Boice states, “If we contrast that high view of Scripture [held by Martin Luther and others] with the exceedingly low view of the church today, it is certainly worth asking if it might not be the case that the weakness of the church in our time comes from a lack of exactly the conviction that the Reformers had” (pg. 52).
The chapters develop and defend the important facets of Scripture by examining its inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, profitability, and sufficiency. All of these are being disputed — some overtly, others subtly — by a broad spectrum of scoffers, mystics, pragmatists, psychologists, and even some mainline theologians.
While each essay is meaningful, the chapters by Boice and Philip Graham Ryken alone make this an essential volume. Boice explores the meaning of sola Scriptura, and in so doing responds to “the problem of tradition,” “the problem of subjectivism,” and “the wretched effects of relativism.” These and other such issues, Boice tells us, have birthed a lack of commitment to the Word, which is high among clergy.
And lest one think that the current wave of historical, linguistic, and archaeological evidence is good reason to cast doubt upon Scripture, Boice writes, “On the contrary, as the data has come in over the last decades, the historical reliability of the Bible has been strengthened. It doesn’t mean that we understand every single thing we read. It doesn’t mean that all the apparent problems have been resolved. But as the data comes in, the tendency is to resolve the problems, not create more” (pp. 71-72).
In his chapter “The Accessible Word,” Ryken examines the attack on perspicuity, which is a major principal in the doctrine of Scripture. Perspicuity is the teaching that the meaning of Scripture is clear and can be understood. Ryken notes, “Casting aspersions on the clarity of Scripture is almost as old as the world itself. Consider the diabolical question that Satan asked Eve in the garden of Eden: ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?’ (Gen. 3:1). This was partly an attack on God’s authority, of course, but it was also an attack on the perspicuity of his Word” (pg. 107, italic in original).
In more modern times, and for centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has consistently attacked the perspicuity of the Bible. And in the past decade, leaders in the emergent church movement, such as Brian McLaren, have done the same.
The men whose writings make up this book are academics who are regarded as “top pastors-scholars of the past thirty years,” yet the lay person need not be intimidated. What is presented is not only well within the grasp of every reader, but it will challenge and convict toward a renewed love of and appreciation for the richness and perfection of the Bible.
This book deserves the attention of every Christian who desires to be encouraged in their confidence of the Word of God.
Solid Ground by Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer, editor P&R Publishing, 155 pages, $13.99