J Michael West and Gunnar Magi (ed)
Your Word Is Truth: The Bible in Ten Christian Traditions
United Bible Societies/WCC Publications, 2018
ISBN-13:  978-2825417140

Your Word is Truth

 

"This book is an attempt to shed some light on those differences in an effort, as United Bible Societies’ Director General Michael Perreau writes in the foreward, to 'gain a greater understanding not just of our differences, but of our rich shared inheritance'."

Of paramount importance to Christians of all persuasions, the Bible is a unifying force within the global church. Yet many Christian denominational traditions see it in sometimes subtly different ways.

This book is an attempt to shed some light on those differences in an effort, as United Bible Societies’ Director General Michael Perreau writes in the foreward, to “gain a greater understanding not just of our differences, but of our rich shared inheritance”.

Through its 10 chapters, the books explores how the Bible is viewed within the various denominations including Catholic, Orthodox and various Protestant denominations – Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist (and Anabaptist), and Wesleyan-Methodist – as well as church movements such as the reformed, evangelical and Pentecostal traditions.

There’s much here to chew on and, while there is some overlap, the diversity of contributors results in a corresponding diversity of approaches to the subject.

In chapter five – ‘Anabaptists and the Bible’, for example, Stuart Murray - director of Bristol's Centre for Anabaptist Studies, notes the absence of any sustained discussion of the principals of Biblical interpretations among 16th Anabaptist writings and so instead relies on records of their practices while in the chapter on the Catholic tradition, Alexander M Schweitzer, German-born theologican and executive director of Global Bible Ministry, contrasts earlier Catholic perceptions of the Bible with approaches taken post the seminal Second Vatican Council in the first half of the 1960s.

In the chapter on evangelical traditions (chapter nine), C Rosalee Velloso Ewell, Brazilian theologian and executive director of the Theological Commission for the World Evangelical Alliance, spends some time looking at the key role the Bible plays in mission work while Clare Amos, director of the Jerusalem and the Middle East Church Association, lists in chapter six the various “themes” and “principles” found in one of the recent documents produced by the international Anglican working group The Bible in the Life of the Church which provides an easy to access reference in understanding the nature of the Bible in 21st century Anglican thought.

Broad themes show the difference in approaches and most are neatly summed up by World Council of Churches General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in his afterword: “With the Reformed, we feel the power of the Bible’s account of early Christian communities to propel a vision of reforming or restoring authentic Christian community and discipleship today. With Baptists and Anabaptists we recognise the centrality of discipleship and its inherent challenge to unjust power. We redress modernity’s unrelenting rationalism with personal and affective appropriation of Scripture and the Spirit by evangelicals and Pentecostals. And, among Methodists, Anglicans ,and Catholics, we find particular emphasis on the Bible in relation to tradition, reasoning and experience.”

Whether a one time read for someone with a fleeting interest or a handy reference for a scholar, Your Word Is Truth is a great place to start to gain a better understanding of how Christians of different denominations see the Bible and its central role in their faith.