DVD Review: Why We Believe the Bible, by John Piper
Of all the essential doctrines of Christianity, perhaps the most foundational are the doctrines of the scriptures â€“ what they are, why they matter, whether they really are inspired and inerrant in the original manuscripts â€“ for the great foundational doctrines of our eternal salvation through Christ and his cross are all firmly rooted in the bible alone. It is evident, therefore, that one of the most pressing necessities for all believers is that they be taught to know with certainty what books make up the inspired scriptures and the foundational premises for studying them carefully, trusting them implicitly, and defending them unwaveringly. John Piper's small group series on Why We Believe the Bible is an excellent resource for such a purpose, and a tool I would eagerly recommend for small groups and any other Christians desirous of a more stable foundation or a more God-honoring approach to interacting with cynics and skeptics on the vital topic of the Word of God.
Why We Believe the Bible is intended for a twelve week course of study, in manageable but thought-demanding portions, designed to spark careful reflection throughout the week, and not just during the times of formal study. Included in the package are two DVDs with ten half-hour lectures and a study guide, providing the leader with all the resources necessary to guide the group through twelve sessions (the video lectures plus an introductory and concluding session), and likewise providing the whole group with material conducive to thoughtful interaction â€“ places to take notes on the lectures, poignant questions to spark further reflection for each day of the week, additional scriptures and quotations to mull over, etc. The whole approach is carefully and effectively designed to elicit real thought and interaction, and not just a passive reception of information.
The DVD lectures begin by unpacking the vast importance of knowing what the bible is and why it is true, and go on to a sound, biblical defense for the canonicity of the sixty-six books in the Protestant canon â€“ a segment priceless for anyone dealing with either Roman Catholic/Orthodox Christians, who believe in a different Hebrew canon, or modern atheist skeptics who scoff at the New Testament canon. Following is a brief but helpful defense of the careful preservation of the original Word of God in the multiplicity of preserved manuscript copies, and a stirring walk through Jesus' amazing attitude toward and teaching on the Old Testament scriptures.
But perhaps the most helpful portion of all is the second half of the series of lectures, in which Piper keys off the Westminster Confession, and borrowing heavily from Calvin's Institutes defends the utter supremacy, inerrancy and infallibility of scriptures by reason of their majesty, purity, harmony in all their parts, and the purpose of the whole to give glory to God alone and reveal to man his only hope for eternal salvation. Leaning on the first chapter of Romans, Piper demonstrates how perfectly these doctrines are suited to commend themselves to what men may know of God from natural revelation; but in the final analysis, he demonstrates from the scriptures themselves that only the Holy Spirit may bear certain testimony to their utterly divine and reliable character in the hearts of men. They are, in Calvin's phrase, finally â€œself-authenticatingâ€.
Throughout the DVDs, Piper carries on the teaching with lucidity and holy zeal. The most difficult topics are clearly explained and passionately proclaimed, and the material throughout is deeply devotional and intensely practical. This will be a rich and rewarding course of study for believers everywhere, from the youngest and most immature to the well-seasoned.
Why We Believe the Bible: available at Monergism Books.