Every word counts
All you need
EVERY WORD COUNTS
By Tom Barnes
Evangelical Press. 203 pages. £8.99
Tom Barnes writes in response to the shift away from the terminology of ‘inerrancy’ among evangelical scholars and a growing tendency in the pulpit and the pew to elevate the subjective immediate leading of the Holy Spirit over Scripture. His concern is that the Bible is not treasured and trusted as it should be.
In respect of inerrancy, Barnes’s primary argument is that God’s Word is closely tied to his person — it reflects God’s attributes. Therefore, to disbelieve the Bible is to disbelieve God. He argues that inerrancy is the logical consequence of inspiration, i.e. if the Scriptures are God’s Word (breathed out by God) and God cannot lie, then the Scriptures must be inerrant. Every word counts because every word is God’s Word. Barnes is anxious that evangelicals do not give ground on inerrancy, for example, by limiting it only to matters of faith and practice.
Barnes shows that Jesus regarded the written Scriptures as authoritative, true, historical, and from God, and that the Bible repeatedly sets forth its own truthfulness and trustworthiness. Key biblical texts discussed include 2 Timothy 3.14-17, 2 Peter 1.20-21, and Matthew 5.17-20.
Barnes upholds sola Scriptura (contra human reason and church tradition and the immediacy of the Spirit) but warns against solo Scriptura, recognising that gifted preachers and teachers (both historical and contemporary) help us better understand and apply the Scriptures.
To those who claim some kind of immediate leading by the Holy Spirit, Barnes asserts that Jesus’s promise concerning the Holy Spirit guiding into all truth (John 16.13) applies only to the apostles and their associates who complete the Scriptures, and not to all subsequent believers.
In the book’s conclusion, Barnes encourages believers to see the Bible as sufficient to build a worldview by which all other truth in the world should be judged and understood, and urges Christians to approach God’s Word with trust and confidence and reverence, and to be bold in defending the authority, truthfulness, sufficiency, clarity, and importance of God’s Word.
co-pastor at Carey Baptist Church, Reading