I often quote from and comment on books that I am reading. Rarely, however, do I purposely do a book review. I want to make an exception for A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church’s Future).
I’ve been reading this book for months, I have not been reading it front to back, and I’m still reading and re-reading parts. Therefore, I can’t–and don’t want to–give you a front to back standard book review. I just want to tell you why I believe the book is extremely important.
If you are one of my fellow villagers (i.e., member of Rose Creek Village), then the book’s not extremely important for you. Our life, our experience of God, and the way that we enter into that life and experience prove the book’s tenets every day. I wouldn’t say it’s worth wading through this scholarly, interesting, but not terribly well-written book to get to the history that proves what you already know. If you just love history, that’s one thing. The history is accurate and comprehensive. The author repeats himself too much, though, and sometimes you have to work at understanding his point.
However, for the rest of you, assuming you are a born-again, Evangelical, this book is a must read. It is very likely that you will not like what’s in it because it tells you the truth about your heritage. And the sad fact is, Evangelical pastors and leaders don’t tell you about your heritage–about what we know about the churches the apostles started–because they don’t want you to know. It would undermine an awful lot of what they’re teaching. One Catholic scholar, a convert from Protestantism, is quoted in the book as saying (roughly, from memory), “No matter what we don’t know about the early churches, what we do know is that they were not like the Protestants.” Allert admits this is true. Anyone who reads them extensively knows it’s true already. Don’t be afraid, though, because it’s even more obvious that they were nothing like the Roman Catholics, either.
The book is a history of how we got our Bible. It is accurate; amazingly so. I hate to sound like a judge of what’s accurate. The author, Craig D. Allerts, knows more than I do about the history of the Scriptures. However, I do know some things, and there are plenty of books–as Mr. Allerts points out repeatedly–saying things that simply are not true. In the areas that I do have knowledge, I can testify that Mr. Allerts is right on, unlike anyone I’ve ever read before. And for an Evangelical writing a book to Evangelicals, he is so honest it’s difficult to imagine how he did it.
I mentioned above that the book is not that well-written. That surprised me, too. I’m not talking about vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation, which were perfect, of course. It is a scholarly book. However, a couple of times I really couldn’t understand his point until I had read several pages into the chapter. He also repeats himself too much. On the other hand, I’m very familiar with at least the 2nd century portion of that history. You may be glad that he repeats his points so much.
You can listen to me harp on the proper role of the Scriptures in the church, but this book will force you to think about it. It is a scholarly book, written by an Evangelical author and published by a respected Evangelical publisher. This is not some fringe book. This is an accurate look at a historical issue that is one of the main reasons that Protestant Christianity fails so badly. Only those who want to blindly continue in a horribly ineffective status quo will ignore A High View of Scripture?.