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Scripture and the Life of God: Why the Bible Matters Now More Than Ever (book review)

Scripture and the Life of God is a very practical book for ordinary Christians to have a transformational relationship to scripture. David Watson is a recognized New Testament scholar and a professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio—and did I mention he’s a United Methodist? What a gift he is to modern Christians seeking to recover a Biblically based faith and grow closer to God in obedient communion.

Watson writes in a clear and easy-to-read style. I was easily able to finish it in one evening. The book has only 5 chapters: 1. A path into the life of God; 2. Reading for the life of God; 3. Guides into the life of God; 4. Expectation and the life of God and 5. One book for the life of God. Along the way he deals with the knotty questions that confront all scripture readers: inspiration, authority, miracles, contradictions, diversity and unity of scripture.

He introduces the Bible’s place: “Left on our own we cannot truly know God, but we are not on our own. God has revealed himself to us in history and our primary source for receiving God’s self-revelation is scripture.” The overall intention of the Bible is to lead us ever more deeply into the life of God. This is the premise of the entire book and affects how every believer should use the Bible. “Others will use it. Others will surely read it, but only those who give themselves over to the God revealed in its pages can use the Bible in the way it was intended.”

Watson takes issue with those who discount the miraculous and supernatural aspects narrated in the scriptures. He gives witness to his own personal experiences with the miraculous and urges his readers “to create a culture in which we expect the presence and action of God in our midst.”

Watson also objects to the modern “cafeteria” approach to scripture wherein one takes what one likes and tosses the rest. Such an approach is not only intellectually lazy but in fact threatens the entire witness of scripture. He writes, “Rather than ask which scriptures we may rightly ignore we should ask how a given passage relates to God’s story of salvation.”

To remind Methodist readers of just how far they have wandered from their Wesleyan roots, Watson quotes John Wesley on the Bible: “The Scripture, therefore, of the Old and New Testament is a most solid and precious system of divine truth. Every part thereof is worthy of God; and all together are one body, wherein there is no defect and no excess. It is the fountain of heavenly wisdom, which they who are able to taste prefer to all writings of men however wise or learned or holy.” Watson’s tome will give believers both new and seasoned a burning desire to enter into the life of God through scripture.

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