Book Review: Thy Word Is Still Truth
P&R Publishing and Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) are to be congratulated on this massive new volume which is, as the subtitle suggests, a compendium of the “essential writings on the doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to today.” The title, Thy Word Is Still Truth, is an echo of Edward J. Young’s 1957 manifesto Thy Word Is Truth, which, in turn, was taken from Jesus’ identical declaration in John 17:17. Although with more than 64 chapters and 1300 pages, this book is better suited for the reference shelf than for beach reading, the editors (Peter Lillback and Richard Gaffin Jr.) have put together an impressive collection of chapters, articles, and excerpts, from Martin Luther to Dick Gaffin. Most everyone will find something familiar in this volume, and almost no one will have read all that is assembled here.
It’s important to realize what this book is and what it is not. This is not a new series of articles. It’s not a topical encyclopedia. And it’s not a storehouse for every important contribution to the doctrine of Scripture since the Reformation. Thy Word is Still Truth is a largely chronological collection of the most important statements on Scripture from those in those in the Reformed confessional tradition, especially in the line of Old Princeton. Because of this focus, there is nothing from D.A. Carson or J.I. Packer. In fact, besides an occasional piece from Luther or Spurgeon or Edwards, almost everyone included in the volume is either Presbyterian or Dutch Reformed, with the heavy emphasis on the former. This is not a knock on the book, just a description of what you’ll find.
There is a lot to like in this volume.
First, Lillback and Gaffin have compiled the pertinent sections from the all significant Reformed systematicians. What a treat to have Calvin on Scripture, along with Turretin, Cunningham, Bavinck, Berkhof, and Hodge all in the same place.
Second, Part Two on the Reformed Confessions is outstanding. Not only can you find lesser known confessions like the Ten Conclusions of Berne (1528), the Scots Confession of Faith (1560), and the Irish Articles of Religion (1615), but the English text is side by side with the original language text (where the confession or catechism was first written in a language other than English).
Third, there are a number of almost forgotten pieces that have been happily reprinted in this volume (see, for example, Louis Gaussen’s Theopneustia or the section from John Witherspoon’s Lectures on Divinity).
If you come up with a little extra cash, this would be a great book for your reference library. Presbyterian and Reformed pastors will find it especially useful. If nothing else, by the time you get to the very end of the book and enter into the Peter Enns controversy, it should be pretty clear which side best represents the Reformation-Confessional-Old Princeton-Westminster tradition.