peter adam's written for us

The 'theology of the word' is not where it needs to be today. Intimidated as we are by image and event, music and symbol, entertainment and short attention spans, and goodness only knows what else - we tend to lose our convictions about the Word of God and our appetite for it drains away as a result.

Ellul was right. There has been a 'humiliation of the word'.

The obvious medication that comes to mind is for communities of the people of God to live and linger in Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and Psalm 119 and have these songs become their songs in theory and in practise.

We do need to recover the potential of the ministry of the Word to be an echo of what happened in Genesis 1, believing that something can be formed out of nothing in peoples' lives. We do need to recover the potential for Ezekiel 37 to be retold in peoples' lives whereby something living emerges from something dead in response to the Word of God. At different times in my life this has been my experience. Haggai 1. 2 Timothy 4. Luke 24. It goes on and on. The ancient Word of God creating something out of nothing, turning death into life, in me. I covet this experience for others.

Yes - that's right. Our theology of word is nowhere near where it needs to be.

This is where Peter Adam's book can be so helpful. He calls it a "biblical theology of the Bible" (12). The design of the book expounds a single sentence, phrase-by-phrase, chapter-by-chapter: "receiving God's words, written for his people, by his Spirit, about his Son". [NB - while the whole book expounds this sentence, in one chapter (16) he expounds it from just the one book of the Bible: Hebrews].

So the book is about appreciating the Bible through these successive perspectives of ecclesiology, pneumatology, and christology. This macro-structure to the book is its best feature as it binds an understanding of the Bible to the very things from which it so readily becomes unhinged: the church, the Spirit, and Jesus.

I liked other things...

1. Basically Adam just travels from one biblical passage to another, opening it up with an eye on what it contributes to our understanding of the Bible. Afterall the book is about "what the Bible teaches about itself" (14). Then on pp259-260 there is an Index of Major Bible Passages covered in the book. An incredibly useful list that could form the basis of a course or a series of studies/messages. His explanation of the following passages were the ones which impacted me the most: Ezra 7/Nehemiah 8 (pp99-106); 2 Timothy 3 & 4 (pp133-140); 1 Corinthians 1 & 2 (pp 164-174)

2. His "Ten keys to the useful application of the Bible' (pp140-144 - and the later illustration of these keys from Hebrews on pp207-209) will be required reading in future courses which I teach on preaching.

3. He doesn't let himself get drawn into an apologia for the Bible: "In this book I have not attempted to defend what the Bible says about itself: all I have attempted to do is to describe it (247)". I found this both refreshing and reassuring.

Here is his final paragraph:
"...a sound theology of the Bible depends on our theology of God's capacity for verbal revelation, and our capacity to receive it. It also depends on a theology of the one people of God ... It depends on the authentication of Christ, who in his teaching authenticates the OT, his own teaching, and the teaching of his apostles. It depends on a theology of the Spirit which connects the Spirit with the self-revelation of God, with truth, with words, and with verbal revelation. It also points to the Christ of the Scriptures: the word of the Lord speaks of the Lord of the word. It is this robust theology which supports Scripture's own theology and invitation: to receive God's words written for us, written for his people, by his Spirit, about his Son(247)".

While Peter Adam may not be a rivetting read with multiple quotable quotes, over the years I have found his books squeezing in there to form a critical part of my foundation as I give myself to a ministry of the Word.

nice chatting



Scott said…
I met Peter last year at a conference in NZ. The way he communicated the dynamic and life-giving nature of the scriptures was just breathtaking.

I really enjoyed his book on reformed spirituality, but haven't read this one. Thanks for the head-up.
Paul said…
Actually I once sat next to him on a bus to Sydney airport - and he had me in stitches. He is a very funny man ... and I once took a little pilgrimage to St Jude's (Melbourne) - not a bad preacher either?!
Paul said…
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Paul said…
By the way there are some excellent articles by Peter Adam to be found at - click on 'preaching'.

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