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Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God [Paperback]

Timothy Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

22 Feb 2009
Throughout Christian history, the overwhelmingly predominant view of the Bible has been that it is itself the living and active word of God.

Timothy Ward explains and defends what we are really saying when we trust and proclaim, as we must, that the Bible is God's word. In particular, he describes the nature of the relationship between the living God and Scripture. He examines why, in order to worship God faithfully, we need to pay close attention to the Bible; why, in order to be faithful disciples of Jesus - the Word-made-flesh - we need to base our lives on the words of the Bible; and why, in order to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we need to trust and obey what the Bible says.

Ward offers an understanding of the nature of Scripture under three main headings. A biblical outline shows that the words of the Bible form a significant part of God's action in the world. A theological outline focuses on the relationship of Scripture with each of the persons of the Trinity. A doctrinal outline examines the 'attributes' of Scripture. A final chapter explores some significant areas in which the doctrine of Scripture should be applied.

Grounded in the relevant scholarship, this excellent, lucid exposition of the nature and function of Scripture stands firmly in line with the best of the theological traditions and is expressed in a form appropriate for the twenty-first century.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: IVP (22 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844742075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844742073
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 405,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Timothy Ward is the minister of Holy Trinity Church, Hinckley, England. He is the author of 'Word and Supplement: Speech Acts, Biblical Texts and the Sufficiency of Scripture' (OUP), and a contributor to 'The Trustworthiness of God' (Apollos), 'The Word Became Flesh' (Paternoster), 'Reformed Theology in Contemporary Perspective' (Rutherford House) and 'Spirit of Truth and Power' (Rutherford House).

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent treatment of the subject 19 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback
A really good, fresh treatment of the nature of Scripture - thoroughly orthodox and Biblical, but unafraid to challenge the traditional emphases in presentation of the subject. Ward writes with clarity of purpose and comes to well-explained conclusions. His method of approaching the topic via a Biblical-theological model, then drawing doctrinal conclusions from this is one I applaud vigorously!

Theologically,I found his treatment of the nature of Scripture as the Word of God and how this relates to Christ as the Word of God particularly helpful. I thought his discussion of inerrancy alone was worth having the book for - coming to a sharp, clear and Biblical conclusion that inerrancy is 'no more and no less than the natural implication of the fact that Scripture is identified as the speech act of a God who cannot lie' (p137). Readers will also appreciate having the insights of speech-act theory presented in an accessible and clearly applied way.

And it left me keen to dig further into the sources he suggests as particularly helpful (Calvin, Bavinck, Warfield and Turretin)!

Wholeheartedly recommend, especially for anyone sympathetic to but with reservations about the classic evangelical doctrine of the Bible as God's Word.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing and compelling... don't miss this one! 31 July 2011
By Robert Sweet - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kevin Vanhoozer's endorsement on the back cover certainly caught my eye: "I have been on the lookout for a compelling and contemporary treatment of the nature and authority of Scripture for years. I ask of every promising new title, `Are you the one who is to come, or shall I look for another?' Ward's book may be the one."

That's quite a statement, especially for a book that checks in at just under two hundred pages. As it turns out, however, what Ward's book lacks in length it more than makes up for in substance. In fact, its relatively small size is more of an advantage than a hindrance. Ward's purpose for writing Words of Life shows up early and clearly, "I want to articulate, explain and defend what we are really saying when we proclaim, as we must, that the Bible is God's Word." This is certainly a purpose for which many books have been written, but what makes Ward's book particularly helpful is the approach he takes to this task, an approach that articulates the theology of Scripture in a way that is both historically orthodox and refreshingly contemporary.

Ward builds his fundamental view of Scripture on the idea that God's Word is a primary (if not THE primary) way in which God has worked and is working in the world. The concept that Scripture is God's communicative action (demonstrated throughout the Bible) is the critical starting point for Ward that forms and shapes his entire doctrine of Scripture. In other words, all the "categories" that he affirms in relation to Scripture (its clarity, sufficiency, authority, etc.) stem from this overarching Biblical idea. As I reflected on this, comparing and contrasting it to the starting place that I inherited through my tradition, I found it to be very freeing and exciting. In my background, a high view of Scripture has primarily been supported by modern apologetical approaches that have ultimately left me a bit unsatisfied. What I love about Ward's approach is that rather than challenging me to boost my faith in a certain interpretation of a verse or two, or in the processes of Scriptural transmission or canonization, his argument essentially challenges me to ground my faith in the nature and character of God.

My presumption is that critics of this approach might argue that Ward is essentially making a circular argument by basing his view of Scripture on the words that Scripture itself use to describe its relationship to God. This may be a legitimate question, but I would argue that everyone who holds to the authority of Scripture would be faced with this same question at some level. Further, it seems to me that the question itself is rooted in modern inclinations that are continually losing their significance for determining what persuades people. There seems to be a growing understanding that all worldviews require you to place your faith in something. If faith in the true God is indeed a work of the Spirit (as I believe it is), then I am all for defining a doctrine of Scripture that has as its starting point faith in God. Finally, I believe that tying together the authority of Scripture with the idea that God's nature has tended (throughout the Bible) to use language to reveal himself and to act out his will gives a firmer place to stand on than basing a doctrine primarily on a few select passages.

Along these same lines, I appreciated Ward's connection of Scripture to the Trinity. I found the ideas in this section to be rich and insightful, helping the doctrine of Scripture (which can sometimes seem like a stale doctrine) come alive through the individual persons of the Godhead. I also found the final section on the application of Scripture to be tremendously helpful. Perhaps the greatest endorsement I can give to the book comes from that section, in that while reading I found within myself a growing desire to read and to preach the Word of God.

There were a couple areas of the book that I found myself wanting more than what ward provided, or mildly disappointed by his treatment of a particular issue. Among these were his comments on the Spirit's role of illumination. I would have appreciated more development here, particularly his thoughts on the role of the Spirit in identifying the intended meaning of a given speech-act in Scripture. Is the meaning found in the very words themselves or in the Spirit speaking through them? Along these same lines, I found his treatment of the issue of differing interpretations of a given passage, or apparent contradictions between separate passages, to seem a little trite. Also, in terms of historical context, Ward drew extensively from the Reformation and post-Reformation periods, but rarely stretched further back into church history. I would have appreciated a broader historical context.

These minor criticisms aside, I found Words of Life to be a tremendous resource containing a compelling articulation of a historically-grounded yet refreshingly contemporary doctrine of Scripture. I love books that help me to see something differently than I have before, and this was certainly one. The fact that the topic is so important and basic to my faith makes it a book that I deeply appreciate and will certainly re-read and recommend to others.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pastor/Scholar extols God's timeless revelation 18 Dec 2012
By John S. Bayon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Timothy Ward's brief, but penetrating, foray into the nature of Scripture and it's interconnection with God's person and revelation offers an accessible on-ramp into the complexities of classical hermeneutics while teasing out major disagreements pot-marking current hermeneutical studies. Words of Life initially caught my eye when I was teaching a home school course on hermeneutics. Looking for an understandable, yet nuanced, explanation of the bedrock commitments of the nature of Scripture, I was delighted to find this Anglican rector's work, one I would warmly recommend for eager learners in the church and for students wishing to progress in their study of hermeneutics.

What Ward does especially well is to maintain the classical, evangelical, and reformed commitment to the nature of Scripture while insisting that Christians see Scripture as the supreme revelatory gift of the Triune God, tied to the nature and work of God himself. Stated differently, Words of Life ably holds together sola Scriptura and solo Deo, insisting that Christians must not pull apart these interlocked and mutually connected commitments. Ward corrects an evangelical tendency over the last couple centuries, contrary to Calvin, to isolate the doctrine of Scripture and hermetically separate it from the God revealed in Scripture.

Ward's treatment of speech-act theory, defining the use of language "at root the means one person performs actions in relation to another", weaves through at least two chapters and becomes the critical touchstone of his argument for bringing together and sustaining the intersection of God's nature and Scripture. He underscores God's speech at the advent of creation and his subsequent actions described in Scripture. Unlike human words in a fallen world, God's speech always achieves its appointed purpose. Enter Ward's basis for the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible along with vital insights into such cornerstone doctrines as justification and effectual calling. God's speech is essential to his covenant making and sustaining and ultimately crescendos in the incarnation of the Son of God.

Michael Horton's recent outstanding systematic tome, The Christian Faith, uses the Eastern Orthodox formulation of essence and energy as a means of describing the interplay between God's nature (essence) and his actions (energies). Ward's utilization of speech-act in describing the relationship between God and his written revelation is a supreme example of this essence and energy synergism. It promises to sustain the distinction between creator and creature (the rays of the sun are not the sun itself) while acknowledging the unique interaction and connection between God and Scripture (the sun is known indispensably by its rays).

Ward's interplay between God's nature and person and Scripture's nature creates a dual eddy that stretches thinking in both areas. However, I also commend him for not simply resting back upon formulations regarding the Bible, but using his argumentative capital for clarifying and even rebuking Christians for lazily and haphazardly adopting positions about Scripture. His precise treatment of the history and current adaptation of sola Scriptura highlights his correctives. He commends the Reformed position, while pushing Christians to avoid sins of reading Scripture in isolation from the church and her historical study.

More treasure await the reader beyond what I mention here. Words of Life are the labors of an academic pastor adding commendably and compellingly to a Trinity-centered view of the richness, authority, and beauty of biblical revelation.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to read it! 22 Sep 2009
By B. Shi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Even English is my second language, I found it was well writen, clear and easy to understand. It is good for anyone wants to get deeper understanding why Scripture was revealed by God in order to strengthen the faith to our Lord.
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