Book Review: Unbreakable

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This is a short review of a useful short book that I found very helpful in different contexts over the summer. Andrew Wilson will likely be known to many readers of this blog, and he’s worth following on Twitter as a thoughtful, theological, pastoral Tweeter. This review, though, is of a short little book in the Union Theology series, edited by Mike Reeves, which (in my reading – I enjoyed Reeves’ little book on prayer) are bite-size, head-and-heart-together little theological morsels. This will be a short review, because its a short book and I think it bears reading.

This is a book which I think makes a powerful, Jesus-centred case for taking the Bible seriously. Lots of books seeking to discuss ‘biblical authority’, or variations on that theme, start with evidence, with literary theory, or tradition. None of these are inherently bad things. Andrew’s book is much simpler, and straight to the point: we should trust Scripture because Jesus did. This is not a deep theological treatise – this is a distillation of what Jesus said, and is a helpful book for thinking us through Scripture and how we might want to relate to it.

I’ve noted the brevity of this book – at just under 80 pages including notes it is very accessible and readable – and this gives a clue as to its strengths and weaknesses. This is a great book to give to new Christians, people who like Christ but not Christians, and perhaps for young people wanting to start to think theologically. This is not a book for theology students to quote in essays – but I have found its content and argument useful and edifying for theology students who I work with and alongside in and around Theology Network. If this book were to only whet your appetite, then Andrew helpfully adds five solid suggestions for further reading.

This is not a book that is internally focused, however. Whilst there are nods or implicit mentions of debates within Christianity (like the amusing naming of a chapter ‘True Like Jazz’, which just sounds like a book a friend of mine likes…) this is actually a book designed to fuel and provoke mission. We can tell the world the good news of Jesus, because it has a firm foundation in him, and is communicable. I particularly resonated, in that missional sense, with the closing words of the final chapter:

Bibliolatry – the worship of the Bible – is not the main problem in our day. Most people’s view of the Bible is too low, rather than too high. But as with any good gift, there is the danger of idolatry. The Scriptures are there to point to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We most honour them when we find our life, and our joy, in him

The reason that most people have a low view of Scripture, I would agree with Andrew, is because they don’t know Jesus. And the reason some Christians have distorted views of Scripture is because we can often fall into the trap of elevating the text over the subject and author, Jesus. This book is a helpful nudge for both kinds of people.

In conclusion, I would encourage people to read this. If you run a Church or CU or similar, get a bunch. If you are studying theology, read over this quickly and get stuck into some of the things Andrew recommends. I used this in preparation for an evangelistic talk on ‘Why trust the Bible’ – and found it went down surprisingly well as an argument with a wide range of people at that university setting. ‘Unbreakable’ is a solid addition to the Union Theology series, and one that I’d recommend to pretty much anyone.

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3 Responses

  1. Is the Vineyard ‘Evangelical’? – Thomas Creedy's Blog

    […] From a Vineyard perspective we might offer pneumatological language, but Coffey has offered an alternative model to the stereotype of the human component of Scripture being either automatons or uninspired savages. Coffey goes on to connect the Doctrine of Scripture with the person of the Good News, Jesus: […]

  2. Book review: What Do We Do with the Bible? – Thomas Creedy's Blog

    […] Perhaps the saddest part of reading this book is the way that Rohr treats Jesus. An early hint is when he writes “Be careful when anybody says ‘only’. It is a giveaway for narrow-gauge and dualistic thinking“. Given the well documented exclusivity (which is radically inclusive, in that everyone is invited) of Jesus, let alone the general themes of the holiness of God and biblical monotheism, this is a strange thing to read. Rohr would seem to be suggesting that Jesus’ narrow teaching is dualistic – when, in fact, I think the opposite is true. And herein lies the rub. Rohr’s ‘big idea’ (though arguably subservient to his contemplative and pan/entheistic slants) is the innocuous sounding “Let’s use the Bible the way that Jesus did“. This sounds brilliant, apart from the fact that the Bible isn’t something to be used. Once we observe that, and think about who Jesus engaged with, submitted to, extolled, meditated one, shared, explained and explanded (For just a few verbs) the Bible he had, we see the problems with this approach. A far more positive, thoughtful and readable approach to the Bible and how Jesus treated it can be found in Andrew Wilson’s excellent Unbreakable: What the Son of God said about the Word of God. […]

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