Bret James Stewart's Reviews > The Unity of the Bible: Unfolding God's Plan for Humanity

The Unity of the Bible by Daniel P. Fuller
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really liked it

This is the third or fourth book I have read about biblical theology. I think Fuller has handled the subject well and provided a great overview of the subject in a relatively short textbook. Biblical theology deals with the overall characteristics of God and the Bible and the divine plan for creation. It is often compared and contrasted to the more popular systematic theology, which is narrower and themed, dealing with individual subjects such as tithing or the Law. I look at biblical theology as the macro-view of God’s plan and systematic theology as the micro-view. I utilize both in my studies and writings, and I think both are beneficial. There is no war between them. In some circles, biblical theology is referred to as “salvation history” or “redemptive history” due to its overarching focus on the story of God culminating in the redemption of all creation and the following earthly reign of Christ in the restored world; some forget the wonderful things that happen after all evil is destroyed, acting as if God’s ultimate house-cleaning is the end of the story—don’t be one of them.

Fuller provides a view of progressive revelation, moving more or less chronologically through the text. This makes sense as it is easy for students to comprehend chronologically-arranged material. I say “students” because this is, indeed, a textbook, and a good one. The book is well-made and easy to navigate as one would expect from a Zondervan product. There are notes and review questions at the end of each segment and a bibliography, general index, and scripture index at the end.

In Part I, Fuller does what one would expect for a textbook as he sets out to explain terms and reasons in order to explain why he has written and one should read the book. He lays out the canonical legitimacy of the Bible, which is important to accept as all of his material is going to be based upon and supported by scripture. He includes a couple of apologetic segments herein about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, though I am not sure why. I agree with his arguments, but I do not understand what these have to do with a biblical theology.

In Part II, the foundations of redemptive history are laid out. Fuller uses both testaments as evidence. He promotes and uses an inductive approach, trying to view scripture in light of the author’s intent, which I think is the proper starting point. He grapples with the concepts of the Trinity, the Fall, Hell, the Cross, Heaven, and other fundamental (this word in its original meaning) issues of the Christian faith.

In Part III, Fuller examines Israel’s role as the “lesson book,” as he terms it, or the example, as I would term it, to the world. Major themes herein are forgiveness of sins, the ceremonial Law, and the concepts related to the kingdom of God in an Old Testament context. The idea of national/ethnic Israel as the “light to the gentiles” is an important concept many Christians have missed out on, and it can be a fairly difficult concept to understand. It is, however, important, and the Christian does not want to remain ignorant about this characteristic of God’s chosen people.

In Part IV, the focus is upon the New Testament purpose and presence of Jesus. As we currently live within the modern world, Fuller addresses contemporary life within the biblical context. Further, he deals with the (predominantly future) conversion of Israel.

Overall, I think Fuller has done a great job to deal with such a large subject in such a short text. He makes the error of confusing the Roman Catholic religion as Christian—falling for or assuming the “branches of Christianity” concept we are fed by the “establishment”. I do not know why he does this. He has the sense to recognize Hinduism, etc. are distinct religions, and he has the biblical training to understand that the Roman Catholic religion does not qualify as a biblical religion. Perhaps the error lies in an ignorance not of the Bible, but of the faith in question. In any case, I took away one star for this as I feel this is a tragic error as it encourages Christians to mistakenly think the very large R. Catholic Church consists of saved people, which is not at all the case. This results in them not being considered for missionary activities, which puts souls at risk.

As I mentioned above, biblical theology is a huge topic. Those wanting more information may want to consider To Know and Love God by David K. Clark (dense) and/or The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology by Charles H. H. Scobie (less dense than Clark but longer; be careful here as Scobie uses elements of the apocrypha as foundational). I definitely recommend The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission by Christopher J. H. Wright. This latter text has a succinct working with the concept of Israel as God’s example to the nations.

This is a textbook, but all Christians or even non-Christians studying some or all elements of biblical theology can benefit from the book. Fuller is very qualified to write about the subject. Further, the far more popular systematic theology of writers and pastors has resulted (coincidentally, I think) in many Christians being unfamiliar with the overall biblical theology of Our Lord, which is not a good thing. We should be familiar with both the big picture and the details. Highly recommended. Note that there is a more recent version available.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 12, 2015 – Shelved

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