I finally finished this amazing book by my favorite author. Favorite author…I think I made these book reviews bias now. But seriously, I love what I have read of John Piper’s works thus far. And this one, “A Peculiar Glory”, definitely continued that streak.
The basis of these books, both “A Peculiar Glory” and “Reading the Bible Supernaturally”, talk about the truth of Scripture and how it is we should approach it. It gives a good, well-grounded perspective change to the average person and also reveals how desperately we need the movement of the Holy Spirit. In this book, Piper asks how can this average person, with no education from private Bible college or seminary or any formal knowledge on historical evidence (etc..), read the Scriptures and still see God? How can we know that the Bible is true? He splits this into five parts.
- A Place to Stand (his own story influenced by Scripture)
- What Books and Words Make Up the Christian Scriptures?
- What Do the Christian Scriptures Claim for Themselves?
- How Can We Know the Christian Scriptures Are True?
- How are the Christian Scriptures Confirmed by the Peculiar Glory of God?
Piper argues that the glory of God, in and through the Scriptures, is real, objective, self-authenticating reality. That Christian faith is not a leap in the dark. It is not a guess or a wager. God is not honored if he is chosen by the flip of a coin. “A leap into the unknown is no honor to one who has made himself known.”
He explains how the simplest person can have a well-grounded confidence in the gospel by unpacking Jonathan Edwards statement: “The Gospel of the blessed God does not go abroad a-begging for its evidence, so much as some think: it has its highest and most proper evidence in itself. . .The mind ascends to the truth of the gospel but by one step, and that is its divine glory.”
He specifically argues that the way the Scriptures convince us is by the revelation of peculiar glory. In other words, “the power of Scripture to warrant a well-grounded trust is not by generic glory. Not, as it were, by mere dazzling. Not by simply boggling the mind with supernatural otherness. Rather, what we see as inescapably divine is a peculiar glory. And at the center of this peculiar glory is the utterly unique glory of Jesus Christ.” He shows how God glorifies himself in Scripture through working for those who wait for him (chapter 13), through fulfilled prophecy (chapter 14), through the miracles of Jesus (chapter 15), and through Scripture-shaped lives of radical love (chapter 16). “This peculiar brightness shines through the whole Bible but comes to its most beautiful radiance in the person and work of Jesus Christ, dying and rising for sinners.”
And he explains that, in one sense, everyone knows the glory of God (Rom. 1:21). “It is written in nature (Rom. 1:19-20), written on our hearts (Rom. 1:15), written in the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4), and radiant through Christ (John 1:14) and the Scriptures.” He uses the analogy of a “template for glory” that is in each and every human heart. A template, that we try to fill with material humanly things, but that is truly meant for God’s glory. And when we let the “eyes of our hearts” be opened by the Holy Spirit, through the Holy Spirit we can see the glory of God through Scripture, a glory that we are meant to see, a glory that will remove all the alien fillers from our template and take its rightful place.
That is the simplest overview I can state. But this book gave me a great realization. The Bible itself is a miracle. God gave us a great gift, and the power to utilize it. We sit around and complain that God is “silent” or “doesn’t show himself to me” but yet, He so miraculously brought us an entire book full of the answers and knowledge we so desperately long for. The Scriptures themselves remind us of that. I will end with this excerpt:
“How can the eternal, and infinite Creator make himself intelligible to minds and hearts that are of an infinitely different order? This is as mysterious as the coming of God into the world himself in Jesus Christ. Both are unfathomable. And both are real. And when we take the divine-human Bible in our hands, we should feel a similar wonder to what we may feel when we touch the skin of the risen God-man, Jesus Christ.”