Customer Reviews: Scripture Alone: Exploring the Bible's Accuracy, Authority and Authenticity
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on August 24, 2005
As the title implies, Scripture Alone is a book which seeks to explain and defend the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura. White focuses primary on the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture, which he defines as follows:

The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement; their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation; their authority is not dependent upon man, church, or council. "The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating. The Christian church looks to the Scriptures as the only infallible and sufficient rule of faith, and the church is always subject to the Word, and is constantly reformed thereby." (28)

The length of this definition shows that there are several areas involved in the issue of the sufficiency of Scripture, and White tackles them well.

He takes an interesting approach in the book. Much of the book contains argument and explanation, as would be expected. But perhaps a quarter of the book is comprised of dialogues between two people. While the dialogues are fictional, they are based on White's extensive experience debating issues of Christian theology with people of other faiths. The dialogues not only contain sound teaching, but also give the reader an idea of how the doctrinal issues the book deals with might play out in every day life. They do, however, present a somewhat unrealistic illustration. The Christian in the dialogue always has the perfect response and the right quote, whether from Scripture or the Church Fathers. While it is hard to imagine how White could write it any differently, this is not always an accurate picture of real dialogue.

White manages to cover quite a bit of material in just over 200 pages, giving a clear survey of issues surrounding the formation of the Canon, allegations of corruption and internal contradictions of the Bible, and the relationship between Scripture and the church/tradition. Two chapter deserve particular mention. Chapter 3, "Forever Settled: The Nature of God's Holy Word", covers the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. White discusses the standard passages on these important topics, and clearly brings out B.B. Warfield's classic teaching on the "God-breathed" nature of Scripture. What is perhaps unique about White's explanation here is how well he shows the connection between the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture to the sufficiency of Scripture. He points out that Paul wrote his last epistle, 2 Timothy, to his young protege Timothy, instructing him how to carry on the work of the gospel in the post-Apostolic period. Considering this context,"If Paul believed we should look to the papacy, or to some Spirit-led prophet, or to some group of leaders, or to some new source of revelation, this would be the place to delineate this all-important source of aid for his beloved Timothy. What he does instead is perfectly in line with the teaching of Moses, the prophets, the Psalter, and, most important, the Lord Jesus Christ: He directs Timothy to the God-breathed Scriptures as the never-changing, always sufficient source of truth." (46-47)

Chapter 10, "The Lord Spoke to Me, Saying..." is perhaps worth the price of the book by itself. The entire chapter is a dialogue between two Christians, beginning with these words: "It was just fantastic, Josh. I really hadn't known what to do, so I opened my Bible to the Psalms and started reading. And right then, God spoke to me. He told me to buy the Deep Spirit Study Bible in teal and genuine leather! It cost an arm and a leg, but I'm sure the Lord will provide." Through the course of this conversation White communicates several crucial ideas. God speaks through Scripture, not apart from it. The teaching of those who claim "the Lord spoke to me" must be tested against Scripture, and quite often these claims simply don't stand up. The Spirit of God does indeed speak to Christians today, but he does so in concert with the Word. Claiming that "the Lord spoke to me" effectively puts us on par with Scripture, for this is the formula the Old Testament prophets used to introduce their message from God. Such claims call into question the sufficiency of God's Word, even when they are spoken by people who (at least in theory) affirm that Scripture is totally sufficient.

My biggest disappointment with Scripture Alone is that White focuses much of his argument against various Roman Catholic teachings. While the historic debate over Sola Scriptura is certainly between Protestants and Rome, the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is under attack today from several other quarters, many from within evangelicalism itself. White's experience debating and otherwise responding to the claims of Roman Catholics surely influenced his focus here; I wish, however, he would have spent more time on other challenges to the sufficiency of Scripture which are more pressing today. The interface of science and Scripture, for example, is not addressed in this book at all, and yet topics of this nature are in the national headlines constantly.

As a whole, White's book is a good contribution to the discussion of the sufficiency of Scripture. He is clear and convincing on the issues he addresses, and does the reader a great service by pointing to other resources for further reading on several topics. White notes in several places that the doctrine of Scripture is of primary importance: "every attack upon the Christian faith includes, in some form or another, a denial of sola scriptura" (25). "Almost every single collapse involving denominations and churches in regard to historic Christian beliefs can be traced back to a degradation in that group's view of the Bible as the inspired and inerrant revelation of God's truth" (43); and "Almost every denial of biblical sufficiency finds its root in a misunderstanding of, or more likely, a direct rejection of, the true nature of Scripture (44). The issues addressed in this book are not of only "academic" importance, nor should they be of importance only to scholars. Every Christians has a vested interest in the doctrine of Scripture, its inspiration, inerrancy, and sufficiency. This book helps bring these issues to Christians of every stripe.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 31, 2004
James White is a Reformed apologist who specializes in defending the faith against the doctrines of Roman Catholics and Mormons - two groups which deny the doctrine of sola scriptura or Scripture Alone. He is uniquely qualified to write such a book as he is intimately familiar with the arguments against the Bible's sufficiency. The book comes at a time when much of Protestantism has lost sight of this doctrine and has been slowly denying it. White defines this doctrine as "Scripture alone as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church." Thus he teaches that Scripture has been given to govern and guide what we believe and why we believe it and is the only guide that can do so infallibly. He has written this book to "lay a foundation for all Christians who desire a deeper understanding of biblical sufficiency" (from the back cover). The book is targeted not at theologians and apologists, but at laypeople who are interested in being able to defend their faith and have firm convictions regarding the Scriptures.

The book explores the themes of the Bible's accuracy, authority and authenticity. Interestingly, much of the book takes the form of dialogues between a Protestant believer and a Catholic or Mormon apologist. That should go to prove that this book is not targeted at intellectuals and theologians, though I have little doubt White has the knowledge to write such a book. I found the dialogues a very helpful way of explaining difficult issues in a "could happen" type of environment. While the dialogue itself is sometimes almost comical (when was the last time you spoke to someone on the subway and said "Ever considered that the primitive Christian church was hardly in a position to be chasing down copies of pseudepigraphical gospels penned by their enemies?") the content is helpful. I may not use "pseudepigraphical" in conversation, but I can certainly apply the content of that conversation to someone who believes that The Da Vinci Code is a legitimate historical work.

Among the issues White discusses are: the nature of God's Word, Inerrancy and exegesis, the canon of Scripture, apocryphal books, corruption and contradiction and scriptural sufficiency. He also includes a short section on "the Lord spoke to me" where he shows how people who believe God continues to speak to them apart from Scripture deny scriptural sufficiency. While none of the topics is covered in great detail, they all receive enough attention to explain what they are and how they relate to the defense of sola scriptura. There were not any chapters that became bogged down in detail and theological nuances - they were all straightforward and easy to read.

White has written a passionate introduction to the doctrine of the Bible's sufficiency. This is a book that any Christian, even one with little theological background, should be able to read and enjoy. The doctrines of sola scriptura are under attack from both outside the church and within. As believers we must arm ourselves with the knowledge of the issues and the ability to defend these issues which are of foundational importance to the continuance of the faith. I recommend this book as an excellent introduction to biblical sufficiency.
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on October 10, 2007
James White is an interesting guy. Most people who talk about him come out on polarizing extremes, either you love him or you hate him. Perhaps this is because he tends to tackle issues that are laced with theological explosives. In his book Scripture Alone Dr. White does not part with his tradition...

"...every attack upon the Christian faith includes, in some form or another, a denial of sola scriptura. Whether it takes the form of blatant denial of scriptural inspiration or comes in the subtle assertion of the need for an `infallible authority' to interpret the Bible for you, the goal is the same. God's voice is either completely muted or blended in the voice of man so that one is never sure which voice is speaking. In either case, the authority of God's Word is compromised and room is made for man's ideas and schemes." (p. 25)

As expected White pinpoints the unbiblical teachings of those who deny sola scriptura, the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, and Roman Catholics to name a few. However, the contemporary evangelical church is not without thoughtful inclusion in the list of those who undermine the Bible's sufficiency. Sadly many today have a preoccupation with God speaking to them through impressions, dreams, and even audibly.

In the first four chapters White explains the biblical doctrine of sola scriptura. He spends a healthy time unpacking what Scriptural Sufficiency actually is, as opposed to the all to common unfair characterization of it by its opponents. "Sola scriptura literally means `Scripture alone.' Unfortunately, this phrase tends to be taken in the vein of `Scripture in isolation, Scripture outside of the rest of God's work in the church.' That is not its intended meaning; again, it means `Scripture alone as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church." (pp. 27-28)

In chapters 5-8 White deals with various questions with respect to canonicity, Gnostic gospels, and allegations of contradiction and corruption. As you would expect, White interacts with the Roman Catholic teaching on authority, tradition and the development of doctrine (chapter 9).

A most helpful feature in this book is the dialog that buttresses each of White's chapters. As an experienced debater White provides an abundance of real life conversations with those who would deny the sufficiency of Scripture. This feature alone makes the book worth your read. Add to this the healthy teaching on the topic and you have a valuable tool for the believer.
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on April 29, 2013
After ten years of sharing the gospel with Catholic friend of mine, he said to me"Wow i just realized how the Mormon church is a copy of the Catholic church. " How prophetic this was.One denies the Deity of Christ and the other denies the sufficiency of Christ. Both are a works system of attaining salvation and both have false revelation through their magesterium. White having to make a critical defense for something that seems so easy to understand that God's word is sufficient. We have all things pertaining to life and Godliness. But no, hair splitting, pompous academics, whose eyes have been dulled through the incense,had to add their papal falsehoods and magic decrees to come up with another Gospel and in Luther's words " will not permit men to be saved."White excels at this work like he often does. But it will only hold weight with those who meditate on it day and night. For the we can add on to scripture because God needs our ideas crowd, this will mean nothing." Its a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God". God will send to hell those who follow their own righteousness.Roman 10:1-4.
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on March 8, 2016
Raised as a Roman Catholic, I never understood the circular logic that the church defined and interpreted the Scriptures, which is suppose to establish and guide the church.

Having converted to a nondenominational Protestant church, I needed to be better able to understand what is sola scriptura, how should it be applied, what is canon, what about the apocrypha, what about corruptions/contradictions, and what about church tradition? This book strengthened my faith, my understand of the Bible, and even given me the foundation to start working towards apologetics.
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on April 19, 2015
This is an excellent book dealing with the issue of authority in one's belief system. Dr. James R. White sets forth the historic Reformed (and Biblical) position, that the Bible is the final authority in all issues of faith, and whatever it speaks on, it is accurate and authoritative. Dr. James White deals with the primary Biblical passages dealing with the authority of Scripture. Also, he has some examples of conversations with those who reject the Scripture's final authority. Dr. White shows how tradition, creeds, and the church, though important, fail in being the measuring stick, compared to Holy Writ. James R. White does a fine job of communicating clearly on a precise, theological issue. Highly recommended.
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on October 30, 2013
The book cleared up many things I didn't understand about why scripture alone is needed for God's word. It also discusses why other religions don't believe this and what they think is the need for living prophet or voice of God on earth.
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VINE VOICEon November 4, 2004
James White is one of my favorite writers and defenders of the faith (1 Peter 3:15). His web site is full of good material (see [...]) and his radio broadcast is enlightning and fun to listen to. His books are no exception.

In this work, Dr. White writes on the doctrine of Scripture and shows how important it is for the Church of Jesus Christ to hold to Scripture alone as our standard for doctrine, faith, and practice (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1). Dr. White is a master debater and so within the book he offers mock debates at the end of each chapter. Further, Dr. White has been recently debating many Roman Catholics and therefore he strongly writes that many of the errors of the cults and the Catholics comes from a faulty view of Scripture.

The Reformers stood firm on the foundation of Scripture and we must not give in to the spirit of this age and deny the sole authority of the Word of God. While many churches today are seeking to become "seeker sensitive" and more "contagious" for the world to desire to come, we must not bow to this and we must fully proclaim the inerrant, infalliable Word of God (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). If we don't, we are doomed for failure (2 Timothy 3:13).
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on December 28, 2013
This book thurroughly and beautifully covers what his perhaps the most important and foundational doctrine within Christianity. What you believe about the Bible will determine what you believe about every other doctrine. White argues that the majority of heretical view points coming from those claiming to be part of the body of Christ can be rooted in a low view of the scriptures.
This book is also helpful because is builds confidence and knowledge in a believer who has any desire to have apologetic conversations in defense of the Scriptures. I highly recommend this important book.
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on January 15, 2016
Very good book. Very comprehensive look at Sola Scriptura. Hard to read at points, but you have to read people who are smarter than you sometimes to grow. I am not reformed, but I would recommend this book to anyone.
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