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According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible Paperback – October 10, 2002
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The massive diversity and complexity of the Bible can make it a daunting project for anyone to tackle. Getting a grasp on the unity of the Bible, its central message from Genesis to Revelation, helps immensely in understanding the meaning of any one book or passage. That is the goal of this book by Graeme Goldsworthy.
- How do the Old and New Testaments fit together?
- What is the point of biblical theology?
- What is the overall story of the Bible?
- What difference does it make?
Goldsworthy answers these questions with an integrated theology of both Old and New Testaments that avoids unnecessary technicalities. Concise, pithy chapters featuring dozens of charts, highlighted summaries and study questions make According to Plan an enormously useful book for understanding how the Bible fits together as the unfolding story of God's plan for salvation.
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About the Author
Graeme Goldsworthy is an Australian Anglican and Old Testament scholar. He was formerly lecturer in Old Testament, biblical theology and hermeneutics at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia and continues to teach there part time. Goldsworthy is the author of According to Plan, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, Gospel Kingdom,The Gospel in Revelation and The Gospel and Wisdom. He has an MA from Cambridge University and a ThM and PhD from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.
- Publisher : IVP Academic; 9/15/02 edition (October 10, 2002)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 251 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0830826963
- ISBN-13 : 978-0830826964
- Item Weight : 13.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #99,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The book is structured for easy reading. The chapters are short and divided into "bite-sized" sections of one or two pages. Each chapter starts with a related Bible verse and an introductory statement about the topic of the chapter. Most chapter sections end with a summary statement. Each chapter ends with study guide questions and suggestions for further reading. He appears to be writing for the adult education market. The book is well presented for this purpose. Each chapter is perfect for a 30-45 minute adult Bible study session.
The book is arranged in four parts covering the why, how, what, and where of Biblical theology. In part 1 Goldsworthy establishes why Biblical theology is necessary. Biblical theology provides the means and authority to interpret the meaning of the Bible.
In part 2 Goldsworthy explains the presuppositions of Biblical theology. Among these are: God can be known. God is the source of true knowledge. The saving work of Jesus redeems the world. It also redeems the mind of the Christian, opening him up to the truth of scripture in a way that the "God-denying" logic of humanism can never do. The gospel of Jesus illuminates scripture like a spotlight. Goldsworthy maintains that the Old Testament "is a book about Jesus Christ." He says that since Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, the Old Testament is about Jesus.
In part 3 Goldsworthy explores the historical progression of God's revelation through the covenant relationship and it relates to the Kingdom of God. Chapter by chapter Goldsworthy shows how the theme of covenant and kingdom run throughout scripture, from the earliest chapters of Genesis to Revelation. Each chapter concludes with a rather confusing chart with headings for Kingdom, God, Mankind, and World. There are some problematic chapters here. For example, he explains that Adam was a real historical person because "the gospel only makes sense only if there was a real temptation and fall which radically altered the course of human nature and the history of mankind thereafter."
In part 4 Goldsworthy shows how Biblical theology can be used to answer the general questions of Christians. He provides sample outlines for two subjects: guidance and resurrection. His approach is pretty straightforward and could be easily followed by a study group. First, make general contact with the subject in the gospel. Second, investigate key words in the Bible related to the topic. Finally, investigate the nine "strata" of Biblical theology (Adam & Eve, the patriarchs, the exodus, Canaan monarchy, prophecy, personal piety, gospels, acts, and epistles.) Using this method, we can obtain answers using a Biblical theology that emerges from the Bible.
The overriding assumption of this book is that the Bible (all parts of it) can only be interpreted in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He presents his case for Biblical theology in Part 2. Biblical truth can only be revealed using the Bible itself. While Goldsworthy acknowledges the value of other exegetical tools to illuminate scripture, but he is skeptical of the work of scholars that question the divine authority of the Bible as God's inerrant and infallible Word. He states his primary presupposition in Chapter 3: "The Christian position, to be consistent, accepts that the is Bible as God's Word, and that it says what God wants it to say in exactly the way God wants to say it." The interpretation of scripture based on "humanistic" methods will not produce good results because it stands apart from the source of true knowledge - God. This believes that humanistic reasoning is incompatible with faith. In other words, a proper understanding of the theology can only be achieved if you accept the premise that the Bible is the inerrant infallible Word. Only the Bible can interpret the Bible because only God knows what he is talking about. If you are willing to accept Goldsworthy's assumptions, then this book provides a useful approach to learning how to use Biblical theology to study scripture. However, if you do not share Goldsworthy's assumptions about the Bible and knowledge, this book is an interesting curiosity.
In his introduction, Goldsworthy suggests that the reader might skip Part 2 (entitled: Biblical Theology--How?) if he/she doesn't feel prepared to take on questions of a more theoretical nature. Don't listen to him!:) I found this to be the most helpful part of the whole book. After listening to multiple religion professors explain to me that we must set aside all presuppositions (including the gospel) when we approach biblical texts, Goldsworthy's words here felt like a breath of fresh air. He argues instead that the gospel, as we see it in Jesus Christ, is in fact the only sure guide to help us see what God is communicating in the Old and New Testaments. In other words, Jesus is the final, fullest revelation of God, and by him we interpret all other revelation. The gospel provides the lens through which we must view Scripture. This section is worth the price of the book!
In Part 3, which along with Part 2 takes up the bulk of the book, Goldsworthy gets to work examining the storyline of Scripture from start to finish. He explains how each part of redemptive history reveals to us something of "the kingdom of God": God's people, in God's place, living under God's rule. God's kingdom culminates in his work through Jesus to perfect a people for himself and make all things new. Because this books is meant to provide an overview of Biblical theology, Goldsworthy only goes into so much depth here, but his insights are still helpful.
Overall, I would heartily recommend this book for individual study or church use. If you are a layperson, never fear! You don't need a theology degree to benefit from this book. If you are a pastor, I would also recommend Goldsworthy's work. In fact, I think this book would make an excellent teaching resource for a Bible study class. It truly changes the way we approach scripture. This book led me to greater worship and awe of God and his amazing plan of redemption, and I suppose that is the highest praise I can give any theological book.