“Sola Scriptura.” I remember reading the phrase (Scripture alone) in High School as our history books tackled the reformation. The concept was mentioned briefly as one of the causes of the divide in Christianity that shook the world at the time. Such a stance was not- and still is not- without powerful consequence.
More than just the holy rule book or historical record of a religion, the Bible is “alive and active.” God breathed Scripture, Christ stood on it confidently, and the Holy Spirit teaches us through it. The Bible is useful, profitable, entirely true, guides us, uplifts us, corrects us, and otherwise serves to shape us to God’s glory (Heb 4:12, 2 Tim 3:16, Jn 10:35, 1 Cor 2:12-13.)So powerful is God’s Word that when He speaks it we are given life & when we read it we are equipped for life. Click To Tweet
Jonathon Leeman’s new book Word-Centered Church responds to these truths with a pressing and practical question:
If the Bible is so powerful, so important, so “sola” set apart, what place ought it have in our churches?
This isn’t a new question for church leaders, worship directors, Sunday school teachers, or any one of us believers participating in the life of the local church. But Leeman asks and answers the question directly.
Word-Centered Church deals with common dilemmas like:
- The relationship of words and deeds
- The role of music, décor, and other elements of church
- The qualifiers for presenting the Bible in a way that “rightly handles the Word of truth”
Offering a balanced perspective, Leeman succeeds in consistently maintaining the conviction of “Sola Scriptura” while being realistic about what that looks like in the church. His approach sticks to essentials of the Word as the Gospel in order to leave space for matters of preference, like the style of music played or whether colored lighting illuminates the stage (or pulpit.)
Word-Centered Church is divided into 3 constructive sections:
- The Word
- The Sermon
- The Church
Each section builds on those before it but can also stand alone as reference material.
The book, despite serving as a handy reference resource, is not written just for those in leadership or academia. Leeman writes to all Christians. Powerful illustrations and analogies help make Leeman’s points both memorable and useful.
Chapter 4, The Word Gathers, exemplifies Leeman’s ability to make the theoretical pragmatic for all believers. He opens by describing the experience of walking into a church for the first time. Marking the sorts of the things people tend to notice, he challenges readers what is the most important factor in deciding whether to come back to that church. Leeman then proceeds to explain that God’s Word should be central- every other facet of the church serves only as a platform for sharing the Gospel.
Sample quotes include:
- “Many evangelical churches proclaim the gospel as the path of salvation, but then quickly switch to moralism and self-help as the way of sanctification.”
- “The Word confronts your present reality, and then the Spirit gives you a new one.”
- “We grow as Christ’s disciples as we hear God’s Word, and as we see it lived out by mature believers.”
- “A church that lives by the power of sociology and attraction and culture will die by the power of sociology and attraction and culture.”
Having read Word-Centered Church, which I truly enjoyed, I think I better understand now how that ancient phrase, Sola Scripture, applies to my life and the life of the local church.
Being centered on God’s Word is all the more cause for praise for the Author of the Bible, history, and each of us.
<I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.>
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