Timothy Paul Jones. Why Should I Trust the Bible? The Big Ten: Crucial Questions Answered. Fearn: Christian Focus, 2020. 208 pages. $12.99 (paperback).
Why Should I Trust the Bible? is the latest work to come from the pen of Timothy Paul Jones, professor of Christian Family Ministry and Vice President of Doctoral Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a contribution to Christian Focus’s apologetics series The Big Ten,which seeks to answer the most common questions about Christianity. Jones’s aim is to invite the skeptic on a journey to consider the evidence for the historical plausibility and truthfulness of the Bible. Along the way, he touches on topics such as the reliability of eyewitness testimony, the genre of the Gospels, and the importance of the resurrection for trusting the Bible.
In chapters 1–3, Jones labors to move the skeptic to a place where they can accept the Gospel accounts and the resurrection as historically plausible. Chapter 1 clears the deck for the rest of the book through a moving account of the author’s own personal struggle with losing and regaining belief in the Bible. The bulk of his argumentation for the Bible’s historical reliability is contained in chapters 2–3 where he argues convincingly for the Gospel authors’ intent to record real events and the reliability of their accounts given their basis in eyewitness testimony. Jones begins with the Gospels out of the conviction that if he can show the reliability of the Gospel accounts, then this will have important implications for what to believe about the rest of Scripture.
Chapter 4 contains a helpful overview of the formation of the canon, addressing common myths and explaining why certain books did not find their way into the canon. Chapter 5 deals with issues related to biblical inerrancy. Jones addresses certain hurdles such as apparent contradictions and provides the reader with a helpful overview of basic hermeneutical principles to avoid the caricatures of a biblical literalism. The appendix helpfully engages Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, answering common questions regarding the accuracy of the Bible’s transmission.
One of the many strengths of the book is Jones’s disarming ability to create a connection with the skeptic through breezy prose, honest engagement with the issues, and strong historical argumentation. However, one important topic that Jones does not directly address is the role of the Holy Spirit in establishing and confirming one’s trust in Scripture. At least some discussion along these lines would have been helpful. Nevertheless, this book is an excellent introduction to why Christians believe the Bible and will be immensely useful as a tool for evangelistic outreach. Whether you are a skeptic or a Christian with unanswered questions, Jones’s book is a sure guide to help navigate pressing matters regarding the trustworthiness of Scripture.
CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. The present book notice was written by Quinn Mosier, an M.Div. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.