In 2015, Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur hosted the annual Shepherd’s Conference. It is an annual event anticipated by pastor’s throughout the world. 2015 was a special year though. Extended by a day, the speakers consisted of a who’s who within conservative Christian circles to address the topic of inerrancy. Over the course of four days, with every speaker conference attenders were urged to not lose their commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture. Out of that conference came the recently release book, The Inerrant Word edited by Dr. John MacArthur.
Based primarily upon the sermons prepared by the conference speakers, the book boasts contributions by 24 different people (including R.C. Sproul’s introduction) it covers inerrancy from more facets than most of us have considered. As such it is bound to pique the interest of so many people. However, over the course of time, most notedly in the last four decades, the number of substantive books on inerrancy prompts us to ask, “Is there a need for yet another book on inerrancy?” The answer quite simply is both yes and no.
It goes without saying that the book is Scripturally based. A quick glance at the men who have contributed tells us they are men committed to the integrity and authority of Scripture. What makes this book so special is the uniqueness with which it addresses the topic of inerrancy. The book looks at the topic and does so from different viewpoints, different aspects of Christianity. However, in order to best do this they have utilized the scholar’s personal strengths and life emphasis. As examples, it takes people such as Carl Trueman, Iain Murray, Stephen Nichols, and Nathan Busenitz, all men who emphasize church history, and allows them to look at the topic from a historical point of view. The book utilizes Abner Chou’s strength in biblical theology and G.K. Beale’s research on the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament to defend the inerrancy of Scripture. Even Miguel Nunez is able to address inerrancy from the standpoint of its impact upon the Great Commission. In this sense, The Inerrant Word is a needed and enjoyable book. Who better to learn from than the experts of each discipline?
However, it would not be my primary resource in the topic of inerrancy because it assumes that a foundation has been set in establishing the priority of inerrancy. For those who attended the conference, there was little doubt in their mind about the need to defend Scripture. The same is true for those who pick up this book. What about those who do not yet understand the attack against Scripture and the importance of uncompromising conviction on it? For that we must turn elsewhere, to such books at Howard Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible.
A second negative factor in advocating for this book is the sheer cost for the average reader or church attender. At nearly $30.00 for the hard copy or almost $20.00 even for the ebook (using Amazon’s prices for today) it becomes a question of necessity versus want. Truthfully, the only reason I picked up the book was because it was available for $5.00 in a hardback edition. For that price, I thought I wouldn’t mind having a record of what was said at the conference for my own library.
Overall, my recommendation is this. It’s a great book and worthy of your time to read it. However, foundations need to be in place first, and if one does not first understand the importance of inerrancy, then the time and money must first be spent there. After that foundation is set, bypass the book and instead go to shepherdsconference.org where you can watch and/or listen to the sermons for free. It’s not merely a matter of cost though. Watching or hearing the men get passionate about their area of expertise proves to be a profitable and exciting investment of your time. You can watch/listen online by yourself or with a group and start a discussion about it. I think you’ll get much more out of over reading the book (as passionate as I am about reading, it’s a rare thing when I would tell someone to not read).