Review: Charles H.H. Scobie, The Ways of Our God

The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology is published by W.B. Eerdmans Pub., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2002. ISBN 0–8028–4950–4

A book that honours the authority of the Bible — the whole Bible — is rare these days in scholarly circles yet Charles Scobie — former head of the department of Religious Studies at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick and former Professor at Presbyterian College, McGill — has produced a major work which reflects a life time of both scholarly and devotional interaction with Scripture. Encyclopedic in scope, it deals not only with the history and methodology of Biblical Theology but with the flow of salvation history. In the first five chapters he deals with historical and methodological matters which he acknowledges are there to justify his approach in the face of criticisms from the academicians who often think the whole enterprise of trying to do Biblical Theology is both impossible and illegitimate. For the pastor or layperson, who wants to be informed of these trends among academics that often lead to attacks on classical theological understandings, it is refreshing and respectful. There are 20 main chapters dealing with a variety of themes as well as four main sections — God's order, God's servant, God's people, and God's way. The author and subject index will guide you to a wide range of topics and the bibliography has helpful suggestions for further study. One reviewer noted that the book is accessible to teachers, clergy, students, and general readers alike, and the book will reinvigorate the study of the Bible as the unified word of God. I believe it would make an invaluable resource for a church library, a pastor, student, or Bible study leader.

To illustrate I will simply quote in part the article on the current biblically-based concern over homosexuality: "The early church spread into the Graeco-Roman world where homosexual practice was common (Furnish 1985:59) but by no means universally accepted (J.J. Davis 1993: 96). While it often took the form of a relation between and older and a younger man, other forms of relationship were also known. In Rom. 1:18- 32 Paul, as part of his analysis of humankind apart from God, condemns idolatry, one result of which he believes is that God has given up the pagan world to impurity. While it involves every kind of wickedness (v.29), prominent in the sins that Paul lists is both male and female homosexual practice … The converse of these prohibitions is the NT's positive affirmation, following that of the OT, that God has made man and woman for one another and that our sexual desires, rightly find fulfillment within heterosexual marriage" (Hays, 390; cf. Mark 10: 6-9; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Ephesians 5:22-33).

Other topics include suicide, the family, euthanasia, war, parents and children, distribution of wealth and healing.

A prayer from the PCC Daily Devotional that Charles Scobie submitted reflects his approach: "We thank you, O Lord, that the world in which we live is a book in which we may read of your divine power. But we thank you especially for the Bible, the Book of Books, in which we may read clearly of your divine love revealed in many ways but above all in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."