11 Apr Defending the Faith, Engaging the Culture – Book Review
Defending the Faith, Engaging the Culture:
Essays Honoring L. Russ Bush
Edited by: Bruce A. Little, Mark D. Liederbach
B&H, Nashville, TN 2011
266 pages, $24.99, paper
Reviewed by Skip Bell, DMin
Professor of Church Leadership
Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program,
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Berrien Springs, Michigan
Defending the Faith, Engaging the Culture, is a collection of papers in which theological seminary faculty revisit topics relating to biblical inerrancy that stirred L. Russ Bush III (1944-2008), a Southern Baptist professor and apologist.
I believe it is accurate to say the contributors are consistently conservative scholars. L. Russ Bush’s book co-authored with Tom Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, accompanied his denomination’s conservative renaissance and passionate focus on the inerrancy of Scripture. The significant influence of L. Russ Bush extended beyond the Southern Baptist community, especially within the public conversation regarding inerrancy. The editors of Defending the Faith utilize published and previously unpublished works of Bush. The book is in four parts; Christianity and the Bible (with essays by Bush, Daniel L. Akin, Tom Nettles, and Paige Patterson), Christian Apologetics (Bush, Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas, David P. Nelson), Christianity and Science (Bush, James K. Drew Jr., Kenneth D. Keathley, Robert B. Stewart) as well as Christianity and Culture (Bush, Mark Coppenger, Richard Land, Udo W. Middelmann).
The editors share Bush’s convictions in matters of biblical inerrancy and conservatism. Bruce A. Little is professor of philosophy and director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Mark D. Liederbach is associate professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture is dedicated to continuing the work and spirit of L. Russ Bush. Defending the faith and engaging the culture is a phrase that captures the mission of the Center, and this publication is clearly an expression of that institution’s mission.
The first section, Christianity and the Bible, broadly affirms a conservative view of biblical inerrancy. In today’s Christian conversations regarding revelation and inspiration the word “fundamentalism” is often sensitively avoided. That is proper because the word is in our time taking on meanings no longer compatible with scholarly conversation. That said, the nature of the arguments in Defending the Faith relate to such a “solid” conservative position, illustrated by L. Russ Bush’s essay comprising the first chapter. “It is the text and not the writer that perpetually provides an infallible word from God. When we say the Bible is the Word of God and thus inerrant in the original manuscripts, we are not pushing infallibility off onto a nonexistent source as liberal Baptists constantly claimed of us in the days of the Southern Baptist Convention’s conservative resurgence. Every accurate copy is the equivalent of the original wording. It is the original wording of Scripture that is Godbreathed.”(5)