Book Review by Michael Smith

“Almost every page of Christopher Peppler’s new work Truth is The Word is a cloudburst so pure, so true, so clear that the life-giving run-off won’t come horizontally, but vertically from refreshed roots deep underground.” Dr Leonard Sweet, Dean of Drew Theological School at George Fox University, USA, 

What is Truth? Generations have been wrestling with this question for over 2000 years. In his recently revised edition Truth is The Word Dr Christopher Peppler makes a valuable contribution to the current generation’s Christian debate.

The book is split into two parts. In ‘Book One’, aptly entitled The Source of Truth, the focus is on the source of truth. Dr Peppler begins by discussing the nature of truth, carefully taking the reader through the different schools of thought and the various Christian philosophical approaches which have manifested over the centuries. He draws a distinction between the simple acquisition of knowledge, which is the start of the process, and learning, which is made up of assimilation, contemplation, application and review of the data. He calls this subsequent changed view of self and reality “The Path of Learning”.

The book itself is structured around this approach, and is designed to stimulate and challenge the reader to examine his own thoughts and Christian beliefs, from the very foundations to their practical day-to-day applications.

After a succinct discussion of the theories of truth, the reader is led into an examination of the Bible and the nature of biblical truth. Dr Peppler poses challenging questions about the nature and inspiration of biblical revelation and its purpose. This leads to the key theme of the book.

Dr Peppler states that in this rapidly changing world the ‘secure and certain knowledge’ on which much ‘modern’ thinking is based, is being challenged by the ‘post-modern’ world-view. He maintains that focus has been lost in a welter of conflicting ideas and this has led to a society in spiritual turmoil. The solution, he says, is to get back to the fundamental realisation that Christianity is not a philosophy but a relationship where truth is defined not as a proposition but as a person: the  Lord Jesus Christ. He is The Word – the Source of Truth, the incarnate Word of God.

The Bible, the written Word of God, reveals Jesus and records his deeds and his teachings. The Church proclaims the truth by preaching and teaching about Jesus from the Bible. The Holy Spirit enables the readers and hearers to perceive truth as he reveals Jesus to them, in and through the Bible.

Having established Jesus, The Living Word, as the only source of truth, Dr Peppler then, in ‘Book Two – Comprehending the Truth’, explains step by step how the reader can learn to understand and gain a deeper appreciation of the Bible. We can achieve this by adopting a method of structured examination in our study of scripture.

‘Book Two’  comprises three main focus points. The first examines the meaning of biblical text. The second studies the explanation and interpretation of the text, and the third focuses on what the author calls ‘Mystery’- levels of meaning beyond immediate human comprehension. The author  explains these levels of meaning by differentiating between the superficial meanings, accessible to all, the literal first meaning, accessible through study and research, the mystical meaning, accessible only through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and finally the existential meaning which denotes an actual encounter with him who is truth.

To complete the book, he gives the reader a useful set of rules to guide us in interpreting the scriptures. These guidelines are based on the work of the earliest Fathers of the Faith and adapted to our present needs.

This essential addition to any Christian bookshelf will help to prepare the reader to examine life’s most profound questions, “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from” and “Where am I going?”

← Back to Book Reviews