Book Review: 'Unbreakable' by Andrew Wilson
For a few years now, Andrew Wilson’s Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said about the Word of God has been required reading for Year Team members and summer interns at Christ’s Church. If it didn’t make me sound so bossy, I’d suggest we make it required reading for the whole church.
Andrew is a teaching pastor at King’s Church in London, has written several books, blogs at Think Theology, co-hosts the Mere Fidelity podcast, and writes a column for Christianity Today. Although I have been a longtime fan of his blog, Unbreakable was the first of his books I read. (I’ve since dug into Spirit and Sacrament and recommend it highly, as well.)
Everything I enjoy about Wilson’s writing in other contexts is on full display in Unbreakable, as he tackles important questions about why we believe what the Bible says. It’s smart, insightful, funny, well-reasoned, and clearly articulated. Wilson addresses several questions I’ve had about the Bible, plus some others that hadn’t occurred to me, and he does it all in about 75 pages.
He comes at his topic from an angle that’s unique, but also, refreshingly obvious when you think about it: why do we believe what the Bible says? Well, because Jesus did. How do we think about and interact with Scripture? We do it the way Jesus did it. Wilson writes, “I don’t trust in Jesus because I trust the Bible. I trust the Bible because I trust in Jesus. I love him, and I’ve decided to follow him, so if he talks and acts as if the Bible is trustworthy, authoritative, good, helpful and powerful, I will too.”
Wilson goes on to show, through various stories from the Gospels, that Jesus affirmed the authority of Scripture in word and deed. Jesus quotes Scripture to answer teachers, lawyers, disciples, and devils. He fulfills Scripture, lives and breathes it, all the way to the Cross and all the way out of the tomb. And then on a post-resurrection stroll with a couple disciples, in what must have been the best small group meeting ever, Jesus explains how the entire Bible should be understood as a story about him. For every question that Wilson raises in these chapters, he looks to Jesus for an answer.
You could think of Unbreakable as a short book or a long essay. Wilson lays a sturdy foundation for further study and gives readers a framework for evaluating claims they hear about the Bible’s authority, clarity, and reliability. For those who want more, there’s a helpful list of resources at the back of the book to point you in the right direction.
Although this book has been around for a few years, it has not lost its piquancy. Questions about the authority of Scripture are perennially relevant. In my opinion, most of these questions are not ultimately about interpretive methods, alternate views of history, dogmatics, or denominational loyalties. Most of them are echoes of one subversive, serpentine inquiry, as old as Genesis 3: did God really say that?
Andrew Wilson’s approach to answering these questions is one of the best I’ve come across — it’s biblical, reasonable, and short. So, while I can’t make this required reading for anyone besides the summer interns I’m teaching, I can highly recommend this book to you. Let’s receive and discuss the Word of God in ways that reflect the high view of Scripture held by the one who spoke, embodied, and affirmed it. If that sounds like a worthy goal to you, Unbreakable is a great place to start.