Reading Jeremy Myer’s review Thom Stark’s book on Jeremy’s Till He Comes blog has prompted me to write my own review. I was struck by Jeremy’s hunger for truth, and I am concerned that Thom’s book is obscuring more truth than it is presenting.
The full title of Thom’s book is The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide It). This first post will deal with introductory matters and then I’ll write one post for each chapter, dealing with the book in serial fashion.
As you can tell from the title, the endorsements, the foreword, and the preface, this book presents a liberal Christian view and is an argument against conservative Christianity. I do not intend to take sides in that debate. I see things to admire and things to avoid in both the liberal and conservative branches of Christianity. And consequently there are points in Thom’s book I could commend. However, these points of commendation are minor when compared with his overarching theme which is that the Bible has no unifying voice, and its corollary, that Jesus Christ prophesied erroneously – points with which I emphatically disagree.
My purpose in this review therefore is to stand up for Jesus Christ and for the Scriptures. I believe Thom’s book is destructive of faith in both, even though he may not intend it to be so.
Starting with the subtitle, I do not believe that Scripture “gets God wrong.” Rather, I think we sometimes get Scripture wrong. There’s a world of difference.
Thom’s great foil in the book is the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy. As I said, I don’t want to intervene in his argument with fundamentalism. Therefore, I’m not interested in defending the Chicago statement (or condemning it either, for that matter). However, I am intensely interested in defending the point of view that Jesus put forth about the Scriptures. Among other things, Jesus said,
“Scripture cannot be broken.” – John 10:35
He also said something like “even the dots of the i’s and the crossings of the t’s are important” in Matthew 5:17-19. And in Luke 24: 25 “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (italics mine). And there are more references to which we could turn, but I’ll stick with the short and sweet “Scripture cannot be broken” as representative of Jesus’ view.
Think of it this way: Jesus believed that the Scriptures are the word of God. God cannot lie. Therefore, God cannot contradict Himself. Therefore, the Scriptures cannot contradict themselves.
Thus, the view of Thom’s book is at odds with the view of Jesus. I have to choose the view of Jesus as more reliable. I have no problem acknowledging the diversity of the Bible’s writings and its authors. But that’s what makes its unity all the more striking. Thom’s book will say that the Bible has many voices. I agree, but where he hears cacophony I hear harmony. And when the subject is Jesus Christ those voices come together in unison: He is the promised Messiah, the Son of God!
Unfortunately, Thom’s book attacks not only the credibility of the Scriptures, it attacks the credibility of Jesus Himself. This is most on display in the eighth chapter, the title of which is “Jesus Was Wrong.” I shall deal with this chapter in due time but in this opening post I wanted to be as clear as possible about my stance: It is the honor of Jesus and the credibility of the Scriptures that are driving me. Debates between the leftward and rightward wings of organized Christianity are ongoing and do not interest me. When an author writes “Jesus was wrong,” it would be trivializing for me to draw the battle lines anywhere else but at Him.
Thom keeps a catalog of reviews of his book. I hope he will include this one in his list, though he is not likely to enjoy what I have to say. Thom, should you be reading these posts and want to respond to them, rest assured that I will allow any and all comments you want to make about them.
Next installment: A Review of “The Human Faces of God” – Chapter 1
This review consists of twelve posts in all: one for each chapter, plus this introduction, and a conclusion. Other posts related to it include: