I am currently reading Kenton Sparks’ book, God’s Word in Human Words. The book was recommended to me recently by several people, knowing what I have been working through in reading the bible.
The basic tenet of the book is that the traditional understanding of what “biblical inerrancy” means is not supportable today in light of modern scholarly study of the bible, but also that it is not necessary for belief in an inspired and “inerrant” bible. It was God’s decision to write his word through fallible humans, but it is still inspired, still what he intended for people to know who he is. Sparks is very honest and thorough in his writing. I would recommend this book to anyone, whether they were looking to reject or defend the concept of biblical inerrancy.
Reading it is a bit emotionally trying for me because it makes more clear how wide the chasm is between this type of faith and what most of my Christian friends believe (what I used to believe). I realize more clearly that I have decisions to make about where clean breaks are needed.
At the same time, I find Sparks’ honesty refreshing, and the book provides a framework for discussing problems with the bible without coming across as though I oppose everything or everyone Christian or spiritual (I don’t!). Christians who believe some form of traditional inerrancy need to wrestle with these issues. To quote Sabio (who has commented before on this blog):
“In my world, even among wrong views, there are some more wrong than others. Thus I prefer the post-modern liberal view of scripture, of course, even though my view is much more radical. Thus I encourage any believer to move further away from unhealthy views within their own faith while still remaining in their faith. And I don’t mind if they attempt the same with me. That is the best we can ask for honest, helpful human dialogue, I think! Especially since I am sure that ALL our views are incorrect! (smile)”
I would like to go into more detail about the specifics of the book later. For now, I’ll end with the product description from Amazon:
“The conclusions of critical biblical scholarship often pose a disconcerting challenge to traditional Christian faith. Between the two poles of uncritical embrace and outright rejection of these conclusions, is there a third way? Can evangelical believers incorporate the insights of biblical criticism while at the same time maintaining a high view of Scripture and a vital faith? In this provocative book, Kenton Sparks argues that the insights from historical and biblical criticism can indeed be valuable to evangelicals and may even yield solutions to difficult issues in biblical studies while avoiding pat answers. This constructive response to biblical criticism includes taking seriously both the divine and the human aspects of the Bible and acknowledging the diversity that exists in the biblical texts.”