In about a week I plan to begin discussing here The Bible Made Impossible by Christian sociologist Christian Smith (Notre Dame). The book was recently published by Eerdmans. I consider it one of the most important challenges to evangelical theology ever written. The subtitle is Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. I invite you to get the book and join in the conversation about it. It is only 178 pages long and easy to read, but it packs a real punch.
I read the book in manuscript form about a year ago. The author sent it to me and asked for my feedback which I offered. Now I’m reading it in its published (hardback) form. I will discuss it here two chapters at a time. I will wait, however, until those interested in reading with me have time to obtain a copy. (Books ordered from amazon.com usually take less than a week to arrive.)
Smith is a well-known sociologist of religion whose studies have been reported on in major newspapers. A recently article in our local newspaper reported on a recent survey of America’s youths regarding their attitudes towards morals. The results were shocking and dismaying.
In this book Smith dabbles (and I don’t mean that in any demeaning way) in theology. He studied at three seminaries and has a life long interest in theology. He graduated from Wheaton College and has, until recently, considered himself an evangelical Christian.
In The Bible Made Impossible Smith takes on what he calls evangelical “biblicism,” arguing that it is an impossible approach to the Bible and doctrine. By “biblicism” he means “a particular theory about and style of using the Bible that is defined by a constellation of related assumptions and beliefs about the Bible’s nature, purpose, and function.” (4) He lists and describes ten such assumptions and beliefs that together make up “biblicism.” (4-5) I will enumerate those for those who choose not to read the book, but I think it will be extremely helpful (thought not necessary) to read the book along with me as I discuss it. In fact, to a certain extent, I will assume my readers are reading or have read the book. Others can listen in and will get the gist of the book, but they may not understand everything being said about it.
I plan to discuss the first two chapters on Monday, September 26. If you order the book (I get no kickbacks!) this Monday you will have it by September 26. You can certainly get it sooner by ordering the Kindle (or similar) version.
I will be posting here between now and then–on whatever topics come to my mind. So keep reading!