I’ve wrestled long and hard with my understanding of scripture. I was raised to believe that the Bible, as the inspired word of God, is completely without error in everything it teaches. And I taught this view myself for many years.
But the problem was that I continued actually reading my Bible. And the more I read it, the more I noticed a massive disconnect between the non-violent teachings of Jesus, and the incredibly violent portrait of God found in the Old Testament. I had to live with this tension for years before finally coming across a book that flipped the switch for me, proving that neither Jesus nor the Apostles treated scripture as if it were inerrant, and providing a healthier way to read and interpret the Bible. That book was Derek Flood’s Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did.
Now you may be wondering why, in my review of Eric Seibert’s books, I’m starting off by pointing to Derek Flood’s book. Simply this: While Disarming Scripture was not published until the end of 2014, Disturbing Divine Behavior came out in 2009, and I wish I had known about it back then! It would have saved me a lot of struggling with what should have been a much easier solution. Come to find out, Flood’s book actually includes an endorsement from Seibert and several references to his work, but I didn’t notice that until later either.
The first question I had when I finally did hear about these books (and the first question everyone has asked me when I’ve mentioned them) is which one to read first. Or sometimes, which one to get if you only intend to read one. So let’s address this right off the bat.
Disturbing Divine Behavior is technically the first book. It lays a foundation that The Violence of Scripture builds upon. So if you’re going to read both (and you really should), then start with Disturbing Divine Behavior. That said, while The Violence of Scripture does build on the previous book, it also stands fairly well on it’s own, and you should do fine to read it without the other, especially if you’re already disillusioned of inerrancy. But if you do currently believe that the Bible contains no errors, then Disturbing Divine Behavior is the one you’ll want to pick up first.
Stay tuned for two more posts, in which I’ll review each book in more detail.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of each book from Eric Seibert and Fortress Press in exchange for an honest review.