Kent Sparks and Our Sacred, Broken Bible

Kent Sparks and Our Sacred, Broken Bible March 8, 2012

Kent Sparks (professor of biblical studies and interim provost at Eastern University) has a new book due out in May, Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture (Eerdmans).

He has posted a teaser on the publisher’s blog, giving a rationale for writing this kind of book.

He says that theological intransigence and intolerance among Christians (not against Christians) is the true culprit for stifling the gospel and feeding the process of secularization.

He ends his comments as follows:

My new book, Sacred Word, Broken Word, is an attempt to help Christians recapture the spirit of Jesus in our reading of Scripture. Insofar as we can, let us try to follow in the footsteps of Jesus rather than of the Pharisees.

Sparks speaks clearly, plainly, and provocatively about the problems scripture poses for evangelicalism, and has the academic chops to back it up. Predictably, he has received for his efforts strong support and equally strong resistance.

A recently announced title is aimed squarely at countering Sparks’s previous book, which was an academic treatment of the problem. Sacred Word, Broken Word is written for a general audience, and so will likely attract a much wider audience.

You can read the remainder of Sparks’s post at EerdWord. He will be posting here in the coming weeks to give us a preview of the book’s contents.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kent Spark’s book is also available for pre-order on Amazon. You could probably link directly to it if you wanted to.

  • JenG

    This is great news! Thanks for sharing. His first book changed my perspective but left me wondering “Now what?” and wishing his section near the end on suggested ways to approach Scripture was more developed. I assume that’s what this book is a response to!

  • Pete

    I previewed the contents of the Hoffmeier and Magary volume on Amazon, and I find it interesting how the contents of the book have been arranged. Rather than begin with archaeology or the “archaeology of the text,” it begins with a section entitled “Biblical, Systematic, and Historical Theology” wherein the discussion is weighted toward the latter two theological methodologies/perspectives.

    I wonder how much liberty was or would have been granted to the contributors of of the subsequent sections of the book—should any have been inclined—to take this discussion beyond where the initial contributors laid out.

    • peteenns

      Good question, Joe. The volume is clearly an apologetic so perhaps they set the parameters early on. I’m sure there are some good articles in there, but I am a bit baffled at the energy invested in something that is not nearly as clear as some think it is…. Of course, thats why they have to argue the point. Kent’s book certainly struck a cord. Poythress has gotten not the act, too.

  • AT

    I am interested Pete, whilst you have a lot of similarities with him, do you agree with all of Sparks conclusions. Through his writings (e.g. GWIHW) it seems like he takes things a little bit further than you. Where Sparks is happy to use the word ‘error’ in describing problems in the Bible you always say ‘tensions’. Sparks also implies that the bible needs to be ‘liberated’ in some sections.

    The incarnation analogy of scripture sees scripture like Jesus – perfect, but still making human mistakes without sinning or having an ‘incorrect’ picture of God. It seems like Sparks is saying that Scripture even makes serious ‘spiritual’ or ‘theological’ mistakes , that the authors just ‘plain got it wrong’ because of the sinful lens from which they heard from God. I understand that he stills sees scripture as inspired but only in the sense that God intended for it to be written with clear errors. I feel like you advocate for God speaking to the people in simplistic, culturally relevant paradigms that communicated right to where the people were at and with relevant cultural handles. It seems like Sparks advocates that humans received ‘broken’ revelation.

    I’m wondering if there is a difference in your views and if you think this is accurate or just semantic difference.

  • Kent Sparks

    Hi AT

    I’ll let Pete answer for himself. But when you say, “It seems like Sparks advocates that humans received ‘broken’ revelation,” I’d put it more like “Broken humans participated in God’s revelation.”


  • AT

    Thanks Kent,

    I appreciate the clarification.