The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals when it Gets God Wrong (and why Inerrancy Tries to Hide It)
Does accepting the doctrine of biblical inspiration necessitate belief in biblical inerrancy? The Bible has always functioned authoritatively in the life of the church, but what exactly should that mean? Must it mean the Bible is without error in all historical details and ethical teachings? What should thoughtful Christians do with texts that propose God is pleased by human sacrifice or that God commanded Israel to commit acts of genocide? What about texts that contain historical errors or predictions that have gone unfulfilled long beyond their expiration dates? In The Human Faces of God, Thom Stark moves beyond notions of inerrancy in order to confront such problematic texts and open up a conversation about new ways they can be used in service of the church and its moral witness today. Readers looking for an academically informed yet accessible discussion of the Bible's thorniest texts will find a thought-provoking and indispensible resource in The Human Faces of God. --Christians can ignore the facts that Stark brings into the light of day only if they want to be wrong.-- --Dale C. Allison, Jr. author of Constructing Jesus --The Human Faces of God is one of the most challenging and well-argued cases against the doctrine of biblical inerrancy I have ever read.-- --Greg A. Boyd author of The Myth of a Christian Nation --I learned so much from this book that I can strongly encourage anyone who is seeking to move from simplistic proof-texting to a comprehensive understanding of the Bible to read this book carefully.-- --Tony Campolo author of Red Letter Christians --This is must reading for Christians who have agonized over their own private doubts about Scripture--and for others who have given up hope that evangelical Christians can practice intelligent, moral interpretation of the Bible.-- --Neil Elliot author of Liberating Paul --[W]ith the help of this book, we may discover that the Bible--when we read it in all its diversity and vulnerability--does bring healing words to those who keep listening.-- --Ted Grimsrud author of Embodying the Way of Jesus --Stark's book effectively demonstrates how the Bible, in practice, is the most dangerous enemy of fundamentalists.-- --James F. McGrath author of The Only True God --Stark provides a model for theology that is committed to hearing the voice of the victims of history, especially the victims of our own religious traditions.-- --Michael J. Iafrate PhD Cadidate, University of Toronto --This book is the most powerful antidote to fundamentalism that I've ever read.-- --Frank Schaeffer author of Crazy for God Thom Stark was a Fig Tree and Ledbetter scholar at Emmanuel School of Religion. His academic interests include second temple apocalyptic Judaism and Christian origins, as well as modern Christian and Islamic theologies of liberation.
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I found this to be a book full of childish and ranting arguments that seem to have never been tested against those who may provide a good, reasonable defense. The assumptions made seem to be that of a high-school level and do not stand up to the slightest bit of critical reasoning. Read this book if you must, but do so with a rational mind, testing assumptions and viewing all angles. It is full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing.
Stark has provided a very interesting and useful book that dives deeply into the problematic texts of the Christian faith. There are plenty of great things about this book but I find it unfortunate that the focus was so heavily invested in arguing against the doctrine of inerrancy. It is not unfortunate because Stark does not deal adequately with this target. To the contrary, Stark presents a very compelling case against it, but the doctrine of inerrancy is such a weak target that it does not really need a lot to bring that house of cards down in the first place. And Stark has that gift of bringing typically academic discussions down to the vocabulary and tone of the general reader making this book remarkably readable. It would have been great if after making short work of inerrancy he could have spilled more ink in some more positive readings of these problematic texts. His last chapter was outstanding but too short in my opinion. Even so, his suggestions in his conclusions paint a remarkable picture of how to deal with the complex narratives of the Christian scriptures and would be a great jumping off point for people who want to examine these issues without abandoning their Christian convictions.
I highly recommend this book.