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.
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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.