Featured Reviews, VOLUME 4

Featured: The Bible Made Impossible – Christian Smith [Vol. 4, #27]

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The value of the book…that which makes it prophetic for the Church in our day…is its thorough (to the point of being monotonous) description of what Smith calls “Biblicism”. He defines Biblicism in a way which would sound like an orthodox view of the Bible by most evangelicals (“Bible-believing Christians”), “By ‘biblicism’ I mean a theory about the Bible that emphasizes together its exclusive authority, infallibility, perspicuity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability.” (viii) He lists ten assumptions or beliefs (4, 5) concerning Biblicism which make abundantly clear that which he is critiquing. His list of assumptions is followed by eleven pages of examples of Biblicism at work in churches and ministries across a broad spectrum of theological persuasions. The next eleven pages are spent naming the elephant which sits squarely in the middle of every evangelical living room… we are not one-minded concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. Smith calls this lack of doctrinal unity “pervasive interpretive pluralism” (referenced throughout this review as PIP). For all Christians and especially for those who take the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible seriously, the Church’s lack of doctrinal/theological unity with the attending institutional and missional consequences which follow represent the single most daunting challenge we face. The essential unity of the Trinity is tied to the essential unity of all disciples, and the essential unity of all disciples is tied to the possibility of the world believing the gospel. (John 17:20-23) For those who would argue that our theological differences are small and inconsequential, Smith takes half a chapter (27-37) citing some significant issues on which Christians differ, issues which are anything but inconsequential: church polity, free will and predestination, the Sabbath, the morality of slavery, gender difference and equality, wealth and poverty, prosperity and blessing, war and peace, nonviolence, charismatic gifts, atonement and justification, worship and the whole satellite of issues which revolve around the ways Christians and churches relate to culture. This dizzying array of issues with which we display deep disagreement represents the reasonable resistance to the gospel in the world today; those who will not acknowledge this reality are simply living in denial.

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  1. I noticed recently (Acts 1) that Jesus promised “High Power” to those witnessing His ascension. No, He did not promise the Bible. Further, Acts 2 makes it clear the immersant receives the Spirit/Breath. It appears this charis, gift of the Spirit, is for a variety of purposes and when coupled with the disciples’ practice of the disciplines of the Spirit, they produce the fruit of the Spirit, being the glue holding the Disciples together. Me thinks also the Spirit is within the disciple of Jesus for the purpose of ministering/serving the disciple and His community by ‘answering’ the disciples’ concerns spoken to the Father. Somewhere, ‘we’ lost the Way! Wouldn’t it be interesting for serious thinkers to think together, and even discuss, such things. It is not fru-fru stuff – those with their minds made up need not apply. Let me know when and where the 1st meeting takes place…