The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture  -     By: Christian Smith
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The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture

Brazos Press / 2011 / Hardcover

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From sociologist and Souls in Transition author Smith comes a critical perspective on evangelical "biblicism"---a theology affirming the exclusive authority, infallibility, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, and universal applicability of Scripture. Challenging this view as misguided, Smith points readers toward what he believes is a more responsible and coherent treatment of biblical inspiration and authority. 240 pages, hardcover from Brazos.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Brazos Press
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1587433036
ISBN-13: 9781587433030
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Biblicism, an approach to the Bible common among some American evangelicals, emphasizes together the Bible's exclusive authority, infallibility, clarity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability. Acclaimed sociologist Christian Smith argues that this approach is misguided and unable to live up to its own claims. If evangelical biblicism worked as its proponents say it should, there would not be the vast variety of interpretive differences that biblicists themselves reach when they actually read and interpret the Bible. Smith describes the assumptions, beliefs, and practices of evangelical biblicism and sets it in historical, sociological, and philosophical context. He explains why it is an impossible approach to the Bible as an authority and provides constructive alternative approaches to help evangelicals be more honest and faithful in reading the Bible. Far from challenging the inspiration and authority of Scripture, Smith critiques a particular rendering of it, encouraging evangelicals to seek a more responsible, coherent, and defensible approach to biblical authority.

Author Bio

Christian Smith (PhD, Harvard University) is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where he has been cited as an outstanding faculty member. He is the award-winning author or coauthor of numerous books, most recently What Is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and Moral Good from the Person Up and Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. His research focuses primarily on religion in modernity, adolescents, American evangelicalism, and culture.

Publisher's Weekly

American evangelicalism is a textured and varied collection of believers, scholars, and students. Despite the variety of belief and practice, one idea unites them: the centrality of the Bible, and the determined appeal to sola scriptura that has defined their religious basis from earliest times. The much published Smith, a professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame, sets out in this finely constructed volume to question not just the wisdom but even the possibility of depending only on the Bible to define faith and practice. The "Bible only" foundational belief is so ingrained in the consciousness of evangelicalism that asserting its irrationality and logical impossibility strikes at the very heart of what motivates and defines the evangelical community. Smith makes a persuasive case for shifting one's focus from the sole authority of the words of scripture to the one whom scripture proclaims to be "the way, the truth and the life." Such a shift, he insists, is necessary for American evangelicalism to move forward. (Aug.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

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  1. Blue Springs, MO
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    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Can be a useful tool...
    June 10, 2013
    Jonathan Becker
    Blue Springs, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Pros:

    1) Smith treats those who hold to a biblicist model with considerable respect (at least compared to the way they would treat him).

    2) A number of good objections are raised against biblicism.

    Cons:

    1) Smith seems to rely too much on pervasive interpretative pluralism as an argument against biblicism. Not that this fails completely, it's just that his case may be overstated AT TIMES.

    2) Smith is not a theologian. Thus, his comments are purely sociological and do not fully appreciate the biblical text (not saying that one has to be a theologian to do this, only that Smith doesn't do it fully.

    3) Smith can reduce his argument to mere assertion at times.

    All that being said, I want to state that I accept (with only minor qualifications) the argument proposed in the book. Biblicism is not the best way to read scripture. However, this kind of book could have been more powerful if the above cons were avoided. Unfortunately, one must balance argumentative force with size, something I think this book does well.
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