The Bible is a religious masterpiece. Its authors cast a profound vision for the healing of humanity through the power of divine love, grace and forgiveness. But the Bible also contains "dark texts" that pose fundamental challenges to our ethical imagination. How can one book teach us to love our enemies and also teach us to slaughter Canaanites? Why does a book that preaches the equality of all people--male and female, slave and free, Greek and Jew--also include laws that permit God's people to trade in slaves and to persecute those of a different faiths or ethnicities?
In Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture Kenton Sparks argues that the "dark side" of Scripture is not an illusion. Rather, these dark texts remind us that all human beings can error and that at times these errors are recorded in Scripture. What is more, sometimes events in Scripture are recorded erroneously. What are we to make of this situation when we believe that the Bible is God's word?
Kenton Sparks provides us a way forward, a way which takes the text seriously enough to ask it difficult questions while still affirming the revelation of God in Scripture.
Kent Sparks addresses the crucial and often painful question that I hear people asking around the world--from seminary students to their professors, from spiritual seekers to seasoned pastors, from ex-believers to new believers: What do we do about the Bible's dark passages, the places that justify genocide or conflict with one another or can't be squared with scientific data? Sparks doesn't follow the typical all-or-nothing responses to either left or right, but offers an honest, humble, creative, faithful, and robust approach to Scripture that presents it as part of God's good-but-broken creation that is being redeemed in Christ. Highly recommended.
-Brian D. McClaren,
author of Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words
Incisive and honest, sophisticated yet clear, this volume will prove to be of immense value to those who wrestle with the nature of Scripture. Sparks illuminates a number of troubling and complex issues, and his readers will find their thoughts moving in new and promising directions.
-Dale C. Allison, Jr.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
The moral problems of the Old Testament, including what justice means, how peace can be gained, and how love is to be known, can be examined from a number of angles...The only acceptable approaches are those that struggle with the text as Scripture, as God's Word, and seek to find in that text what God might be saying to us today. Sacred Word, Broken Word is among the angels in pursuing this type of approach. Not all will agree, but I pray that this book will ignite a conversation about how to read the Bible better.
North Park University
Sparks sets a new benchmark for work on the theological and philosophical reception of Scripture. Written with elegance, this is a book of seasoned scholarship that is accessible, spiritually sensitive, constructive, and provocative. Above all it is written from a heart attuned to the depths of human suffering and misery.
-William J. Abraham,
Perkins Theological Seminary, Southern Methodist University
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