Perhaps the Bible should come with a label: Read Responsibly! Michael Bird’s latest book, Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew About the Bible will help you do just that. Bird acknowledges that the Bible can be hard to understand in places. “Not because it is a book of mystery, magic, or mayhem; rather, because it contains a history distant from our own, it was originally written to ancient audiences in particular contexts, and it was written for us but not to us.” So, Bird does the work to help the reader out. And along the way, he confronts some of the challenges to the Bible in our day.
Some read the Bible as if it just dropped out of the sky in the English translation, perfectly leather bound with study notes. While I’ve certainly encountered the King James only crowd, I think the waters many are swimming in today are more what Bird calls “me and my ESV.” Then there are those who want to say that what we call the Holy Scriptures were really just invented by the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. We’ve been duped. So in the first chapter, Bird gives the down low on how the Bible was formed into the canon we read today made up of the Old and New Testaments and translated into the English language.
Next, he gets into that whole tricky issue of divine inspiration and human writers—how does that work? Can we trust the Bible? What does it mean that it is God’s word? What about some of the seeming inconsistencies that we see in Scripture? What’s the difference between inerrancy and infallibility? What is this debate around inerrancy in evangelicalism about? What do different denominations have to say about this? How can we wisely navigate through this? How can we know the Bible is true?Continue reading