This is a continuation of my review of Kenton Sparks’ title, God’s Word in Human Words. In part 1, I mainly laid out an introduction to the book and chapter 1 alone, which looked at the 3 sweeping eras of philosophical and epistemological understanding: pre-modern, modern and post-modern.
In general, Sparks is looking to help evangelicals to move forward in maintaining a high view of Scripture as divinely inspired and authoritative while also engaging with the arena of critical scholarship.
You see, for most evangelicals, the concept of critical scholarship or historical criticism (or whatever specific terminology one would use) is very dirty, very unChristian. But this is where we go a little askew in our understanding of being critical. This term does not always mean criticising from a negative perspective. Rather it is more about assessment, thinking through things, which can lead to both positives and challenges/negatives. As Sparks says himself:
I would like to suggest, however, that the Bible itself invites us, at least implicitly, to ask hard and critical questions of the divine Word (p74)
Of course it does! This is why the church has been willing to engage in such a practice in some form or fashion since its inception (though, yes, more in the past few centuries than previous centuries). Even more, such communication is part of the practise of the biblical writers, especially as voiced in the poetic sections such as the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations. And you’ve got some pretty stern arguments coming forth from other writers as they speak with God. Right now, I’m thinking of our friend, Habakkuk.
We have to put a stop to automatic rejection of critical scholarship because of the word critical, or because some of it is produced by non-Christians.
But let’s move into more of the details of the book. Continue reading →