Thursday, July 24, 2008

Books, Books, Books

On the book front note the following:

1. Tim Chester (a church planter in Sheffield, England) has written a new book about sanctification called, You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behaviour and Negative Emotions with endorsements from Tim Keller and Paul Tripp. This page has an excerpt of the book plus a short video of Tim introducing the book.

2. Scot McKnight is blogging his way through The Consolations of Theology edited by Brian Rosner and written by the faculty of Moore Theological College in Sydney. Six studies of human realities — anger, obsession, despair, anxiety, disappointment, and pain.

3. Daniel Harrington has an introduction to Paul out called, Meeting St. Paul Today: Understanding the Man, His Mission, and His Message. The subtitle sounds strangely familiar!

4. Andy Naselli points to D. A. Carson’s review of Roland Boer’s Rescuing the Bible. Carson gives no quarter and much to say has he. I have to include a quote from the review:

This book, a fascinating mix of dogmatic left-wing self-righteousness combined with rich and scathing condescension toward all who are even a tad less left than the author, is rich in unintended irony. Boer cannot see how implausible his arguments become. While nominally allowing “religious” people to believe in the supernatural so long as they support his left-wing agenda and join forces with him in a “worldly” secularism, what he says about the Bible and about biblical scholarship is so blatantly committed to philosophical naturalism and historical minimalism that even the most mild supernaturalism is ridiculed: no allowance can be made for divine revelation, anyone who thinks Moses existed is not really a scholar, biblical studies can be called “scientific” only if the scholars themselves do not preach, and so forth. Boer consistently damns everyone on the right by ridiculing the obvious targets, but probably he would not appreciate it if a counterpart on the right ridiculed those on the left by skewering Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot. It turns out that Boer wants to “rescue” the Bible not only from what people on the right say that it means but from what the Bible itself says, for whenever the Bible, in all its multivalence, disagrees with Boer’s vision of the summum bonum, it is to be undermined, set aside, and mocked—not even wrestled with. Readers are repeatedly told that those nasty right-wingers have “stolen” the Bible. Boer never considers the possibility that quite a few left-wingers have simply abandoned the Bible, leaving the terrain open for those who at least take it seriously. What will satisfy Boer, it seems, is not the liberation of the Bible but the liberation of the Bible from any agenda he considers right-wing, so that it can be locked in servitude to a left-wing agenda. Boer’s dismissive arguments to prove the Bible is hopelessly multivalent—a commonplace among many modern and postmodern readers today—is spectacularly unconvincing because he does not interact with any serious literature (and there is two thousand years’ worth of such literature) that argues, with various degrees of success, how the Bible does hang together. But perhaps this is not too surprising from an author who cherishes chaos precisely because chaos undermines God’s authority—and all authority save Boer’s must be overthrown. I think that many biblical writers would call that choice idolatry. At the end of the day, Boer is trying to rescue the Bible from God.


Phil Sumpter said...

Wow! What a review! That was refreshing.

James Crossley said...

Refreshing in what way?

N T Wrong said...

'Refreshing' in the way that being sprayed by a rabid dog an be 'refreshing'?

Phil Sumpter said...

Refreshing in the sense that it's great to see someone who is aware of the signifance of the issues at stake in biblical interpretation and is willing to express that with rhetorical force. Of course this kind of thing can get carried away, but every now and then it's good to call a spade a spade. Perhaps Carson has missed the point and perhaps his reasoning is in part faulty (as I glance through Wrong's response it looks as if that may well be the case). I don't know the author or the book. But I'm aware of the rhetoric of those from the minimalist, rationalist, reductionistic camp and think taking a bit of their own medicine could do them good ... And even if it doesn't it's refreshing to read nonetheless .

I may well be reading my own personal dialogues with certain members of the minimalist camp into Boer's position. I guess I appreciate Carson's energy and ernestness, though, as I said, it may well be all misplaced.

N T Wrong said...

It's very odd to associate Boer with so-called "minimalists", or with any historical critical "camp". He does lit crit, not issues of historicity.

Anonymous said...

Now I know some of these people, but for the others - check out my response to Carson at

Roland Boer