Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It Paperback – Illustrated, September 15, 2015
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“Peter Enns has written a great book about The Book. If you’ve ever struggled with the violent or contradictory or just plain strange passages in the Bible, this book is for you . . . And he’s funny.” (Rob Bell, author of Love Wins)
“Cross a stand-up comic, a robust theological mind, a college professor, and a decent normal guy, and what do you get? Peter Enns. And what does he write? A super-enjoyable, highly informative, disarmingly honest, and downright liberating book. The message of this book needs to get out. Fast.” (Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity)
“The question of how to read, inwardly digest, and eventually ‘live’ the Bible is probably the most divisive one among Christians today. This is a book that every Christian will be the better and richer for having read.” (Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence)
“Peter Enns has emerged as one of the stars of biblical interpretation for thinking Christians. With writing that is winsome, readable, and non-intimidating, he cuts a path between wooden literalism and faithless liberalism, giving us a way to read the Bible that is both faithful and intellectually credible.” (Tony Jones, theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch and the author of Did God Kill Jesus?)
From the Back Cover
What Do You Do When the Bible Doesn't Behave?
- Item Weight : 7.8 ounces
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062272039
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062272034
- Product Dimensions : 0.7 x 7.9 x 5.3 inches
- Publisher : HarperOne; Illustrated Edition (September 15, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #74,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This book (and similar ones by other authors -- i.e., "The Heresy of Ham" by Joel Edmund Anderson) is fraught with syncretic humanism -- trying to blend who God says He is with what "they" have decided He should be. "They" often define God according to their own intellectual and emotional criteria -- bereft of the supernatural spirituality of the Bible. "They" tend to determine what is considered humanly acceptable, culturally relevant, and what fits neatly within their own varied and comfortable parameters.
In the early chapters, for example, Enns cannot accept that God actually "wrote" the whole Bible -- that it was supernaturally "breathed" and orchestrated by God Himself. He denies (p.8) that God has given the Bible to man as (Enns' words)
"a step-by-step field guide to the life of faith, an absolute sure answer book to unlock the mystery of God and the meaning of life".
He says that looking at the Bible from this perspective is viewing it with
"unrealistic expectations" for genuine faith which is therefore a sure way to losing that faith thus leading to a life of stress. [As a side note, I believe there are multiple generations of people -- a lot of whom died in the process -- who have relied on Scripture for the very reasons Enns says are worthless.]
Yes, at first glance, the Bible appears to contain major conflicting situations -- on the one hand God says not to do "A" but then turns around and says do "A" or He may do "A" Himself. These stories and situations cannot be understood in isolation or according to our own cultural "sensibilities", but rather should be approached from God's perspective -- who God says He is -- the intent and background of each circumstance -- how each circumstance relates to God -- His plans -- the actions of the people involved -- the point God is making -- and a host of other issues. In describing God's seemingly conflicting instructions about "killing", Enns mentions God's instruction to Abraham to sacrifice his son -- his only son. (pp .30-31) Enns says God's was TESTING Abraham's faith and God does stop Abraham at the final moment. Agreed. But the Bible goes further -- explaining just how deep Abraham's faith was. In Hebrews 11, we find that Abraham understood and intensely believed God's promise to make a great nation of him through Isaac, his son. Abraham understood that even if he went through with the sacrifice, that God would raise his son Isaac back to life. Otherwise, God would be a liar -- meaning with Isaac dead, God could not carry through with his promise to make a great nation through him as He had specifically said. Additionally, the reference here to raising back to life is generally understood as relating to the resurrection of Jesus (John 8:56). This is huge. Its this kind of deeper issue that can govern the various seemingly bizarre contrasts in Scripture and the kind of thing Enns either misses or doesn't want to believe.
Because Enns doesn't believe the Bible is God's statement of literal events, he comes to conclusions such as this quote on p. 54:
"God never told the Israelites to kill the Canaanites. The Israelites BELIEVED God told them to kill the Canaanites." (My emphasis.)
He doesn't believe what God vehemently said in Deuteronomy 7 and therefore denies the reasoning behind God's statements. Enns doesn't give credence to God's strong directives to the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites because they were (1) against God and (2) because God doesn't want the pagan Canaanites influencing the Israelites who God is establishing as a non-pagan nation and also (3) God specifically repays those who hate him to their face, to destroy them. Because of his denial, it is clear that Enns can't attribute to God those characteristics which make God God. Here Enns doesn't truly grasp God's Holiness and therefore His intolerance for evil; His Sovereignty in directing the actions of the Israelites; His purpose in calling out a people for His own, and His further purpose in using the Israelites to eventually bring in the Messiah God promised way back in Genesis 3.
Enns attributes many claims of archeology as proof that the "stories" in the Bible are not literally true. Unfortunately, Enns has failed to properly vet these archeological conclusions he references. As one particular example (p.59), he states that the results of archeological digs prove the Jericho/wall story to be false. What he misses is that (1) those who performed the earliest digs in the early 1900's did not understand their findings; (2) these findings were blatantly corrected in an extensive dig in the 1950's; (3) that a later (one-month) investigation in 1997 which purported to disprove the wall was politically and religiously motivated specifically to discredit the wall and therefore the Bible and Judaism. In other words, they lied. (4) A follow-up study around that same year not only disproved the one-month study but found even more evidence for the actuality of Jericho's fallen wall. (5) In fact: "Three major expeditions to the site over the past 90 years [have] uncovered abundant evidence to support the Biblical account.”
Okay, so these are just a few specific points in the earliest chapters. Enns' view of Scripture seems to vacillate at various points -- sometimes he seems to be denigrating it but at later times he gives it credence. I wonder if some of the views expressed in the beginning of the book are in reality frustrations with protestantism relative to the Bible. On the other hand, he does make some pretty definitive statements that make one question how he ultimately arrives at his Spiritual beliefs. If the Bible isn't supernaturally God's Word and only parts of it make sense, or are accepted, where are people supposed to get the solid truth that defines their entire belief system. Where are we supposed to learn who God is -- from MYTHS??? Myths that Enns says are embellished stories??? One cannot believe in an UNsupernatural god of any type -- that is what any religion is. So how are we to accurately understand a supernatural God?? Can we really trust the message of eternal life??? If I read Enns, the answer isn't clear.
One last thing: If you are interested in a book that will help you live a joyous and productive spiritual life according to what God says in the Bible, Harold Hill's short book -- HOW TO LIVE LIKE A KING'S KID is dynamite. In this little book, Hill firmly believes Scripture IS God's word and he holds God to account accordingly. The results are amazing.
Yet, I have wrestled with scripture for the better part of the past thirty years. The questions and niggling doubts about who God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are, what is Truth, why am I not full of joy, why am I not consumed with sharing this love that I’m supposed to have encountered, why does He not help me to trust or love Him when it’s my heart’s desire, why am I sad and unsure? Amidst all of these subjective questions, I felt that God was bigger and better than what I believed. This book has allowed me to confront those questions. It’s the beginning of a conversation, and conversations can be really helpful and healthy. I’m so grateful that Enns has dug deep and wrestled with his faith (and come out on the other side loving God/Jesus/Holy Spirit and Bible) and has been willing to pass along the nuggets.
Now, a warning: if you're new to your faith, I don't recommend this book right away. One note the author says early on, and I would agree with, is that many biblical scholars suffer a crises of faith the deeper they dig into the Bible and its history. Without a grounded belief in God and examples of His work in your own life, you could walk away from reading this book all bummed out and finding yourself in your own crises, unless you read it carefully. He doesn't use the contradictions and discussion of the nature of how the books were written as a way to say none of it is true. On the contrary, Enns shows how to read it to avoid the pitfalls of taking some things too literally, rather than as a book written by people in different stages of a life of faith, from a solid connection with their God to "dark nights of the soul". This is what makes the book so powerful over the centuries, since no matter where you might be in your own walk, it speaks to you where you are.
I found myself agreeing with a good portion of what he is saying, but not everything. Overall, however, how he suggests we look at the scriptures is how I have done. I agree that trying to take everything so literally that you are never able to truly defend God's Word because when taking every word literally you can't, because of the differences in presentation throughout. The world was different in 2,000 BC versus 0, versus 2000 AD (or BCE, CE for you modern purists).
Overall, I found it quite enlightening, but reaching no conclusions I haven't already come to for the most part. However, if you find yourself at a spiritual crossroads when it comes to trying to reconcile the Bible from cover to cover, you might find this approach helpful. Just read it prayerfully, as you should the Bible itself. :)
Top reviews from other countries
As with ANY book on theology, I exhort you to read this, but keep a firm hand on your own Bible as you do. Make up your own mind on the content.
Enns has helped me a lot with coming to terms with what the Bible is, and how to read it. I admit envy over how clearly and entertainingly he addresses the often dry, thorny issues of biblical interpretation, as well as bringing common sense and brilliant childlike process of questioning back to our old favourite questions. Enns is the first of many scholars (some of which he cites in the references and further reading) that I am now looking into as a progression away from the worst and most arrogant excesses of fundamentalism. In the process, God and the Bible have become a lot less annoyingly magical and a lot more honest, relevant powerful in my life. The Bible is capable of acting like normal history and normal literature: as soon as you understand this a wealth of theological treasures are yours. If God can inhabit a human body, why is it so difficult for fundamentalists to grasp the idea that God's word can inhabit our normal channels of communication (namely history, myth, & literature)?
He is a funny writer, knowledgeable and insightful and is always asking the sorts of questions that you often feel you can't ask at church.
10/10 highly recommended.