Biblicism, an approach to the Bible common among some American evangelicals, emphasizes together the Bible's exclusive authority, infallibility, clarity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability. This, says Christian Smith, is impossible.
In The Bible Made Impossible acclaimed sociologist Christian Smith argues that this approach is misguided and unable to live up to its own claims. If evangelical biblicism worked as its proponents say it should, there would not be the vast variety of interpretive differences that biblicists themselves reach when they actually read and interpret the Bible. Far from challenging the inspiration and authority of Scripture, Smith critiques a particular rendering of it, encouraging evangelicals to seek a more responsible, coherent, and defensible approach to biblical authority.
This important book has generated lively discussion and debate. The paperback edition adds a new chapter responding to the conversation that the cloth edition has sparked.
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Customer Reviews for The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
Review 1 for The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
Pros: 1) Smith treats those who hold to a biblicist model with considerable respect (at least compared to the way they would treat him). 2) A number of good objections are raised against biblicism.
Cons: 1) Smith seems to rely too much on pervasive interpretative pluralism as an argument against biblicism. Not that this fails completely, it's just that his case may be overstated AT TIMES. 2) Smith is not a theologian. Thus, his comments are purely sociological and do not fully appreciate the biblical text (not saying that one has to be a theologian to do this, only that Smith doesn't do it fully. 3) Smith can reduce his argument to mere assertion at times.
All that being said, I want to state that I accept (with only minor qualifications) the argument proposed in the book. Biblicism is not the best way to read scripture. However, this kind of book could have been more powerful if the above cons were avoided. Unfortunately, one must balance argumentative force with size, something I think this book does well.