The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture

The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture

by Christian Smith


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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. 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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781587433290
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 254
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Christian Smith (PhD, Harvard University) is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He is the award-winning author or coauthor of numerous books, including What Is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and Moral Good from the Person Up and Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. His research focuses primarily on religion in modernity, adolescents, American evangelicalism, and culture.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Impossibility of Biblicism
1. Biblicism and the Problem of Pervasive Interpretive Pluralism
2. The Extent and Source of Pervasive Interpretive Pluralism
3. Some Relevant History, Sociology, and Psychology
4. Subsidiary Problems with Biblicism
Part 2: Toward a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
5. The Christocentric Hermeneutical Key
6. Accepting Complexity and Ambiguity
7. Rethinking Human Knowledge, Authority, and Understanding

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