Inspired Imperfection: How the Bible’s Problems Enhance Its Divine Authority

Reviewed by:

Linda Taylor, assistant professor of Professional Writing at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.

Book Title:

Inspired Imperfection: How the Bible’s Problems Enhance Its Divine Authority

Author:

Gregory A. Boyd

Publisher:

Fortress Press

Publication Date:

2019

Format:

Print book

Length:

174 pages

 

OVERVIEW

Boyd’s book, written very much as a scholarly thesis, takes on the problem that many Christians and Christian leaders face when they claim that the Bible is inerrant. Boyd had become a Christian in his teens (after claiming atheism during his high school years) and was taught that everything in the Bible is literally true. Two classes at college served only to make his faith come tumbling down when his professors pointed out that “the Bible is plagued with all sorts of errors.” Boyd explains that these problems—pointed out by liberal believers and nonbelievers alike often to deny the power of God’s Word or whether it impacts today’s world—ought not ruin our faith, but instead, strengthen it.

The book itself takes quiet space and intense reading and rereading. With extensive footnoting and study of various theologians (C. S. Lewis; Karl Barth), Boyd works his way through the historical-critical approach and argues for the Cruciform Model of Inspiration. He hopes that this particular way of interpreting Scripture, which focuses everything on Christ at the center, will help “Christian students retain their faith and help progressive evangelicals recover their confidence in the plenary inspiration of Scripture” (xvi-xvii).

Far from trying to minimize problems in Scripture, such as incorrect historical facts; how descriptions parallel many mythological stories of the time (such as creation); internal contradictions; “moral problems” (how could a loving God demand such-and-such?). These often create shipwreck to the faith of many. Boyd dives headfirst into these issues and explains that the Bible is a book written by humans but is God-breathed. Indeed, these very imperfections strengthen the power of God’s Word speaking to individuals and pointing them to Christ.

Referring to the “scars” in Scripture, Boyd writes, “I came to see that, when viewed in light of the cross, those scars contribute to the beauty and spiritual authority of Scripture by telling a story. And as is true of the beautiful scars on Jesus’s resurrected body, the story these scars tell is a mini-version of the beautiful story told by the cross” (166).

If the reader is willing to read slowly and carefully, to follow the logic of the arguments Boyd makes, he/she will find solid answers to nagging questions about Scripture.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5):

4.5 out of 5 stars

Suggested Audience:

Readers will need to be willing to follow a scholarly argument. This book will be especially helpful to college students who are questioning their faith based on their concern about the Bible, or those who interact with college students and want to help them understand Scripture.

Christian Impact:

For Boyd, the book helped him return to faith after losing his faith during his college years when unbelieving professors took great delight in pointing out what they saw as “flaws” in Scripture. He came back to faith and to an understanding of Scripture that allows him to make sense of it.

About ECLA Web Team

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals. This account is managed by the ECLA Web Team.

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