Sarah's Reviews > The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong

The Human Faces of God by Thom Stark
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's review
Mar 25, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: bible, non-fiction, library-book, iu-libraries, wells-library, own
Read from June 14 to July 02, 2011

The largest problems I ever had with the Bible were not in the Bible itself. Rather, they were the attitudes the members of my "faith community" had towards Biblical events and their implications. It was refreshing to know that there was at least one other guy who understands what I've thought about since I was capable of thinking even though the people who were in charge of my spiritual education just didn't seem to be bothered by it at all. I got the impression he was as tortured by it as I was.

For one example, let's talk about the genocide in the Bible. Nobody in Bible class called it genocide, but it still didn't take much for me to recognize that when God told the Israelites to slaughter everyone, He included the children and the infants. Even if the verse stating that God does not make people suffer for the sins of others did not exist, I would hope that this would raise an eyebrow. Largely, it did not. I wrestled with it in the back of my mind for years while having it calmly dismissed on the rare occasion that I voiced my concern. And that was the problem.*

For another example, the Gospel of the New Testament was described to me thusly: The Son of Almighty God came to Earth in the person of Jesus of Nazereth to die on a cross for the remission of the sins of all mankind and providing eternal salvation in Heaven for those who believe -- and eternal damnation and torment in Hell for those who play "Amazing Grace" on a piano in the church building, who stay home on Wednesday night, or who wear a skirt that's too short (doubly so if you're a man). In case you didn't catch that, the Good News is that most everybody is going to Hell. Nobody let themselves be shaken by this. And that was the bigger problem.

If these problems sound familiar to you, then I suggest this book. It is a refutation of the idea that the Bible is inerrant. In other words, if it seems wrong to you that God would demand that Abraham sacrifice Isaac only to have his prophets condemn the practice of human sacrifice in later books, then there is probably something else going on there and this book explains it. The explanation is complicated and so I won't relate it here, but it's reasonable. However, if you are stuck on the idea that the Bible is one inerrant book written by a single mind and telling a single story, you won't like it.

This isn't a perfect work. Some of his arguments go over my head or don't hold all the water, but as I am not required to read this book as the Definitive Work on the subject of Biblical inerrancy in the same way that people who have convinced themselves that the Bible is the Definitive Work on the subject of morality do, then I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

Also, before anyone gets their noses out of joint, you should know that this book was written by a Christian and who does not advocate for the wholesale disregarding of the Bible. All he asks is for a critical reading of it in the context in which it was created and without the biases we cling to to assure ourselves that we are right and they are wrong.

*The argument "Because God said to and so it was okay because God is the source of all morality" is addressed in the book. At length.
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message 1: by Stefanie (new)

Stefanie Nicholas This review is wonderful :) God Bless you on your JOURNEY. Faith is something to ever be strived towards, not a final destination that is easy to reach.

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