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The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It)
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The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It)

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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Does accepting the doctrine of biblical inspiration necessitate belief in biblical inerrancy? The Bible has always functioned authoritatively in the life of the church, but what exactly should that mean? Must it mean the Bible is without error in all historical details and ethical teachings? What should thoughtful Christians do with texts that propose God is pleased by hum ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published October 4th 2010 by Wipf & Stock (first published 2010)
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Start your review of The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It)
Sarah
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 wa ...more
Jeremy
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I gave up on the doctrine of biblical inerrancy some time ago, having been convinced by a number of arguments against it. The Human Faces of God, however, has definitively settled the issue for me. I'm sure there are arguments to be made against this or that point in the book, but the weight of the evidence as a whole is overwhelming.

Stark begins by engaging the "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy" as a generally accepted statement of the doctrine. He proceeds to show how inerra
...more
Andrew Anderson
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I feel like I want everyone I know to confront the issues raised in this book.
Kristofer Carlson
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-theology
The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong by Thom Stark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Faith can be a fragile thing. It is possible to lose your faith when confronted by facts that don't fit into your mental model. With that in mind, I cannot recommend this book to my Protestant friends, particularly those who are inextricably wedded to a literalistic interpretation of the bible. This book has the potential to change your perception of scripture and, wi
...more
James Chappell
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thom Stark's 'Human Faces of God' is one of the most intellectually honest, raw and unflinching looks at the nature of scripture that I have ever read. Mr. Stark is a Christian, and although many of an evangelical and/or fundamentalist bent might disagree with this statement, I believe him without reservation.

I am nowhere near Stark's level in terms of knowledge of scripture, but people like Stark are the reason I am no longer afraid to venture out of my comfort zone. Many people wit
...more
Avery
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I was a little kid (1999), I went online to get help understanding some of the many bizarre passages of the Old Testament. At the time, the main commentary available which really spoke to my heart was the Skeptics' Annotated Bible. Now these days I feel very conflicted, because that website is simply devoted to ridicule. Surely there is more to the Old Testament than that.

This book seems like a good place to start. It still focuses on the inherently funny absurdities of trying t
...more
Paul Patterson
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of the clearest, but densely written, books I have read on how to approach the Bible as a modern person. Often when people assert the Bible is entirely without error, they are merely witnessing to the fact that they have not thoroughly read the text. Unfortunately, those who have discovered the 'darker side' of the Bible quit reading or thinking about it due to its ever so human character.

Thom Stark follows another path in which he affirms that there are inaccurate, even terrifying
...more
Thom Stark
Dec 15, 2010 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
"Christians can ignore the facts that Stark brings into the light of day only if they want to be wrong."
—Dale C. Allison, Jr.
author of Constructing Jesus

"The Human Faces of God is one of the most challenging and well-argued cases against the doctrine of biblical inerrancy I have ever read."
—Greg Boyd
author of The Myth of a Christian Nation

"I learned so much from this book that I can strongly encourage anyone who is seeking to move from simplistic proof-texting to
...more
Justin Powell
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fantastic book and highly recommended to everyone. Bible believing fundamentalist, or not. Of course being an A-theist, I completely disagree with his theological conclusions, or modified interpretations, but I will say that if Christianity is here to stay, this is where Christians need to head. Intellectually, and theologically, I'd imagine this is the last step for a Christian before they make the jump to Non-religious, A-theist, etc.
Ian
Sep 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
The author has a particular axe to grind against "inerrantists" - fair enough, there is no doubt that the Bible contains errors and contradictions, but that in itself doesn't undermine its message. However he also argues against early Hebrew monotheism and in doing so seems to rely mostly on a few texts from the 2nd Book of Kings which are open to interpretation and are by no means as clearly cut polytheistic as he seems to think. The fact that the meaning of some of the texts he uses as evidenc ...more
Kevin Norman
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Thom's book raises some interesting arguments against inerrancy - and in my opinion a lot of what he says makes sense - however - I'm not sold. The interesting thing about this book is that 0% of what Thom is saying is new. OK - I don't have scientific support for this - and you could say this about pretty much any book talking about holy scriptures. All of these ideas have been recycled by theologians since the dawn of man. The reason I'm not sold on what Thom says in this book is because of Th ...more
Richard Williams
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
it's an important and significant book, for several reasons.
first because it shows how it began as an online discussion, it is much the better for being a result of a discussion/debate, there are several places were i thought it was several voices thinking about and discussion the issues.

second because it is a good repository of lots of details connected to good arguments, it makes a good book to give to someone thinking about these issues. to the point, concentrated, well writ
...more
Ronspross
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Not done with this book, but it begins very well, beginning with an illustration of one of its theses -- that the Bible is a book arguing with itself ... what else would you expect from a Jewish publication? :) -- showing how the book of Jonah is a push-back from the xenophobic book of Ezra. I will probably react to my fundamentalist past until the end of my days, and so some of the chapters titles alone are very gratifying, even before reading: "Inerrantists Do Not Exist: Dispelling a Myth of B ...more
Dan
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is basically a critique of inerrancy (belief the bible is without error of any kind).

I've been struggling with this debate for a while-many close friends and family aren't aware (I would imagine there's a strong fear culture and peer pressure in the southern baptist community). This book more or less answered my questions.

It critiques inerrancy methods, gives examples of errancy, then wraps it up with suggestions moving forward. There are pieces here and there I
...more
Lynne
Jan 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: christian
Wow. I really had high hopes for this book. Those were quickly dashed and stayed dashed to the end. If you are part of the progressive Christian "Jesus was just a really good guy and all that stuff about the Bible actually being true is just as silly as the secular progressives say it is", then this is another book to add to your "to read" pile. If, however, you are looking for something that isn't just one more overly academic, other-side-of-the-same-coin-as-fundamentalism book, then look elsew ...more
Paul Froehlich
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are a number of biblical verses that Christians don’t memorize and about which pastors don’t preach. For example, “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.” (Exodus21:20-21)

The Human Faces of God is a provocative book that addresses parts of the Bible that seem to conflict with biblical principles, passages
...more
John Martindale
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thom Stark is a reasoner after my own heart. He is simply a master at argumentation, both in presenting solid evidence in favor of his conclusions, and ingeniously showing the weakness, inconsistencies, and fallacies in his opponents reasoning. I so resonate with how his mind works. I really appreciate finding a Christian who willing to approach scripture ethically, who is utterly unwilling to justify and condone evil.

Several years ago a friend had me read the chapter in this book on the Canaan
...more
Alan Fuller
Nov 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: atheism
Thom Stark sees the Chicago inerrantists as the rats of Bible interpretation. To get rid of them he burns down the barn (the Bible).

Stark uses the historical-critical method of Bible interpretation, which sees the acquisition of land and consolidation of power as the real motive for biblical writings. The father of the historical-critical method was Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). Some of Spinoza's contemporaries called his book, "a book forged in hell . . . by the devil himself." It see
...more
Mike Day
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Bible is not error free. If you think it is, read this book.

That being said, chapter 5 entitled "Making Yahweh Happy" is going to take some time for me to digest. A more detailed review of this book will be written shortly.
Vegantrav
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Human Faces of God is a concise, pointed critique of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy--the idea that the Bible (both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament) is a divinely inspired book containing no errors of any kind and containing no morally questionable elements.

In his critique, Stark draws upon academic analyses of the biblical texts that are common knowledge to anyone familiar with the past century of biblical scholarship, so there is nothing really new in Stark's a
...more
Anthony Lawson
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Thom Stark's "The Human Faces of God" is an excellent read and highly recommended.

Stark's position is essentially that inerrancy is not justified especially as it was expounded by the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. He then proceeds through various chapters to demonstrate the many errors and problems with the Bible. These problems include polytheism, that Yahweh was only one god among many national deities, human sacrifice, the mistaken views of eschatological expectation, g
...more
Frank Roberts
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very mature and honest look at the Holy Bible. Stark takes apart the arguments of those who claim inerrancy for the scripture, both showing how they themselves interpret selectively, and by showing they have no leg to stand on in the actual text. He also examines many of the issues in the Bible, from the genocides, human sacrifices, etc. of the Old Testament to the failed apocalypticism of the New Testament. Plainly, an honest reader cannot accept the premise that the entire Bible is consisten ...more
Geoff Glenister
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book came recommended to me by more than one person, and was even recommended by Amazon based on other books I've read. So I knew I'd like it. I didn't expect to love it the way I did. I've read other books that deal with the problems inerrancy creates, but this is among the best. Stark is incredibly thorough in his examination of the problems for inerrancy, and directly outlines the inconsistencies in the logic of inerrantists. His work is scholarly and professional, and deserves quite a b ...more
Raborn
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful critique of the doctrine of inerrancy. Stark might go farther that I am comfortable with, but he goes a long way towards helping us deconstruct an unhealthy view of the Bible and reconstruct a discerning view of the inspiration of Scripture. Stark argues that inerrancy stunts our moral growth, and I would definitely have to agree with him. This book will probably make you uncomfortable and help you at the same time.
Peter
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a critique from within a Christian frame, this ( thus far ) is brilliant, well thought out and perhaps a hugely important pice of work to counter the current crop of inerrantists and apologists ( at least those of the WLC school ). As an ex Christian I Achebe learned a lot that is new to me, my only ( though major ) criticism this far, is that he is still a believer alas.
Theron
I'm still ruminating about this book, but suffice it to say it was a challenging and difficult read. Not for the faint of heart or unwilling to question fundamental assumptions concerning God and the Bible.
Theron Mock
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm still ruminating about this book, but suffice it to say it was a challenging and difficult read.
Jason Gordon
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thom Stark is the Noam Chomsky of biblical exegesis. I'll have the review updated tomorrow.
Nyx
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, and very hard to argue against!
Mx
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
The last chapter is a throwaway otherwise I'd have gone 5 stars.
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Why don't Christians memorize the violent verses? 1 1 Aug 29, 2017 01:00PM  

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“Proponents of canonical hermeneutics are either unintentionally or willfully naive here-in most cases the naivete is willful. Canonical readings simply act as if the evolution of the text is irrelevant to its meaning; usually this is because it is deemed to be more expedient for the purpose of exhorting a faith community if such considerations are put aside.” 1 likes
“In the end, when the Chicago inerrantists call out “naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism, and relativism” - the “usual suspects” of crimes against inerrancy - they are throwing up a whale of a red herring (not to mix marine metaphors). In reality, none of these presuppositions are necessary in order to conclude that the Bible contradicts itself. For instance, a Muslim is not any of these things; the Muslim believes in supernatural revelation, miracles, creation, absolute truth - all the essentials. But the Muslim can still detect errors in the Bible. Moreover, so can the Christian. I speak here from experience. I was an inerrantist, until I wasn’t. I never doubted the supernatural; I never doubted the possibility of special revelation; I never doubted that some things are just objectively true. In fact, it was precisely because of my faith in the Bible that I came to recognize that it was not inerrant. I believed that because it was inerrant, it could certainly survive a little critical scrutiny. Based on that assumption, I proceeded to scrutinize the text, and found that given consistent principles of exegesis, the construct of inerrancy could not be sustained. I neither wanted nor expected to discover what I discovered, but my faith in the Bible’s inerrancy contained within it, as they say, the seeds of its own destruction.” 0 likes
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