Can We Still Believe the Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions
Challenges to the reliability of Scripture are perennial and have frequently been addressed. However, some of these challenges are noticeably more common today, and the topic is currently of particular interest among evangelicals.
In this volume, highly regarded biblical scholar Craig Blomberg offers an accessible and nuanced argument for the Bible’s reliability in response to the extreme views about Scripture and its authority articulated by both sides of the debate. He believes that a careful analysis of the relevant evidence shows we have reason to be more confident in the Bible than ever before. As he traces his own academic and spiritual journey, Blomberg sketches out the case for confidence in the Bible in spite of various challenges to the trustworthiness of Scripture, offering a positive, informed, and defensible approach.
“Mention the Bible, especially a hot topic like canon or miracles, and one second later you will hear strident voices attacking the Bible’s silliness or calling others names for not believing the Bible. Those topics, and many more besides, are volatile because they matter, and what matters most for the discussion is the voice of reason and balance. Enter Craig Blomberg with nothing less than a splendid example of ‘generous apologetics’ for the faith. Whether you agree on specific points, this is the finest example I know of for how to defend the Bible.”
(Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary)
“The Bible has gone from being the answer to being the question in our culture. Can I still believe what it claims? Answering emphatically yes, Blomberg examines the pitfalls of making the Bible say too little or too much, both real problems for understanding how the Bible works. So read and consider anew how to think about Scripture. The result will be that belief in the Bible makes sense.”
(Darrell Bock, executive director of cultural engagement and senior research professor of New Testament studies, Dallas Theological Seminary)
“Craig Blomberg’s defense of the Scriptures’ truthfulness is both important and timely. He keeps the main thing the main thing as he warns well-meaning believers about drawing rigid lines in the wrong places–and damaging the church’s witness–while dispelling myths and correcting distortions propounded by Christianity’s loudest critics. This book is a superb resource and guide regarding what the Bible’s trustworthiness means–and doesn’t mean.”
(Paul Copan, Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University)
“Blomberg advances a vigorous evangelical biblical scholarship that charitably engages outsiders while courageously challenging the most strident evangelical voices, who too often preach to their choirs while alienating others from the faith. Readers of this wide-ranging work will gain a much clearer understanding of mainstream evangelical biblical scholarship.”
(Craig S. Keener, author of The Historical Jesus of the Gospels; professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary)
“Craig Blomberg takes on critics of the Bible with the credibility of a scholar and the passion of a believer.”
(Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals)
Can We Still Believe the Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions. By Craig L. Blomberg. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2014. 304 pages. ISBN 9781587433214. $19.99.
Summary and Evaluation
In Can We Still Believe the Bible? Craig Blomberg attempts to answer that very question by addressing “why I still believe the Bible as I write these words in 2013” (p. 5).
Each chapter revolves around a question raised by skeptics, which Blomberg goes on to answer in detail. These questions are:
- Aren’t the Copies of the Bible Hopelessly Corrupt? (ch. 1)
- Wasn’t the Selection of Books for the Canon Just Political? (ch. 2)
- Can We Trust Any of Our Translations of the Bible? (ch. 3)
- Don’t These Issues Rule Out Biblical Inerrancy? (ch. 4)
- Aren’t Several Narrative Genres of the Bible Unhistorical? (ch. 5)
- Don’t All the Miracles Make the Bible Mythical? (ch. 6)
Aren’t the Copies of the Bible Hopelessly Corrupt? This chapter discusses topics of textual criticism, and Blomberg addresses the level of certainty that we have that our Greek and Hebrew reconstructions of Scripture are nearly identical to the original autographs.
Wasn’t the Selection of Books for the Canon Just Political? Appealing to church history and tradition, Blomberg shows in this chapter that the 66 books that make up the Old and New Testaments were not chosen because of political reasons. Rather, every book in our canon fits into three basic criteria: apostolicity, catholicity, and orthodoxy.
Can We Trust Any of Our Translations of the Bible? This chapter more-or-less evaluates the English translations of Scripture that we have available to us, and looks at different philosophies of Bible translation. Ultimately, Blomberg shows that nearly every English translation on the market today is adequate in transmitting God’s message.
Don’t These Issues Rule Out Biblical Inerrancy? Here, Blomberg discusses issues regarding inerrancy, the concept of inerrancy, and differing opinions on inerrancy. In this chapter, he writes: “‘Inerrancy’ can be wielded as a blunt tool to hammer into submission people whose interpretations of passages differ from ours, when in fact the real issue is not whether a passage is true or not but what kind of truth it teaches” (p. 125).
Aren’t Several Narrative Genres of the Bible Unhistorical? In this chapter, Blomberg discusses issues such as: Genesis 1, Job, Jonah, and pseudonymity among the NT epistles.
Don’t All the Miracles Make the Bible Mythical? In his final chapter, Blomberg primarily illustrates that nearly every miracle—Old and New Testament—is purposeful, and can fit within a small range of categories, which he defines within the chapter. He also points to the existence of modern-day miracles, and argues for the miracles of the Bible because, even today, certain events occur that cannot be explained naturalistically
Does Blomberg adequately answer the question, “Can we still believe the Bible?” I believe he does, with the reservation that there is always room for deeper discussion on particular issues. The question-answer layout of the book is beneficial, and keeps the chapters to the point. He addresses multiple issues within the chapters, all pointing back to the primary chapter question—it really is an “engagement with contemporary questions” as per the subtitle.
Can We Still Believe the Bible? is an interesting read for anyone interested in the Bible—from churchgoers with no formal biblical education to seminary students like myself. Blomberg writes well, even displaying his sense of humor at times, and he explains certain concepts, as to not alienate readers without biblical education. There are, however, portions of chapters, or perhaps entire chapters, that may be boring if you have already studied in that particular area. Regardless of that, I appreciate what Blomberg has done in this volume, and I certainly recommend this book.
*This book was provided free from Brazos Press with my promise to post an unbiased review.