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I’ve taken the title of my blog post from a new book by Craig Blomberg. The full title is Can We Still Believe the Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions (Baker Academic, 2014). Craig is a distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary and a prolific writer. I’ve used a number of his books over the years in my classes at HBU. Craig is well worth reading and this book is no exception. Over the next couple of weeks I plan to engage different aspects of this book. For now, let me give you a sense of what the book is about.
While Craig admits there are a lot of important issues out there—the challenges of pluralism and the new, militant atheism, for example—he gears this book in a more personal direction: “why I still believe the Bible as I write these words in 2013.” To some degree the book is a reaction to his undergraduate education in a private, Christian liberal arts college. Essentially, the professors offered challenge after challenge to historic Christian faith and never helped the students deal with those challenges. To borrow a line from Jeremiah: these professors felt it their duty “to pluck up and pull down, to destroy and overthrow” but not to “to built and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). In many ways Craig’s academic career and his writings have taken seriously these challenges while at the same time seeking reasonable, coherent answers.
So this book deals with six questions which Craig judges to be central to the kinds of questions which confront his students and others. They are:
1. Aren’t the copies of the Bible hopelessly corrupt?
2. Wasn’t the selection of books for the canon just political?
3. Can we trust any of our translations of the Bible?
4. Don’t these issues (the three issues above) rule out Biblical inerrancy?
5. Aren’t several narrative genres of the Bible unhistorical?
6. Don’t all the miracles make the Bible mythical?
While I wish I had time to engage each of these questions over the next couple of weeks, I plan now on looking carefully at two: (a) the question of biblical translations (since I was the lead scholar on a new translation called The Voice [Thomas Nelson, 2012]); and (b) the question of miracles.
As I read through the book, I find myself in friendly agreement with many of Craig’s arguments and ideas. Still, there are points where I’d probably characterize my own position and thoughts on the topics as in friendly disagreement. Still Craig’s approaches to a number of these questions have surprised me. These aren’t the same old arguments drawn from a well-worn evangelical playbook. For that reason alone I think I can recommend this book without any hesitation. Although it is written against the backdrop of Craig’s personal story, I imagine many people will find this book a good read and faith-affirming. If the talking heads on History Channel have ever stirred your curiosities about the Bible and the origins of Christianity, this book will help satisfy many of the key curiosities. If you wonder whether you can still take the Bible seriously, this book is definitely for you.