SMITH, CHRISTIAN. BIBLE MADE IMPOSSIBLE.2012.
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The text finds its origins from the ideas of Christianity with connection to the Bible. While Smith tries to explain the thoughts that circle around evangelism, he also adds his ideas about the adoption of the scriptures by Christians. “The Bible made Impossible” is developed with the use of societal behaviors, history, and theology that the author understands. Smith provides his ideas and findings in a systematic method that takes his readers through a gradual process of arguments, findings, and beliefs. It is important to note that, Smith aims at explaining to his readers the effects of societal norms in the interpretations of the bible and as a result, the lack of uniformity seen among preachers, evangelists, and as a result to these differences, their followers. He uses books and existing theologian beliefs and presents the ideas in simple terms while where there are hard ones, he provides definitions. The major theme to the book with regard to the Bible is found in the question, “why is it that the presumably sincere Christians to whom it has been given cannot read it and come to common agreement about what it teaches?” (2012:26). Smith seeks to explain the problem and later offer possible solutions to the same while drawing examples from society and the Bible as a whole.
The first chapters explain the term “Biblicism” and why it is impossible. Smith explains his ideas about Biblicism with ten beliefs which according to him originate from a theory “defined by a constellation of related assumptions and beliefs about the Bible’s nature, purpose and function” (2012:4). In turn, with all the presented points it is hard for readers to determine the actual definition of Biblicism because it is unclear which of the points are more important and which can be dismissed. However, when Smith talks about Biblicism, he suggests the same voice throughout the Bible. In other words, same as Christians believe one God wrote the Bible through different people, Smith uses this idea with the word Biblicism. The problem is introduced by Smith as he makes arguments on the personal attributes of those who read and interpret the Bible. For example, the author argues that in reading the bible factors that come into play are, “perspicuity, self sufficiency, self evident meaning and universal applicability” (2012: viii). While these are present in the Biblical interpretations, Smith finds Biblicism as a word in Christianity “defeated in relevance” (2012: xi). Consequently, the Bible will mean many things to different people depending on the issues facing a bible reader or preacher at a time. With these factors in mind, Smith goes on to explain that Bible readers will disagree on what the Bible says because “Bible produces a pluralism of interpretations” (2012:17). “Pluralism of interpretations” as a term directly suggests many possible paths one can take to explain the meaning of a Biblical passage in relation to religion.
After the presentation of the problems, Smith provides possible solutions to his readers. The solutions are derived from the author’s ideas that while people treat the Bible as an instruction manual that gives guidance to how to be Christians (2012:140), it is instead definition to a person as a Christian. Smith concurs with this when he writes that the Bible provides insight by showing “here is who Jesus Christ is and therefore here is who you are and need to become in relation to him” (2012:176). Therefore, Biblicism is not an act of evangelism at all owing to the practices people have adopted in understanding the Bible. Consequently, Smith argues that the main purpose of the Bible is to explain Christ as a character and his coming. Therefore, instead of people understanding the Bible as it is applied to life events they should make sure they understand the scriptures as they are meant to be to all Christians. Smith argues that the Bible is a “tool in human hands used to facilitate the kind of secure, stable, and therapeutically satisfying lives we wish to live” (2012:94).
Therefore, evangelicals ought to accept that the Bible contains many complex ideas in its scriptures. To make sure people understand said scriptures, interpretations should be free of ideologies from principles and the principles from personal opinions on a given issue. In other words, approach to approach the Bible seriously and in a reasonable manner instead of the immature optimism with which the Bible has been used to deal with societal issues. Otherwise, the use of the scriptures will be within the boundaries set by what people assume is written within said scriptures instead of the real meanings and aims of the intended message. Therefore, Smith Points out that “Biblicism is thus not so much directly ‘proved wrong’ as a theory, as it is simply never achieved in real life. It is therefore self-defeated in relevance” (2012:174). Here, Smith gives evidence to his title and the theme he worked with in “The Bible made Impossible”. The approach to the Bible will prevent the understanding of the text by evangelists and the Christian community as a whole.
In conclusion, Smith’s “The Bible made Impossible” makes very good arguments in some areas and makes improper arguments in others. It is safe to concur with the idea that the interpretation of the Bible can at times depend on the social issues that a person is facing. Still, this is not the only determinant to the understanding of the Bible. The political and economical properties can also determine the understanding. For example, a poor man can understand some scriptures in the Bible to mean that God will eventually come to his aid. At the same time, a rich man will believe the same scriptures to mean that God does not help the lazy and loves hard work. The society still comes into place but this is more of an economical settings. Therefore, it is safe to say that the views and conclusions of Smith are biased as he fails to take into account Christians and specific Biblical scriptures instead of attempting to look into specific ones.
Smith, Christian. Bible Made Impossible, The: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. Michigan: Brazos Press, 2012.