This probably won’t be a weekly post. Instead, every now and then, I’ll collect brief thoughts on what I’ve been reading. I imagine it will predominantly be books that I don’t plan on reviewing (or more accurately, do not feel obligated to review). But sometimes, if I think the book is going to be a long review, I might preview it here. We’ll see.
The Soul by J. P. Moreland
This book ended up being more intense than I expected. While it is an introductory treatment and a slim volume, it is dense. Moreland tries to make it as accessible as possible by defining terms all over the place. Also, the recaps at the end of the chapter work as detailed analytical outlines of what you’ve just read. Still, the chapters are long and I could see someone not used to philosophical depth on the soul getting exasperated. I was exasperated at Moreland’s defense of libertarian freedom, but that’s a different issue altogether. In the end, if you’re looking for an introductory treatment of the soul from a philosophical vantage point that is both biblical and theological, this is worth checking out.
Who’s Afraid of Relativism? by James K. A. Smith
I just started this, but I already like it, which surprises me. Mainly because I’m one of the people Smith talks about in the beginning who is anti-relativism down the line. In contrast, Smith wants to argue for a type of relativism properly conceived. I’m only a chapter in, but in it, Smith gives an exposition of Wittgenstein. The second chapter covers Rorty, and the following Brandom (one of Rorty’s students who advanced his thought). Interestingly, Smith uses a movie at the end of each chapter as a cinematic illustration of the points he is making. The opening chapter utilized Lars and The Real Girl, just to give you an idea what kind of movies we’re talking about. Overall, I’m looking forward to finishing this up by this time next week and hopefully offering a critical review (that I’ll post elsewhere).
Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Bentley Hart
While this book seems like it is aimed primarily at the New Atheists, it is much more sweeping in scope. Hart basically goes through the history of Christianity and explains the long history of atheistic attacks on Christian thought and practice. One by one he shows how they got the facts wrong and misinterpreted things. I’m guessing this is building up toward the present time when Hart will show how the New Atheists are basically just standing in a long line of misguided attacks. He is devastating in his criticisms and has a command of church history that is exemplary. My favorite line so far: “The Da Vinci Code is probably the most lucrative novel ever written by a borderline illiterate.” Ouch.
Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig Blomberg
I’m about halfway through this one. I didn’t get it for review, so I doubt I will. I will however recommend it to anyone who shares a question with the title. The chapters are long and unfortunately have endnotes. But, in the course of answering the main question, Blomberg covers the following sub questions (these are chapter titles):
- Aren’t the copies of the Bible hopelessly corrupt?
- Wasn’t the selection of books for the canon just political?
- Can we trust any of our translations of the Bible?
- Don’t these issues rule out biblical inerrancy?
- Aren’t several narrative genres of the Bible unhistorical?
- Don’t all the miracles make the Bible mythical?
I like how the questions are structured toward the skeptical mindset. While this book will be good for interested Christians, I can see it being helpful for someone who is a skeptic, but is genuinely seeking. I’m only through chapter 3 at this point, but I’ve found Blomberg’s explanations helpful. I think he spends a bit too much time on the gender neutral language controversy in his chapter on Bible translation, but that wasn’t totally unexpected. His explanation of the history of the various translation was fascinating nonetheless. His defense of the manuscripts underlying the New Testament is solid, and his defense of the canon will satisfy most questions (if you need more, there is always Michael Kruger’s two books). I’m looking forward to the next chapter, but considering I’m at T4G today and tomorrow, and then back on the road to Florida Thursday, it probably won’t be until this weekend. But, you know what? That’s perfectly ok by me.