Brian Springer’s Review
Thom Stark’s The Human Faces of God is a book that deserves a wide readership. Although this book may appear slim, it packs quite a punch and manages to get a lot done in a short amount of space. It is in part a summary of the current state of affairs in modern biblical scholarship, a rebuttal against biblical inerrancy, and a moving testimony of a man who has spent a lot of time evaluating the scripture that he loves and coming to terms with it on its own grounds.
Many Christians may feel threatened by Thom’s new book, but as a devout Roman Catholic, let me tell you that Thom’s book is anything but threatening. Although the title may appear provocative this book is not an attack on biblical values and Thom does well to critique the ‘ugly’ part of our holy scriptures on it’s own ground, by using the values he derived from it. He moves through the many portraits of God as presented in the Biblical text and sensitively notes how some of them have been used to enact despicable acts of cruelty and violence against those we don’t particularly like. While he does this, he also engages in dialogue with many apologists, both old and new, and criticizes their efforts to explain away some of the more horrifying passages in the Bible. His honesty in doing so is very refreshing and I commend his efforts in showing just how far inerranists are willing to go to defend their positions, however dishonest they are.
And speaking of inerrancy, Thom’s dialogue with it is worth this book’s weight in gold. Mr. Stark, convincingly shows that inerranists are far from being “loyal to the text” as many of the new atheists would have you believe. Inerranists, as Thom demonstrates, often fail to realize just how diverse the biblical worldview is and far from being faithful to it, they tend to impose their own interpretations of scripture [as they think it should be] onto the text itself and twist everything that says otherwise to conform to their own worldview. The Bible deserves better and toward the end Thom sits back and thoughtfully considers what to make of scripture, now that he sees just how human and fallible it is in some places. His answer will surprise many, but it’s worth being heard.
Overall, Thom Stark’s The Human Faces of God is an excellent book. It’s short, easy to read, and accessible. It honestly presents the findings of modern biblical scholarship in an understandable way, and it gives us a worthy alternative to fundamentalism. So, buy it, read it, and be amazed.