I spend a great deal of time trying to help people see that the Bible is a trustworthy book. In fact, my effort is to persuade more than mere trustworthiness, but to show that the Bible can be trusted as divinely inspired and without any error. It's a discussion that comes up with people in church, out of church, and even those who are 'in ministry.' Most of the information I tend to use comes from a hodge-podge of sermon notes, lecture notes, book comments, and websites.
The information is good and reliable, but most of what I have is chaotic in nature. Into this scene comes Hank Hanegraaff's new book, Has God Spoken?
|Has God Spoken?: Proof of the Bible’s Divine Inspiration|
Hanegraaff presents arguments and evidence sets that I have seen in other places and from other writers and speakers. He has some newer material, but most of that newer material is about the critics of the Bible and not about evidence for the Bible. It's interesting to note that the names of the critics have changed, but the answer remains very similar: the Bible can be trusted.
Has God Spoken? has its strength not in the arguments present, but rather in the organization and skill with which they are presented. It is clear that Hanegraaff's main work is teaching people out of an academic environment. His work is not light and fluffy, but it is organized for easy recall. This book utilizes interwoven acronyms to help the reader trace the line of thought.
His overall theme is "MAPS:" that Manuscript c-o-p-i-e-s, the Archaeologist's s-p-a-d-e, Prophetic s-t-a-r-s, and Scriptural l-i-g-h-t-s support the truth of the Bible. The spelled out words are the acronyms for those sections.
This structure makes the work helpful and easy to grasp.
As to shortfalls in this work, I'd raise the question of whether or not the material is dated because I've heard most of it, but I do spend a lot of effort to stay pretty caught up in this field. So, I've probably read or heard a lot of the same basic reports that Hanegraaff based the work on. That's not much of a weakness. Hanegraaff presents the info well, as I've already said.
I think if I were to find one fault, it's this: Hanegraaff gives a fair amount of type and space to those who contradict the Bible. He will spend several pages detailing the faults that, for example, Bart Ehrman finds with the New Testament, and then set out to explain the case for Scripture. That's not quite the type of argument I'd prefer to see. I'd rather see the positive case for Scripture given and then rebuttals to criticisms that arise.
I'd also prefer to present the criticisms without names. Footnotes (or endnotes, but footnotes are better) are the place to cite names and works. Why? What happens if Bart Ehrman recants and joins the Evangelical Theological Society next year? A book that would be useful for Bible students, which Has God Spoken? is, now seems too dated and out of touch. After all, it's a book to counter Ehrman, right?
It's not. Yet some chapters would have the reader thinking it is. The emphasis on critics, especially the current ones, is a weakness here. I would attribute that to Hanegraaff's primary work: radio/internet teaching. He's normally responding to the question of the moment. In this field, Ehrman is the question of the moment. Unfortunately, focusing a book on moment questions gives it a bit of a weakness.
Not enough of one, though, to discard the book. Hopefully this one will still be being read and utilized when the name of Ehrman goes the way of the Colossian Heresy: unknown but for the continuing existence of the rebuttals.
(Note: free book from Booksneeze in exchange for the review!)