Coming in at the number 12 spot on the 21 Books You Don’t Have to Read by the editors of GQ is The Holy Bible. Instead they encourage you to read The Notebook by Agota Kristof. Now, I’ve never read The Notebook (at least not the one by Agota Kristof), but I do know I would not recommend it over the Bible. That being said, I will say this: the editors did get one thing right in this little explanatory paragraph. The wrote, “The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it.” I would very much agree with them on that. In fact, it is not the only thing I would agree with them on, but we will get to that in a moment. The sad fact is that most Bibles are bought and then placed on a shelf or drawer never being read, either by believers or non-believers. This really can’t be disputed, but the reasons for this probably could be. I would say that in part at least, it is for some of the reasons that the editors gave.
The editors stated, “It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.” The Bible does repeat itself. Yet it does so for good reason. The Bible is not a piece of literature, though it has varying genres from literature. This Book is to affect change in people. It is meant to be used to change how lives are being lived. We all know that 99% of the things we learn are not learned in one moment, but in repetition. The people of Israel and Christians alike, were all in need of repetition. How often does the Bible say remember? Too many to count. Let us not forget that the Scriptures were written over many hundreds of years by various persons, with various educations, to various peoples. One should definitely expect ideas and doctrines to be repeated.
Contradictory? Only to the person who does not understand Scripture or has only read it at a surface level. Every supposed contradictory statement has a reasonable explanation. These are not contradictions but simply mishandlings of the Word.
It is also sententious. I have to admit, I looked up the word. It’s a five-dollar word meaning: “abounding in pithy aphorisms or maxims, given to excessive moralizing; self-righteous.” No argument there. What did the editors expect? There are entire books (Proverbs & Ecclesiastes) that are sententious (I feel smarter already using that word). The Bible is a book of God. God is righteous. He is holy. He expects holiness from His people. Why would He not then give pithy (short) statements about how to be holy if that is indeed what He expects from His people? Want longer statements on holiness and righteousness? No worries. There’s always Leviticus.
Foolish. Oh my! We’ve gone from fact to opinion now haven’t we? Not a problem though. Of course it is foolish to the writers of GQ. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved,” (1 Corinthians 1:18, HCSB). The entire Bible (cf. Luke 24:27, Galatians 3:24) points to Jesus and the cross and resurrection. No Christian should be shocked by those who are perishing calling God’s Word foolish. In fact, we ought not be shocked, nor angered, but sorrowful over the condition of their souls.
Finally, the editors claim that it is ill-intentioned. Again, more of an opinion of which they give no basis. The Bible tells us why it was written. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work, (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV; italics mine). The intention was to make people complete, mature, ready to do the work of the good and holy God. It was not ill-intentioned. Perhaps if one felt convicted by it, it was because they were not yet matured (thus everyone of us still alive ought to find it convicting).
So the GQ writers make a couple of good points, but what leads them to toss the Bible away like it’s some piece of trash, I see as reasons to read it over and over again. Sadly their biases are all too easily seen (as are mine). Ad hominem attacks on the Bible cannot be taken any more seriously than ad hominem attacks on people. Me thinks thou dost protest too much.
What do you think about the editors of GQ? What do you think about my assessment? Am I right or wrong? Let me know.