Item description for What the Bible Really Teaches: About Crucifixion, Resurrection, Salvation, the Second Coming, and Eternal Life by Keith Ward...
Overview Keith Ward's new book is a vigorous and lively contribution to the debate on the authority of scripture-how we read the Bible, and how, he believes, a fundamentalist reading is unsustainable. Thoroughly grounded in the Bible, suffused with a profound and clear understanding of theology, this is a book that will enlighten many and help the many Christians who struggle with these issues.
Publishers Description Keith Ward's new book is a vigorous and lively contribution to the debate on the authority of scripture--how we read the Bible, and how, he believes, a fundamentalist reading is unsustainable. Thoroughly grounded in the Bible, suffused with a profound and clear understanding of theology, this is a book that will enlighten many and help the many Christians who struggle with these issues.
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Studio: The Crossroad Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.24" Width: 5.48" Height: 0.6" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2005
Publisher The Crossroad Publishing Company
ISBN 082452344X ISBN13 9780824523442
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More About Keith Ward
KEITH WARD was professor of history and philosophy of religion at King's College. London from 1985-1991 and has since been Regius professor of divinity at the University of Oxford. He is the author of many books, including God: A Guide for the Perplexed(2002) and a trilogy on comparative religion. Religion and Human Nature(1998). Religion and Creation and Religion and Revelation(1994).
Reviews - What do customers think about What the Bible Really Teaches: About Crucifixion, Resurrection, Salvation, the Second Coming, and Eternal Life?
An orthodox liberal Sep 13, 2007
Anglican philosopher-theologian Keith Ward, recently retired professor of divinity at Oxford, has published a book called What the Bible Really Teaches (about Crucifixion, Resurrection, Salvation, the Second Coming, and Eternal Life) that is a charitable but firm rebuke to fundamentalist readings of the Bible. Ward considers himself a "born-again" Christian, but says that fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture fail on the Bible's own terms.
In Chapter 1, "Fundamentalism and the Bible," Ward investigates the nature of the Bible and argues that it's incompatible with the doctrine of verbal inerrancy as that is usually understood. He points out that the Bible itself nowhere claims to be inerrant, or that all its stories must be read literally. He contrasts that nature of the Christian Bible with that of the Koran; the latter purports to be a word-for-word dictation from God, while the former is a collection of writings from varied periods and viewpoints that represent a response to God's self-revelation. Ward's argument is that the Bible doesn't even purport to be the kind of word-for-word dictation from God that fundamentalists tend to treat it as.
The oft-quoted text from the letter to Timothy that "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" is, Ward thinks, misinterpreted if taken as a proof-text for a doctrine of verbal inerrancy. Instead we should think of God's Spirit inspiring the minds of the writers of Scripture in such a way that they "build up an authentic and trustworthy testimony to the loving-kindness of God, and to the divine plan to reconciel the world to the divine life" (p. 16). It is a misunderstanding of the Bible to think of revelation as primarily a set of facts or doctrines infallibly set down in the text, rather the Biblical meaning of revelation is "primarily an unveiling and knowledge of the reality of God, especially in the person of Jesus. It is not primarily a communication of true propositions" (p. 18).
In Chapter 2, "Understanding the Bible," Ward offers six principles of Biblical interpretation that he thinks are truer to the nature of the Bible itself. The principles are contextualization, reading the biblical writings in a way that does justice to their history, setting, genre, etc.; consistency, treating like passages alike, e.g. not invoking certain Levitical laws as binding on modern-day believers while ignoring others; comprehensiveness, taking the biblical witness as a whole and allowing passages to illuminate each other; sublation, the idea that certain biblical teachings are superseded and yet fulfilled by later teachings, such as the lex talionis` replacement by Jesus' command to forgive; the principle of spiritual interpretation, under which Ward subsumes the three traditional non-literal methods of interpretation: moral, anagogical (pointing to a future fulfillment), and allegorical; and finally, and perhaps most importantly, Christ-centeredness, or seeing every part of the Bible as pointing us to Christ (was Christum treibet - that which conveys Christ, as Luther put it). Later chapters have Ward applying these principles to particular doctrines like the Second Coming and salvation.
Though setting out to combat fundamentalism, Ward isn't a debunker or revisionist in the mode of Bishop Spong. For one thing, he thinks that a fundamentalist approach to the Bible is actually an aberration in Christian history; he's not setting himself up as a smasher of the tradition. And his ontological commitments clearly put him in the camp of a robust version of theism. He might be best seen as a kind of liberal broad-churchman who doesn't see any inherent conflict between faith and reason, somewhat reminiscient of the Cambridge Platonists of the 17th century.
This book doesn't presuppose too much in the way of background knowledge in theology, but some of the middle chapters are a bit heavy-going (Ward is a philosopher by training). I'd recommend this book for anyone looking for an alternative to the caricatures of Christianity that are often passed off as the only "orthodox" option.