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Biblical Authority or Biblical Tyranny? [Paperback]

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Item description for Biblical Authority or Biblical Tyranny? by Louis William Countryman, L. William Countryman & William L. Countryman...

Overview
How is the Bible authoritative for faith and doctrine? What does it mean to say it's inspired? infallible? the Word of God? ' Offers worthwhile reflection, challenge, and/or growth to anyone in a pastoral or teaching ministry.

Publishers Description
What is scripture's relation to the believer? What kind of authority is "scriptural authority"? How do we gain access to that authority for guidance in our lives? Professor Countryman proposes that the scripture be understood as a word which prompts more questions that it answers, that in scripture God has not uttered the last word for us but the first, and that in scripture God has given us "a word designed to set us off on a pilgrimage in pursuit of that life that God has willed for us to have." Biblical Authority is ideal for teachers and students of scripture in the parish and in the classroom. The book discusses and uses various tools and styles of exegesis. Countryman becomes the articulator for the critical right, those Christians who profess the Bible s authority, disagree with the fundamentalist s view, but are often at a loss to express, explain, or defend their own convictions. Theology Today Countryman presents a lucid, patient, and direct approach to both a fundamentalist attachment to and a liberal detachment from the scepters. This book offers some common ground on a sensitive and volatile subject. Interpretation L. William Countryman is Professor of New Testament at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA, and the author of Good News of Jesus and The Language of Ordination, both published by Trinity Press International.

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Trinity Press International
Pages   125
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 1994
Publisher   Trinity Press International
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  1563380854  
ISBN13  9781563380853  


Availability  95 units.
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More About Louis William Countryman, L. William Countryman & William L. Countryman


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! L. William Countryman is Sherman E. Johnson Professor in Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He is a popular speaker, and the author of many books including Gifted by Otherness, Living on the Border of the Holy, Forgiven and Forgiving, and Love Human and Divine, all available from Morehouse Publishing.

Louis William Countryman was born in 1941.

Louis William Countryman has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Traditions of Christian Spirituality


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Topical


Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General



Reviews - What do customers think about Biblical Authority or Biblical Tyranny??

A much needed question with a surprising set of answers  Mar 20, 2004
If you want to read a book probing the meaning of "authority" (a concept far too frequently taken for granted in most Christian circles), please read William Countryman's "Biblical Authority or Biblical Tyranny?" The real question that must be decided in dealing with most of the great controversial issues in contemporary Christianity all relate to the following question: "What does the authority of the Bible entail in this conversation? That is to say, how do we interpret what the Bible has to say about what we interpret to be references to the particular subject at hand?" Without answering that question, any discussion between the two opposing sides will just be a shouting match without any initial understanding of the terms of the discourse or the admission (or barring) of any evidence from either the Bible or Church history or any other source for that matter.

This book is a refreshing, if somewhat bracing at first, approach to some fun-damental questions of what it means to be authoritative in the first place. Countryman then follows up his discussion of authority with explorations on the nature of inspiration and authority, biblical inerrancy versus biblical authority, hermeneutical methodologies over the history of the Church [rabbinical, allegorical, historical-grammatical, and historical-critical] the relationship[s] between the Church and the Bible, and their place as co-authorities in the life of the believer. While deflating much of the overwrought fundamentalist rantings about the "perfection/Godhood" of the Bible, he also charts a course away from the Bible-negating tendencies of Christian liberalism and builds a bridge over which a coherent dialoge can cross for those willing to take a step of faith and act on God's authoritative word, rightly used.

 
A Lesson In Humility  Sep 13, 2002
It is easy to fall into the same trap that one criticizes others for. Unfortunately, Countryman, in order to make the point that we should not try to make the Bible be something it is not, does that very thing in arguing that the Bible is full of contradictions and errors. You don't have to believe that the Bible is a science textbook to believe that if anywhere it intentionally says something relevant to science, it has a message for us that is true. The error he should instead point out only exists if you maintain that the Bible is a science textbook. We all talk of "the sun rising", that doesn't mean what we have said is an error for the purposes of our communication.

Another major example Countryman uses of contradiction is the baptism of Jesus by John. According to Countryman, the gospel of Luke has Jesus being baptized after John is beheaded. [Luke 3:15-22] Nowhere in this passage does it actually state what Countryman maintains. In order to arrive at this interpretation, you have to impose an external rule of narrative chronology, not indicated by any inclusion of temporal words like "after" in the text. In my opinion it makes much more sense for the writer to be summing up the end of John the Baptist in verses 19 and 20 before returning to the primary subject of Jesus. It's only an apparent contradiction in the mind of someone who woodenly (and perhaps too literally?) reads the account and imposes on it rules that it doesn't have in itself. We allow that type of flexibility with modern storytellers. Why not the writers of Scripture?

This is why I say that Countryman has fallen victim to his own criticism. Even so, his point is valid. We shouldn't do what he just did. There are many things in Scripture which at the very least appear contradictory. I once heard Josh McDowell maintain that Peter denied Jesus nine times instead of the three Scripture relates. His rationalism in forcing a chronology between the separate gospel accounts is just that, an externally applied rationalism. Just because we may not understand the exact chronology, doesn't mean the gospel accounts aren't true. Does an account have to be strictly chronological to be true?

Countryman maintains toward the end of his book that it is often in the paradoxes and things that appear contradictory that we are most likely to find God working through Scripture to teach us. Paul's "justification by faith" and James' "justification by works" is a theological case in point. We do better to wrestle with the whole message presented than to cut and paste. In this, if I understand Countryman's whole message, I think he wholeheartedly agrees. Rather, we must cut the Bible the "same slack" we do any human communication, even with divine inspiration, working diligently to find out God's purposes contained in it. As Countryman states, "the Bible makes sense to us fully only as we come to be fully transformed by it".

 
Small in Quantity, Big in Quality  Jan 2, 2001
Though this book is only 125 pages long, it carries a wealth of valuable insights and stimulating thoughts. Countryman has done a very good job of countering the extreme biblical literalist camp without throwing out the Bible. Often it's tempting to throw the baby out with the bath water (as the saying goes), but Countryman shows how the Bibles value is not diminished just because some modern camps of Christian theology have abused it. The often tyrannical use of the Bible does NOT eliminate it's value or worth.

He explains our need both for the Bible and for a believing community as sources of authority in our lives. Without community it's too easy for personal misinterpretations to lead people off the deep end into extreme or heretical theological positions (the Bible is much more complex than most people understand). And without the Bible, entire communities can also drift into erroneous understandings about God and His will for them (as was the case prior to the reformation).

Countryman briefly covers the different views of the canon and the various ways the Bible has been interpreted throughout church history. He starts with the early literal-allegorical method, moves to the grammatical method, and finally to the historical-critical interpretation method. This is a nice introduction to the topic, especially for anyone that wrongly thinks Christians have always read and understood the Bible the same as they do today.

The book is very readable, and I often found myself highlighting entire paragraphs (starting from page 1) because they were written so well. Whatever ones theological persuasions, they should read this book to gain insight into Countryman's (and many others) views of Biblical authority without Biblical tyranny.

 
Don't waste your money on this book  Dec 28, 2000
I read the reviews here and thought they were useful so I bought the book. To my horror, this author basically undermines the authority of Scripture by stating that the Bible is unreliable in matters of science, history, morals and what not. Then he tries to build on whatever authority is left after he has effectively tells the reader that little of what the Bible says is true. A classic example of man's reason overriding that of revelation. For me, I take the Scripture's side anytime. The Bible is true in what it says, whether it be science or history, even morals. It has the full authority of God in what it says.
 
A much needed question with a surprising set of answers.  Jul 28, 2000
If you want to read a book probing the meaning of "authority" (a concept far too frequently taken for granted in most Christian circles), please read William Countryman's "Biblical Authority or Biblical Tyranny?" The real question that must be decided in dealing with most of the great controversial issues in contemporary Christianity all relate to the following question: "What does the authority of the Bible entail in this conversation? That is to say, how do we interpret what the Bible has to say about what we interpret to be references to the particular subject at hand?" Without answering that question, any discussion between the two opposing sides will just be a shouting match without any initial understanding of the terms of the discourse or the admission (or barring) of any evidence from either the Bible or Church history or any other source for that matter.

This book is a refreshing, if somewhat bracing at first, approach to some fun-damental questions of what it means to be authoritative in the first place. Countryman then follows up his discussion of authority with explorations on the nature of inspiration and authority, biblical inerrancy versus biblical authority, hermeneutical methodologies over the history of the Church [rabbinical, allegorical, historical-grammatical, and historical-critical] the relationship[s] between the Church and the Bible, and their place as co-authorities in the life of the believer. While deflating much of the overwrought fundamentalist rantings about the "perfection/Godhood" of the Bible, he also charts a course away from the Bible-negating tendencies of Christian liberalism and builds a bridge over which a coherent dialoge can cross for those willing to take a step of faith and act on God's authoritative word, rightly used.

 

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