Monday, May 4, 2009

Book Review: Fixing Abraham

Tiegreen, Chris. 2009. Fixing Abraham: How Taming Our Bible Heroes Blinds Us To The Wild Ways of Our God. Tyndale. 190 pages.

Generally speaking, I liked it. I had my doubts. Doubts which I held onto for a few chapters. But as I continued to read, I felt myself relaxing. I would never say that I agree wholeheartedly with every single point the author makes in this one. Some of his points border on the I-can-somewhat-see-it-as-true-in-moderation-but-oh-someone-could-take-that-idea-and-run-away-with-it variety.

This one reminds me in a way of a Rich Mullins songs: "We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are." Of course, I'm changing that to we are not as smart as we think we are. We like to put God in a box. And we like to talk about what God is like and not like. What he does and doesn't do. What he will and won't do. I think it's not a misspeaking to say that we can miss the point and get it wrong.

Clarification: The Bible is the Bible is the Bible. There's no doubting or second guessing that. It is the Word of God. The Very Word of God. It is holy and sacred. You'll never find me bending and stretching to make the Bible be politically correct. We may not always like--as Christians--what it has to say. But some things are absolute. And the Bible is one of them. The absolutes of the Bible--the absolutes of God--won't change with the fashions and politics of the people. You can't make the truth be untrue. (Well, you can proclaim whatever you like, but it won't make it true. You'll be the liar.)

I feared that this book might be disrespectful of the Bible. But I was proven wrong. What Chris Tiegreen does is think intellectually and imaginatively about the Bible. I think most--but not all--readers seem to divorce the Bible from reality. (That sounds horrible, doesn't it?) What I mean by that very vague statement is that they seem to have two concepts of reality: Bible Times and Everything Else. It's easy to lump the Bible Stories together and separate them out from the time line. To forget that, you know, these were real people like you and me. Though their culture is often strange to us, our culture would be equally strange to them, I imagine. It's also easy since they lived so far ago, to view the story through a certain lens. We know what happens. We know the big story. We know the twists and turns. We know the ending.

What Tiegreen does is lift the stories (and characters) from the Bible and play around with the settings. He modernizes the situations to show just how wonderfully, perfectly strange God is. How "untame" this God really is. (To draw a reference from The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe.) I love, love, love his last two chapters "Hard Labor" (a modernization of Jeremiah) and "A Few Loose Rules" (a modernization of Ezekiel.) But many of his chapters are enjoyable and thought provoking. All are inviting the reader to think--dangerous I know--to be open. Being open doesn't mean changing your mind on everything you thought--everything you know--it doesn't mean changing the essentials. Well, not by my interpretation. What he is asking you to do--and what I recommend--is to be open to the idea that you don't know everything (and that you're not always right) and that you can learn something new each and every time you open the Bible. You can read the Bible cover to cover dozens and dozens of times but each new reading should be fresh and insightful. You will never reach the point where you know it all.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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