Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Uncensored

Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible. Brian Cosby. 2015. David C. Cook. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Are you unintentionally censoring the Bible? Perhaps even intentionally censoring the Bible?

Brian Cosby has written a great book on the Bible, on how it is important for Christians to read the whole Bible. In other words, it isn't quite enough to just read and "embrace" the parts you really, really love. You have to consider the Bible as a whole, and try to grasp what the message of the whole Bible is.

He examines why different people "censor" the Bible--possible motivations--and how they "censor" it.

Does this matter to you and me? Or, why should this matter to you and me?! Because when we censor the Bible--intentionally or not--we just aren't censoring a book. We're censoring the God that inspired book reveals. And when we recreate God in our own image, that's idolatry. We're to worship God in spirit and truth. When we worship a god we've made ourselves, that's not true worship. We need the truth--and the whole truth--to worship truly and glorify God.
When we censor the full character of God, we soften His justice, elevate man, and devalue our need for the cross. But when we embrace the entire Bible, we are freed from making God "fit" our politically correct, tame caricatures of a god who seems no more omnipotent than a divine grandpa. But like Aslan, God isn't safe.. The Lion from the tribe of Judah has conquered. Eternally self-sufficient, He's dependent on no one. And His Word reveals His majesty and glory from Genesis to Revelation.
Part One is "Embarrassed by the Bible." And part two is "The Art of Censorship." Part one focuses on the realities facing the Christian church: The need for the whole Bible, and, a need to trust that the Bible is the very Word of God, and that the God of the Bible is worth trusting and believing. This section also includes a summary of the big picture of the Bible, and an overview on how to read the Bible and interpret it correctly.

Part Two highlights seven areas of the Bible that people tend to censor including creation, sin, hell, suffering, parenting, etc.

Who should read this one? First, I recommend it to all Christians. But. Knowing that not everyone is a reader, I'll just add that it would be of special interest to any believer who preaches, teaches, or leads devotions, publicly or privately. (Pastors, teachers, parents) I do think all believers would benefit. Especially those who aren't regularly reading the whole Word of God. (I'm not one that says you have to have a structured plan in place to read the whole Bible in one year. But I am one who encourages you to have some plan in place to read from the (whole) Bible regularly.)
If the Bible is truly inspired by God--as His self-revelation--and profitable for His people, then I should embrace the whole counsel of God for a healthy, balanced, and fruit-filled faith. When I censor the Scriptures and selectively choose which parts to meditate on, day and night, I fail to become the tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in its season (Psalm 1:1-3). I miss out on the life-altering and joy-infusing revelation of God which is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).
If you listen closely to our Christianese, you will notice a large amount of extra biblical thought squeezed in. Try to find "God helps those who help themselves," "Invite Jesus into your heart," or "Accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" in the Bible. They're not there. Not only are we cherry-picking the Scriptures, but we're also inserting our own feel-good notions.
An incomplete Word leads to incomplete joy. Why would we settle for an incomplete text when every jot and tittle is inspired by our great God? This is a journey to embrace the Bible--the entire Bible--every book, every verse, and every word. It's both daring and exciting.
When I question, or decide, which passages in the Bible to follow, I miss out on the truth that sets me free. When we avoid the biblical practice of church discipline, for example, we miss out on the joy of seeing wayward sinners reclaimed or seeing Christ establishing greater peace and purity in His bride. When we avoid the doctrine of hell in our preaching and teaching, we miss the experience of gratitude of what we are saved from and the hope of what we are saved for.
To put it bluntly, we don't want sin, wrath, or God's judgment in our Bibles. Richard Niebuhr, the early twentieth century theologian, once remarked that we want a "God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."
It's tough to convince the world that the Bible is true when we don't communicate our own belief in it. When we are embarrassed by what it says or censor those "difficult" passages in sermons or in conversations on the elevator, we communicate as much. When we cherry-pick those feel-good verses and leave the convicting fruit behind, we rob God of His glory by making ourselves the arbiters of truth. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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