A few days back I made some positive preliminary comments about Christian Smith's book The Bible Made Impossible, and his first section, debunking biblicism, is without doubt a case powerfully put.
But Smith must erect a new superstructure in its place, and here the disappointment bites bitterly. He hauls out the tired old supercessionist drivel that - literally - wants to read the Bible backward in the name of 'Christocentrism.'
Worse, Smith trots out theology's equivalent of the Addams Family in support: Goldingay, Stott, Packer, Vanhoozer, Bloesch, Berkouwer and, finally and inevitably, Karl Barth. In fact he devotes a whole section to singing Barth's praises.
Unless, Smith warns, "we are anticanonical hermeneutical nihilists, we must believe in some kind of internal biblical coherence or unity - despite the Bible having been written by many different authors who lived in highly divergent historical and cultural circumstances."
Yeah, right. And that coherence factor would be?
"If believers today want to rightly understand scripture, every narrative, every prayer, every proverb, every law, every Epistle needs likewise to be read and understood always and only in light of Jesus Christ and God reconciling the world to himself through him."
Every, every, every, every, every... Oh really?
And moreover: "we always read the Bible as committed trinitarians."
"From the Bible's account of the creation of the world in Genesis to its final consummation in Revelation, it is all and only about the work of God in time and space in the person of Jesus Christ for the redemption of the world."
"All and only"? Talk about a sweeping hermeneutic!
Having swept the hovel clean of the demon Biblicism, Smith wants to recruit some nice new ones to help pay the rent.
More on this next time.