Are You A Biblicist?

Do you believe the following?

  1. The Bible contains God’s very words inerrantly passed on by humans (Divine Writing)
  2. The Bible is all of God’s revelation to humanity (Total Representation)
  3. Everything we need to know about all relevant topics of life is in the Bible (Complete Coverage)
  4. Any intelligent person can read the Bible in his own language and understand it (Democratic Perpescuity)
  5. The Bible is best understood at face value in its most plain, literal sense (Commonsense Hermeneutics)
  6. All we need to understand about God and life is the Bible itself, not creeds or church traditions (Solo Scriptura)
  7. All passages in the Bible on a particular topic will fit together into a unified, coherent whole (Internal Harmony)
  8. What is taught in the Bible applies to all people everywhere for all time (Universal Applicability)
  9. One can learn from the Bible simply by sitting down and piecing things together through careful study (Inductive Method)
  10. The Bible is essentially a handbook for what people should believe and how they should to live (Handbook Model)

If so, University of Notre Dame sociologist of religion Christian Smith calls this “biblicism” and he says it is wrong.  Not wrong as in flawed or incorrect.  Wrong as in impossible or untenable.  These claims, when you put them all together, are too audacious and broad-reaching.  They paint a biblicist into a corner he can’t get out of.  They lead down paths a biblicist himself won’t want to go down.  They become so complex the “Bible is made impossible,” as Smith titles his book.

Stay tuned over the days and weeks ahead to find out why Smith believes this, and what he thinks is a better, though not theologically liberal, way to understand the Bible.