Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration: Faith in Pursuit of Conversation
Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration
Faith in Pursuit of Conversation
CWP Press, May 10, 2012.
If you’re not ready for some serious conversation about the real origins and nature of earliest Christianity and the documents that eventually came from it, then don’t open the Bible. Because that’s how it was born, and that’s the context in which it grew—-in serious conversation. From Paul’s inter-textual gleanings and through the Gospels’ multiple voices—-and much more—-the course was set by people of faith in search of a conversation with God.
This new book (SCI) is about faith in pursuit of conversation. It will not be a rehash of anything you have read before. It will certainly cause you to think! Although it will clearly and unhesitatingly challenge many longstanding views of the Bible, it is not an attack on the Bible. It is, instead, a call to take the ancient scriptures seriously on their own terms. It is faith that feels no obligation to manufacture artificial theories to help “protect” the Bible. It is integrity amid heroic Bible reading. It is faith in pursuit of conversation.
This book grew out of the first nine lessons of the video series, 40 Things Everybody Should Know About the Bible. However, this is no reprint of that series; it is expanded greatly beyond it. SCI summarizes decades of recent work on this vital topic, asks pointed questions about the nature of the Bible, offers fresh and original evaluations of texts throughout the Bible, and challenges Christians across the board to reconsider long-held opinions and beliefs.
This book is academically responsible to the call of faith and is written for personal study, small-group discussion, or classroom teaching. To see an impressive list of comments by early readers of this volume, scroll down this page.
“Thank you, Gary. I want to let you know that I am about a third of the way through the book and am amazed at the thoughts you put forward. Some I have thought about before and others that I should have, but never considered until now. I am caught up in your dialogue…conversation…and it is hard for me to lay the book down.”
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Excerpt From the Foreword
In this book, Gary Collier speaks clearly and logically, building on evidence, not on assumptions. He challenges our present thinking, directly but gently, kindly but with persistence. He speaks with integrity and with transparency. He does not talk down to his readers but dialogues humbly as a conversation partner. He sounds like a man who is concerned but not angry.
In the end, Collier’s purpose is not to attack but to equip, not to undermine faith in God but to strengthen it. Our reward, he believes, will be to encounter in the Bible not merely abstract truth—however inspired, infallible, or inerrant—but also the living God, with whom we can walk and have conversation all the days of our lives.
Edward William Fudge
What Readers Are Saying
Readers are saying some very exciting things about Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration:
From the Back Cover
From the Inside Front Cover
|William “Chip” Kooi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology, Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond, OK.
“No topics are more vital to the future of the church in America than those addressed by Gary Collier in this book. Positions on issues of canon and inspiration are frequently formulated a priori and then imposed onto the Biblical text—Collier’s treatments clarify the issues and help the reader see and consider evidence typically ignored or glossed over, either for lack of knowledge or out of fear of the implications. If all truth is God’s truth, then Christians should have no fear of honest inquiry. Scripture, Canon and Inspiration opens the inquiry and offers us an entry into conversations that we absolutely must have if Christian faith is to continue to be a significant voice in our culture.”
|Carson E. Reed, D.Min., Senior Minister, Northlake Church of Christ, Tucker, GA.
“Fans of the Coffee With Paul Classroom website will not be disappointed with Gary Collier’s new work, Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration. Collier does what he does best; he provokes active thought and conversation through his engaging, conversational style. Relying on his own extensive textual work in biblical materials as well as more broadly with other ancient sources such as Philo, the author draws the reader into important, current conversations about the Bible by looking at the texts themselves.”
|Dawn Gentry, Director of a children’s ministry (11 years), now an M.Div. Student, Emmanuel Christian Seminary (focusing on Christian Ministry), Johnson City, TN.
“As Christ followers, whether or not we acknowledge the fact, how we view the Bible impacts every other theological decision we make. Collier’s conversational approach engages the reader while his academic depth provides plenty of challenge for scholars. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversational style all through the book, and Collier’s joy of God’s word comes through loud and clear. I was not surprised or disappointed by anything I found. I also especially resonated with the ‘what if’ section at the end of chapter 9, and I agree with constantly asking ‘what can we do to make things better?’ Those who are willing to read without assumptions will find a conversation partner worthy of our time and respect. If you can imagine a faith community that values dialogue as we pursue Christ above all, begin here.”
|Brian Casey, D.Arts., Houghton College, Houghton, NY.
“All Bible reading plans aside, all devotional methods aside, all creeds and all ecstatic worship experiences aside … that’s right, put them ALL aside. No matter how popular the method or the speaker or the author, don’t follow charisma or some 12 easy, magic steps ‘for your life’ supposedly based on the Bible. Do, on the other hand, listen to both the details and the overarching messages from Gary Collier in this book. You will emerge from this read with a newly fleshed-out respect for scripture, although you might have sustained a wound or two along the way. We are baseless if we do not sit in rapt attention before ancient scripture, engaging with it honestly, and I am persuaded that renewal based in what scriptural texts actually say can make all the difference in and for Christians.”
|Beverly L. Watkins, Pastor of New Members Ministry, Promise Land Christian Community Church, Indianapolis, IN.
“Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration is a powerful book. It is so awesome that I had to read some and digest it before I could continue. I strongly recommend that every serious Christian, student of the Bible or any other interested person read the book. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I found myself being challenged in my belief system quite a bit more than was comfortable, however, it was extremely profitable to me Spiritually. It is a powerful tool for any study group or individual who wants to understand what the Bible is and is not, and much more. This book will cause you to engage in conversations with it and raise questions that you probably would not have thought of before reading it. It is a must read for everyone, whether you are serious about the Bible, curious about the Bible, or just want to know. I challenge you to pick it up and begin to read, you won’t be able to stop until you have finished.”
|Michael Wilkinson, M.D., F.A.C.P. Palestine, TX.
“Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration is not written for scholars. Gary Collier is a scholar and is capable of discourse on that level, but this book is written for the rest of us. If you are a student of scripture, a church leader, a Bible teacher, or simply a committed but curious follower of Jesus, then this book is for you. I highly recommend it. Your faith will be strengthened and you will never read the Bible the same way again.”
|Patrick Spicer, IT professional, Bible student and teacher, Houston, TX. (Quoted as the headline on the back cover.)
“Hailing from a tradition that boasts a high view of scripture, it was hard to imagine the possibility of an even higher view—but Gary Collier proposes exactly that. And if Gary is correct about the canon of the earliest Christians, we are recovering something not of mere tradition but of sheer beauty. Whether slightly or radically, all careful and objective readers of Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration will be compelled to adjust their thinking about this crucial topic.”
|Huey Edwards, Mended Hearts Ministry (A Clown Ministry), Bronson, KS.
“In my own home, Gary Collier’s book has sparked lively discussion—it is a breath of fresh air! He gives the Scriptures a significance that has been lost by teaching the reader how to converse with its authors and each other. Collier opens the doorway to real-time interaction with those people of faith that have gone before us. The author challenges the reader to come into relationship and engage with the authors of the Bible. The end result is a greater and fuller relationship with our God.”
|A. C. and Ruth Oliver, Retired evangelist/wife, Missionaries, Students of the Word – Lubbock, TX.
“Gary Collier’s Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration is a book that needed to be written. It will challenge the mind of the person who has come into an inherited, honest, but wrong assumption that the Bible was somehow delivered to men whole, complete, and free from human error—and that no further questions concerning its veracity or its God-breathed authority are acceptable or allowed. Collier asks (even insists in a very humble and non-pugilistic way) that believers at least take part in a conversation which is part of their faith—a conversation that has been ongoing from the earliest of the old covenant scriptures to the century in which we live. If our core belief is that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Good News concerning Him is contained in these documents (Collier seems to be saying) let us look deeply and sincerely into their origin (enter into the conversation) without fear. We wish the book every success with God’s blessing.”
|Sherrod Lee, M.D., Portland, OR.
“‘Don’t believe all you think, or think you know.’ At least, not without being willing to constantly re-examine your thinking, add to your knowledge, and let new light shine on your thoughts. Gary helps us do that by introducing materials most of us have never considered, and leading us in careful critical rethinking of some of our accepted teachings. This book is challenging, but not overwhelming or bent on wholesale change. It is a provocative conversation-starter.”
|John Eoff, Believer, Kerrville, TX.
“This book is about canon (a closed list of acceptable documents for inclusion in The Book) and will be held in disagreement by those who are more interested in upholding the traditions which they have been taught than they are of seeking true understanding of those holy scriptures. ‘This cannot be a closed subject—and especially not an assumed subject’ (pg 175). ‘Do you have an opinion that the Bible should be used as a science textbook? You are welcome to that opinion, but I don’t want you teaching my kids!’ (pg. 136). This is good reading for everyone who is interested in examining truth about the Bible.”
|Robert C. Belville, Retired businessman & Hickory Church of Christ elder, Morganton, NC.
“Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration provides the Bible teacher and serious student with a treasure of invaluable material on the nature and purpose of holy scripture. Collier’s style is friendly, his readers need not be scholars; but his thesis is sharply set out. Much of what is assumed by many people about canon and the proper use of scripture is naive and even false. It is a great disservice to Christians, particularly young people confronted by glib non-believers, for church authorities to stifle the open discussion about and with scripture. This discussion will be helpful in pointing to Jesus as Lord in a book (the Bible) that has become, as Collier aptly characterizes, an honored but ignored relic.”
|Jack Gibbert, Retired preacher, Texarkana, TX.
“This book will bring a whole new look and hermeneutic into the life of any serious Christian Bible student. The system is as simple as you will ever find. You may still seek ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘what should I do’ but your focus will shift from those views to seeking this single truth: ‘Jesus Christ, his name is Lord.’ Collier is not about making you into a ‘Collierite,’ but rather a Bible student in search of a conversation with God.”
|Doug Lemon, HSSBC (Humble Servant Saved By Christ), Minister, Whippany, NJ.
“Nineteen Eighty-Nine was the best worst year of my thirty-six year career in industry. I literally sat as nursemaid to a comatose business. I opened an office every morning and sat by myself where there had been six or seven other employees. I had many long hours available for Bible study, reflection, meditation and prayer. Not being a ‘scholar’ or having earned a number of degrees or possessing many academic resources I just read and prayed and reflected. It was a ‘lay’ study, not that of a theologian. During that year I raised questions that I had not thought of before. How long was oral tradition passed on before it was put to stylus and clay? If Paul’s lost letter to the Corinthians was ever found and documented to be authentic, would we re-edit the Bible to include it? How many other epistles by accepted NT or OT authors lie buried in some yet undiscovered cave or under and unexcavated tell? If Jude could quote Enoch, of what authority was Enoch? Would all of his prophecy be inspired or only that part quoted by Jude? These and similar questions piqued my interest. Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration addresses my questions and takes my inquiry to a much higher level. Collier’s style speaks to me, the untrained lay person while his thorough research and documentation would seem to address those with more academic training. I highly recommend this author and this book to any who have questioning minds.”
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