The latest batch of RBL reviews includes D. A. Carson’s review of Roland Boer’s Rescuing the Bible. The analysis and conclusion are refreshingly blunt:
This book, a fascinating mix of dogmatic left-wing self-righteousness combined with rich and scathing condescension toward all who are even a tad less left than the author, is rich in unintended irony. Boer cannot see how implausible his arguments become. While nominally allowing “religious” people to believe in the supernatural so long as they support his left-wing agenda and join forces with him in a “worldly” secularism, what he says about the Bible and about biblical scholarship is so blatantly committed to philosophical naturalism and historical minimalism that even the most mild supernaturalism is ridiculed: no allowance can be made for divine revelation, anyone who thinks Moses existed is not really a scholar, biblical studies can be called “scientific” only if the scholars themselves do not preach, and so forth. Boer consistently damns everyone on the right by ridiculing the obvious targets, but probably he would not appreciate it if a counterpart on the right ridiculed those on the left by skewering Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot. It turns out that Boer wants to “rescue” the Bible not only from what people on the right say that it means but from what the Bible itself says, for whenever the Bible, in all its multivalence, disagrees with Boer’s vision of the summum bonum, it is to be undermined, set aside, and mocked—not even wrestled with. Readers are repeatedly told that those nasty right-wingers have “stolen” the Bible. Boer never considers the possibility that quite a few left-wingers have simply abandoned the Bible, leaving the terrain open for those who at least take it seriously. What will satisfy Boer, it seems, is not the liberation of the Bible but the liberation of the Bible from any agenda he considers right-wing, so that it can be locked in servitude to a left-wing agenda. Boer’s dismissive arguments to prove the Bible is hopelessly multivalent—a commonplace among many modern and postmodern readers today—is spectacularly unconvincing because he does not interact with any serious literature (and there is two thousand years’ worth of such literature) that argues, with various degrees of success, how the Bible does hang together. But perhaps this is not too surprising from an author who cherishes chaos precisely because chaos undermines God’s authority—and all authority save Boer’s must be overthrown. I think that many biblical writers would call that choice idolatry. At the end of the day, Boer is trying to rescue the Bible from God.