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Sacred Word, Broken Word
Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture
Kenton L. Sparks
Buy the ebook: Logos
POD; Published: 4/4/2012
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6718-6
Price: $ 24.99
192 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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The Bible is a religious masterpiece. Its authors cast a profound vision for the healing of humanity through the power of divine love, grace and forgiveness. But the Bible also contains "dark texts" that challenge our ethical imagination. How can one book teach us to love our enemies and also teach us to slaughter Canaanites? Why does a book that preaches the equality of all people -- male and female, slave and free, Greek and Jew -- also include laws that permit God's people to trade in slaves and to persecute those of a different faiths or ethnicities?

In Sacred Word, Broken Word Kenton Sparks argues that the "dark side" of Scripture is not an illusion. Rather, these dark texts remind us that all human beings, including the biblical authors, stand in need of God's redemptive solution in Jesus Christ.

Read more about the book in a blog post by Sparks on EerdWord.
Brian D. McClaren
-- author of Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words
"Kent Sparks addresses the crucial and often painful question that I hear people asking around the world -- from seminary students to their professors, from spiritual seekers to seasoned pastors, from ex-believers to new believers: What do we do about the Bible's dark passages, the places that justify genocide or conflict with one another or can't be squared with scientific data? Sparks doesn't follow the typical all-or-nothing responses to either left or right, but offers an honest, humble, creative, faithful, and robust approach to Scripture that presents it as part of God's good-but-broken creation that is being redeemed in Christ. Highly recommended."
Dale C. Allison, Jr.
-- Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
"Incisive and honest, sophisticated yet clear, this volume will prove to be of immense value to those who wrestle with the nature of Scripture. Sparks illuminates a number of troubling and complex issues, and his readers will find their thoughts moving in new and promising directions."
Scot McKnight
-- North Park University
"The moral problems of the Old Testament, including what justice means, how peace can be gained, and how love is to be known, can be examined from a number of angles. . . . The only acceptable approaches are those that struggle with the text as Scripture, as God's Word, and seek to find in that text what God might be saying to us today. Sacred Word, Broken Word is among the angels in pursuing this type of approach. Not all will agree, but I pray that this book will ignite a conversation about how to read the Bible better."
William J. Abraham
-- Perkins Theological Seminary, Southern Methodist University
"Sparks sets a new benchmark for work on the theological and philosophical reception of Scripture. Written with elegance, this is a book of seasoned scholarship that is accessible, spiritually sensitive, constructive, and provocative. Above all it is written from a heart attuned to the depths of human suffering and misery."
I. Howard Marshall
— University of Aberdeen
"Increasingly readers of the Bible are wondering aloud how they are to deal with such moral problems as the apparent divine approval of slavery and genocide. In this volume Kent Sparks invites Christians of whatever theological persuasion to engage with Scripture as God's authoritative Word. He voices his own problems with the 'hard texts,' warns against trivializing them, and looks for a possible positive way forward. This is a book to be taken seriously and read sympathetically, for the problems discussed are very real, and a candid conversation about them must be allowed to take place if Christians are to speak credibly in the contemporary world."
Stephen Fowl
— Loyola University Maryland
"In clear prose reflecting his deep reading, Kent Sparks delivers an approach to Scripture that is driven by his unstinting attention to the most troubling and disturbing texts in the Bible. This careful and thoughtful investigation is designed to bring Christian students face to face with 'texts of terror' and to provide them with theological resources for moving forward in faith and with integrity."
Evangelical Quarterly
"This is a helpful book for committed believers, but also perhaps for all sincere wrestlers with the scriptures as the Word of God."
Journal for the Study of the New Testament
"Spark's book is valuable because it represents a candid wrestle with notoriously complex issues without folding into well-work solutions offered by opposing sides of the debate. Sparks adopts an ecumenical tone, further adding to the appeal of a book which will be appreciated by all those interested in theological interpretation of Scripture."
Choice (American Library Association)
"Sparks invites readers, especially those of a more conservative nature who are troubled by much that they read in the Bible, to enter carefully into an open reading of the Bible, which, despite its brokenness, points its reading to God. Recommended."