This Just In: The Bible Made Impossible – in Paperback

The Bible Made ImpossibleIncludes a new afterword from Christian Smith addressing the reception of his book.

Biblicism, an approach to the Bible common among some American evangelicals, emphasizes together the Bible’s exclusive authority, infallibility, clarity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability. Acclaimed sociologist Christian Smith argues that this approach is misguided and unable to live up to its own claims. Far from challenging the inspiration and authority of Scripture, Smith critiques a particular rendering of it, encouraging evangelicals to seek a more responsible, coherent, and defensible approach to biblical authority.

This important book has generated lively discussion and debate. The paperback edition adds a new chapter responding to the conversation that the cloth edition has sparked.

Praise for The Bible Made Impossible:
2011 Jesus Creed Book of the Year
Named a “Best Book of 2011” by Englewood Review of Books

“Buy this book, read it slowly and carefully, and ponder it . . . because this book is a very serious call for us to develop a more robust approach to the Bible.” –Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed blog

“One of the best books on how Christians should approach the Bible. . . . I heartily recommend [it] to every follower of Jesus.” –Frank Viola, Beyond Evangelical blog

The Bible Made Impossible is a friendly, albeit frank (and with no pulling of punches), confrontation. One that every thoughtful Evangelical Bible reader should agree to accept. This is a must read! Buy [it,] read it, discuss it. I’ll keep mulling it over myself.” –Joel Willitts, Euangelion blog

“I loved this book, and finished it on a single plane ride. Rather than discounting the authority and inspiration of Scripture, Smith provides better, more constructive and honest ways of reading it that put Christ at the center of our faith as the Word made flesh.” –Rachel Held Evans, blog (

An Excerpt from the New Afterword:

Assertions without Evidence

Another favorite strategy of critics of The Bible Made Impossible has been to offer forceful assertions against the book without providing a shred of evidence to back those assertions up. The hope seems to be that simply saying something is so will make it so without any need to explain or justify the claim. It is not very convincing for those not already convinced. I suspect, however, that this strategy is often used not to seriously engage the book’s argument or convince the unconvinced, but rather merely to reinforce the views of followers already convinced and to immunize potential readers from ever picking up the book. Its success relies heavily on the presence of an existing in-group agreement about certain ideas, such that all a reviewer needs to do is simply assert the belief, with no justification, and everyone in the community can be counted on to nod in agreement. So, for example, some critics of my book have asserted that biblicism as I describe it could very well be reasonably expected to produce or accommodate pervasive interpretive pluralism, that the latter is no problem for the former, but they provide literally no explanation of or evidence for how or why that could be so. The claim is just asserted and left.

Such critics are not actually arguing against the case in the book, but ignoring it and restating their preferred position. They are using my book not as the basis of a serious debate but rather as a convenient platform on which to stand to pronounce their already-established truths that are immune from critique. Oftentimes critics, having plunked down their undefended assertions, then immediately change the subject to another point of negative reaction, thereby suggesting that the matter is settled–when in fact it has not yet been engaged. Stated plainly, this is a diversionary tactic designed to survive and win (within tight communities of like-minded believers), not any real argument meriting respect.

©2012 by Christian Smith. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.