How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How An Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather Than Answers—and Why That’s Great News

Book, 2019, 292 pp
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The Bible is not an instruction manual or rule book but a powerful learning tool that nurtures our spiritual growth by refusing to provide us with easy answers but instead forces us to acquire wisdom.

For many Christians, the Bible is a how-to manual filled with literal truths about belief that must be strictly followed. But the Bible is not static, Peter Enns argues. It does not hold easy answers to the perplexing questions and issues that confront us in our daily lives. Rather, the Bible is a dynamic instrument for study that not only offers an abundance of insights but provokes us to find our own answers to spiritual questions, cultivating God’s wisdom within us.

“The Bible becomes a confusing mess when we expect it to function as a rulebook for faith. But when we allow the Bible to determine our expectations, we see that Wisdom, not answers, is the Bible’s true subject matter,” writes Enns. This distinction, he points out, is important because when we come to the Bible expecting it to be a textbook intended by God to give us unwavering certainty about our faith, we are actually creating problems for ourselves. The Bible, in other words, really isn’t the problem; having the wrong expectation is what interferes with our reading.

Rather than considering the Bible as an ancient book weighed down with problems, flaws, and contradictions that must be defended by modern readers, Enns offers a vision of the holy scriptures as an inspired and empowering resource to help us better understand how to live as a person of faith today.

How the Bible Actually Works makes clear that there is no one right way to read the Bible. Moving us beyond the damaging idea that “being right” is the most important measure of faith, Enns’s freeing approach to Bible study helps us to instead focus on pursuing enlightenment and building our relationship with God—which is exactly what the Bible was designed to do.

“Brilliant, wise, sarcastic, and disarmingly profound. If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with the Bible, wondering not only what it is but what it’s for and how to read it, let alone why bother, then allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite Bible teachers.” - Sarah Bessey, author of Out of Sorts and Jesus Feminist

“Seldom will you encounter such a fine combination of historical scholarship, interesting reading, and clever humor in one Biblical study. And then filled with faith and hope besides!” - Fr. Richard Rohr, author of Falling Upward

“Inviting, accessible, lively, provocative and best of all, highly educational, Peter Enns new book will clear up many misunderstandings you have about the most important book in the world and, in the process, move you closer to the book’s ultimate focus: God.” - James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and The Jesuit Guide

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