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Book Review – Truth Matters

April 29, 2014

Recently a new book called Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World[1]was released. The combination of the authors was unique. Andreas Köstenberger, who is best known for his theological work on the Apostle John – both his writings and his life – was paired with Darrell Bock, a conservative theologian and professor from Dallas Theological Seminary. Rounding out the Köstenberger and Bock duo was Josh Chatraw, a pastor from Georgia. It was this unique combination which grabbed my attention and created the desire to read the book.

After considering the authors, title and subtitle, I expected a book rich with theological truths with solid support. Reading the back cover seemed to validate my initial impression. So when I cracked the cover, I was excited to read solid piece of theological work written in common vernacular for the everyday reader. I was shocked and disappointed with the actual content.

Truth Matters should be retitled An Ambush of Bart Ehrmann and Blind Faith. Before going further, I will set the record clear on several points. First, I appreciate and respect the work Köstenberger has done about John’s life and writings. While not always agreeing with him, the work he does in those works is solid and excellent. I will continue to read material he releases on the topic. Second, I am not a fan of Bock. No particular reason other than his writing to me feels arrogant. Even when I agree with a position he lays out, I find myself disliking the fact I agree with him. Third, I know absolutely nothing about Chatraw so I have no bias towards him. Last, I am not a fan of Bart Ehrmann’s work. I feel Ehhrmann cherry-picks scripture with the best of Christian cherry-pickers. But Ehrmann and his work must be looked at objectively because he is a huge influence in this area.

No mention in the title, subtitle, and back cover allude to the coming text which is essentially a bash on Bart Ehrmann and the academia. Interlaced between sound theology are things like, “When you walk into a college class on religion, biblical history, or any of the more philosophical subjects, it likely is the case that the professor has a skeptical perspective.”[2] These learned scholars and pastor and using a cheap scare tactic in the opening of the book to get the reader to buy the goods they are selling. This is not healthy instruction, but baiting the student with fear to believe them.

As you begin to settle into reading the book you realize this book is not about how much truth matters, but it’s about taking a point of Ehrmann and then countering it. Snide snipes are taken at Ehrmann’s positions. The authors act as if Ehrmann is a fool for seeing things in the way he does. This condescending and snide language leads me to believe the authors feel threatened by Ehrmann’s claims and find the easiest way to lessen the impact of them is to degrade the man.

This book is a severe disappointment. Instead of interacting professionally with Ehrmann’s stronger points, these three men reduce their book to attempting to prove Ehrmann is incorrect through negative, amateurish tactics and personal attacks. I will remind you here that I am not a fan of Ehrmann, nor do I believe his school of thought. But Ehrmann has some good points which need to be addressed in a competent and professional manner. Bart Ehrmann is not the threat he is made out to be in this book. He is an educated man searching for the same thing we are – God. He feels God is no longer there to be found, we differ with that. Let’s interact with that. No need for snide remarks or behavior akin to playground antics.

All of this being said; I emphatically do not recommend this book. I will not be adding it to our church library. Search for a better book on the topic. This book is not “an enriching lifesaver for curious young minds and hearts everywhere.”[3] Leave it on the shelf in the store and let it collect dust.

[1] Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw. Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World. (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2014).

[2] Köstenberger, Bock, and Chatraw, 20

[3] Köstenberger, Bock, and Chatraw, Back Cover

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