Sunday, July 31, 2016

Book Review: "Hard Sayings" by Trent Horn

Trent Horn's Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties is an intelligent, well-nuanced response to all those critical of the Church's claim that the Bible is completely free from error.

In the course of just over 300 pages, Horn takes the reader through a tour-de-force of biblical difficulties. In the process of answering these difficulties he illuminates 17 rules for Bible reading that will keep us from reaching wrong interpretive conclusions as well as pointing the way to answering questions posed by others.

What kind of matters does Horn tackle? The work is divided into answering three kinds of objections raised against Scripture:

1) External difficulties - where the Bible appears to make statements at odds with today's science or independent historical records. Examples:

  • Genesis' seven days of creation are at odds with the theory of evolution 
  • In Leviticus 11:13-19 bats are mistakenly identified as a type of birds
  • The Bible teaches the existence of mythical creatures such as unicorns (Job 39:9-10).
  • Lack of archaeological evidences disproves the Exodus narrative.

2) Internal difficulties - where one passage of the Bible seems to contradict another passage. Examples:

  • Differences between the different gospels' accounts of Jesus' baptism and resurrection.
  • Differences in the lists of the twelve apostles (Matt 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16).
  • Did Jesus expel the money changers from the Temple at the beginning (John 2:11-25) or end (Matthew, Mark, Luke) of His public ministry?
  • The Bible's use of anthropomorphic language, such as attributing a human emotion, jealousy, to God.

3) Moral difficulties - where God appears to command or endorse a moral evil. Examples:

  • Capital punishment for crimes such as adultery
  • The Bible's "endorsement" of slavery (Ephesians 6:5-8)
  • Uzzah's death when he touched the Ark of the Covenant, in the attempt to keep it from falling (2 Sam. 6:7)
  • God's apparent command to destroy not just enemy combatants in war, but women and children (Deut. 20:16-18;  1 Sam. 15:3)

These are just a handful of the issues that Horn tackles in each of these sections. His responses are meticulously referenced and, although his book seems to addresses all of the difficulties that I have either personally wrestled with or heard raised, Horn's notes and bibliography (eleven pages) point the way for anyone wanting to study these matters in even greater depth. Horn does not offer definitive solutions to every scriptural difficulty examined; in some cases he proposes different solutions, some more probable than others, and wisely leaves readers free to arrive at their own conclusions. 

One comes away from this book with a deep appreciation for the Catholic Church's manner of reading Scripture. It wisely navigates between the opposing errors of biblical fundamentalism on the one hand and the impugning of Scripture's inerrancy on the other. Trent Horn has crafted an expert primer for tackling the apparent difficulties within the pages of the Bible, and I heartily recommend making a place for his Hard Sayings on your shelf.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

THIS MONDAY, AUGUST 22nd - My Return Visit to EWTN's "The Journey Home"

Believe me, no one is more surprised than me. Marcus Grodi came across my The Epistle to the Hebrews and The Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics, liked it, and invited me to come back on the program to share some of the content with viewers. We filmed the episode this past week, and it will air on Monday, August 22, at 8 p.m. Eastern/ 7 p.m. Central. Hope you can tune in or catch it later on YouTube. We discuss Hebrews 10:19-25 as the "New Testament Plan of Salvation" as well as how the author of Hebrews finds the Word of God in not just Scripture, but Tradition. I recall us also jumping into a discussion of the Church Fathers. Please pray that it is received well by those who see it.