Published by Westminster John Knox Press on March 27th 2015
Millions of people around the world look to the Bible as a source of encouragement and faith formation, a reminder that God is love and is in control, and a guide to living one's life the way God desires. But this treasured book has also been misused and manipulated by many, placed on a pedestal of untouchability, and protected from questioning and honest engagement. In 'Permission Granted', Jennifer Grace Bird encourages people of faith to explore the texts on their own, freed from long-held myths and misconceptions.
I really wanted to like this. Before I review, I’m going to give a very short idea of where I’m coming from compared to religion. Two years ago I considered myself an atheist. There are way too many things in the world that I cannot explain with just science so I decided atheism was not the way for me. Agnostic is what I’ve professed for quite some time. Recently, last Sunday to be exact, I was baptized in a Christian church. They call it a First Century church. I’ve been curious about the bible and the stories in it, but more importantly about Jesus’s message, my entire life. I believe in love and Jesus was the epitome of love.
Now, for this book… I do not think that Jennifer Grace Bird has any negative thoughts in her mind, really, but as a new Christian much of this threw me off and actually led me away from wanting to be a christian. One reason for being a christian is to be a loving, helpful person, to help others and by the grace of God to do work that helps others but praises him. In this book I got none of that.
I did really enjoy the beginning. So much so that I was wishing I had a print copy. I wanted to highlight and write in the book and make copious notes! And then we got to portions of the bible, which yes are a bit more negative. Jennifer wound up putting a spin onto it so much that I did not understand what exactly to even believe. As I said above, I am a very new Christian and although I realize there are some things in the bible that I do not like, there are also things in life that I do not like. I’m not trying to be naive about how they used to treat women (and in some countries still do), I am just saying that although this is chock full of information I constantly questioned where Jennifer was trying to go with this.
If I remember correctly (I set this down some time ago) she professes to be a christian. I think she does this in multiple places. One thing that my pastor tells his congregation is that you should never, never have to tell someone you are a christian. You should be so loving that it emanates from your being. Now, I get that not at all times can we be like this. Life can be very hard but that is what we are striving to be like, Christ-like. That said, Jennifer Grace Bird’s rendition here on how to take the bible does not seem to be in a loving mind. I cannot get passed many of the ideas of how we are supposed to just disregard much of what is in the bible. That is not what the bible is for. Yes, we live in an age where we are 2,000 years in the future from Christ but we can be Christ-like without disregarding the entire bible.
Maybe I am coming from the wrong place for this. It seems that it was written for Christians that know where she is coming from, which obviously I do not. I think it is important to note that I really do not believe that she has any hostile intentions but each person reading this would have to determine for themselves how much of what she says they do or do not want to believe. As with everything put it up against the bible and see where it stands. I just do not think I am quite ready for that.
Recommended to those that are secure and understand Christianity already. Would not recommend to new Christians.