Having read many books in the Questions Christians Ask series from The Good Book Company; Can I Really Trust the Bible is the tidiest book yet. Author Barry Cooper addresses many objections that critics ask throughout this entry. He does this while weaving a unified theme of Pooh Bear (yes, this book is filled with subtle humor) to illustrate that until one “Tastes and sees that God is good” and experience the Bible for themselves they will never truly trust scripture. Knowing all the arguments for or against the Bible are not enough because they only supplement the validity of scripture’s truth. Therefore, Cooper appeals to the nihilistic philosophy of our day and provides reasons of experience to persuade his readers to take the Bible at its word.
Some would criticize Cooper’s approach to relying on one’s experience to really learn if the Bible can be trusted. However, Can I Trust the Bible? is not a book that depends only on experiences to determine one’s personal faith journey. Rather, Cooper also provides tangible arguments to ground his claims for the validity of scripture. An argument that stood out from the book was how he connects the Old Testament with the New Testament. He mentions that the word testament is really another word for covenant and that the two testaments are two halves of the same story. His biblical approach to theology is important because he grounds his basis for scriptures validity in facts, while displaying how this fact can enhance one’s experience with the Bible. Admiring the poetic and detailed nature of God, who carefully weaved redemption throughout humanities history, one can see He planned it from the start. As a result, this combination of fact and experience leaves readers in awe of the Bible and more in love with God. His planned story of redemption can be seen on each page.
Cooper continues to argue for the validity of scripture by encouraging people to make sure they worship the God of the Bible than the book itself. Simply he writes, “God makes himself known through Jesus, who is revealed in the Bible.” Here he is distinguishing between the Word and the word. This is not just a semantic of grammar. No, he is advocating that one must remember that the word of God (the Bible) points us to the Word of God (Jesus Christ), and there is a huge difference. Failure to see this nuance can cause one to worship a book more than a risen Savior. Now these two “words” are not in competition with another. Rather, they compliment each other as it’s Jesus alone who is worthy of worship and the Bible tells one how. Similar to the time of Christ, Cooper writes,
“That’s why he lambasts the Bible scholars of his day: they spend their lives studying the Scriptures, but they won’t allow the Scriptures to lead them to the person the Scriptures speak of. They want the word, but they do not want the Word.”
Remember both the word and the Word compliment another, but scripture is always submissive to Christ without contradiction because it points to Jesus who is the hope on which the Bible is founded on. Therefore, the Bible (the word) can be trusted by trusting Christ who is the Word. Failure to trust in Christ, which the Bible gives record of will cause anyone to doubt the Bible’s overall validity because He too has to be experienced.
As one reads the books in the Questions Christians Ask series it’s important to remember they are written for Christians. This is important to remember with Can I Trust the Bible? because a skeptic would find fault with Cooper’s reasoning. They would call it circular logic, which the book does contain. However, Cooper prepares for such a criticism by saying, “it’s impossible for any of us to avoid this kind of circularity in our arguments.” In other words, each of us holds a set of biases about what we believe, even if we admit it or not. If Cooper is correct in his presupposition about our biases then it stands to reason that not only does circular logic exist, but the only way to see past our biases is to try new things. The Bible then would be no different and would leave people to their own experiences of faith to determine if they are going to trust scripture or continue to reason their way out of taking a leap of faith.
It was important that Cooper wrote Can I Trust the Bible? very well because this is the foundation book in the Questions Christians Ask series. After all, since every other book in this series uses the Bible as the foundation for its worldview then it would be critical that we can trust the Bible. Otherwise, every other book in this series is invalidated. Despite this large task, Cooper got Can I Trust the Bible? right. He wrote a book that is rooted in fact, yet dynamic enough for anyone, Christian or not, to desire to simply trust the truths scripture makes. He did this by including some basic apologetics and historical facts, while encouraging each person to experience the Bible’s truthfulness for their own life. Therefore, one can ask, “Can I trust the Bible?” Factually the answer is yes, but the point Cooper makes is really, “Are you willing to trust the Bible in your own experience?” That’s a question and an answer that is up to each person. As parents tell kids when they want them to try new food, “Why don’t you ‘taste and see.’” Spiritually when you do, this book suggests you will know and experience that “The Lord is good.” It’s now up to you.
(I received this book through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review of the book.)
 Psalm 34:6