God Speaks gives a general overview of the Bible.
The only thing I liked about this book was the cover. Inside, the content ranges from self-defeating to boring.
The three main problems with the book are poor writing, content that is too basic, and errant claims. Let’s examine each from bad to worst.
The writing style is a nightmare. It’s drier than the Sahara Desert. I have never read a book before that was so dull. Furthermore, the sentences are unclear and contain errors in grammar. Sometimes the author uses the passive voice which sounds overly academic and impersonal.
The tone is condescending and insulting. This made the book so much harder to read since the content is too basic but at the same time addresses me as if I know nothing.
Just one example is that while suggesting further reading, God Speaks discourages readers from being serious Bible scholars when it hints that we’re only laymen and need to be protected from getting into anything too difficult.
The back cover of the book names the target audience as anyone familiar or unfamiliar with the Bible. In the introduction, though, Evans says most readers will be surprised to learn that the Bible really isn’t full of dos and don’ts, and, “Maybe this old book—the Bible—is not irrelevant after all,” and, “My hope is that you will recognize that the Bible is not an old book full of myths that no longer have meaning.”
If you are even a little familiar with the Bible, you will learn nothing from this book. God Speaks merely summarizes the Bible, and with lesser language at that.
At the time I read God Speaks, I was 75% finished reading through the entire Bible for the first time. From that alone, I already knew most of what I read in God Speaks. My recommendation is, read the Bible itself. You don’t need someone to tell you what’s in it. God Speaks only reiterates what’s in the Bible, and then goes on to interpret it incorrectly.
God Speaks insults Christians who believe parts of the Bible such as the creation story are indeed literal. It says, “Taking the same literalistic approach to the creation story as a whole, some conservative readers believe it is necessary to reject the findings of science, claiming, instead, that planet Earth is only six or seven thousand years old.”
Contrary to Evan’s belief, literalist Christians do not reject science. They use science to prove their points. For examples, head over to Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and read about the science of Creation. Learn about the research ICR is doing and why they believe in a young earth. I also highly recommend reading what Answers in Genesis has to say on the subject.
I disagree with the author’s stance, but I would have been happier if he had taken the time to fairly represent both sides of the issues. Instead, he dismisses my point of view out of hand and throws in an insult.
Evans claims the Creation story is a metaphor or a parable, and in doing so he discredits the entire Bible. Adam and Eve’s creation and the subsequent Fall of Mankind sets up the entire story told in the Bible. Without the Fall, there would be no need for the redemption that came when Jesus died to pay for our sins. If we are not to accept these stories in the Bible as truth, what parts of it can we trust? The author fails to mention that the Bible itself says these stories are true; writers of later books in the Bible reference Genesis as fact.
Another problem occurs on page 29, which says, “Set in this period is the beautiful story in the book of Ruth, which informs readers of David’s immediate ancestors. Some scholars regard Ruth as quite possibly the world’s first novel.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but a novel is a work of fiction, right? Then how could the book of Ruth inform us of the ancestors of David, who was a real person? In reality, Ruth is not fiction. Ruth cannot be fiction or both David and Jesus are fiction since they were Ruth’s descendants.
Yet another problem is when Evans claims the sayings in Proverbs are not all that deep or learned. Is the author claiming to be wiser than King Solomon? Evans says Proverbs merely reminds us what is wise, which contradicts his earlier statement because what is wise is never shallow.
Evans sometimes makes claims and fails to cite sources. Sometimes he’ll mention evidence, but never tells us what it is or where it came from. God Speaks uses poor reasoning and bad evidence even in proof of things that are true.
Evans says that if we aren’t careful when examining the meaning of Scripture, we’ll come up with something false and misleading. The irony is, this is the very thing he does throughout the entire book.
I expected this book to be good and was completely taken by surprise. I read probably a third of the book and then skimmed the rest. Out of the 230 books I’ve marked as read on Goodreads so far, this is the only one I’ve abandoned.
What I recommend instead:
With wit and wisdom, Howard Hendricks and son write about how to read and study the Bible for yourself.
For a concise and eye-opening introduction to the tenets of Christianity, read C.S. Lewis’s classic, Mere Christianity.
In Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung explains how we can know the Bible is true, reliable, and relevant.