April 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Men’s style magazine GQ has included the Bible in a list of historically and culturally significant books that are supposedly unworthy of “well-read” reader’s attention.
The piece, titled “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read,” consists of entries written by GQ editors and various other writers selecting “Great Books” they claim have not “aged well,” along with suggestions for what to read in their place. “Some are racist and some are sexist, but most are just really, really boring,” the introduction says.
Among the works the authors disapprove are Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, multiple books by acclaimed authors Ernest Hemingway and J.D. Salinger, and historian David McCullough’s biography of Founding Father John Adams. In the number 12 spot, novelist Jesse Ball adds the Bible.
“The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it,” Ball claims. While conceding it has “some good parts,” he maintains that “overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”
“It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned,” Ball continues. He does not elaborate on any of these accusations.
Instead, he suggests that readers interested only in the Bible’s “nasty bits” check out The Notebook by Agota Kristof, which he describes as “a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough,” which is marked by “subtlety and cruelty.”
The dubious honor earned GQ swift rebukes from religious and secular perspectives alike.
“I guess they can’t explain why the Bible is the best-selling and most widely distributed book in the world,” evangelist Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook. “Recent estimates put the number that have been distributed since 1815 at more than 5 BILLION copies—and over 100 million are printed every year!”
Ball’s assessment “is understandable coming from a secular person who has never read the Bible with an intent to hear, never studied even a small part, in all its complexity, to understand what is going on in its pages,” Union University Bible professor George Guthrie told the Baptist Press. “To collapse the majesty of the Psalms, or the counter-cultural, creative, sacrificial ministry of Jesus, or the bizarre but breathtaking vision of Revelation into a tag of 'foolish' or 'ill-intentioned' is sadly laughable.”
Cold-Case Christianity author J. Warner Wallace responded to the piece in greater detail at Townhall.com, noting that his investigation of the Bible during his days as an atheist convinced him there was nothing racist, sexist, or boring about its messages. In fact, he said, rather than “self-contradiction,” the minor variations in the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus Christ were “just as I would expect if they were reliable eyewitness accounts.”
“According to the Bible, God created humans – all humans – in His image (Genesis 1:27), and unlike the rest of us, God doesn’t judge people based on their outward appearance, but instead ‘looks on the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7),” Wallace wrote. Further, its “teaching about the value, status and identity of women, written two millennia prior to modern feminist movements, once again makes the Bible worth reading.”
Tim Swarens of The Indianapolis Star argued that even those who disbelieve Christianity should recognize the historical and cultural importance of reading the Bible. “From Michelangelo's Pieta to Handel's Messiah to C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, it's impossible without at least a cursory knowledge of the Bible to appreciate the inspiration behind art that continues to capture the imagination and admiration of millions,” he wrote.
Swarens added that the U.S. Declaration of Independence’s statement that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their creator” with “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are “rooted in the biblical concept that all humans are created in God's image.”
“I'd argue that the same idea was the inspirational and philosophical bedrock of the Abolitionist and Civil Rights movements,” he said. “Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist preacher; to truly understand his work and writing, you have to read the book that most inspired him.”