An important new book …

Derek Flood’s new book Disarming Scripture has just been released this week, and has already received endorsements and accolades from some pretty big names: Walter Brueggemann, Jim Wallis, Peter Enns, and Steve Chalke to name a few.
Disarming Scripture deals with the problem of violence in Scripture, tackling a wide range of troubling passages–from commands to commit genocide and infanticide in the Old Testament to passages in the New Testament that have been used to justify slavery, child abuse, and state violence.
Moving beyond typical conservative and liberal approaches, which seek to either defend or whitewash over violence in the Bible, Disarming Scripture takes a surprising yet compelling approach: Learning to read the Bible like Jesus did.
Learn more here.
The following is my foreword from the book:
You need Derek Flood. You need his intelligence. You need his faithfulness. You need his courage. You need his insight. You need his message in this book. So do I.
Here’s why.
(after the jump)

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, more and more people are concerned about the linkage between religion and violence—especially when holy texts, whether the Quran or the Bible, are brought in to justify attack and revenge, torture and killing.
As we witness, in our lifetimes, hundreds of thousands of dead or damaged human beings … children, grandparents, women, and men killed or bereaved, dispossessed or marginalized … fewer and fewer of us are willing to affiliate with forms of religion that are used to bolster hatred and hostility.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of the planet depends in large measure on our success in disarming our sacred texts.
Many of us who are Christians are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the way some Christians use the Bible to defend and promote violence. We squirm and wince when we hear “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” or when popular televangelists urge politicians to “blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” We want to put the safety on the gun, so to speak, to disarm the ticking time bomb – to turn the sword into a plowshare. We want to find a way of reading the Bible that sends us into the world as peacemakers, reconcilers, bridge-builders, neighbor- and even enemy-lovers.
You probably don’t know Derek’s name yet. But you won’t forget it after you read this book. You might not agree with everything Derek says here. But after giving this book a thoughtful read, you probably won’t agree with everything you have always said and thought either.
Millions of people have been helped in millions of ways by reading the Bible in exactly the way that Derek exposes to critical thinking in this text. They have gained from the Bible reasons to get and stay married, to love their parents and children, to be good neighbors and honest employees, to avoid stealing and lying and cheating, and to support their local church. They have gained from the Bible comfort in distress, consolation in loss, and hope in the face of sickness and death.
Understandably, they fear that if they allow themselves to question their way of reading the Bible, all of these and other benefits they and others have gained will be lost to them.
As a result, they are, perhaps without realizing it, willing to allow continuing the “collateral damage” of war, torture, abuse, oppression and death among “them,” as long as the long-cherished benefits continue to flow to “us.” They want to keep benefitting from the “balm” of the Bible, even if the Bible is used to “bomb” others.
Derek wants to stop the damage to both us and them without losing the legitimate benefits that come from reading the Bible as a holy, God-given, inspired and inspiring text. He won’t ask you to throw out the Bible. Not at all: he is offering you a way to keep it—by disarming it.
You may have been told that there are only two ways to read the Bible: a “conservative” way that treats the text as God’s words, virtually dictated to humankind … or a “liberal” way that treats the text with a lot of “nothing buttery”—reducing it to nothing but a human text, nothing but a bunch of moralisms and myths, nothing but primitive superstitions.
If that’s what you’ve been told, you’ve either been intentionally lied to or unintentionally misinformed, and you’re about to discover a vital alternative: reading the Bible ethically, responsibly, wisely, maturely, and faithfully—unafraid to ask questions, but unwilling to “nothing butterize” something as wonderful, revelatory, and rich as the Bible.
Having been Derek’s friend and a believer in Derek’s work for several years now, I expected this book to be good. But it is even better than expected. One of the ways it surpassed my expectations—Derek’s irenic attitude towards those with whom he disagrees. He thus models not only a mind dedicated to disarming Scripture so that it can not so easily be used in harmful ways, but also a heart that is in the lifelong process of being similarly disarmed.
I come from a conservative Christian background – fundamentalist was a word that people from my church wore as a badge of honor. I remember what it felt like to read a book that questioned some of our “essentials,” as we called them. To even leaf through such a book, I would feel a combination of shame and terror … shame that I might be doing something wrong or sinful, and terror that if I ended up agreeing with the “outsider” book, I would be condemned and excommunicated by my community … and even worse, labeled with the worst of all possible epithets: liberal.
You may come from a more liberal Christian background, one where conservative was an equal and opposite epithet. In your tribe, preachers only talked about the nice and inspiring bits of the Bible. These they preached, put on calendars and church bulletins, all the while acting as if the other less uplifting parts weren’t there at all. Regarding the violent passages in the Bible, there was a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, something suspiciously similar to a cover-up.
Maybe you have gradually dispensed with the Bible altogether, treating it as a primitive and dangerous set of documents we’d be better off leaving in a dusty museum, closed and in a glass box. Yet you suspect that we may be making a mistake in this kind of wholesale dismissal. You wonder if the Bible can be disarmed and recovered.
If you identify with any of these emotions or responses, I want to encourage you all the more to read this book—for two reasons.
First, I believe that you are exactly the kind of person who needs this book and can benefit from it.
Second, I believe that when you are done with this book, you will love the Bible, God, and your faith more, not less, than you do right now.
So, take a deep breath and turn the page. It’s time to disarm Scripture.
Brian D. McLaren
Marco Island, Florida
Excerpt from the book Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood