It is no secret that some of the most fervid theological liberals tend to be former evangelicals. Evangelical-turned-agnostic Bart Ehrman has vindicated that truism with books like Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted, both of which seek to discredit biblical inerrancy by popularizing critical studies of scripture. Thom Stark describes himself as a former fundamentalist, and his book The Human Faces of God belongs to the Ehrman-genre, though with at least one significant difference. Despite the Bible’s many deficiencies, Stark wants to retain the Bible’s privileged place as Christian scripture. Even though Stark views the Bible as shot through with error and contradiction, he nevertheless thinks that it is an important book. “This Holy Bible is also my book because I continue to choose it. For everything I loathe about it, there is at least one thing I love about it: it has the power to show me who I am… we see the aspiration, desires, insecurities, and utter obliviousness of humanity” (242). For Stark, the errors and foibles of the Bible are a reflection of the fallen human condition, and that rings true with him.
Stark makes no claim to be breaking new ground in The Human Faces of God. He does not aim “to advance knowledge within academic circles”; rather, he intends to reach a “wide audience” through the popularization of well-worn arguments (xvii). From the start, Stark has the 1979 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) in his crosshairs: “This book is an argument against that doctrine, particularly as articulated by the Chicago Statement, and it is an argument in favor of a different, more ancient way of reading the books that comprise the Bible” (xvi). Stark hopes his book will speak to Christians who struggle with biblical inerrancy and who have not found answers to their questions about the Bible. Stark wants them to know an “alternative way of being Christian”—a way that vehemently rejects the Bible as inerrant (xviii).