Embarrassed by the Bible? Author Brian Cosby Talks About the Importance of Reading the Bible Wholistically

Brian Cosby

Brian Cosby is Senior Pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA) on Signal Mountain, TN and Visiting Professor of Church History at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA. He holds degrees from Samford University (B.A.), Beeson Divinity School (M.Div.), and Australian College of Theology (Ph.D.), and is the author of a number of books, including: Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture, Suffering and Sovereignty: John Flavel and the Puritans on Afflictive Providence, God's Story: A Student's Guide to Church History, and When You Are Weak: How Boasting in Jesus Makes You Strong.  

With his writing endorsed by J.I. Packer, Russell Moore, Kent Hughes, Timothy George, Michael Card, Tim Challies and many more, Cosby has also contributed chapters/articles to books with Baker Academic and Eerdmans, as well as The Gospel Coalition, Modern Reformation, Credo Magazine, Evangelical Times, Relevant Magazine, Westminster Theological Journal, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, among many others. 

Cosby and his wife Ashley reside in Tennessee with their three children. 

Hallels:  Brian, thanks for doing this interview with us.  Why don't you start off by telling us about yourself and the church you serve in? 

I was born and raised in Signal Mountain, TN, just outside of Chattanooga. I moved away for twelve years (for school and pastoral ministry) before being called back to my hometown in 2012 to serve as the senior pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA). I count it a privilege to labor here with a people who love expository preaching, teaching, and Christ-exalting worship. They have been very gracious and patient with me, especially as a young pastor. 

Hallels:  What prompted you to write this new book that deals with reading the Bible wholistically?   

I first noticed my own "functional embarrassment" of the Bible while rereading Psalm 139. Parts of the Psalm are underlined and highlighted in my Bible (from previous readings), but other parts weren't. As I read text, I noticed myself wanting to skip over the uncomfortable parts of the Psalm. I then wondered if this proclivity to ignore certain passages in Scripture was actually a greater problem in my heart and in the church at large. I wondered, "Are we embarrassed by the whole counsel of God?" It's when I began researching this trend that I realized how prevalent the censorship of the Bible really is, even among those who profess it to be the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative Word of God. 

Hallels:  In the first part of the book you talked about being embarrassed by parts of the Bible, what are some ways Christians are embarrassed by the Bible today? 

There are a number of ways that we are, what I call "functionally embarrassed" by Scripture. I say "functionally," because many of us don't want to be embarrassed, but we must be honest with ourselves. We do this when we ignore reading these difficult texts-both privately and publically in worship. We do this when we think of Noah's flood all about the cute, fluffy animals and not about God's judgment. We do this when we only care about John 3:16, but neglect study of the rest of Scripture. We do this when we only consider the love and grace of God, but not his justice and holiness. We do this when we replace "sin" with psycho-analytical words like brokenness, mistakes, and "oopsies."  In a thousand different ways, we censor the text and set ourselves up as the arbiters of truth, rather than God. 

Hallels:  You speak of the dangers of cherry picking truths out of Scripture, why is this dangerous?   

It's dangerous because a half-truth Christianity is no Christianity at all. We are not called to preach the half truth, but the whole truth. Truth isn't up for election. Not only does the censorship of Scripture dishonor the God of all truth, it can lead to an unbalanced and unhealthy faith. If there is no talk of "sin," there is not need for a Savior. If we neglect and ignore the reality of the "first Adam," in Genesis, we have undercut the biblical theology and need for the "last Adam," Jesus Christ. But at a deeper level, it's dangerous because we are wanting Scripture to conform and submit to our desires and thoughts, rather than conforming and submitting to it. There's a deeper issue of pride, which sets ourselves up in God's place.  

Hallels:  In your book you have looked at some specific parts of the Bible where Christians tend to be embarrassed about.  What are some of these passages you have dealt with in the book? 

It's hard to read any book of the Bible without encountering some rather "uncomfortable" texts. These difficult passages relate to God's full character (e.g., his sovereignty, holiness, and justice), God commanding Israel to wipe out whole groups of people, passages on slavery and the stoning of rebellious children, and passages related to why God's people didn't eat camels or pigs. Some of these texts are prayers that call down God's judgment on unbelievers. Others speak of strange events-the sun "standing still," the earth swallowing up sinners, Jonah being swallowed by a large fish, and even the resurrection of Christ. In one passage, two "she-bears" tear forty-two boys who were making fun of a bald man, Elisha. Ironically, many of Jesus' own teaching fall into this category as well. It's these kinds of passages that I address in the book.  

Hallels:  Who is the target audience for your book?  Will someone who has no seminary or Biblical training be able to understand this book?   

The target audience would be the self-professing Christian, though I hope that others might "listen in" on this problem of censorship. I have worked hard to make this book very accessible to a wide range of readers. Someone with no biblical training should have no problem understanding the content. Notwithstanding, the pastor or seminary student should find the content extremely helpful and relevant to a wide range of questions and issues that pastors and church leaders deal with every day in ministry-whether from their own church or the wider community of skeptics. 

Hallels:  What's next for you?  Are you already envisaging your next book and what will it be about? 

I have another book being released this October entitled A Christian's Pocket Guide to Suffering (Christian Focus Publications), which is a broader study than my previous historically-related book, Suffering and Sovereignty. I am also in talks with my literary agent, Chip MacGregor, about releasing a companion to my book, Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture, but for the church-at-large. So there are several ideas floating right now. 

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Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible by Brian Cosby is available Oct. 1 from David C Cook, and can be pre-ordered now at: 


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