In Abused, Obscured, or Misused Scripture, author and “average Joe” Steven Paul aims to offer a number of scripturally based—and traditionally Catholic— insights that challenge some contemporary and liberal interpretations of the Bible. Using a number of different English biblical translations, Paul looks to illuminate basic faith, tradition and practice, offering direction to those who may feel dizzy in a world where cultural, political and religious landscapes seem to be changing by the minute.
Early in the book, Paul covers such hot button topics as divorce, homosexuality, and abortion and offers a series of short, pointed arguments that are socially conservative in tone: Divorce is prohibited unless there are extenuating circumstances; homosexuality is unnatural, and abortion is wrong. Although these beliefs may unsettle some readers, these are tenets of many Christian denominations, and Paul’s intent here is to defend them.
Controversial issues aside, Paul goes on to discuss myriad other subjects, such as the theology of the Trinity, the difference between good and bad angels, the Sabbath, the moral risks of tattooing and piercing one’s body, images of the serpent in the Old and New Testament, mercy, and Jesus’ miracle of feeding the masses. Essentially, he upholds traditional thinking on each subject, although he is quick to point out that much confusion around these topics has resulted from the way the Bible has been translated over the years.
The author has an informal, conversational style that makes primarily for easy reading. Still, the book feels more like a collection of thoughts than a work of clearly defined theses. This gives the book an uneven quality that leads to an unsettled reading experience. : The chapter “Time,” for example, is abstract and seems to lack a focus, yet, the chapter “All Kinds of Angels” is thoughtful and well-articulated.
Bottom line: Conservative thinkers will sympathize much with Paul, but the book needs more editorial shaping before it can reach its widest audience.
Also available as an ebook.