Bob Santos. The Touchpoint: Connecting with God Through the Bible. Indiana, PA: Search for Me Ministries, Inc., 2016. See here to purchase the book.
I read and reviewed Bob Santos’ The Divine Progression of Grace over a year ago and found it to be a thoughtful and edifying book. When I learned about Santos’ new book, The Touchpoint, I wanted to read it.
The Touchpoint is essentially about the Bible. Why is the Bible important for the Christian life? How can believers have confidence that the Bible is credible? How can Christians read and study the Bible, and make time to do so? In the course of these discussions, Santos addresses hot-button issues, such as whether the Bible is inerrant, the historicity of the creation accounts in Genesis 1-2, and Christian abuses of Scripture.
The things that I liked about The Divine Progression of Grace are the things that I like about The Touchpoint. Santos is honest about his personal and spiritual journey. The Touchpoint seemed to have even more personal anecdotes than The Divine Progression of Grace, and this humanized Santos and enabled him to make a connection with me as a reader. The prose of the book was easy to understand, and yet it was not the sort of book that I could binge read. I read fifty pages a day and let that digest, for the book was rich and weighty. And, overall, Santos attempts to be fair and balanced towards different perspective and to understand people’s struggles and challenges when it comes to making time and effort to study the Bible.
There were passages in the book that I especially appreciated. I could identify with Santos’ statement that he was a good student but that he struggled in making life decisions, and that this was why he relied on God and the Bible. On page 247, Santos said that he has to prove himself in his vocation by working “at speaking with meaning and clarity,” but “when it comes to my personal identity, I don’t need to prove anything to anybody,” for “My ‘work’ is simply to believe.” Santos’ use of the analogy of skin and bones to highlight the roles of objective truth and subjective experience in the Christian life was effective, and his discussion of how the Gospel humbles peoples so that they will have humility in heaven was illuminating.
There was one area in which Santos’ point provoked a new insight within me, even though that new insight may go beyond what Santos intended. I have long been skeptical of Christians who claim that they receive their interpretation of Scripture from the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, such a stance implies that their interpretation has a certitude that it actually lacks. Plus, some of these interpretations contradict each other, so do we want to say that God gives contradictory interpretations of Scripture? Santos himself contends that people should ask God for guidance when reading Scripture, for spiritual truths are spiritually ascertained. At the same time, Santos states that people should ask God to help them see what God wants them to see, to learn what God wants them to learn. That, in my mind, is different from the notion that God gives believers divinely-sanctioned interpretations of Scripture. God can guide people and use the Bible and other media to do so, even if God does not provide people with the final, unassailable interpretation of a biblical verse.
In terms of critiques, Santos at times seemed to contradict himself, sometimes in his attempts to balance out certain perspectives. He proposed that the contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 may indicate that the creation accounts were not intended to be scientific, yet later he treats Adam and Eve as historical figures, although many scientists dispute that all of humanity descended from two people who lived six thousand years ago. In one place, Santos said that fulfilled prophecy attests to the truth of the Bible, and he trotted out the usual texts in the Hebrew Bible that many Christians believe predict Jesus. I wondered if Santos was aware that these passages appear to mean something different in their original contexts. He later indicated that he was aware of this issue, for he said that Christians should not necessarily approach the Old Testament as the New Testament authors did. Such contradictions did leave an unevenness in the book; at the same time, Santos may have been attempting to offer food for thought rather than giving the final comprehensive answer to these complex questions.
Overall, the apologetics parts of the book were all right, albeit subject to critique. There was a lot of emphasis in the book on text criticism, but Santos did not really engage Bart Ehrman, who argues that ancient Christians did alter New Testament texts to accord with their religious views. Santos was rather dismissive of higher critics, when their insights demonstrate that there is another side to the story besides what Santos presents. Santos provided an actual argument that the creed in I Corinthians 15:3-7 originated within a decade after the death of Jesus, whereas many apologists simply assert that. Santos’ reference to Sir William Ramsay, who in the nineteenth century converted from being a skeptic about the Book of Acts to accepting its historicity, was intriguing.
In my opinion, Santos’ personal or anecdotal arguments for Christianity were more appealing than his apologetic arguments. Santos contends that people are looking for love, hope, and something to believe in, and he believes that the God of the Bible can meet these needs. Santos also states that he has seen the life-transforming power of God in his own and other people’s lives.
This book is not comprehensive, but it is a Christian man sharing his experiences and insights in studying the Bible. Seeing how another person does this can be helpful.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash, in exchange for an honest review.