You Can Handle the Truth

Sitting among my many books is You Can Handle the Truth by Chad Mansbridge. It was my pleasure to read this volume before publication. I am often asked to do this sort of thing and sometimes it is a pleasure–sometimes a chore. This time it was definitely a pleasure. You Can Handle the Truth is a brilliant introduction to hermeneutics. Christians young and old will enjoy it and learn from it.

I wish you had a copy of this book in your hands right now.

Concerned about the spread of various suspect teachings, I once wrote a book myself on hermeneutics (some 50 years ago!). I was convinced that if more people were more competent in fundamental principles of how to read the Bible, there would be less confusion and less deception.  It was a bold venture for its day but thankfully it has long since been lost in the cobwebs of time. Now Mansbridge’s publication has appeared I hope it stays there. His is infinitely better.

I wish you had a copy of this book in your hands right now. If so, there would be no need for me to say anything further. The author has clearly thought a lot about how such a volume should be presented and he has come up with a winner. All you have to do is open it at random, flick a few pages, and you will be hooked. The layout is creative and appealing. The pages are clean and open-spaced. Diagrams, charts and cartoons appear frequently. Even the chapter headings are innovative. Start reading anywhere and you will want to probe further.

Mansbridge is the lead pastor at Bayside Church in Victor Harbor, SA, an exciting and exuberant congregation of several hundred people. He is married to Jaye and father of four. The publishers describe him as ‘a loveable Aussie larrikin with an infectious zest for life.’ The first time I heard him speak was on a very hot day at the funeral service of a long-standing friend. It was obvious, even there, that there was an irrepressible faith behind what he was saying.

There is also a seriously practical side to his approach. In this book, Mansbridge addresses three basic questions about the Bible: What does it say? What does it mean? What does it matter? He covers each question with the use of biblical and experiential illustrations and then considers how they apply to given texts or passages. In the process, terms like exegesis, hermeneutics and homiletics are explained, together with much background information. Two young cartoon characters appear frequently: Timmy and Tammy (or Tim and Tam for short, whose names must inevitably stir the tastebuds of Aussie readers).

The author has a chatty manner and a winsome, inviting approach. While necessarily drawing on time-honoured principles, he offers plenty of examples of original thinking, creative illustration and contemporary application. For a Christian reading public used to brevity of expression and instant-fix solutions, Mansbridge has hit the mark. But he does not sell his readers short. He communicates clearly; he expands each point without waffle; he is straight to the point. This is a book for Christians both new and old: clear enough for newcomers to the Bible yet deep enough for long-time Scripture readers. I have no doubt you will relish it.

Mansbridge writes as a pastor for everyday Christians. By his own confession, he is not an academic and he cannot read the original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek. One has to say that in writing on this subject, having no knowledge of Greek, in particular, must of necessity be a drawback; but Mansbridge has obviously worked hard to compensate for this by wide reading, which is demonstrated by the hundreds of footnotes and a bibliography of over 50 titles, including well-known writers such as Fee, Piper and Wright (although he omits such classic authors as Bruce, Packer and Lloyd-Jones). Another person he might have consulted is Ken Chant, perhaps because his books, although widely circulated overseas, are not so well-known in his native Australia.

Over six decades of pastoral and teaching ministry, it has become obvious to me that one of the main reasons extremist and misleading teaching gets a go is misguided understanding or interpretation of Scripture. In other words, poor hermeneutics. In my early years as a Bible teacher, I gave many a class on this subject. Mansbridge’s volume is an excellent new publication on this theme.

Published this year by Living Letters Publishing, this is Mansbridge’s third book. It is accompanied by a seven-lesson video teaching program. If you are serious about reading and understanding the Bible, you need to secure a copy of You Can Handle the Truth.

Barry Chant, author and teacher.

You Can Handle the Truth is available from Koorong


Some prayer points to help

Let’s pray that we read the Bible more and more, with head and heart together.