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William Barclay Commentaries Dangerous

So declare the Catholic bishops of Vietnam. I find it hard to see why, but that’s because I don’t think books that teach doctrine different from my own “dangerous.” I would call a couple of paragraphs in Barclay less than fully accurate, but there are some paragraphs that are positively brilliant, which is all one can expect from a popular, largely devotional book. If you’re wondering what I might call inaccurate, I do think he smooths the rough edges of some of the more difficult passages, and not always in full accord with the intent.

But my point here is neither to criticize the Catholic church, nor to criticize or praise Barclay and his series of commentaries, but rather to note that this isn’t about any one denomination. Despite a slogan that includes “open minds,” I’ve encountered a number of cases in United Methodist churches where material from other denominations was deemed dangerous. In one case curriculum material written by a Baptist was deemed dangerous, because it, well, it was hard to tell. Mostly because it was Baptist.

In another case, a young adult class was disbanded because they were reading and discussing dangerous books. A replacement class was formed that would hold the young people to the straight and narrow. The result? The class went from a full room to an empty room (yes, zero attendance) in less than a month.

What I would say is dangerous in Christianity is a mindset that would consider Barclay’s commentaries dangerous. Debate the views, consider some of them wrong–absolutely. That’s good experience in discerning (Hebrews 5:11-14).

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One Comment

  1. I agree.
    Barclay is the best when it comes to background info and history, but I do disagree with his theology in places (particularly on the Virgin birth). However I have learned to use that disagreement to challenge myself to be able to explain why he is wrong, other than “I just don’t agree with that.”

    In that regard, he isn’t “dangerous” but is instead, a great teaching tool!

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