A New Bible Code: A Review of The Chamberlain Key by Timothy P. Smith
Holy visions of Moses, Batman! The Bible predicted the death of JFK and 9-11 and warns of a new Nazi regime. At least that is what Timothy P. Smith claims in his new book The Chamberlain Key, which will be released on April 4, 2017. As my internal skeptic raged, I came away from the book as deeper questions about my Christian faith than I first expected. It's time for another Empty Shelf Book Review.
What if secret codes were encrypted in the Bible's text?
These codes would "dramatically redirect biblical scholarship, Christian theology, and perhaps even the trajectory of history itself." Timothy Smith's opening words of his biographical account of unlocking hidden codes in the Bible just about caused me to throw the book in the trash. But since I promised to provide an honest review in exchange for a preview copy of the book I pushed forward.
And I am glad that I did.
In this review, I will tell you what I liked, what I didn't like, and my opinion on whether you should pick up a copy of The Chamberlain Key.
What I Liked...
Smith tells the story of his unfolding discoveries in a very approachable manner. The story does not rely on scientific descriptions that are unapproachable by the common reader (more on this later). It was presented more like a biography than an academic paper. This approach eases the reader into the bold claims that Smith is making.
I must say I was most impressed my Smith's humility than anything else. He is always reminding the reader that he is not sure he is worthy of the great mysteries that he has been chosen to uncover. Though, As my skepticism raged I did find myself wondering is this a ploy at misdirection on the case of the author. He was claiming that HE was that central figure of this unfolding odyssey and that HE was chosen by God to tell the world these secrets, so a dash of humility in key places can lull the reader into a dropping their guard and turning their discernment switches off.
I will give credit for Timothy Smith putting God at the center of his work. He often reminds the reader that God is eager to communicate with people through various means, even if those means are highly sophisticated codes hidden under multiple layers of encryption. He never claims that these codes are meant to replace the Scriptures, though I do not recall a prominent declaration of the prominence of Scripture in the lives of a believer.
The story, though very strange, invites readers into a world of different possibilities regarding how God speaks to his creation. It does not have a condescending tone like other similar books have. It is accessible and enjoyable to read. But, it is not without flaws.
What I Didn't Like...
You can expect a book like this is stretch your conventional wisdom, but this almost snapped mine. I thought that after a personal visitation from Moses, that Timothy Smith's recounting would begin its descent back down from that uber-unbelievable, but it did not. The story winds up revealing that the Bible accurately predicted the assassination of JFK and the attacks on 9-11 and there is some talk about Nazi's as well. Moses showing up actually raised my skeptic meter the least out of all these.
Smith's approach to making the book accessible to the masses, a strength in the previous section, is a big weakness. Because I am not an expert on encryption techniques I am forced to take the author's word for it. When the author makes these types of claims, however, it is VERY difficult for me to just take his word for it. The claims are TOO far out there to just say, "Hey, this is what I found when I plugged some Hebrew in my not-so-fancy computer." I wish there was a better explanation of the methodology used - even if that meant a chapter or two that were a little harder to read.
It should also be noted that Smith does claim to be specially appointed to unlock these codes. I am reminded of the Apostle Peter's words that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. To be clear Smith is not saying he is the only one who can access these codes, rather he is the one who was chosen to unlock it. I have trouble reconciling these two points.
And all the coincidences!
I know some stories rely on coincidence to make connections between people and places, but this book is brimming with them. I hit my plausibility acceptance limit right around the fourth chapter. I know these coincidences are meant to show that God planned all these things to be discovered for "such a time as this" but this guy filled his lifetime quota of coincidences on a single trip to British Columbia.
While I enjoyed reading the book I just struggle with the numerous leaps of faith it requires me to make.
Should you buy this book?
I know, I know. I just spent 1,000 words explaining that this book stretched gullibility to its breaking point. But hear me out.
I am a Pentecostal and I do believe that God speaks to his people in ways that are both additional and complementary to the Bible. They don't replace the Bible. They don't contradict the Bible. I believe that young men will see visions, old men will dream dreams, and sons and daughters will prophesy until Jesus comes back. And I need to be reminded that I believe this from time to time.
The Chamberlain Key reminded of this. Despite the odd leaps of logic and reliance on coincidence to further a story, Smith never once claims his new codes replace the Scripture as the only true Word of God. He keeps it as a compliment to the Scripture that points to God as the author and Jesus as the Messiah.
Reading this book stretched my faith because it forced me to question if I really believed in the modern release of the gifts of the Spirit. If God can speak to us and through us in many signs and wonders, certainly it should be plausible who could have embedded an encrypted code long before we had the ability to decipher it. He is God, Alpha and Omega, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omni-capable of doing so.
While I am not 100% sold on the claims of the Chamberlain key, I am 100% sold that God speaks. I am thankful for Timothy Smith's story to remind me of that.
This book will go on sale on April 4, 2017.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
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