I struggled to phrase the title of this post, but I’m talking about the attitude that because something is written in the Bible it must be taken as absolutely accurate and true. The Bible is often called the ‘Word of God’, and Christians are encouraged to study God’s Word, but the basis for such assertions is seldom presented. St Paul referred to scriptures being ‘God breathed’, but if we think about it, what isn’t ‘God breathed’? Can anything exist without God?
Bible study often takes the form of taking each sentence and trying to interpret it. This can lead to lengthy discussions about the translation of a particular word. It is trying to understand by dissection, but then risks missing the whole. It is similar perhaps to trying to understand the human being by examining each molecule, or ‘The Scream’ by examining a single brush stroke.
If we view the Bible as a collection of documents that were written by human beings describing their journey with God then we can understand why, for instance, different accounts of the same event may differ. We can understand that the meaning of any part must be discerned in the context of the day. We can understand that the writers might simply have got some things wrong. It was men who decided what the best books were to put in the Bible, and they made their decision based on sober judgement. But we should not now view the book as somehow having a magic spell on it that says that ‘this is God’s complete and unchallengeable word’.
There is immense value in the Bible, but I fear that modern Christians have been led to worship the Bible rather than God. It contains wisdom and encouragement, and is correctly used to support our growth rather than constrain it.