I've been grappling with the Bible of late, and wondering about its relevance to me, and perhaps more importantly, us. My struggle is this: I want to engage with it critically, but as a Christian I feel it is crucial to be open to its transformative power. I want to use my brain and ask the questions, but I am also aware of the importance of approaching the text - and the thousands of years of tradition that surround it - with respect and humility. That is the tension in which I live.
This is kind of 'where I'm at' - at the moment - with respect to how I view the Bible:
(1) The Bible is not a book. It is an anthology, or a library - a collection of works that draw in many traditions, and many voices, that span many, many years.
(2) As such, we cannot expect the Bible to have a consistent voice. The Bible contains ideas that are in tension as well as ideas and statements that are in conflict. That's ok - after all, the Bible never purported to be consistent.
(3) God's breath can be found throughout the pages of the Bible, as it hovered in the pens of its many writers and editors, and as it dwelled within the communities that nurtured the ideas and stories that finally made their way into the Bible. We need to be continually on the lookout for God's spirit in these sacred texts.
(4) As a Christian, my 'theological centre' is in the Gospels of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, forms a backdrop that brings meaning and clarity to Christ's teachings and story, while the rest of the New Testament provides wisdom for groups of Christians, perhaps some cautionary tales, as well as some ways to come to grips with what Christ means for us.
(5) Reading the Bible and applying it to our lives requires discernment, careful study and a good dose of love.
Is that all terribly controversial? I always feel like the controversial one.