Last year I just finished my Masters in Christian Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which is one of the more prestigious Evangelical seminaries in the country. I learned in seminary how to interpret, study and reflect on the bible systematically. I love theology (literally the study of God) and more specifically studying the Bible. Coming out of the Reformed Tradition (Calvinistic), one of Martin Luther’s five solas is sola scriptura or scripture alone. This doctrine is all about the authority of scripture. Those of you who are reading this would be tracking with and say, he probably believes the Bible is inerrant (without error), and infallible. I believe the Bible is inspired (God-breathed), yet with error.
Rachel Held Evans writes:
While Christians believe the Bible to be uniquely revelatory and authoritative to the faith, we have no reason to think its many authors were exempt from the mistakes, edits, rewrites, and dry spells of everyday creative work. Nor should we, as readers, expect every encounter with the text to leave us happily awestruck and enlightened. (Inspired, page 18)
I love the genres found in the scriptures, the grand story of redemption found in the Bible, and most of the time God speaks to me through his written Word (the Logos or the Bible). Unfortunately, many of us grew up reading the Bible as a manufacturers manual for life, proof texting when it comes to defending God, and only reaf it and interpreted it through the lens of our given theology (Wesleyan Arminianism, Calvinism, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, Kingdom Theology, or skeptical).
Yet, my experience with the Vineyard movement has always taught me that the Bible is a conduit to Jesus. In addition, the Holy Trinity is not God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Bible, but God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. According to Brian Zahnd:
What the Bible does infallibly is point us to Jesus. The Bible itself is not a perfect picture of God, but it does point us to the One who is. This is what orthodox Christianity has always said. (Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God – 14)
Jesus even said that:
John 5:39-40 CSB
You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me.  But you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.
See, the scriptures whether the Hebrew Old Testament or the New Testament testify or bear witness about Jesus and to Jesus. In other words the scriptures are a means or vehicle to take us to Jesus.
This is also true from the introduction in the book of Hebrews. For it says:
Hebrews 1:1-2 CSB
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.  In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him.
When we speak of the Word of God, Christians should think of Jesus first and the Bible second. It’s Jesus who is the true Word of God, not the Bible. (Zahnd, page 49-50)
Unfortunately, for many of us who go through deconstruction, the bible begins to unravel because it is full of contradictions, and for a religious text, it is messy. It is full of messed up, broken people who lie, cheat, kill, and have multiple affairs all in God’s name.
In addition, we as moderns or post moderns study the Bible with our own twenty-first century lenses of science and history. We do not read it in context or as a first century apostle would study the scriptures.
According to Rachel Held Evans in her new book Inspired (which is about the bible) writes:
the problem is that over time we’ve been conditioned to deny our instincts about what kinds of stories we’re reading when those stories are found in the Bible. We’ve been instructed to reject any trace of poetry, myth, hyperbole, or symbolism even when those literary forms are virtually shouting at us from the page via talking snakes and enchanted trees. Speaking to ancient people using their own language, literary structures, and cosmological assumptions would be beneath God, it is said, for only our modern categories of science and history can convey the truth in any meaningful way. (Evans, Inspired, page 30).
In his book, The Bible Told Me So, Peter Enns also writes:
Many Christians have been taught that the Bible is Truth downloaded from heaven, God’s rulebook, a heavenly instructional manual—follow the directions and out pops a true believer; deviate from the script and God will come crashing down on you with full force. If anyone challenges this view, the faithful are taught to “defend the Bible” against these anti-God attacks. Problem solved. (Enns – The Bible Tells Me So, page 3)
Enns goes on and says that for those Christians who take the Bible seriously as the Word of God, can be challenged even to a breaking point (Enns, page 7).
That happened with Rachel, and it can take someone down the slippery slope of the dark night of the soul. Sometimes, the Bible can be hindrance to our faith and relationship with God because it provides more questions than answers, and is full of messy contradictions like on some pages portray God as a loving Father,and then on other pages portray God as a distant harsh taskmaster that requires sacrifice and genocide.
The answer to still keeping a high regard for the bible is too change how we read and study the Bible. First we need to read it as literature within different literary genres like history, origin stories, biography, letters and correspondence, prophesy, poetry, etc (which Rachel explains in her new book, Inspired). Secondly, we need to read it through the lens of Christ and the Cross. Greg Boyd calls this the Cruciform Hermeneutic. He defines it as:
While I continue to affirm that the whole Bible is inspired by God, I’m now persuaded that the Bible itself instructs us to base our mental representation of God solely on Jesus Christ. we should interpret the OT through the lens of the cross instead of restricting ourselves to the authors’ originally intended meaning. (Cross Vision, page 66)
To conclude, my goal this summer is to read Boyd’s montrosity of the Cruciform Hermeneutic two volume set called Crucifixion of the Warrior God, which explains the Cruciform Hermeneutic and tries to explain how to interpret difficult violent passages of the Old Testament, and finish Rachel Held Evans book, Inspired and Peter Enns book, The Bible Tells Me So which explains in layman’s terms how to read the Bible as literature. I also am looking forward to reading Keith Giles new book which releases July 4, 2018 called Jesus Unbound which is also about the Bible.
The Bible may not be inerrant, or infallible, yet it is inspired God-breathed by the writers who wrote the sacred texts to help us with our walk with God.