I recently came across this image and it kind of summarized a question which I have been wondering for quite some time. If you reject Biblical literalism and Biblical inerrancy, then how can you determine which parts are divinely inspired and which are human invention? How do you avoid simply picking and choosing?
There is a struggle right now between those who take an extreme to Biblical literalism and conservativism and those who practice a liberal theology. Both would claim they are more righteous (in all humility of course) and would point out the flaws of the other using their personal interpretation of scriptures. And what has bothered me most is how many liberal Christians have taken up an almost atheistic approach to scripture; meaning they see it not as the God breathed work it has been held to be for centuries but rather the work of men who are telling their own story and using God as a a means to bully you into believing them
But what I don’t understand is those who will throw out the Bible as the compilation of works written by men with a personal, hidden agenda. Can it be more complicated than them sharing their personal experience with God much the way we do today? Can it be more complicated than telling the story of God, who is infinitely more complicated than words can express to begin with?
I have come to see the Bible as written by people inspired to write about their experiences of God but who, nonetheless, have a finite ability to understand and express God because they are, after all, human. And He is, after all God. Furthermore, while the Bible may be the ultimate cornerstone of Christian faith, it may not be the only “inspired” work to impact your spiritual walk. Not to mention that the Bible was put together a couple hundred years later by a bunch of men in power who couldn’t understand the context or intent of the author. Why was the Old Testament (a Jewish book) is included with the New Testament or why were some of the gnostic gospels excluded?
This would be similar to those who are inspired by God to go on a mission trip, start a ministry, or write a blog. Inspired by God to me means that my spiritual connection to God has led me to write at such a level. Whereas I interpret the “God Inspired” almost as Biblical dictation where God stands before Moses like a corporate CEO dictates a letter to his secretary. Therefore, the only difference is in how you define the “Godly Inspiration”. Do you believe that inspired by God is any less holy? Should we consider those works less important to our connection to and understanding of God?
It’s those who claim inerrancy that have to pick and choose when verses and sections contradict one another. Those of us who use historical and textual criticism to help us understand the scriptures tend to believe that even the scriptures we don’t follow to the letter usually have some amount of wisdom to share with is today (e.g. Studying the cleanliness laws given in Leviticus can help us reflect on what it means to honor our bodies as well as our souls)
But which one makes you a better Christian?