The word infallible is confusing or unknown by those who didn’t grow up in the church. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly from the beginning rather than growing in knowledge? How would God control the minds and words of the writers anyway? This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name as writers thought it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as almighty and controlling. Regardless, literature requires interpretations meaning we could be wrong about the original intent of the author, so we must read the Bible with an open-mind.
Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love.
Even if the Bible was infallible, literature is subject to interpretation anyway so we are required to read with an open-mind. Scholars differ on what the Bible says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, end-of-the world views, etc. Don’t check your moral conscience at the door as you consider what a loving God is really like. Unquestioning obedience has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other violence in the name of God. God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God and others. The Bible is not a story controlled by God. God got involved with the nation of Israel and by reading of their journey, we can begin to discover what God is truly like. “The problem is when this focus on correct interpretation becomes primary, and love takes a backseat, the focus is placed on ‘being right’ and ‘orthodox’ at the expense of love” (Derek Flood, Disarming Scripture, p.67).
Read the Bible with Jesus in mind but questioning is still required.
Reading the Bible through Jesus-shaped lens isn’t the only answer. Jesus often spoke in parables which are subject to misunderstandings and different applications. Jesus said the OT pointed to His arrival (Lk. 24:27,44) rather than claiming the OT writers always understood God perfectly. For example, Jesus challenged the OT “eye for an eye” mentality by suggesting going the extra mile rather than exacting revenge. Jesus suggested evaluating interpretations and others by the fruit they produce or don’t (Mt. 7:16). The Bible was God accepting human communication means available to begin conversations about God without condemning those who unselfishly misunderstand it or never had a chance to read.
Read the Bible reflectively than for solutions to specific problems.
The Bible wasn’t written to tell us want to do in every situation. Jesus didn’t always answer directly because the issue is our heart in solving problems. Can you imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when facing difficulties? When Jesus was asked how to treat our enemies (Mt. 5:38-48), He understood individual circumstances vary. Jesus wasn’t saying parents or soldiers can’t protect their family or themselves: “if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Jesus often spoke in parables which allows discerning applications in our circumstances. When one is ready to change, parables enable listeners to recall matters intended to change hearts which best leads to a changed world.
Read the Bible humbly and not with an argumentative attitude.
Different opinions can be expressed without physical or verbal aggression as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. How is threatening or forcing certainty working out? Differences can be resolved by respecting the freedom of others as God does, while continuing to grow in understanding. Should we even bother to read the Bible with so much confusion? As long as we read the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience, it seems the Bible has influence millions to live a more selfless life. Religion has done harm as well as much good.
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