The Bible because of certain views espoused from it about God may be a main reason people stay away from God. Women, gays, etc. are discriminated against or condemned because of what the Bible supposedly teaches. The truth is scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative disagree what God thinks about gender roles, homosexuality, hell, etc. The problem is many don’t openly admit their interpretations may be wrong thus implying their interpretations are infallible.
Is the Bible inspired word-for word by God or did writers grow in understanding God?
My personal conviction is God did not inspire every word recorded in the Bible. How could God possibly approve of a wife having her hand cut off when grabbing another’s man genitals protecting her husband (Deut. 25:11-12). I’m convinced writers were influenced by surrounding cultures and grew in their understandings of a loving God over time. Others may disagree.
It is suggested that despite the hideous law above, it was a step up from other cultures that advocated even further mutilations such as gouging out eyes or breasts (See William Webb who doesn’t necessarily support the rationalization but reveals ancient near eastern practices, Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic For Troubling Texts, Chapter 4). Such a rationalization is hard for many to stomach, so those who believe all Scriptures is inspired might recognize they often go beyond/above Scriptures.
Many who believe the Bible is inspired already teach progressive revelation.
William Webb demonstrates those who advocate for corporal punishment of children according to the Bible go beyond what the Bible implies for the good of the child. Advocates typical suggest spanking be limited to young children but this isn’t found in the Bible. The two-swat method is suggested to avoid bruising, but the Bible suggests bruises serve a good purpose (Prov. 20:30). Biblical defenders of corporal punishment suggest hitting the buttocks but the Bible suggests the rod is intended for the back (Prov. 26:3). I am opposed to any kind of corporal punishment but bible-believing Christians often go beyond the Bible because it makes common moral sense.
How can Christians represent the Bible with an open-mind?
I am convinced God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God controlling a biblical writer’s impression of God. But, if you believe every thought is inspired by God you can at least consider if God intended us to grow in our understanding of God, even from what is recorded in Scriptures. For example if you think the Bible teaches wives should be submissive to their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives, one could still consider if mutual submission is less conducive to atrocities women face at the hands of men.
How can God guide us?
Even the Bible suggests when Jesus left this earth that we aren’t guided by a Book but by God’s Spirit in discerning Truth (Jn. 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem overly concern that Truth requires discernment. We may need one another to arrive at what is wisest or most loving. Can’t we tell others who have issues with the Bible, no matter our view of Scriptures, that it is possible God would encourage us to continue to grow in our understanding of God even beyond views of biblical writers. God may turn out to be like what you imagine a perfect, good God should be like.
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