Jesus never wrote any of his words down. He still lived in a largely oral tradition where stories were passed down mouth to mouth. The Bible has been used over the centuries in great ways and horrific. So the question is, what do we do with the Bible?
I think the best way to answer that question is to try to understand what the Bible is. In our modern age, many see the Bible as the inerrant word of God. I asked my pastor and this is what he had to say: The Bible is inspired by God which means it is God-breathed. What that means…no one knows. I think that’s a very honest take.
Someone who has really helped me understand the Bible better is Pete Enns. I highly recommend his book The Bible Tells me so. Enns believes that the Bible is a book written by man to understand God. He believes that it contains a lot of wisdom. Different books have varying degree of inspiration, but its not without error and atrocity. I speak more on how the Bible improved and progressed over time in my Spiral Dynamic section.
My friend said it will that he believes so deeply in the Spirit and truth within the Bible, that no matter how much you deconstruct it, there will still be wisdom and truth that we can glean from it. Enns points out that even Jesus (along with other Old and New Testament writers) reinterpreted the laws and other verses to fit their point about truth even if it wasn’t the exact context of the original verse. Today that seems like a dishonest way of treating the text. But back then it was common and expected.
The Word of God is not the Bible, but the spirit (John 1:1). The spirit helps us interpret the Bible in ways that are true and helpful. If we are not looking at the Bible from a spirit perspective, with our egos we use the Bible as a weapon to justify ourselves and against others whom we disagree with.
I don’t believe inspiration started and stopped with the Bible. The spirit speaks through all things, whether in books, through people, life experiences, etc. The spirit cannot be defined or contained. The Bible is a guide full of wisdom, but its many different books, authors, and levels of truth within it.
I believe we should use what is helpful, loving, and true within it. And use what is not within it as a guide for what not to do. This, I believe, is an honest reading and way to treat the Bible.