“If the liberals tend to emphasize the Bible’s humanity at the expense of its divinity, the conservatives often emphasize the Bible’s divinity at the expense of its humanity.”
How can Pastor Hamilton say this? What is the meaning of this sentence in regard to our relationship with The Bible?
He is merely trying to provide more explanation about the polarizing approaches that Christians have about God’s Word.
What happens when the Bible writers are seen as human? Well, to put it bluntly, good things happen and also some “not good” things.
First of all, humans tend to have an agenda and the liberal interpretation of the Bible assumes that the Bible writers had their own point of view as writers. I have one; don’t you? The writer’s perspective is not “the perspective”; it is only one perspective. They were not perfect people. They had their own characters, with good aspects and bad aspects. They were biased. They had their own situations in life and they of course lived in a particular time in history [which influenced their outlook on life]. Like I am doing now, I am aware of my readers. I know my readers are living in this time with me [our history]; my readers have characters and biases. Some would say this point-of-view discussion is not so helpful; it complicates things and maybe undermines faith for some. Others see the human Bible authors as writers expressing a beautiful message that has a timeless quality about it; the humanity that is expressed is the source of the beauty and even though it is a difficult book to read, it has a wonderful, amazing and life-giving quality about it.
What happens when the Bible writers are seen as divine? Also, to put it bluntly, good things happen and also some “not good” things. Some conservative Christians have elevated the Bible to the level of the fourth trinity. That is not bad for them if they truly espouse that extreme view of Scripture but it is a problem for people who want to come to know God’s word. Sadly, there are too many serious doubters out in the world today who make it their business to poke holes in the Bible. For example, the internet is full of webpages written by atheists who point out the errors of inconsistencies of the Bible. When the atheist and the conservative Christian lock horns, it appears that the conservative Christian has developed doctrine that according to Pastor Hamilton “backs them into a corner.” The inconsistencies are there and saying that they are not does not make them go away. For the serious Christian who just wants to cozy up to the Bible, this is a serious barrier.
Pastor Hamilton opens his chapter with a woman who was making a commitment to read the Bible for the first time. She took God’s Book to bed with her and as she read, she became more disgusted. David collected 100 foreskins; Solomon was having a lot of sex with his “whorish wives,” Abimelech killed all 70 of his brothers. Her husband writes “She’s going to have a little chit-chat with God and what in the world He may have been thinking when He penned this or that little number.”
What is this woman’s problem? She is seeing inconsistency in the Bible. She is having trouble reconciling the message of God’s word.
I like former pastor Rob Bell’s comments about how he views the Bible. He admits that The Book challenges his knowledge but also The Book uplifts him: “I continue to find the Bible the most mysterious book—the more insight I gain, the more I realize how much I don’t know. It inspires and encourages, and it also frustrates and provokes. The Bible is a difficult book.”
Pastor Hamilton adds: [truly] “it is a difficult and complex book. It is also a wonderful, amazing and life giving book.
For me, I use a cliché and I have to apologize. I can’t put the Bible “in a box”, the way the liberal high critic does. I can’t put it in the conservative low critic box either.
It’s the Bible and I am always trying to learn what God has in store for me…by reading its pages.