The last post I attempted to report the basic differences between the two major views of the Bible. This time I am going get a little artsy and make a meager attempt to try to compare these views to the concept of the “Bread of Life”.
The Literal and Inerrant View see the Bible as a completed loaf of bread coming directly from God. There is nothing to be added and every part is equally nutritious. No crumbs are any more valuable than any other. The bread is already baked and sliced so there is nothing left for them to do except sit back and enjoy its nourishment.
The Inspired Writings View see the Bible as more of a wheat field. First it has to be harvested. To begin that they have to break off the stems which are the non essential words and stories around the messages to be received. Next we have to remove the chaff which is the words from the minds of man alone that were not inspired by God but instead were just relating current facts and sometime personal opinions. Since the chaff is very near the nourishing kernels this is often a difficult process. Then we get to the actually basket of wheat. The wheat must then be ground up and made into flour and then assembled with other ingredients then baked. This is comparable to studying the many words of the Bible to understand the overall messages and not fixate on any one kernel. Finally the finished loaf is the inerrant messages from God.
The literalists just can’t conceive or at least refuse to think that bread needs to be made and that takes a harvester, miller and a baker to accomplish this. Instead they, somewhat like the Mormons, believe that the Bible basically fell down from heaven through the totally subservient pens of a handful of men.
The Inspired group can’t understand why the literalist can’t see that bread starts out as wheat in a field. Since each group comes at the Bible from a completely different perspective neither seem to be able to understand the other.
3 thoughts on “The Bible is like….”
It surely doesn’t help this discussion to misrepresent people’s views and construct a false dichotomy. Huge numbers of inerrantists would not subscribe to your caricature of them as denying the human mediation of Scripture, the need to distinguish metaphoric language from literal, or the relative importance of various sections of Scripture.
Yes Micheal, you are right there is a wide variation in the inerrant camp. In reality both groups I compared believe in inerrancy but just to different degrees. That is why I tried to always say I was dicsussing the “literal and inerrant” group. I was not trying to lump all inerrancy into the same category.
Some, if not most, believe in the inerrancy of the messages of scripture without necessarily believing all words and stories are literal or of the same value. I am in that group. Some believe that much of scripture is just historical or reporting the times but some is directly from God through men. Some believe as you insinuate that there was more human mediation than others. But there are also many who I included in the “literal and inerrant group who believe that every word in the Bible is from God. Thanks for pointing out that there are differences in the inerrant view. It was not my intent to say otherwise.
I like your parable of loaf vs. wheatfield, RJ. Like any parable (Jesus’ many included), it may partially caricature a position (as Michael held). It is nonetheless a useful thought exercise in considering one’s approach to scripture.
Have you seen Brian McLaren’s model of Bible-as-constitution vs. Bible-as-library? It’s another interesting way to think about the whole process.