Scot McKnight recently posted a letter that he had received asking some questions about the Bible. The letter, and Scot’s response, are excellent. I’ve had to deal with some similar questions in my life. I was brought up being taught that if someone didn’t believe Genesis 1-3 was literal that there was no way that person could be a true Christian. It followed, because they didn’t think Genesis was literal, that they must not believe in Jesus or that he was resurrected. As I went through college I started learning about genre and text criticism. A professor that I respect said to me one day, “Is the event inspired or is the text inspired?” It really made me think. Eventually I discovered people who studied the Bible and loved Jesus but viewed Genesis 1-11 as Creation Myth. Then I read Inspiration and Incarnation by Enns, and started to become convinced that Israel must have existed not in a vacuum, but in a broader culture that they interacted with, much like the Church today.
It would be well worth it to check out the comments over at JesusCreed. Quite a bit of discussion is going on and it looks to be a profitable read. To give you an example, from comment #23,
Borrowing a concept from Fee & Stuart, they’re an example of literary “portraits” as compared to “photographs”. The truthfullness (and the core meaning) lies not in the historical precision of the details, but in the message being presented.
I have in front of me a portrait of a friend. It truly depicts her, yet it is by no means a detailed photograph.
All of this lead me to the place I am today. I understand that God is big enough to deal with my questions, and I think McKnight’s two categories, although simplified, are a decent generalization. I hope that as a youth pastor I’m able to help teens navigate the path of figuring out for themselves what inspiration means and how that impacts their faith. I hope I’m able to help them love Jesus and study the Bible, but also ask the hard questions and own their faith.