If you want to prompt a group discussion about the bible - or just an internal one with yourself - then trying reading some of the statements below and thinking and talking though which elements you agree or disagree with - and why
1) Every syllable of the Bible is ‘God’s word’ – literal, objective truth that is as applicable today as it was when it was first penned (Source 1).
2) You’ll often hear people talk about stories from the Bible with a certain rolling of the eyes, as in "Can you believe people still believe this stuff?". That's because the stilted literal style in which they've been told the stories often misses a more relational understanding of the divine (Source 4).
3) It might be best to consign large chunks of the bible to a filing cabinet labelled ‘no longer relevant’(Source 1).
4) The Bible is a collection of books written by fallible human beings and so bears the hallmarks of their times and cultures' limitations and preconceptions - and at the same time - the transformational experience of their encounters with God. (Source 1).
5) The narrative in the bible is sometimes told from the perspective of the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, the conquered, the occupied, the defeated. When many of us read it we need to be honest that when we read it it's not from the perspective of a Galilean peasant but from that of the Roman in their villa. (Source 2).
6) Through the centuries various texts have been read to justify some of the most inhumane, brutal and repressive episodes in human history (Source 1).
7) Christianity is not about a book, but about a person - Jesus - who is the Word of God made flesh (Source 1).
8) On issues like slavery we may hold a different view than some texts in the bible that appear to support it suggest - but in doing so we need to explore why the bible contains such texts and what we are being taught by their inclusion (Source 1).
9) Our and others inclusion into the family of God‘s people is not dependent on them or us getting our reading of scripture all right (Source 1).
10) As the bible is a collection of texts inspired by God - which has become sacred to us - it is our responsibility to deal honestly and respectfully with it in its entirety, rather than selectively (Source 1).
11) The Bible contains various, sometimes harmonious, sometimes discordant, sometimes even contradictory voices (Source 1).
12) The Bible did not drop out of the sky - someone wrote something down - it was written by real people living in real places at real times - and through them something of the divine is revealed (Source 3).
13) Only as we adopt an open, humble, discursive and transparent approach to interpreting the bible will we be in a strong position to respond with integrity to the moral, social and political issues we and our society face (Source 1).
14) The Bible should be recognised as ‘a library’ representing various literary genres and cultures and so should be read, understood, analysed and acted upon in the context of those genres and cultures (Source 1).
15) What you find in the Bible are stories accurately reflecting the dominant consciousness of the day - often with all the repulsive and primitive barbarism and violence of the age - yet right in amongst and sometimes even within those very same stories you find radically new ideas about freedom, equality, justice, compassion, and love (Source 6).
16) Together the documents of the bible form the account of an ancient, sacred dialogue – a giant conversation – initiated, inspired and guided by God, with and among humanity about God, his creation and our role in it as his partners (Source 1).
17) We honour and respect the insights those in the past have brought to dialogue about the interpretation of the bible and recognise our responsibility to play our part in that dialogue.(Source 1).
18) Some people don't believe stories in the bible literally happened because with modern understanding they believe they can be rationally explained - and so they reject all miraculous elements of all stories. Others believe the bible stories did literally happen but make that the crux of the story and arguments about it - and so miss the point of the story. (Source 5).
19) With the guidance of the Holy Spirit the process of biblical interpretation is the on-going, open-ended, global project of all those who take its text seriously and authoritatively. Therefore to read the Bible as a static record is a serious error. (Source 1).
20) When we disagree over our understanding of the Bible we will continue to extend grace and patience to one another (Source 1).
Source 2 = My Problem With the Bible - post by Brian Zahnd
Source 3 = What is the Bible? - Part 1:Someone Wrote Something - post by Rob Bell
Source 4 = What is the Bible? Part 2: Flood - post by Rob Bell
Source 5 = What is the Bible? Part 4: Fish#2 - post by Rob Bell
Source 6 = What is the Bible? Part 13: Consciousness and Violence - post by Rob Bell