We see the ‘library’ of writings we know as the Bible as testimonies of faith, the living word of God handed down to us through the experience of fallible human beings. It is God’s story, a story intended to include us.
We do not fear, but rather embrace the ambiguity and contradictions we find in the Bible; we can marvel that God thought so highly of us that we were not left with a mere rule book, but rather a word of so many dimensions that it would take a lifetime to explore.
We understand that the Bible has been misused, to mislead and do harm; but also that the answer to misuse is never disuse, but better use. We take the word of God seriously enough to question our own and others’ understandings with regard to the limitations of time, place and culture.
It can take some time for the implications of the truths revealed in the Bible to be fully realized. For instance, today we understand that slavery is wrong and irreconcilable with a Christian way of life. Yet early Christians, including the Apostle Paul, seemed to accept the practice. When Paul said that in Christ there is “no longer slave or free,” it came like a revelatory flash, but even he did not understand all the implications fully. Only hundreds of years later were the full implications of that understanding seen or lived.
We recognize that God is not restrained by the borders of our imagination. We are as fallible as those human beings who have gone before us, and we do not know through whom the Holy Spirit might speak. We have no authority figure telling us how we must interpret the Bible, rather we study, listen and seek discernment in community.
Excerpts in italics are from The Bible and the UCC, a booklet prepared by the United Church of Christ Writer’s Group – download PDF (5.60MB).