The Bible

Of course the Bible is extremely valuable.  It is the Word of God, and perhaps His most precious gift to mankind.  But how is it to be used?  What's it actually for?  How should a Christian incorporate scripture in daily living?

First, a couple of observations about the Bible itself.  It is a collection of ancient writings, not a unified work like a textbook.  The collection was decided upon by religious scholars at the Council of Trent in the 1500s.  The books of the Bible are best considered individually, but always with a background understanding of the other writings.  It's fruitless to look for inconsistencies, contradictions or mistakes in the Bible.  The writings should simply be accepted for what they are.

Is the Bible literally true, divinely inspired, allegorical, or what?  I'm amazed at how many people have spent their lives arguing and even fighting over that question.  Why is it with questions of religion that common sense so often goes out the window?

The only important things to believe are that the Bible expresses the Word of God; that it is all true in one sense or another, and; there is nothing deliberately misleading or false in it.  Parts of the Bible are literally true in the historical or factual sense.  Parts of the Bible express truth through allegory, parable or metaphor.  And, all of the Bible was divinely inspired.  As a Christian that is all you need to believe about the Bible.  You can relax and decide for yourself which parts are which.  It's not important to your salvation.

Every Christian should read and re-read the New Testament until it becomes comfortably familiar.  Every Christian should read the Old Testament at least once, and know how to find sections of it for reference as questions arise.  It's not necessary to commit any of the Bible to memory.  There already are way too many Christians running around spouting Scripture and citing chapter and verse in an attempt to prove whatever point they're trying to make.  God did not intend the Bible to be used as a technical manual.  You are much better off conforming your thoughts, words, and deeds to general Christian principles rather than specific biblical passages.

Which brings me to our conclusion: The Bible is God's Word preserved for us so that we may come to know Jesus, and through which we may learn His teachings.  Those teachings are not of specific names, dates, and events.  They are teachings of general Christian principles of faith, truth, love, and honoring all that is righteous.  Read your Bible for a broad understanding.  Do not get hung up on specific details, or take anything literally that defies common sense.  And finally, know that the meaning of a given passage of scripture may vary for different people.  God knows us all, intimately.  There is no reason to believe that His Word was given to us in a "one size fits all" manner.  When you read the Bible, God is speaking to you, and you alone.  Worship Him and enjoy your time with Him.