Here are some of my own questions:
Is the Bible sacred because it has been revered for thousands of years, or has it been revered for thousands of years because it is sacred? I'm (not surprisingly) into both of these ideas. Any item, church, text, mosque, song, land etc... which has been the focus of human religious experience over long periods of time, becomes imbued with an energy or vibration of some sort (not to sound too new age-y). When I've walked into a gothic cathedral or sang "Amazing Grace" or heard the Qur'an recited, there is a distinctly holy quality to the experience, quite different from when I walk into Safeway or sing "Happy Birthday" or when I hear the phone book recited. Why is this? Is the recitation of the phone book experienced differently than the Qur'an because it is mundane, or is the phone book mundane because it is experienced differently?
I think the Bible is sacred because it is sacred.
What does it mean that the Bible is inspired? Do I believe that a transcendent all -powerful God, the heavenly being, caused by God's own volition and only the volition of God, for the biblical text to be transmitted, composed and redacted into the form we have today? No, that just seems silly. Do I think the bible is an account of the human experience of God as best we could describe that experience? Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as inspired. The reason I think the bible is inspired is because it has for thousands of years been a source of discovery and reflection of what it means to be human and how God shows up in the world. Each generation has struggled with the text and discovered how it comes to life in their own historical and cultural context. This is not possible with Green eggs and Ham , the hermeneutical possibilities of which are limited, but the Bible, wow, it is boundless in what it brings to us and what it will bring to our children and our children’s children. Seriously, there is something for everyone in there: war, betrayal, satire, poetry, sex, poetry about sex, riches, poverty, miracles, mad men, talking donkeys and much more. The bible is revelation about us and God, a revelation which comes to its fullness in the incarnation of Christ.
Because I feel so deeply about this text, you can imagine how crazy it makes me when people insist that every text within the Bible is equally authoritative and we must conform to a literal reading of it. Forget that taking contradictory accounts literally is only possible if you’re insane, the fact that anyone can claim that their reading of biblical text is not interpretive or informed by their own historical context is, like the “God wrote the Bible” claim, simply silly.
Here’s What Del Brown (Pacific School of Religion) has to say, and he’s much smarter than me:
“The Bible is not our authority in the sense of legalistically mandating conformity to its every teaching. The Bible is our authority because it “authors” us. In its rich, provocative, empowering diversity, the Bible is the continuing source of our identity as Christians. Reflecting the exousia [authority] of Jesus, Christian Scripture grants us freedom, grounds our creativity, guides our thinking, challenges our conclusions, inspires out hearts, and thus empowers us to act responsively today as thinking Christians. The authority of the Bible is its power to “author” what we do and who we are - our very being - as Christians.
-Dr. Del Brown