It is troubling, sometimes bordering on absurdities of major proportions that some Christians routinely declare every word, phrase, sentence, and story in The Bible to be the "word of God."
It is equally troubling when some Christians make generous literal translations of "God's Word". This habit remains constant even when the "facts" of the biblical narrative fly in the face of physical laws as we understand them and of intellectual examination as we employ them.
It is more troubling that some Christian men and women routinely quote the "word of God" in efforts demonize as sins the values, ideas, behaviors, and lifestyle of those with whom they disagree. On the hand they are quick to rationalize, forgive, or ignore their own sins even when it is in direct conflict with the "word of God" and the good news brought to Christians by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Connotative images of The Bible connote many secular documents that we live by in our daily lives. A policy manual may be an administrator's bible. A cookbook or another document from a long list of things we could enumerate becomes another person's bible. The unabridged second edition of Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines bible as "any book regarded as authoritative and official". Millions of Christians regard the great book we call The Bible as the authoritative and official word of God.
However, translations of The Bible occur in more than a thousand languages and dialects. The English Bible is different from the Greek Bible; is different from the Hebrew Bible; is different from the Latin bible; is different from the New living Translation.
In Bible study groups where participants sometimes read aloud from different translations of The Bible, it is common for one or two people to exclaim: "where are you reading"? the apparent meaning of the different versions or translations can be so incongruous that the same verses can make or appear to make different denotative and connotative statements.
Beginning with the ancient church and continuing today, scholars have criticized, validated, and invalidated portions of The Bible for all kinds of reasons. We regard some books from the collection of books that comprise the various religious manuscripts as holy or canonical while others are not.
Some Christians will affirm and read only from the King James Version of The Holy Bible. For them, the King James version of The Holy Bible is the only legitimate version or translation. Yet The Apocrypha, sometimes referred to as the deuterocanonical books, was included in the 1611 published edition of the King James Version of The Holy Bible. However, contemporary printings of the King James Translation of The Bible for the most part, do not include The Apocrypha.
But the reality of apparent omissions, contradictions, inaccuracies, and changes of meaning and intent in The Bible and perpetual debates and criticisms over the same should be of no momentous concern. Even if everything recorded in the various translations of The Bible were essentially a flawed history of the people of Judah and Israel, it would still be a very important book. It is much more than that. Many people find The Bible to be an excellent stimulus for gaining personal strength, wisdom, and inspiration.
From The Old Testament, we can read Samuel I, Samuel II, and the book of Psalms and feel inspired by the chronicles of King David and the special relationship he feels he had with God. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah impress both academic scholars and those who are not academic scholars. Likewise the book of Lamentations can touch the human psyche like no other work. The history of the Jews and their special relationship with "the one God of Creation" can be a powerful testament for many people.
In The New Testament, the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John bring the good news and its powerful influence on all who strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. And while some people confess to having difficulty with some of the positions in the letters of the Apostle Paul, his letters offer compelling lessons for Christians seeking guidance, spiritual strength, inspiration, and spiritual growth.
The Bible offers contemporary humans priceless lessons in the search for God. It is an invaluable guide in our efforts to establish an intimate relationship with God. So it is with some regret that we deem it necessary to point out some of the apparent flaws in this magnificent book. But we acknowledge that the apparent absence of infallibility is a position that anti-christians and other religious antagonists invoke vigorously. It is for that reason that we underscore and acknowledge some apparent flaws in this celebrated book, notwithstanding that for many of the faithful, The Bible is the "word of God", and hence without fault because, according to their faith, the "word of God" cannot have errors.
The lesson here is very simple. Do not let any flaws or inconsistencies you may observe in The Bible promote cynicism for all religion. Worse of all, don't let it keep you from reading at least some of it, at whatever depth and pace you can allow yourself. Above all, don't let it estrange you from God and prevent what is the crown of mortal existence--establishing and maintaining Symbiotic Intimacy with your Creator God in your soujourn on the living planet we call Earth.