Introduction. Theology has long been the bane of Christianity, opening up sectarian rifts in Christ’s body that amount to grave wounds. On the one hand, the Church has a history of aberrancies that do threaten the integrity of the church (see, for example, 1 Cor. 5) On the other hand, the Church has a very poor record— at least by the standards laid down by Christ— on tolerating legitimate dissent. As much as one would like to avoid theological discussions, they are an essential part of any religious instruction. The key issues in theology have to do with textual interpretation and what constitute the essential tenets of creed.
Flaws in both extremes. I reject both scriptural literalism and liberal textual interpretation. The flaw of scriptural literalism is that it does not acknowledge variant texts, the uncertainties of translation, the importance of social and historical context to understanding scripture and even internal contradictions such as the differing genealogies of Joseph presented by Matthew and Luke. Perhaps from a desire to express intense loyalty to God and sincerity of intent, fundamentalism glosses over matters that should not be glossed over.
Not compromise, but a new way. I propose a view of the Bible different than either the literalists or textual rejectionists. These are reading it solely for the content, as an instruction manual. Without minimizing the importance of content, the Bible is more than an instruction book. To take a simple analogy, consider that when we teach a child to read, we usually offer them fictional books such as Huck Finn or Robinson Crusoe, rather than almanacs or encyclopedias. We are not trying to transmit specific information to the child. We are trying to exercise the reading ability and the engage the imagination of the child. If we succeed, they will learn to love reading. They’ll read encyclopedias on their own.