It seems a lot of times Christians automatically don’t question something if they are told it’s in the Bible. I’ve written about this before, but the “because the Bible says so!” doesn’t work for progressive Christians, as I mentioned in the aforementioned article, progressive Christians are like a version of the apostle Thomas if he came from Missouri (the “Show Me” state), we crave to figure things out for ourselves. (This is part of what spurned the Protestant Reformation, and even probably the greatest invention of mankind, the printing press: in the middle ages the only ones who could read the Bible were the priests and they could say anything they want about what was in the Bible and the average Christian had to accept it because they could not check for themselves. But once education was better, people got Bibles of their own, and they learned how to read them. They discovered that not everything they were told was in the Bible, they were free to learn for themselves what the intent really was.)
Part of the reason many progressive Christians don’t treat the Bible as directly written by God so we shouldn’t question it is that it wasn’t directly written by God. There are at least 40 different men who wrote the Bible, each one of them, though writing in their own style of their experiences with God but through their frail and susceptible human lens. We can see their differences in the Bible – imagine if Paul wrote Song of Solomon. Or if David wrote the Epistles. Or if the Gospel writers wrote the Pentateuch and Moses wrote the Gospels. Think of these like the early Jews’ and Christians’ versions of such works like C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, or Billy Graham’s Just As I Am, books also writtem by mere men, but clearly inspired by their encounters with God in their lives. However these books (that make up the Bible) are also important to us because they give us insight as to what was important to the early church and Jews, and as their descendants what their encounters with God say to us.
And then, after the words were originally written down, it was transcribed by countless other men who are also human and prone to error (as you may have noticed if you actually look at the footnotes of your Bible which mention the errors in transcription, or different versions of the same saying that existed). This leads to the inconsistencies in the Bible, and passages being read by 21st century North Americans written for 1st century (and 3rd millennium BC) Middle Easterners.
Does this mean that progressive Christians don’t believe the Bible at all, or the central message of it? Not at all. Being Christians who thirst to know God more, though, we look closer at every passage and its context, though. It is like my relationship with Wikipedia. Wikipedia is one of my favourite webpages, I visit it often, I have an account there, I even linked to it earlier in this article! But I also know that not only was it written by people who have faults and biases, but anyone can add to it, sometimes with hilarious (yet false) results. (See picture for example). The Bible was our Wikipedia back in the day. Well, really, any book printed then was, but because of how important the Bible is, it was even more susceptible to people adding stuff in there that would be hard to check. Perhaps you are writing down what God has revealed to you. But you also are hearing from your military leaders that they are at war with a certain people, and if you can tell them that God commanded them to destroy all of them, that would really help our campaign? Did this actually happen when the Bible was being written? Probably not. But could it have? Well, after having spent the last 44 years as a member of the human race, and being quite familiar with my fellow humans as a result, it sure could have.
So should we ignore the Bible? Also, no! While progressive Christians have a range on the issue of Biblical literalism and inaccuracies, they all see the Bible as a tenet of our faith. A tenet written by men that are prone to error, but were men too. We can relate to it more than direct words from an unfathomable God.