Let me start out by saying that I am very grateful to God for bringing Thomas into my life. Starting from Church of the Redeemer meeting at the old Otter Creek building to our association in the Nashville Cohort, he has been someone who provides some good perspective on several of the questions that I've been asking.
The thought that Thomas had was this:
Ultimately, I think Phil's problems have little to do with literal vs. figurative. It sounds much more like he is concerned about the character of God. He sounds like he would prefer a "kinder, gentler" god than the one he sometimes sees in the Bible. I understand that, having felt the same way many times.Thomas is not wrong on this. It's not the only question, but it certainly is a part of it. As I stated in the Old Testament part of this series. It does bother me that the God who is defined as love in the New Testament would call for the genocide of the Canaanites.
But I think he is hiding behind figurative vs. literal. I could be wrong, certainly, but I think this is more about the God of the Bible than the Bible itself.
However, I don't that it's as easy to separate the Bible from the God of the Bible. If our entire definition(s) of God come from the Bible, then something that I have to deal with is one on hand, the truth of the Bible, and on another, the literal or figurative historicity of the Bible. Where I'm trying to get is maybe to not focus on the literal/figurative section. And maybe this is simply a step that I'm having to go through to a different understanding of it.
You see, my faith has always been lived through the lens of the Bible. And part of that problem is that if I'm honest with myself, I do have a lot of questions about the authors and the literalness of it. And if I begin to doubt the reliability of Scripture, then the natural next step is to doubt the faith that I have gained because of the Bible and the interpretations of it.
So what I'm trying not to is throw the baby out with the bathwater. If my view of Scripture is not the traditional (kind of) literal view of Scripture that I've had most of my life, then how does my faith change? Do I lose my faith? Perhaps some will, but I don't think I will. My faith is too important to me to let a changing view of Scripture and the God revealed within that Scripture subvert it.
I feel like I'm rambling a lot here, but there are some deep-seated questions that I'm wrestling with while trying to be honest with myself (and all of you). I don't know if that clears anything up or not or just muddies the waters more.