I really like this approach to reading the bible as described by Richard Rohr, whose reflections I receive in a daily email. It seems to me a thoughtful and mature stance which avoids the pitfalls that can plague both fundamentalist and liberal approaches- when these are characterised by a lack of sensitivity, honesty or grace.
How can we look at the Biblical text in a manner that will convert or change us? I am going to define the Bible in a new way for some of you. The Bible is an honest conversation with humanity about where power really is. All spiritual texts, including the Bible, are books whose primary focus lies outside of themselves, in the Holy Mystery. The Bible illuminates your human experience through struggling with it. It is not a substitute for human experience. It is an invitation into the struggle itself: you are supposed to be bothered by some of the texts. Human beings come to consciousness by struggle, and most especially struggle with God and sacred texts. We largely remain unconscious if we avoid all conflicts, dilemmas, paradoxes, inconsistencies or contradictions.
The Bible is a book filled with conflicts and paradoxes and historical inaccuracies. It is filled with contradictions and it is precisely in learning to struggle with these seeming paradoxes that we grow up—not by avoiding them with a glib one-sentence answer that a 16-year-old can memorize. If I had settled for the mostly one-line answers to everything from Fr. McGuire’s Baltimore Catechism, my spiritual journey would have been over in the third grade. And for many people, otherwise educated in other fields, that is exactly what happened. We created people with quick answers instead of humble searchers for God and truth. God and truth never just fall into your lap, but are only given as gifts to those who really want them and desire them.