When reading the Bible, one thing is undeniable. Its writing was always aimed at a specific audience of that time with a specific goal in mind. It was not written for you and me.
This is not my own individual notion. I got it from an American Baptist minister friend. Now, I see almost the exact description used by a Professor of Religion who happens to be an American Baptist as well.
The American Baptist denomination, as I understand it, is among the oldest denominations in the U. S. and is more like Methodists and Presbyterians than like Southern Baptists. It gives much responsibility to individuals to interpret the Bible.
I’ve been trying to grasp how those who both teach academic religion and also believe in the faith handle the history in the Bible. Specifically, I’ve wondered how they treat stories too over the top to have actually happened but remain the basis of the faith.
Judging from material I read in the Catholic Encylopedia and from the American Baptist’s course material, it goes something like this. The Bible is not a historical document. It cannot be treated in the same way a history text is treated. The reader needs to employ critical thinking and recognize the standards of history were different back then.
By explaining away the history problems in this way, such people can avoid saying, “Much of the Bible was just made up.” Apparently, avoiding the blunt truth prevents one from being called a flat-out nonbeliever.