Our airwaves are so dominated by preachers of a biblical fundamentalism that one may be tempted to leave the Bible to them. Indeed, they seem to have poisoned the well with their literal, narrow, and unloving interpretations of Scripture. The alternative way of reading and understanding the Bible which has been presented to us is in the way of literary and historical criticism. This method is taught in our seminaries, and is in itself a necessary and worthwhile discipline. But a seminarian's knowledge of hypotheses about literary sources and historical settings can lead to an objectifying of Scripture that keeps it from being a living word for the priest or the congregation.
How can we read and hear God's Word today as a "word of life" (1 John 1:1), when just such a scriptural citation makes us fear that the writer is either a fundamentalist or someone simply inviting us to play the game of "criticism"?
I will be bold to restate and attempt to answer the questions in biblical terms. How can we "receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save [our] souls"? (Jas. 1:21)
The text itself points the direction in which we should go. If the Word is to be implanted in us and if the purpose of this implanting is to save our souls, we are talking about a subjective experience of the Word and not mere critical knowledge. If it is to be received with meekness, we will exclude the arrogant certainties of the radio and TV preachers -- the "bunkshooters," as the poet Carl Sandburg used to call them. In his poem "To a Contemporary Bunkshooter," Sandburg provided us with more than a term of opprobrium. He made the point which many have made about why the Word has lost its power among us: it has not been proclaimed as good news for the poor.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word
I don't think I can add anything to that.