As colorful as language can be, it is not like art.
Art, in whatever form it manifests itself – sculpture, painting , carvings, dance – intentionally conveys meaning at levels often contrary to the overt theme. In other words, artists often attempt to take their medium and present it in unique forms that inspire viewpoints and evoke feelings with wide ranges of appreciation and meaning. Not so with language.
The results can travel similar paths, but language is closer to the beauty found in mathematical models than in the more free-flowing communication of art. Granted, poetry and well written prose can inspire a myriad of thoughts and alternative views, but cutting through the divergent layers is always a silver thread of specific intent.
Writers are not content with audiences that consume their works and go away with only unrelated tid-bits of inspiration. They spoke because they wanted someone to understand their message, to rally behind an idea, to gather at the well of common fount. Whereas art is typically designed to stimulate individuals, language is meant to gather and propel in unison.
This may be philosophical mash, but I find it instructive in considering the differences in viewing Scripture as literature. Our family sat together reading another couple pages through Wineskins and discussed how a wise student of the Bible ought to approach interpretation of what the Author wrote.
If God breathed it, should we not begin with a view that he probably meant what he said? It seems that many today are comfortable taking Scripture as just another canvas of expression, a creative spin of messages that readers are allowed to take and appreciate any old way they want. That is with one exception, by all means, don’t take it literally. Assuming that God meant what he said has significant implications and that makes us uncomfortable.
But language by its very nature is designed to express specific intent. Rather than leaving our words at the mercy of others opinions, we express ourselves as we do in order to impact others with our own meaning. We want to be understood, not just felt.
That is why we define our words. We want what we say to be grasped in our terms.
Of course, there are often unintended consequences and additional impacts from our words, but there always remains a silver thread of intent. So it is with Scripture. God said he breathed it through his human servants. He declares that the reliability and authenticity of what he communicates can never disappear, that even the smallest punctuated letters cannot disappear, and that those preserved words convey life and truth in every detail.
It is almost as if God wants us to accept that what is recorded is exactly what he wants us to act upon. We are not allowed to dismiss it as general mythology, as shifting traditions of men, as outdated documents or smeared palates of antiquity.
Every word is what God wanted recorded and it has a literal and detailed intent, in the same way that every single prophecy that has been fulfilled regarding Jesus has occurred in specific, literal, and astonishing detail. Scripture is not just some molded art, it is the literal Word of God, and he intends for us to believe it and apply it as instructed by the language employed.
There is a silver cord of specific intent in every word.
How reliable and applicable is the Bible to you? Does its meaning come from what the words mean or from concepts they might represent? How do you determine this?