Martin Luther had a wonderful image for the Bible – it is like the manger in which we find the Christ Child. The Bible is unique, holy, and divine because in the Scriptures we encounter the living God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In this way it is unlike any other book.

At the same time, the Bible is a human book. Like the manger, it passed through human minds, hearts, and hands to come to us. The manger was not some piece of flawless, finely sanded and varnished, high-end piece of furniture. It was a feeding trough after all. In the same way, the Bible has discrepancies and internal dissonances. God’s revelation to us developed and deepened over the centuries.

Thus, the Bible is both fully divine and fully human, and we affirm both. This requires that we distinguish the human from the divine; what is contingent from what is constant; what is eternal from what is passing away; and what was meant for one time and one place from what is intended for all times and all places. Or to put it in Luther’s terms, we must constantly distinguish between the manger and the Christ Child.