Why not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God?
I suggest … that the Bible represents words written by people in
response to the presence, power, grace, providence and acting of God. Scripture
points to God and brings us into the intimate presence of God. I remember
reading Psalm 126 after a sorrowful time turned joyful. “When the Lord restored
the fortunes of Zion…” the Psalm began. I knew immediately what it meant, for I
knew that God had brought me home from exile. The Psalm put into words what I
already believed to be true. When I read the words of Ruth about her loyalty to
Naomi and her willingness to leave her people for another's people, I understood
my wife. When I read Mark 10.46-52, the healing of Blind Bartimaeus, I
understood the core of ministry.
I think we cheapen Scripture by our arguments over its being the literal word of God, dictated by God, absolutely true, and then using Scripture's own words to prove itself. Scripture presents a tougher faith, of a people who erred and strayed and yet believed God was always near.
We also cheapen Scripture by declaring it simply the words, mostly self-serving, of religious people who were forming a nation or founding a church. Their experiences of God were too potent and disturbing to be dismissed as institution-building. We need to poke and probe through Scripture, and when we do we find stories that changed people's lives. They founded a nation and built a church in response to those changes.
A word about taking the bible literally, it is impossible for two reasons. First, the English translations preachers claim to be the literal word of God, are not always true to the original language of the Bible, Hebrew. All translations are really interpretations, and there are over 400 biblical words known as hapax legomena, whose English translation we don't know. The English you read is a best guess. The second reason why biblical literalism is impossible is because no one takes the entire bible literally. Serpent handling Pentecostal Christians in Appalachia come closest to following the words of Jesus literally in Mark 16. Perhaps you are aware of people who advocate self-mutilation in obedience to Jesus’ words in Mark 9. I'm not. And if we were to execute children who insult their parents as is written in Deuteronomy 21, we’d all be dead.
from the sermon "Religion Without Humor Is Blasphemy"