If the Bible is first and foremost a single book between covers — a modern book, essentially — and a book that is there for individuals to read, it is possible to get very agitated about whether it is completely reliable. Its inspiration has to be proved and defended in terms of its obvious correctness about every detail of history or science. If it is shown not to be accurate about this sort of thing, its whole credibility is affected. But if, on the other hand, it is a collection of texts consistently used by the Holy Spirit to renew and convert the Church, something to which the Church constantly refers to test its own integrity as it meets and thinks together, the issue of whether it is all totally accurate by modern standards of history or science become less important. Genesis may not tell us how the world began in the way a modern cosmologist would; but it tells us what God wants us to know, that we are made by his love and freedom alone. The book of Daniel may be at odds with what we know about Babylonian history; but it tells us what God wants us to know about the imperative of faithfulness in a tyrannical and ungodly empire. And while we are on a different kind of ground with — say — the Gospel stories, which were written down so close to the time of the events narrated, it is still true that contradictions of detail between different Gospels are not the end of the world; they tell us what God wants us to know. Did Jesus’ driving of the moneychangers out of the Temple happen at the beginning or the end of his public career? John’s Gospel says one thing, the other Gospels say something different. But the force of the story is the same; de te loquitur, it’s about you.
~ Rowan Williams. Tokens of Trust, (Louisville, KY: WJK, 2007), 124-126.