I think it is important to recognize that not all of scripture can be taken at face value. But I also think that many churches have taken it too far. Recently a friend of mine from seminary was in class and quoted Jesus in response to a question. One of her classmates said “Well John said Jesus said…” Another mockingly said it must be true because it’s written in red letters in her Bible. Let’s try to ignore for now that Christians are ridiculing other Christians for believing something Jesus said (that is a post for another day) and look at what we’re doing to the Bible.
If we cannot even take what the Bible says Jesus said seriously, then what is the purpose of reading it in the first place? I’ll be the first to admit that stories like the Creation and Job are probably more allegory than fact, but I also think much of it did happen, particularly the Gospels. The purpose of the Bible is to teach us about God and God’s relationship with the world. If we say that scripture is inspired by God/the Holy Spirit, then that must mean the biblical writers were influenced by God on what to write down.
We often refer to God as all powerful, and I think if that is true, then God would not have allowed something incorrect to go into the Bible. When the Church put the New Testament together, they asked two questions of the possible texts: is it apostolic and is it useful? They did not include any books unless they considered it to be written by someone with authority from God (and they lived much closer to the time when the texts were actually written then we do) and to be useful to our understanding of God and how we should live. That means that while the words of Jesus (the red letters if you will) may not be exactly as he said them, the message is true to the teachings of Jesus. Every passage in the Bible deserves careful study and interpretation for us to determine what the message is. If the scriptures are truly inspired by God we cannot simply throw out the verses that don’t fit our personal idea of God.