I’ve almost finished N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian, and would highly recommend it as an explanation of the Christian faith. It’s kind of like Mere Christianity for a new generation, and would make a wonderful basis for an Alpha-like course. In one of his chapters on the Bible, Wright talks about what the Bible is and what it is for:
…The Bible isn’t there simply to be an accurate reference point for people who want to look things up and be sure they’ve got them right. It is there to equip God’s people to carry forward his purposes of new covenant and new creation. It is there to enable people to work for justice, to sustain their spirituality as they do so, to create and enhance relationships at every level, and to produce that new creation which will have about it something of the beauty of God himself. The Bible isn’t like an accurate description of how a car is made. It’s more like the mechanic who helps you fix it, the garage attendant who refuels it, and the guide who tells you how to get where you’re going. And where you’re going is to make God’s new creation happen in this world, not simply to find your own way unscathed through the old creation.
…The Bible is there to enable God’s people to be equipped to do God’s work in God’s world, not to give them an excuse to sit back smugly, knowing they possess all God’s truth.
Sometimes the people who make the biggest noise about how seriously they take the Bible (often using words like "inerrant" and "infallible") are the ones who distract people from seeing what the Bible is actually for. Ironically, in their efforts to prove they’re right about the Bible, they distract people from actually taking the Bible seriously.
And the ones who really do take the Bible seriously are often the ones who don’t make a big stink about how seriously they take the Bible; they’re just getting on with making God’s new creation a reality. Because they take it seriously, they know what it’s for, and they get on with the task.