This is an outstanding post. Trustworthy for what indeed.
To add my $0.02 to OP’s question. I don’t use the word trustworthy but it can be substituted in for “useful” and “inspired” below:
"In order for the Bible to be considered useful and inspired it must only serve the purpose for which God intended it. If God desired an inerrant scripture we would have one, no question. Why are many Christians certain God actually cares if the Bible is free from all errors or not? The purpose of the Bible is not to teach us exactly how Judas died or how long it took God to fashion the earth. The point is He created the earth and is sovereign over it. The purpose is to mediate the sacred and bring people to Himself through the redemptive work of Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 speaks to the purpose of scripture:
2 Timothy 3:15-17: and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. NRSV
The most important part of this passage in 2 Timothy is that God left us a record and message of salvation history so that we could come to know him through his Son. . . . a text does not need to be factually inerrant to lead us to Jesus, to be useful for teaching, reproof, etc. If we look at the Lucan prologue we see the purpose of his Gospel (Luke 1:1- 4). Does Luke have to be completely inerrant in all details for Theophilus to know the truth about the things he was instructed? Can one not write an informative work, the central message of which is true, that has some errors in it? Whether or not the Bible is inerrant, its salvific track-record delineates its general trustworthiness in fulfilling God’s intended purpose. It has mediated the sacred and helped God bring his message of salvation through Jesus to billions of people."
If we view the Bible as God’s Encyclopedia of theological facts and history then it is absolutely not trustworthy and has outdated and sometimes grotesque morality. The Bible reflects the worldview and beliefs of the people God spoke through. He accommodated his message and spoke through people in a manner that would make sense to his audiences at the time. This is not to say every letter in the Bible was specifically chosen or penned by God. That model of plenary inspiration is as bankrupt as is young earth creationism. The Bible is trustworthy because it is the book used to mediate the sacred and teach us about God’s character and his incarnated Son.
As far as the Hebrew Scriptures go, there was a lot of war-mongering back then and the Bible is just a collection of Israel’s history and development and usually each story had meaning or importance in the time it was written. These stories aren’t about history, they were about the present situation when they were written. Back then, there was a lot of uncertainty and war in life it seems. I certainly don’t buy the “God will help us steal this land and destroy our enemies” lines in there but littered throughout the OT is God’s chosen people failing, him punishing them and forgiving them. God detests and will punish sin. Jesus speaks of God judging sinners as well. Personally, that is all I get out of these stories, many of which have but a kernel of historicity if any.
These stories reflect the harshness of their times and depict the thoughts of God’s people living in a time of war. Sometimes it rage coming out and sometimes its sorrow or joy. But the theme is that sinning is bad and judgment will result. Some Churches today don’t like the idea of judgment but its found all over the the entire Bible. There is quite a bit of divine violence in the NT as well. Compare Jesus trotting to Jerusalem on the peace donkey vs the Cosmic Christ of Revelation with his blood stained cloak on a war horse. Jesus using a sickle or whatever his weapon of choice is to kill billions of people is not part of my image of God. Which version of Jesus is correct? Both or should we choose to harmonize like good fundamentalists?
Crossan writes, “The first and fundamental question . . . is this: how do we Christians know which is our true God—our Bible’s violent God, or our Bible’s nonviolent God? The answer is actually obvious. The norm and criterion of the Christian Bible is the biblical Christ. Christ is the standard by which we measure everything else in the Bible. Since Christianity claims Christ as the image and revelation of God, then God is violent if Christ is violent, and God is nonviolent is Christ is nonviolent.
This is even given in what we are called. We are called Christ-ians not Bible-ians, so our very name asserts the ascendancy of Christ over the Bible. But this only raises a second question. Which Christ do we mean? The nonviolent Christ riding on the peace donkey in the Gospel, or the violent Christ riding on the white warhorse in Revelation. . . . If, for Christians, the biblical Christ is the criterion of the biblical God, then, for Christians, the historical Jesus is the criterion of the Biblical Christ. This, is, once again, rather obvious. Christianity counts time down to the birth of the historical Jesus and up from that nativity. His historical birth is the hinge of time, breaking Christian history into a before and after rather than running it all towards it apocalyptic consummation. And that, of course, is why certain Christians ask, “WWJD,” that is, “What would Jesus do?” rather than “WWBS,” or “What would the Bible say? . . . Therefore, and with all due respect to Islamic tradition, we are not “the People of the Book.” We are “the People with the Book,” but even more importantly, we are “the People of the Person.” This is why a favorite Christian quotation from John’s Gospel does not say that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Book,” but “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (3.6) . . . Christianity’s godsend is not a book but a person, and that person is the historical Jesus. It is precisely that historical Jesus who Christians proclaim as “the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4)."
To put is bluntly, for Christians, Jesus and the Incarnation trumps everything. Interpret everything in light of God lowering himself and becoming one of us.