A century ago the mainline churches had heresy trials about the Higher Criticism of Scripture, while the conservative Protestants laughed it to scorn. The idea that the Bible was the result of the redaction (editing together) of alternative oral traditions and documentary fragments from many communities over a long time – in both the Old Testament and the New Testament – has one of those weird ideas imported from European unbelievers.
Today, even evangelical seminaries teach the documentary hypothesis and contextual interpretation as the standard scholarly way of reading the Bible. Only hard-core fundamentalists hold to the view that the original autographs were written at one go by their reputed human authors under the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even some fundamentalist Bible scholars allow that there might have been oral tradition behind some texts, and mutual influence between some of them. Heck, they even expound historical context in interpretation sometimes. Even literalists don't always take their literalism literally.
When I was in college and divinity school two decades ago I studied, knew, and accepted the historical development of Scripture, and knew JEDP and the pseudo-Pauline letters. Over the years, though, my memory of which face is hidden in which tree has faded.
I still accept the Higher Criticism as true. I just don't find it useful.
My pastor and Sunday school teachers talk about how Corinthians was written before Romans (I think), and Hebrews isn't really by Paul, and first Isaiah and second Isaiah and third Isaiah are all from different times and were responding to different terrible things that had befallen the Hebrews. I don't dispute their historical analysis. But I cannot recall a time when historical criticism ever helped me understand what the text means to the church. As a scholar, I could be interested in whether Ezekiel is exilic or post-exilic. As a Christian, I don't see that it makes much difference.
I am for a learned clergy. I am a Presbyterian, and our pastors slog through Hebrew and Greek and lots of theology and biblical interpretation. I am glad that their sermons "smell of the study lamp" – to a point. I think it is more important, though to clearly convey the idea that the Bible tells one story that includes us today. For the faith of individuals and for the faith of the church as a whole, this narrative is more important to know than the historical order in which the pieces of that story were assembled.
If I were teaching graduate students the sociology of religion or the sociology of family life, I would have them read through the classical arguments to work up to a rich understanding of the field. I teach undergraduates, though. Few of them will be sociologists. Almost all of them will be spouses and parents and members of religious institutions. What they really need is the best wisdom that I can bring them about how to make a good marriage, how to raise good children, how to be a good member of the faith. We read lots of current studies, but we look mostly to their applications. They know, and I know, that there is scholarship and interpretative argument behind each claim that they make and that I make, but the lived story of the family and the faith matters the most.
So for my part, I say preach the one living story of Scripture. Save the higher criticism of the Bible for the study.