Sunday, March 11, 2012

Taking The Bible Literally Or Not

The Bible has been examined, questioned, held in high regard by Christians, etc. throughout history. Now a lot of Christians take the Bible literally for whatever reason. I pose this question to you: Is it wrong or a bad thing to take the Bible literally? I'll let you stew on that for a moment...

When I was a child, I took things in the Bible at face value. That is vastly different than taking things literally. Now, for instance I took the creation of the Earth at face value. To me as a child, the creation was just that. I didn't necessarily take it literally.  God created the Earth, animals, day, night, people, etc..  I took it for what it was.  I didn't take it as some literal account of how the Earth was formed.  Is there any evidence to support that this actually happened?  Or is it some story that has been passed down for centuries and is supposed to be taken as the literal account of how the Earth was formed?  Legit questions and concerns that need some answers.

Another item in the Bible that a lot of people take literally is the idea that homosexuality is a sin.  They are totally taking Romans 1:18-32 out of context.  They are misinterpreting it as homosexuality is a sin thus taking it literally.  Basically Paul is saying we are all sinners which is true.  Don't use the Bible to make excuses for your homophobic attitude and your exclusion of gays.  You are taking what Paul is saying and twisting it to say what you want.  What you are doing is hermeneutical gymnastics which is twisting the Bible to say what you want.

I don't take everything in the Bible literally.  I never grew up taking things in the Bible literally.  I just took things at face value as I've stated.  Not everything in the Bible can be taken literally.  You have to really study the Bible to know what should be taken literally and what is just a story.  You need to pay attention to the context and not take it out of context ala Romans 1:18-32.  But with a good lot of people, they just read the Bible and not bother to look into it deeper or even ask questions.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Good thoughts, duder. The Bible should never be taken at face-value, it is a text that occupies the minds of people for their entire lives. It is a strange world, and because it is so strange it requires careful reading. We can't just assume it means exactly what we want it to mean. The hard work must be done to understand, just like how a musical instrument takes years of practice, reading, studying, and pondering over. This should be a lesson so-called "literalists" could consider. I don't think it is to do violence to the text or to give it less credibility or authority to say after considering the text that certain passages may best understood as not being literal (i.e., happened physically precisely in every single detail and if it didn't the whole Bible needs to be thrown out). I would argue that, at times, people who adhere to a principle of literal-interpretation are in fact doing violence to the text in making it say something it isn't trying to say.

And I'm not gonna comment on the homosexuality issue or the interpretation of the relevant texts Romans 1. That is a whole other can of worms that is no easy task to state concisely. I wrote a paper on the texts used in the homosexuality debate within the church, particularly the ECC, and ended up throwing my hands in the air. It is a tough issue to make sense of. Like I said before, you just gotta do the hard work and do your best to try and understand things. I see you are wrestling with the text and for that you get a gold star.