“You don’t take the Bible literally!”
Have you ever heard that phrase? Perhaps you have been told this.
I’ve found that nothing is quite as damning as being questioned on whether you take the Bible literally by someone within the evangelical circle. So to start the new year right, I’m going to make a shocking plead here: Don’t take the Bible literally. Take the Bible seriously instead.
Like everything we read (inspired by God or otherwise), it is important to understand what we are reading. As I’m certain many have heard or discovered, the Bible is a collection of books. Within the pages of the Bible you will find histories, prophecies, poetry, and letters. And if we are going to understand what was penned years ago, then we are going to have to understand the genres.
Reading the poetry of Solomon in Song of Songs takes one method of interpretation (hint: the sampling of fruit in Song of Songs probably doesn’t mean literal fruit) while a letter by Peter takes another. Revelation is a form of apocalyptic literature that was not meant to be taken literally, the beast rising from the sea with ten horns and seven heads with diadems and blasphemous names on them is there to convey a point and is not a crazy looking lizard (unless you interpret it to be a start to a Godzilla movie).
Here’s a good resolution to embrace, quit taking the Bible literally, take it seriously. Handle it with care and allow it to speak into your life (through the work of Holy Spirit). I look to Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to rightly teach God’s Word to others, to be a caretaker/steward of it (I Timothy 1:3-7). After all, there were people even in their day that spoke confidently about things they did not understand (I Timothy 1:7). These bad teachers Paul referred to did not take God’s Word seriously, they chose to take God’s Word and twist it.
It is my hope you consider taking God’s Word seriously and not literally in this year.
Have you ever been accused of not taking the Bible literally?