Reading the Bible LiterallyBy Jeremy Myers 49 Comments I take the Bible seriously, but a literal reading of the Bible undermines pretty much everything we do in church…Learn the most essential truths for following Jesus!Get FREE articles and audio teachings every week in my discipleship emails! CommentsLeave a Comment or Question Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *CommentName * Email * Website Don't subscribeAllReplies to my comments Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.You can also subscribe without commenting. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis The idea of “literally” reading and interpreting the Bible is a simplistic misnomer. Scripture contains numerous genres: history, law, wisdom, poetry, Gospel, Epistles, prophecy, and apocalyptic writings. Only a fool would claim to read and understand all of those “literally.”Reply Brandon Holland Level: Genesis I think the Bible’s uniqueness lies in the fact that you can read it in literal terms and it still mean more. To say that only a fool would take it literally is like saying only smart people can read the Bible. There are different levels of application in everythingReply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis Brandon – John 10:9 tells us “I am the gate …” And you are telling me it would be OK to read that literally? There are thousands of metaphors in Scripture. That is one reason why God ordained pastors – to help properly interpret the Bible. Yes, much can be read & understood by simple minds, but God provided the means for properly understanding His message to us.Reply Dickon Level: Genesis Just clarify for me scott. Only pastors can fully interpret the word of God and every one else is simple minded. Is that what you meant?Reply Paul Dames Level: Genesis Scott, nowhere in the Bible do we see that pastors are called to “help properly interpret the Bible.” Perhaps the teachers among us can have such a role, yes, but pastors are not 1. ordained in the Bible 2. full-time ministers with titles, 3. folk with superior understanding of the Bible. This is all what Constantine has passed onto us, and 1000’s of “leadership books” and “leadership rhetoric. A true pastor is simply a fellow brother in Christ who focuses on care for God’s flockReply Brandon Holland Level: Genesis I can’t disagree with that Scott although I was thinking more complex… I should have considered such…Do you think Jonah was swallowed by a whale?Reply Dave Level: Genesis Yes, real whale as it doesn’t seem to me that it is presented as a metaphor or figure of speech. FWIW, I’ve heard a couple people teach on Jonah and mentioned that in recent history there have been other(s) that have survived being swallowed by a whale and lived. They gave the source, i didn’t check it out(this was 20+ years ago). Of course if God is omnipotent, then I don’t see how something like that would be difficult to achieve. After all, if we believe Jesus rose from the dead, accepting Jonah and the whale seems easy.Reply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis Re: Jonah, I wouldn’t be dogmatic on that, but I would say “yes.” That is a good example of where a theologian being able to use the original languages, context, purpose, etc., etc., to determine how that story should be interpreted. I simply look at Matthew 12:40 and see Jesus referencing the story and it appears he is doing so in a historical matter. So i would say “yes.”Reply Brandon Holland Level: Genesis I commented on this cause a lot of people don’t believe it… It’s a faith thing… You called me out on the simple matter of metaphor which to me is out of the question but none the less true. There are many people who claim that Cain and Able I believe were twins… The whole ideal of the Bible being translated makes a lot of ideals (some not important) unknown. But in short of a man can rise from the dead or walk on water I would never said anything couldn’t be literal. I tend to consider most literal (obviously a man can’t be a physical thing lol) and I see beyond that as everything being symbolic because it applies to our current state in time.Reply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis Not sure what you’re saying here Brandon. That most of scripture can be interpreted literally?Reply Brandon Holland Level: Genesis Sorry I’m at work I’m saying all sorts of things but yea I think a lot can be taking literally… I don’t think that’s anything new but most people I meet are totally against literal interpretationsReply Wayne Francis Brownsell Level: Genesis Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale (but by a a literal “Fish see Jonah 1::17.Reply Brandon Holland Level: Genesis Example “a day with the lord is like a thousand with man”… I take that literally most don’tReply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis Paul Dames == (Sorry, I wasn’t ignoring your response Paul. My wife had been gone for a few days and just got home, so I spent some time with her and we went out to eat.) I used “ordained” in the sense that they are called and appointed to an “office” (1 Timothy 3:1), not in the sense of being ordained as we know it now (as I think you note, that was a later development). Pastors were not distinguished to be a separate group of people from teachers. Pastors (some elders) were shepherds and teachers. Ephesians 4:11 can possibly be interpreted as referring to two separate people, but from what I understand, the best interpretation does not necessarily say that.) Of course the idea of “full-time ministers with titles” was a later development. But yes, pastors were intended to have a better understanding of Scripture than most. 1 Timothy 3:2 tells us that one of the requirements of an “overseer” (pastor) was to be “able to teach.” I’m not going to go into an exegesis of any passages, but the implication of being able to teach means there is training involved and that teaching is necessary. He also needs to understand doctrine well enough to rebuke heresy (Titus 1:9). There is a lot more that could be said, and much more Scripture that could be used but that might suffice. Pastors were shepherds but that was not their only role.Reply Dickon Level: Genesis How did the disciples fit into that description?Reply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis Brandon – go back to my initial response. There are various types of scripture and some involve both an art & a science to interpret properly. There is a whole division in theology called hermeneutics that is devoted to this. It can get extremely complex. It is true that the common person can interpret much of Scripture, but one reason we have thousands of churches is because there has been a lot of faulty interpretations going on over the years. We would do better to humbly submit ourselves to sound teaching. I also wouldn’t get hung-up on the “literal” idea. That is basically meaningless.Reply Brandon Holland Level: Genesis Sound teaching is… That’s a tough one.Reply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis How to find it, or what is it?Reply Brandon Holland Level: Genesis Find it… I feel like I would need to read the Bible cover to cover multiple times and then get a masters in Hebrew to find that kind of teaching. This is what I’ve been wanting to talk to you about but you never message me back lol must be busyReply Christian Level: Genesis My brothers, you two are on the same team, you are in the same family. The family of Christ. We may not have all the answers, but we know someone who does. Scripture is incredibly powerful in that it disects the heart and reveals someone’s true heart and soul. I agree that there are many many many incorrect teachings out there, teachings that scare people away from God. I am so glad to see two other members of Christ who are diligently searching for the truth. Trust God’s timing in that the truth will be revealed to you when His timing is right. Also, people who have been led astray to the wrong teachings, to them I say “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Instead of persecuting them, let’s look at them in the potential that God sees them. It is encouraging to see two other brothers in search of God and truth so diligently. Let’s always remember to do it in the presence of the one who does have all of the answers 🙂Reply Alan Rees Level: Genesis Or is it what we do in church undermines what we read in the bible..?Reply Timothy Cain Level: Genesis That’s it.Reply Edward T. Babinski Level: Genesis Seriously? Does that mean you are a “biblical in-serious-ist?” I don’t know what such a claim means. Are you against those who take the Bible hilariously or with levity?Also, I am sure that the inerrantists imagine themselves taking the Bible “more seriously” than you do.Heck, what does “taking the Bible” even mean? Jeremy MyersReply Marissa van Eck Level: Genesis It means whatever he wants it to mean, so he can have his Communion wafer and commit deiphagy with it too *rolls eyes*Reply Marissa van Eck Level: Genesis I take it very seriously too: as one of the most dangerous threats to human civilization in existence, behind the Koran and, perhaps, Mein Kampf.Reply Thomas Hogan Level: Genesis mein kampf was written to be taken literally… the bible only has proponents of that view, but no actual direction within its pages to be interpreted this wayReply Craig Giddens Level: Genesis Read if you’re really interested in Bible study.From Gregory Koukl –I never like the question, “Do you take the Bible literally?” It comes up with some frequency, and it deserves a response. But I think it’s an ambiguous—and, therefore, confusing—question, making it awkward to answer.Clearly, even those of us with a high view of Scripture don’t take everything literally. Jesus is the “door,” but He’s not made of wood. We are the “branches,” but we’re not sprouting leaves.On the other hand, we do take seriously accounts others find fanciful and far-fetched: a man made from mud (Adam), loaves and fishes miraculously multiplied, vivified corpses rising from graves, etc.A short “yes” or “no” response to the “Do you take the Bible literally?” question, then, would not be helpful. Neither answer gives the full picture. In fact, I think it’s the wrong question since frequently something else is driving the query.Taking “Literally” Literally Let’s start with a definition. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the word “literal” means “taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory, free from exaggeration or distortion.” Why do people balk at this common-sense notion when it comes to the Bible or, more precisely, certain passages in the Bible?Let’s face it, even non-Christians read the Bible in its “usual or most basic sense” most of the time on points that are not controversial. They readily take statements like “love your neighbor as yourself” or “remember the poor” at face value. When citing Jesus’ directive, “Do not judge,” they’re not deterred by the challenge, “You don’t take the Bible literally, do you?”No, when critics agree with the point of a passage, they take the words in their ordinary and customary sense. They naturally understand that language works a certain way in everyday communication, and it never occurs to them to think otherwise.Unless, of course, the details of the text trouble them for some reason.What of the opening chapters of Genesis? Is this a straightforward account describing historical events the way they actually happened? Were Adam and Eve real people, the first human beings? Was Adam created from dust? Did Eve really come from Adam’s rib? Did Jonah actually survive three days in the belly of a great fish? Did a virgin really have a baby? Such claims seem so fanciful to many people it’s hard for them to take the statements at face value.Other times, the critic simply does not like what he reads. He abandons the “literal” approach when he comes across something in the text that offends his own philosophical, theological, or moral sensibilities. Jesus the only way of salvation? No way. Homosexuality a sin? Please. A “loving” God sending anyone to the eternal torture of Hell? Not a chance.Notice the objection with these teachings is not based on some ambiguity making alternate interpretations plausible, since the Scripture affirms these truths with the same clarity as “love your neighbor.” No, these verses simply offend. Suddenly, the critic becomes a skeptic and sniffs, “You don’t take the Bible literally, do you?” This subtle double standard, I think, is usually at the heart of the taking-the-Bible-literally challenge. Sometimes the ruse is hard to unravel. An example might be helpful here.Literal vs. Lateral In the Law of Moses, homosexual activity was punishable by death (Lev. 18:22-23 and 20:13). Therefore (the charge goes), any Christian who takes the Bible literally must advocate the execution of homosexuals.Of course, the strategy with this move is obvious: If we don’t promote executing homosexuals, we can’t legitimately condemn their behavior, since both details are in the Bible. If we don’t take the Bible literally in the first case, we shouldn’t in the second case, either. That’s being inconsistent.How do we escape the horns of this dilemma? By using care and precision with our definitions, that’s how.Here’s our first question: When Moses wrote the Law, did he expect the Jewish people to take those regulations literally? If you’re not sure how to answer, let me ask it another way. When an ordinance is passed in your local state (California, in my case), do you think the legislators intend its citizens to understand the words of the regulations “in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory, free from exaggeration or distortion”?Of course they do. Legal codes are not written in figurative language allowing each citizen to get creative with the meaning. The same would be true for the Mosaic Law. Moses meant it the way he wrote it.But now, it seems, we’re stuck on the other horn of the dilemma. To be consistent, shouldn’t we currently campaign for the death penalty for homosexuals? For that matter, aren’t we obliged to promote execution for disobedient children and Sabbath-breakers, both capital crimes under the Law?The simple answer is no. Here’s why. Just because a biblical command is intended to be understood literally, does not mean it is intended to be applied laterally, that is, universally across the board to all peoples at all times in all places.Consider this situation. Jesus told Peter to cast his net in deep water (Luke 5:4). That’s exactly what Peter did because he took Jesus’ command literally, in its ordinary sense. He had no reason to think otherwise. However, because Jesus’ command to Peter was literal does not mean the same command applies laterally to everyone else. We’re not obliged to cast nets into deep water just because Peter was.Here’s another way of looking at it. No matter what state you live in, the California legal codes are to be read literally, but don’t have lateral application to all states. They only apply to those in California.In the same way, the words of the Mosaic Law, like those of all laws, are to be taken at face value by anyone who reads them. Yet only those under its jurisdiction are obliged to obey its precepts.The Jews in the theocracy were expected to obey the legal code God gave them, including the prohibition of and punishment for homosexuality. It was not the legal code God gave to gentiles, however. Therefore, even if the words of the Mosaic Law are to be taken literally by those under the jurisdiction of that code, this does not mean that in our current circumstances we are governed by the details of the provisions of that Law. A clarification is necessary here. Am I saying that nothing written in the Mosaic Law is ever applicable to Christians or other gentiles or that there are no universal moral obligations that humanity shares with the Jews of Moses’ time. No, I’m not saying that. Though Moses gave legal statutes for Jews under the theocracy, that Law in some cases still reflects moral universals that have application for those outside the nation of Israel. Yes, we can glean wisdom and moral guidance from the Law of Moses for our own legal codes, but there are limits. Working out those details is a different discussion, however. 1 The question here is not whether we take the Mosaic Law literally, but whether we are now under that legal code. We are not. That law was meant for Jews living under a theocracy defined by their unique covenant with God. Simply because a directive appears in the Mosaic Law does not, by that fact alone, make it obligatory for those living outside of Israel’s commonwealth.Americans are a mixture of peoples in a representative republic governed by a different set of decrees than the Jews under Moses. We are not obliged to obey everything that came down from Sinai. Just because it was commanded of the Nation of Israel does not necessarily mean it is commanded of us. If anyone thinks otherwise, he is duty-bound to take his net and cast it into deep water.That confusion aside, we’re still faced with our original question: When do we take the Bible literally?Reading the Ordinary Way Here’s how I would lay the groundwork for an answer. If I’m asked if I take the Bible literally, I would say I think that’s the wrong question. I’d say instead that I take the Bible in its ordinary sense, that is, I try to take the things recorded there with the precision I think the writer intended.I realize this reply might also be a bit ambiguous, but here, I think, that’s a strength. Hopefully, my comment will prompt a request for clarification. This is exactly what I want. I’d clarify by countering with a question: “Do you read the sports page literally?” If I asked you this question, I think you’d pause because there is a sense in which everyone reads the sports page in a straightforward way. Certain factual information is part of every story in that section. However, you wouldn’t take everything written in a woodenly literal way that ignores the conventions of the craft.“Literally?” you might respond. “That depends. If the writer seems to be stating a fact—like a score, a location, a player’s name, a description of the plays leading to a touchdown—then I’d take that as literal. If he seems to be using a figure of speech, then I’d read his statement that way, figuratively, not literally.”Exactly. Sportswriters use a particular style to communicate the details of athletic contests clearly. They choose precise (and sometimes imaginative) words and phrases to convey a solid sense of the particulars in an entertaining way.Sportswriters routinely use words like “annihilated,” “crushed,” “mangled,” “mutilated,” “stomped,” and “pounded,” yet no one speculates about literal meanings. Readers don’t scratch their heads wondering if cannibalism was involved when they read “the Anaheim Angels devoured the St. Louis Cardinals.”We recognize such constructions as figures of speech used to communicate in colorful ways events that actually (“literally”) took place. In fact, we never give those details a second thought because we understand how language works.When a writer seems to be communicating facts in a straightforward fashion, we read them as such. When we encounter obvious figures of speech, we take them that way, too. That’s the normal way to read the sports page. It’s also the normal—and responsible—way to read any work, including the Bible. Always ask, “What is this writer trying to communicate?” This is exactly what I’m after when I say, “I take the Bible in its ordinary sense.”Of course, someone may differ with the clear point the Bible is making. Fair enough. There’s nothing dishonest about disagreement. Or they might think some Christian is mistaken on its meaning. Misinterpretation is always possible. Conjuring up some meaning that has little to do with the words the writer used, though, is not a legitimate alternative.If someone disagrees with the obvious sense of a passage, ask them for the reasons they think the text should be an exception to the otherwise sound “ordinary sense” rule. Their answer will tell you if their challenge is intellectually honest, or if they’re just trying to dismiss biblical claims they simply don’t like.Two Thoughts on Metaphor Reading any writing the ordinary way requires we understand two points about figurative speech, both implicit in the concept of metaphor.The New Oxford American Dictionary defines metaphor as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable…a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else.” So, metaphors take one meaning of a word and then creatively leverage it into another meaning to make an impact on a reader.Here is the first point to be clear on: All metaphors (or other forms of figurative writing) rely first on literal definitions before they can be of any use as figures of speech. All words must first be understood in their “usual or most basic sense” before they can be used metaphorically. We find, for example, the word “shepherd” prominently featured in the 23rd Psalm. Do you see that we must first understand the literal meaning of “shepherd” before the phrase “the Lord is my shepherd” has any figurative power?This point is critical for accurate biblical interpretation. Here’s why. Sometimes we attempt to solve interpretive problems by digging through a Bible dictionary. This can be a helpful place to start, but since all figurative language trades in some way on dictionary definitions, the dictionary is not the final word. It can never tell you what use a specific writer is making of any particular word or phrase.Strictly speaking, since no word is a metaphor in itself, words cannot be used metaphorically unless they’re embedded in a context. Therefore, it makes no sense to ask of a solitary word, “Is the word meant literally?” because the word standing on its own gives no indication.Dictionaries by definition can only deal with words in isolation. Other things—context, genre, flow of thought, etc.—determine if the word’s literal sense is being applied in a non-literal way, symbolically “regarded as representative” of something else. Take two sentences, “The sunshine streamed through my window,” and, “Sweetheart, you’re a ray of sunshine to me this morning.” Sunshine’s literal meaning is the same in each case. However, it is used literally in the first sentence, but metaphorically in the second. Further, unless my wife understands the literal meaning of “sunshine,” she will never understand the compliment I’m offering her in a poetic sort of way.So first, literal definitions must be in place first before a word can be used figuratively.Second, metaphors are always meant to clarify, not obscure.2There’s a sense in which figurative speech drives an author’s meaning home in ways that words taken in the ordinary way could never do. “All good allegory,” C.S. Lewis notes, “exists not to hide, but to reveal, to make the inner world more palpable by giving it an (imagined) concrete embodiment.”3Figurative speech communicates literal truth in a more precise and powerful way than ordinary language can on its own. The strictly literal comment, “Honey, your presence makes me feel good today” doesn’t pack the punch that the “sunshine” figure provides. The metaphor makes my precise point more powerfully than “words in their usual or most basic sense” could accomplish.Remember, even when metaphor is in play, some literal message is always intended. Hell may not have literal flames,4 but the reality is at least as gruesome, ergo the figure. Once again, it’s always right to ask, “What is the precise meaning the writer is trying to communicate with his colorful language?” But how do we do that? Here I have a suggestion.The Most Important Thing If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one useful tip I could offer to help you solve the riddle of Scriptural meaning, it’s this: Never read a Bible verse. That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph—at least.On the radio I use this simple rule to help me answer the majority of Bible questions I’m asked, even when I’m not familiar with the particular passage. When I quickly survey the paragraph containing the verse in question, the larger context almost always provides the information I need to help me understand what’s going on. This works because of a basic rule of all communication: Meaning flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units. The key to the meaning of any verse comes from the paragraph, not just from the individual words.Here’s how it works. First, get the big picture. Look at the broader context of the book. What type of writing is it—history, poetry, proverb, letter? Different genres have different rules for reading them.Next, stand back from the verse and look for breaks in the passage that identify major units of thought. Then ask yourself, “What in this paragraph or group of paragraphs gives any clue to the meaning of the verse in question? In general, what idea is being developed? What is the flow of thought?”With the larger context now in view, you can narrow your focus and speculate on the meaning of the verse itself. When you come up with something that seems right, sum it up in your own words. Finally—and this step is critical— see if your paraphrase—your summary—makes sense when inserted in place of the verse in the passage. I call this “the paraphrase principle.” Replace the text in question with your paraphrase and see if the passage still makes sense in light of the larger context. Is it intelligible when inserted back into the paragraph? Does it dovetail naturally with the bigger picture? If it doesn’t, you know you’re on the wrong track.This technique will immediately weed out interpretations that are obviously erroneous. It’s not a foolproof positive test for accuracy since some faulty interpretations could still be coherent in the context. However, it is a reliable negative test, quickly eliminating alternatives that don’t fit the flow of thought. If you will begin to do these two things—read the context carefully and apply the paraphrase principle—you will radically improve the accuracy of your interpretations. Remember, meaning always flows from the larger units to the smaller units. Without the bigger picture, you’ll likely be lost.Don’t forget the rule: Never read a Bible verse. Always read a paragraph at least if you want to be confident you’re getting the right meaning of the verse.Do I take the Bible literally? I try to I take it at its plain meaning unless I have some good reason to do otherwise. This is the basic rule we apply to everything we read: novels, newspapers, periodicals, and poems. I don’t see why the Bible should be any different.Reply MODERATOR Level: Genesis For future reference: Future long comments, especially long quotes from other sources will be edited. Limit quotes from other sources to one or two short paragraphs. Tell us where to find the entire article, but don’t quote it. This is Jeremy’s blog, not Mr. Koukl’s. You or he may submit a prospective guest post to Jeremy for consideration. Please do not try to turn a comment into a guest post.This comment is almost three thousand words, five single-spaced pages in a Word document. If Jeremy has not read it, he may decide to edit it when he does. When you post Scripture as part of your comment, limit the quotes to a few verses. Post the references for long lists of Scripture. The readers have Bibles and can look up the references.Reply Marissa van Eck Level: Genesis Hurr hurr hurr. So that part about “and these shall go away into eternal punishment,” is that literal?Your God runs an eternal, inescapable concentration camp full of fear and pain and horror and misery and torture for what amount to his political prisoners. That may very well be THE single worst idea ANY human has EVER had. You better pray this thing isn’t actually real.Reply Christian Level: Genesis Marissa,The Gospel is the truth. Us humans have however jaded the truth. And one of those lies is the doctrine of eternal torture. The punishment for the wicked is death.Take this for example, what do you think will happen to you when you pass away? We were not born with immortal souls. However once you put your faith in Jesus, he will clothe you with life everlasting. He loves you so much and thought of you personally on that Cross when he was put to death (which is a historical fact) so that he can have a relationship with you now and forever. Don’t believe the lies telling you that God isn’t full of Love. He is Love.Do me a favour and say a simple prayer for me tonight. You don’t have to have too much faith, I have some for you. Just say “Lord, please open my eyes and my ears to see and hear you”. You will be amazed :). All it will take is 10 seconds, there is nothing to loose right?Reply Elodie Level: Genesis Hello, sorry if my English suck I’m french, my brother is a atheist. Only God can judge we human should not judge anyone because only God know were one heart lies, the bible help you to understand God view, mind and feeling. God does not force you to agree to his view, he gave this son because he loved the world, and love is free, he is God he did know that a lot of people would not come, but he have faith in us, it is a choice. Satan did tell God that we human can not be perfect like God want the perfect exemple is Job story. But God did have faith, why because he is your Father. In the Bible, there was a line, who did tell that David did leave all this sons do what they wanted but only Salomon could not. Hébreux 12 6-11 Read it and you will know why. I read a lot of people say bad things about gays people, but you know God know your heart if one is in love with the same sex,how much it pain him to separate them, but he has to, why because he want their children to live. Love is also to sacrifice yourself for one happiness and trust me no one but God and Jesus did sacrifice more. The pay of sin is death, that is also why in case like that God tell us to look at him, because if we look at him we forget about yourself, he tell you to share your pain, he tell you he is the only things you can count and will not change. When you give to him the share of love you wanted to give, he will not forsake you, he will love you twice, day or night he thinks only for your good. When someone go to a priest he will tell you something that “when a men sleep with a men like he sleep with a woman it is abomination to God, because he made them men and women, etc” well you see that it is why it is a sin the theory. But the feeling is not only that,God made the women body to adapt to the men body, like a puzzle, if you force a piece to enter it will distort the image right it is the same things for your body, sex does not only mean baby, but it is only when you join with a compatible body that it is not a sin, God is the best doctor because he made your body, only he know the result in your body and he is also your Father, who’s father do not want this child healthy or happy, or better the night thinks even if it is not your fault “why does my child as to suffer all this, and walk in the difficult road”. God does not need to sleep but he does have worry, us as a Father. When i was more young i did find this verse who did tell that there people who have more chance to be Gay than other, God does not want to send you to hell, he just want you to give him a chance. If God can forgive and love angel, and they were perfect, he can forgive and love you too. The only one who can not is Lucifer because he do not want to, God heart is not made of iron, if there are evil people alive in this world it is only because God want them to repent to, there are most evil people who as a children or teenager was sweet but because of another being became evil, Only God know what it did make them change or their pain but only one things is sure as God he did have the first seat to see all their pain and live, and to my point of view as a Father it is by no means lesser than the pain he did feel for them or them victimes, like a electric chair.Reply Stacy Cardoza Level: Genesis I feel like the modern day church is into temple building and Pharisee collecting. Most church growth is lateral…if what the modern day church is doing is not bringing the gospel to unbelievers, doing real discipling, and sending those people out to reach more unbelievers …we are not doing church right at all….just hosting a social club. …but that’s just my opnion.Reply Timothy Cain Level: Genesis Preach it!Reply Carl Bradley Level: Genesis It is easy to pick and choose what we want in the Bible, as in any thing in our world. It is quite eye-opening, when looking at a particular verse in the Bible, to ask yourself this question: “What does it say?” Yes, it may damage many of our conceptions about the church, the world, and ourselves, but it is always enlightening to ask this question. It was one of Jesus’ complaints against the Pharisees and the Sadducee that they made the Word of God to “no effect” through their traditions.Reply Beverly ODay Level: Genesis Not all of the bible is meant to be taken literally. BUT having said that, everything in the bible, has a Literal meaning. Such as Jesus Christ is the Lamb of GOD. This does not mean, Jesus is a lamb that baas and eats grass, but it does mean, that Jesus is the Spotless lamb, that, the Godhead determined, would be the ONE TIME Sacrifice for ALL SINNERS.Reply RW Backus Level: Genesis I neither see it as literal or figurative. I simply ask if it’s true. I see it as a spiritual true book that simply is and speaks of the isness pointing to the God who is of his own account.Reply Elodie Level: Genesis The bible is not just a book nor a story, it is a book of overall opinion of various people about God, their view of (there in the Bible people who compared God to a mother), their history, their feelings and own method of worship God (like David). The term literally is a little … but it dangerous to cherry pick part of the bible because of four reasons: 1.There part of the bible who was written years after the first. 2. The old testament introduce us God different in the new God is our Father. 3. We can not choose a verse to justify our action and leave the one who discipline us. 4.Word have different sense, one can only understand the meaning if you know who say it, it help to know God. But because of God is life you also have to live with this word in your heart.Reply Elodie Level: Genesis I mean their view of God.Reply Neville Briggs Level: Genesis It seems that the main argument in these comments is about knowledge.Knowledge is an important theme in the Bible I think you would agree. And I am an avid reader and seek fervently to increase my knowledge, especially of Biblical truth. However it seems to me that I ought to be always careful, in the light of the apostle’s warning that ” Knowledge puffs up with pride; whereas love builds up. The person who thinks he knows something doesn’t yet know in the way he ought to know. However if someone loves God, God knows him”The context of Paul’s comment is about eating food sacrificed to idols. Paul seems to talking about the conflict between those who thought that eating the meat was a literal ingesting of demonic things and those who held that these meals were just ordinary food not actual occult substance and only symbolic if you believed them to be. The clever people who understood reality from imaginary were apparently looking down on those naïve folk who still had superstitious worries.This saying seems a bit hard for me to fathom, but I venture to think that Paul is saying to the church that “correct” knowledge of literal versus figurative is nowhere near as important love for our fellow believers. And nowhere near as important as God’s knowledge of us. And God knows our motives and limitations. And He knows us if we are His.As is often quoted and attributed to various people ” It is not the parts of the Bible that I don’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts I do understand ”p.s. do I stumble over the knowledge temptation, yes I do. I shouldn’t, I know very little really.Reply Dave Level: Genesis I think the evil one rejoices every time the sentiment expressed here is repeated. I think ‘knowledge puffs up’ verse may be this is Satan’s favorite verse, and it is frequently presented in this way to beat down those that try to know God, and those that try to follow the numerous versus that command us to grow in knowledge.I think any teaching that forces one to white out literally dozens of other biblical injunctions needs to be reexamined. Of course, since every church that I’ve attended for decades(one exception) has been not only anti-knowledge, but rabidly anti-knowledge. One hears here this in pulpits everywhere incessantly. Why? To keep the laity ignorant, easily manipulated and under control. The evil one loves it because they are then so easy to deceive and are no match for him to destroy spiritually.Is knowledge really the danger here?Hosea 4:6 –My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.I’ve been around church folk for decades, in institutions of higher learning, Orthodox, Messianic, Bible Thumping, and more liberal churches. I have yet to meet ONE individual whose downfall was too much knowledge. Not saying it’s not possible, but in the face of American Christendom that’s obsessed at every turn with attacking those that pursue knowledge, I find it this concern ironic.What does the scripture say? Should we implement one verse in such a way that would contradict the bulk of Paul’s life and ministry? And contradict the bulk of what numerous biblical authors taught?Proverbs 18:15-An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.Proverbs 1:7 –The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.Proverbs 2:10 –Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold,Proverbs 15:14 – The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.Proverbs 2My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.Proverbs 1:22“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?Proverbs 1:5Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,Proverbs 1:29Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;This is just a sample, the bible is saturated from front to back extoling the essential nature of pursuing knowledge. Should we white out ALL of these versus because of this ONE interpretation of this one verse? How many christians have you known that fell into horrible sin as a result from too much bible reading?Reply Jeremy Myers Level: Genesis Very very strange. I am sorry, I don’t know what happened to them…Reply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis Thanks Jeremy. I’ve attempted to continue the conversation with another fellow through messaging. He seemed to have some serious questions. Thank you for your posts that stimulate good interactions!Reply Neville Briggs Level: Genesis Hello Dave, unfortunately, your harsh and unfair judgment bears no relevance to what I said.Reply Dave Level: Genesis You wrote:unfortunately, your harsh and unfair judgment bears no relevance to what I said.That’s like saying I didn’t use nouns and adjectives from the English language.Reply Steven G. Lee Level: Genesis Ha!Reply Scott Hillestad Level: Genesis ??Reply Paul Dames Level: Genesis My comment is also gone. Must be a technical fault of some sortReply Don Reiher Level: Genesis As Dr. Radmacher used to drill into our heads. We need to interpret all scripture from the viewpoint of the intent of the original author, as either “plain literal” or “figurative literal.” There is always a literal meaning being conveyed from the mind of the author, whether in plain literal language or figurative language.Reply Dave Level: Genesis Well said.ReplyLeave a Comment or Question Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *CommentName * Email * Website Don't subscribeAllReplies to my comments Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.You can also subscribe without commenting. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.