The Scriptures are very interesting, and of course they are the basis of all Christian churches. The question above is asked by all who think and read those scriptures. Now there are lots of figures of speech in there because the Bible is also excellent literature employing simile, metaphor, and hyperbole. But is it wise to stick with only the allegorical, & mythical senses and avoid the literal sense? Many of our denominations today seem to prefer the non-literal styles of interpretation. And I believe a lot of people today lack the moral courage to associate with literal Biblical commitment & principles, fearing the social reproach or persecution factor.
So “Why not literal?” The problem appears to be a handful of things; 7 day creation & young earth, MIRACLES, the devil, Christ as God, and heaven & hell. John 5:28-29 “the hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall come forth . . . some to resurrection of life & some to resurrection of damnation.” Let’s face it; the MIRACULOUS is right at the CORE of most folk’s objection. Here are a few philosophers’ attitudes.
-- “Get rid of the miracles and the whole world will fall at the feet of J.C.” Jean Jacques Rousseau
(what a crock.)
-- “A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders.
Robert Ingersoll - 1880
-- “In religion man denies his reason.” Ludwig Feuerbach
-- I have personally heard a liberal clergyman say, “I don’t want to cut off MY head.” (Incidentally, he had a master’s degree in philosophy also.)
The above attitudes of unbelief lead to a condition in religious thought called “liberalism.” John H. Newman, English Bishop 1879 produced the best definition I’ve seen. “Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one God is as good as another.” Well, if we don’t want to stand LITERAL it’s almost certain we will fall liberal. And when the flood gate of liberalism opens, the best parts of Biblical faith are at risk or washed away. (“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalms 11:3) Liberalism kills the very things that promote Christian VICTORY & HOPE such as one-way salvation, God’s blessing, His personal friendship & presence, personal miracles, resurrection of the dead, streets of gold in heaven, seeing “previously gone” loved ones there, etc., etc.. All that remains is the “form of religion without the power there of,” 2 Timothy 3:5, and a nothingness concept of the next life. And of course, the Biblically false concept that, “all paths lead to the same Heaven.” (See John 14:6)
So “Why Literal”? Firstly – the integrity of the Word of God is upheld. Then I would say we honor God when we give Him the benefit of the doubt. I believe FAITH & BELIEVING are God’s required catalysts to understand Bible accounts, and see Divine action. Jesus was a very special character & He puts a premium on believing. At a real quick glance at just the present tense of the word “believe,” there are 13 places in the Old Testament where it is used, but 108 in the New Testament. And “faith” is also a New Testament concept that is dynamic. God is looking for it in people. See Hebrews chapter 11. (And when we don’t feel the “good stuff” but only doubts, we can say to God “help my unbelief” Mark 9:24). He helped my unbelief right at the start by showing me miracles. See links 7, 33, & 43. When we experience a miracle or two it will put all of the Bible in a new light, after which being LITERAL is no problem.
Now, do I believe literally where it says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out...?” Matthew 5:29 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother… ” Luke 14:26 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” Psalms 91:4 NAS No, those are figures of speech. Would I participate in venomous snake handling in church to prove the presence of the Holy Spirit? Mark 16:18 No, I don’t go there; my wife would beat me for that (LOL). All I am saying in this essay is: believe the Bible – give it a chance. John 20:31 “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” And that phrase “life in His name” is a New Testament concept that has changed people & the world for two thousand years now. Choose Jesus, He is alive.
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