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Featured Christians only; How literally do you take the Bible?

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by Xavier Graham SA, Jul 20, 2021 at 3:41 PM.

  1. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love is love is love.
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    I read the Bible with the view it is intended to be read with 100% literal belief. On this site, at least, this appears to be a minority opinion. I’m curious about the thinking that it is not 100% literal. Some Christians believe that Jesus died and was literally resurrected three days later. Yet they won’t believe the literal account of the flood, for example. What metric is used in deciding what is to be literally believed and what is not? If you don’t believe one part of the Bible, why do you believe the other?
     
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  2. halbhh

    halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things".

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    The bible is very rich with wonderful language, and plenty of metaphor is used and other beautiful wordings.

    To understand the verses well, for so many places, it's needed to be reading through fully -- the entire book, from the beginning -- with a listening attitude.

    That way, when you arrive at a verse, you'll be reading naturally, and listening (which makes all of the difference!) and find it far easier to correctly understand the verse as it's meant to be understood.

    Also, it's very helpful to have a good accurate modern translation like the NIV or the even more word for word ESV (that has a wonderful way of keeping the beauty of the wordings).

    But the main thing: listening and reading through naturally, from the beginning of a book. Just like you'd need to do with any book to understand well.

    For many Christians, they never have, and a world full of better understanding and wonderful meaning is awaiting them -- for any that have ears to hear.
     
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  3. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love is love is love.
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    So what is metaphor is decided through thematic interpretation, is what I’m gathering. I think this is valid, I know many of my beliefs on Bible philosophy is based on thematic interpretation.
    I’ll have to reread the Bible again, but next time I do I’ll be looking specifically this, the themes and alluded metaphors.
     
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  4. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    The same metric that theologians have used ever since the dawn of Christianity. Knowledge of the text and of the narrative practices of the time - and common sense.

    Origen, one of the Fathers of the Church, treated Genesis as an allegory, as early as ~200AD, based on his reading of it and how he and other scholars read other ancient stories. It was obvious to them that many stories of the Old Testament could not be literally true, nor did they need to be for the text to convey the intended message.

    It was not, and is not, a question of "whether you believe the bible" but, rather, "what you believe the bible is telling you".

    Biblical literalism, applied uncritically to the whole bible, is the rather naive invention of some c.19th Protestant sects. It has never been mainstream Christian belief. Though the NT is believed by them to be largely a true account.
     
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  5. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love is love is love.
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    Would these same people believe that the resurrection of Christ could not be literally true? I wonder. In that case they wouldn’t be Christians in the first place?
     
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  6. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love is love is love.
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    I don’t understand why though. If they believe the NT why not the OT
     
  7. Rival

    Rival Inodj har-ek Horu
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    ***THREAD MOVED TO SAME FAITH DEBATES***
     
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  8. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    Well said. The Bible is an amazing book because of who inspired it. Even the Genesis account reveals things that no human at that time could possibly have known. e.g. how could Moses know that the earth was “formless and waste” and covered with water, going on to describe in simple detail the process of preparing the earth for habitation. The appearance of dry land and creating a breathable atmosphere with a perfect mixture of gases.

    The earliest “living” things mentioned are vegetation, but bacteria and microbes were most certainly included because these would have been needed to break down the soil and encourage the growth of all vegetation.
    Genesis describes the creation of sentient creatures, the first to appear in the oceans and later on land. There was even a division between the domestic and wild animals.

    The Genesis account does not preclude the “days” as being very long periods of time, rather than just 24 hour days. This would harmonise with what science knows about the age of the earth and also the extinction of the dinosaurs which were long gone by the time of God’s last creation....man......the only creature made in his image, and given the assignment of caretakers, landscape gardeners and zookeepers.

    The flood is very obviously literal and the reasons and necessity for it were all stated quite clearly. There is evidence for a global flood, but science will simply give it another explanation.

    When the Bible is stating something metaphorically, it is usually obvious and the literal events are self explanatory, but as you said, it is important to read and understand the Bible as a whole because it is one story from start to finish. The details can only be appreciated and understood in context.

    I agree that a good translation is also beneficial to help us to understand what the original languages taught. Read along with a good concordance and an interlinear translation also enhances our understanding.
     
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  9. InChrist

    InChrist Free4ever

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    I believe the scriptures are God’s Word and therefore should be read literally except where the text is obviously figurative, allegorical, or poetic.
     
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  10. Psalm23

    Psalm23 Active Member

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    I tend towards literal thinking in reading the Bible and in general as well. There is also symbolism and different figures of speech in the Scripture.
     
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  11. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    The NT was written much later, though, and the 4 accounts, which largely corroborate one another, are taken to be evidence that much of what is described is historical. So there is no reason why, in order to take the NT mostly literally, you also need to read, say, Genesis in the same way.
     
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  12. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love is love is love.
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    That makes sense.
    I suppose, for me, if I was skeptical of the Bible in the first place, it would take more than a few books of corroboration and closeness in time to convince me of the NT’s validity. After all, I’d be giving the OT the same scrutiny, I think. But I’m no skeptic.
     
  13. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Yes, well all I'm trying to do is give you an idea of how I understand most mainstream Christians (Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodists etc) would treat it.

    Apart from anything else, there are parts of the OT which are contradicted by science and archaeology, so any educated Christian has to take those parts as allegorical.
     
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  14. Jeremiah Ames

    Jeremiah Ames Active Member

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    i look at the literal as being a “container” for the inner spiritual message.

    i believe that the inner meaning is incredibly beautiful compared to the rather dull, contradictory, difficult to reconcile, literal meaning

    for instance, Genesis 1-3 seemed contradictory and strange at first, especially since I absolutely believe it is NOT a historical real event
    but, look inside, and find something that makes beautiful sense

    Matthew 13 is a good example of the concept
    Specifically Matthew 13:11

    the Bible is a rather dull book, but it is a treasure chest filled with jewels beyond one’s imagination, if only one would open it

    (however, the literal can be quite insightful if one sticks to the red words)

    imo
     
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  15. Jeremiah Ames

    Jeremiah Ames Active Member

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    since the flood is quite literal, I have a few questions:

    how big was the ship?

    how many people were on it?

    how many animals?

    how many doors?

    how many windows?

    the door and window would not be opened during a violent storm

    but the animals had to eat, correct?

    if they eat, then they must poop

    do you know how much food 1 single elephant eats in 1 single day?

    do you know how much poop comes from 1 single elephant in 1 single day?

    how do 8 people survive in an enclosed space with all those animals and all that poop for 40 days?

    and, finally what about all the pee?

    it may sound gross, but the questions are legitimate, and the math just doesn’t add up to me.

    i’m an engineer, and to make that all work is beyond me

    but I’m more than happy to learn more about the process
     
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  16. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    Good questions, but I’m out of time right now....will address this later....thanks.
     
  17. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Not to mention the dinosaurs......:D
     
  18. Jeremiah Ames

    Jeremiah Ames Active Member

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    yes, according to Ken the Ham, there were dinosaurs as well

    sheesh, more poop
     
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  19. Xavier Graham SA

    Xavier Graham SA God is Love is love is love.
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    As a Christian, do you believe that Moses talked to God face to face, like the Bible records? I do, it seems plausible to me that this is where Moses could’ve gotten an accurate account of creation.
     
  20. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    100% literal is a strange term. I see myself as a literalist but I guess modify the term as most literalists would do so that it changes in the genre of literature that is being read in the Bible. So in Revelations and poetic literature there is more of a freedom with interpretation.
    I also have modified literal to mean understanding the Bible in terms of what science has discovered. So in the creation story a day does not necessarily mean a 24 hour day and when God says, let the earth bring forth land animals or sea creatures I can understand that in terms of evolution. Similarly for the flood account, I try to understand that in terms of what science has discovered in relation to what floods happened in the land where the Bible was written, and I can fit this into my understanding of the Bible in that the flood did not have to have covered the whole earth to do what Genesis says it did.
    But yes I agree, why believe one part and not the rest.
    Interestingly I can do this with the flood and creation story so that Genesis fits with what science has found and that is still criticised by people who do not believe the Bible.
     
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