Thursday, December 15, 2016

Overheard at the Counter: Is the Bible to be Taken Literally?

Upon hearing this question, Verble takes a long sip of his coffee and says, "Others may answer differently, but I say 'Yes ... and No.'

"First, it's important to make the distinction between the Bible and 'books' as we see them.  We see books as creations, writings, with plots and metaphors and instructions, etc.  While the Bible uses the written word - as opposed to photography or paint or sound - it is more than just the written word.  It is part of Creation just like the Universe itself is part of Creation.  So, in that way, I say 'Yes' the Bible is to be taken literally.   When Jesus says, 'It's easier to stuff a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to Heaven,' He means it.   (Sorry, Mr. Trump, but you're screwed, unless you come to know Jesus!)

"Second, I say 'No' because of what humans mean by 'literal' - Humans have a need to control, to be in control, and to trip others up.   That is what is meant by the word 'literal'  - 'Did you LITERALLY just tell your boss to take this job and shove it?' 'Why yes I did - the words came out of my mouth!'

"So, by 'literal' in most of the questions I've ever received about the 'literality' of the Bible has been in the context of Genesis - the question is 'do you believe that Adam and Eve were two human beings walking around just like you and your wife in your human bodies in 2016 walk around naked in your back yard, and did they do this 3,700 years ago according to the measurement of time that we have today?  Such as, can I take the Norman Rockwell 2017 calendar that I just bought myself, make 3700 copies of it, set them end to end and say, HAH this many days ago, Adam and Eve walked the Earth!

"No.  Because again, that is a human limitation placed on the text of the Bible, and it comes back down to my human brain imposing MY will upon the Word of God.

"The context of the argument is that - if Adam and Eve are literally true the way the Young Earth Creationists believe it to be true, then the rest of the Bible falls apart.   Most atheists use this as an argument, and all YEC's fear it.  This is why YEC's hold to it so steadfast, because they are weak in their faith.

"Both approaches are merely a human attempt to limit the Bible - to force it to conform to human understanding.   The Bible does not fall apart if Genesis can be read a different way than the Epistle of James.  Remember, the Bible is not a mystery novel or a textbook, it's a living breathing document with mysteries we cannot understand, like the Universe itself.

"I know this answer does not satisfy many people, and I apologise for that.  Sometimes I ramble.  But in summation, the best I can say is 'Yes, I believe that every word in the Bible is pregnant with meaning and glorifies God, but No, I'm not going to force it to conform to a limited human 'literal' sense - especially in the way humanity tries to argue Genesis."

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