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Thread: How literal are you?

  1. #1
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    How literal are you?

    When you read the Bible how literal do you take it?

    Hopefully when we read the Bible we are asking the Holy Spirit for understanding and discernment, but obviously not everyone is doing this otherwise we would agree on everything.

    It just seems like people read the Bible with a certain mindset, either super literal or not literal at all, or somewhere in between.

    I was just curious to know how others see themselves when reading the Bible, literal or no?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: How literal are you?

    Good question.

    Personally I call myself a contextual literalist. Meaning I take everything as literal as far as the context will allow.

    For instance. A parable is an analogy. But it does have a literal application. Jesus spoke them to literal people for a literal purpose. For this reason I do not consider parables to be applicable for however we want. They are applicable for the purpose and circumstance which Jesus was addressing at that time.
    "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
    C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."

    "Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years"
    "Sometimes the sky rains night after night, When will it clear?"

    "But our Hope endures the worst of conditions"
    "It's more than our optimism, Let the earth quake"
    "Our Hope is unchanged"
    "Our Hope Endures" Natalie Grant

  3. #3
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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidC View Post
    When you read the Bible how literal do you take it?

    Hopefully when we read the Bible we are asking the Holy Spirit for understanding and discernment, but obviously not everyone is doing this otherwise we would agree on everything.

    It just seems like people read the Bible with a certain mindset, either super literal or not literal at all, or somewhere in between.

    I was just curious to know how others see themselves when reading the Bible, literal or no?

    Thanks.
    If the author of the passage intends his words to be taken literal, we take them literally. If he intends them metaphorically, we take them metaphorically, etc. Whatever the author intends to say is what we want to know.

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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by CadyandZoe View Post
    If the author of the passage intends his words to be taken literal, we take them literally. If he intends them metaphorically, we take them metaphorically, etc. Whatever the author intends to say is what we want to know.
    That becomes the difficult part.

    "Knowing" what the author intended.

    Since none of the authors of the Bible stated how they intended their writings to be taken it is completely up to the reader to decide how the author meant it to be taken. Which brings us back to David's question.
    "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
    C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."

    "Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years"
    "Sometimes the sky rains night after night, When will it clear?"

    "But our Hope endures the worst of conditions"
    "It's more than our optimism, Let the earth quake"
    "Our Hope is unchanged"
    "Our Hope Endures" Natalie Grant

  5. #5
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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old man View Post
    Good question.

    Personally I call myself a contextual literalist. Meaning I take everything as literal as far as the context will allow.

    For instance. A parable is an analogy. But it does have a literal application. Jesus spoke them to literal people for a literal purpose. For this reason I do not consider parables to be applicable for however we want. They are applicable for the purpose and circumstance which Jesus was addressing at that time.
    What about how Jesus said to cut off your hand in order to keep from sinning? To you is this literal.
    Note: I don't take this literal, I mean isn't sin a heart issue, not a hand issue?
    But did Jesus mean what He said?

    What about selling all your posessions? Did Jesus really mean to do this? This doesn't seem to be an allegory.

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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by CadyandZoe View Post
    If the author of the passage intends his words to be taken literal, we take them literally. If he intends them metaphorically, we take them metaphorically, etc. Whatever the author intends to say is what we want to know.
    So you would cut off your hand?
    Sell all your posessions?
    Those were spoken literal, no?

  7. #7
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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old man View Post
    That becomes the difficult part.

    "Knowing" what the author intended.

    Since none of the authors of the Bible stated how they intended their writings to be taken it is completely up to the reader to decide how the author meant it to be taken. Which brings us back to David's question.
    Are you saying we are supposed to use our own logic to figure it out?

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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidC View Post
    When you read the Bible how literal do you take it?

    Hopefully when we read the Bible we are asking the Holy Spirit for understanding and discernment, but obviously not everyone is doing this otherwise we would agree on everything.

    It just seems like people read the Bible with a certain mindset, either super literal or not literal at all, or somewhere in between.

    I was just curious to know how others see themselves when reading the Bible, literal or no?

    Thanks.
    I attempt to always take it literally until it either say otherwise or it creates an absurdity. But as Old man has posted above, the allegorical, parabolic and prophet symbolism must lead to a literal fulfillment. There is no record of an allegorically fulfilled prophecy. Added to this I try to find scripture to interpret scripture, and I never form doctrine from Types, Shadows and Parables unless direct statements on the subject are found in scripture. Types, Shadows and Parables are limited narratives usually using the creation to show the things of God, and because they are limited, they will lead to error if taken to their uttermost end. Take the Brazen Serpent Moses lifted up in the Wilderness. Take it to its final end and our Lord Jesus would have to be a Serpent. But no! He is only a Brazen Serpent. Brass for showing judgement (as Korah's Censers did - Numbers 16), and Serpent for showing that our Lord was made sin for us (2nd Cor.5:21) in His body (1st Pet.2:24) but did not possess the true nature of a serpent (Heb.4:15).

  9. #9
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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walls View Post
    I attempt to always take it literally until it either say otherwise or it creates an absurdity. But as Old man has posted above, the allegorical, parabolic and prophet symbolism must lead to a literal fulfillment. There is no record of an allegorically fulfilled prophecy. Added to this I try to find scripture to interpret scripture, and I never form doctrine from Types, Shadows and Parables unless direct statements on the subject are found in scripture. Types, Shadows and Parables are limited narratives usually using the creation to show the things of God, and because they are limited, they will lead to error if taken to their uttermost end. Take the Brazen Serpent Moses lifted up in the Wilderness. Take it to its final end and our Lord Jesus would have to be a Serpent. But no! He is only a Brazen Serpent. Brass for showing judgement (as Korah's Censers did - Numbers 16), and Serpent for showing that our Lord was made sin for us (2nd Cor.5:21) in His body (1st Pet.2:24) but did not possess the true nature of a serpent (Heb.4:15).
    Thanks Walls. Can you give an example of scriptur that creates an absurdity?

  10. #10

    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidC View Post
    When you read the Bible how literal do you take it
    The bulk of the Bible must be taken in its plain literal sense. At the same time there are metaphors and figures of speech scattered throughout. The primary criterion is that Scripture does not contradict itself, and in the end it is the Holy Spirit who must interpret the Word of God to the Christian. When we see metaphors, we need to search deeper for the spiritual truth behind them. For example Jesus said He is the Bread of Life. So in what sense is He to be partaken as "Bread", and how does He nourish the soul and give life to the spirit? Those questions are answered in Scripture, not in human logic.

  11. #11
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    Re: How literal are you?

    I try to take everything in the Bible literally, unless obviously symbolic, such as cutting one's hand off. I do not spiritualize prophecy, such as those who spiritualize prophecies to Israel. There could be a spiritual application in prophecy but it doesn't negate the literal fulfillment. Parables are another area of misinterpretation. For example, Luke 16 with Lazarus and the rich man. Those who contend there is no hell where the lost are tormented throw out this story because "it's just a parable," as if Jesus would tell a mistruth to illustrate a truth. When people choose to believe false doctrines to suit their personal agenda, they begin to spiritualize many passages.

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    Re: How literal are you?

    I take the Bible completely literal from Genesis to Revelation.

    However, the literary device(s) [ among other things ] must be factored in of course.

    Revelation imo is written in largely symbolic language ( apocalyptic literature ) yet it still is to be understood "literally", now figuring out what is what, is another issue

    Genesis on the other hand contains real history, with many types and shadows buried within. The Gospels are full of parables, which contain literal truths.

    Even symbolic language has literal truths just said differently.

    https://carm.org/bible-literary-techniques
    True Truth Exists & Can Be Found.

    A gentle answer turns away wrath; but a harsh word stirs up anger.
    Proverbs 15:1

    Faith-Hope-LOVE






  13. #13
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    Re: How literal are you?

    I think much of scripture is both literal and symbolic. For instance, I believe Genesis 1 is about creation. But it is also about salvation! Even Paul quoted Genesis 1 as an example of salvation:

    2 Cor 4:6
    6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
    NASB

    The earth (our heart) was without form and void.
    The Spirit of God hovered over our heart.
    The Lord said "let there be light" and Light came into my heart.
    And the Lord said it was good.

    Each day speaks to our sanctification until we are made "in His image" at which point He said "it is very good"!

    The OT is more than just history. Its also types and shadows with power to teach, preach and save!
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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    Re: How literal are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old man View Post
    That becomes the difficult part.

    "Knowing" what the author intended.

    Since none of the authors of the Bible stated how they intended their writings to be taken it is completely up to the reader to decide how the author meant it to be taken. Which brings us back to David's question.
    Sometimes what the author intended wasn't known even to the author. IOW, it is what The Author intended that is really important. There are numerous examples in scripture, but here's one:

    Dan 12:8-10
    8 As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, "My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?" 9 And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 10 "Many will be purged, purified and refined; but the wicked will act wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.
    NASB
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  15. #15

    Re: How literal are you?

    Considering context and who is was said to was is, imo important.

    Sell all your posessions?

    Jesus did not say this to everyone he spoke to, nor was it a commandment. He said it to one man who though he was righteous in his own eyes because of his works [under the law of Moses]. Jesus knew that there was a thing in his life that did not make him righteous as he claimed. And that was his love of money meant more to that man than following after God [the son of God Jesus].

    (Luke 18:18 KJV) And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

    (Luke 18:19 KJV) And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

    (Luke 18:20 KJV) Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

    (Luke 18:21 KJV) And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

    (Luke 18:22 KJV) Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

    (Luke 18:23 KJV) And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

    (Luke 18:24 KJV) And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!


    So you would cut off your hand?

    Jesus was illustrating the consequences of being cast into hell. If the members of your body cause you to sin, then it is better that the thing that causes sin be removed rather than be cast into hell. Not one account is recorded in the bible where a person did this literally. Instead Gal 5:16-26 writes to live by the spirit and not gratify the lust of the flesh.

    (Mat 5:30 KJV) And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.


    Quote Originally Posted by DavidC View Post
    So you would cut off your hand?
    Sell all your posessions?
    Those were spoken literal, no?

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