Monday, 29 November 2010

Do you take the Bible literally?

It's a question that comes up from time to time, and to answer it in one word will inevitably leave a wrong impression. 

I prefer to ask the questioner if they take literally all the literature they read.  For example, I have just looked on a news website and have noticed that a politician has made a U-turn; I have read about the Labour party's Big Guns; I see that the England cricket team cruised to a draw.  So the question is, do you take these things literally?  Was the press really reporting that a politician turned his car 180 degrees, or that the Labour party has heavy artillery, or that the England cricket team were on a ship?  None of us sit with our finger in our mouth wondering what we take literally and what is figurative.  I think we can all see what is going on here, and I think an honest reader of Scripture can do the same. 

It is usually pretty easy to see when figures of speech are being used, but I think people want to create an fog of mystery about the Bible so that they can justify themselves when they ignore its message - "Oh, it's far too hard to understand!  How do you know what bits are meant to be taken literally, and what bits are figurative?" 

Some parts of the Bible are hard to understand, but thankfully the main message is hard to misunderstand - we have a problem (sin), and God has provided the answer (Christ).  If you just read it seriously you'll get the message.