Christians are encouraged to follow God’s words as the only way to avoid facing his judgment and wrath. However, a thin line separates obedience to His words and Biblical Literalism. Something Christians are deterred from doing.
The Bible is believed to contain God’s words, and living according to what it says merits that people will be welcomed in God’s Kingdom. However, how much of the statements engraved on its pages are meant to be consumed through Biblical literalism? And how much, if any, have gotten lost while translating the original context to fit modern beliefs better?
Tearing Down the Bible’s Content
In Living Life with Blinders by Dr. Julius Mosley II, the author breaks down the contents of the Bible for people to better understand. However, not once did the author take the scripture at face value. The author didn’t merely restate what’s in the Bible and apply them to current scenarios. Instead, Mosley takes time to translate them to a modern-day equivalent of what they believe is God’s advice.
If people look at the Bible at face value, it’s easy to notice an evident disconnect between its narratives and situations today. Living Live with Blinders on ideally bridges this disparity by creating mundane contexts for people to relate with. This book is among the plentiful that elaborates how the Bible isn’t meant to be taken directly at print. It’s not something to be acted upon directly.
Instead, it’s meant to be translated depending on the readers’ understanding. The Bible is a material open to personal translation and interpretation; that’s the power of it. It’s a guidebook that resonates with those who need the message the most and doesn’t limit its content one way.
The Truth Defined in the Bible
“The Bible contains the truth that will set people free.
However, it also leaves ample room which allows to enslave people.”
– John MacArthur
Accounting for the life of humanity’s creator and savior, the Bible is among, if not the most treasured material in literature. Most look up to it, seeking it whenever they’re experiencing troubles, believing it provides relief and divine guidance to help them through their challenges. However, many argue it shouldn’t be treated differently than the other books.
Regardless if God inspires the stories in its pages, people shouldn’t be absent of questions, even skepticism, when reading the Bible. Interpreting the scripture may require a particular lens of Biblical literalism, but not everything in the Bible must be taken literally. There are things mentioned in its pages that, if taken at face value, will risk putting chaos in the world.
Most Christians look at the Bible and see a guidebook, a surefire way to enter the Kingdom of God, and to a certain extent, they aren’t wrong. The Bible does account for how to live in ways that bring people closer to God. However, this wisdom is concealed from its readers’ eyes amid the figurative speech, poetry, and especially the difference in its settings. This “one truth” the Bible aims to share and explore is hidden for everyone to decrypt.
And the problem with most Christians is that they may be living with too much fear in their hearts and minds. They live with too much fear of offending God that they would rather take the Bible at face value than take time to decipher its true meaning.
The Limitations of Biblical Literalism
When one says, “There’s a snake in the room,” people rarely take the statement apart and believe the person uses a metaphor to describe a treacherous person. Instead, everyone acts out and evacuates, understanding that there’s a snake in the room. Nobody instinctively searches for symbolic meaning, given people rarely do that in actual situations – it’s basic logic.
Such is also how Biblical literalism should be done toward the scriptures.
Imagine the horror if people were to flip through the Bible, read through Mark 9:47, “And if your eyes cause you to sin, tear it out,” and act on the statement at face value. Instead of taking the scripture literally, people must apply the rules of human language in the Bible. Obvious poetic, allegorical, and figurative speech shouldn’t be taken literally. Biblical literalism believes that God communicates through human language; thus, interpretation must follow its rules.
Toxic Biblical literalism forces people to look at the Bible through a limited lens. It limits God’s supposedly rich writings to the benefit of a few, narrowing down to whom His words can help.