Biblical Literalists Need to Be More Critical of the Bible

biblical literalism

Biblical literalism is a very unfortunate result of post-Enlightenment thinking.  This kind of thought seems pretty attractive on the surface, but if you really want to get a grasp as to what the biblical writers were saying, it would be much more sophisticated to look at the ancient meaning of the text.  The big problem with biblical literalism is that nobody actually takes the whole bible literally.  I have recalled many different Facebook conversations that I’ve had with different people in which they claim to take the Bible literally from beginning to end.  This is just plain false.  The Bible literally says to gouge your eye out if you look upon a woman lustfully.  The Bible literally says to sell all of your possessions and give to the poor.  The Bible literally says that the earth is held up on four pillars.  The Bible literally says that there is a solid dome covering the earth.  The Bible literally says a lot of things that are just simply not true in the Post-Enlightenment literal sense.

The main problem with this line of thought sort of transcends over into the way that biblical literalists actually live their lives.  The Bible says that it is God’s Word.  I agree, but why should we assume this?  The literalist assumes right off the bat that the Bible is the Word of God without even questioning the actual content in the Bible.  This is problematic just as much for the Christian who withholds the view as it is for the non-Christian who’s trying to rationalize the Bible.  Here’s where I’m getting at.  We are not to question the Bible simply to get understanding about it.  We are to question it in order to tear Scripture apart into it’s little bits and question even the validity of the thing we are reading.  This is how we gain true understanding.

One thing that many Evangelicals don’t seem to understand is that there are actually people who simply don’t view the Bible as divinely inspired.  Why is this?  Because it makes sense.  It actually makes sense that the Bible is not divinely inspired…. From a LITERALIST point of view.  Taking every scientific, historical, mathematical, and sociocultural aspect of reality that we have discovered into consideration, it just simply makes no sense to think that God divinely inspired Scripture to be read literally.  If the Bible is either literal or false, many people are going to choose that it’s just false.  This is where Biblical criticism comes into play.  Biblical criticism allows one to see the Bible through a much more objective lens where we study the anthropological mindset behind each and every verse in the Bible and learn how to properly interpret it.  This is good hermeneutics.  If we were to educate the average layman on how to interpret the Bible critically, much of these problems and misconceptions about Christianity will fade away.

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11 thoughts on “Biblical Literalists Need to Be More Critical of the Bible

  1. I’ve been struggling against a group of literalists who honestly believe that because the Bible says that women shouldn’t speak or teach or have authority, then that’s true for all time. As a result, they think that men should have the monopoly on church when I’m arguing that it’s not about one leading and the other following, but walking side-by-side into the Kingdom of God. It just seems that they have a bunch of support from the big name guys that write all the books on the subject – all of them suffering from an incredible lack of imagination.

  2. Is the Bible the Word of God because of God’s work in inspiration, or is it the Word of God only after I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bible is sound in all that it teaches?

  3. Our thoughts of Scripture are irrelevant in regards to the authority of His Word. People, like Bart Ehrman for example, have come to the conclusion that given the fact that we do not have the original autographs to the New Testament, we could never trust the New Testament we have today because we do not have a perfect standard by which to judge the text we have. But his work does not have any authority over the validity of God’s Word. God has inspired His prophets/apostles to write what He desires and regardless of my attitude toward the writings, I cannot destroy the validity of said writings.

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