Sunday, April 29, 2018

Lead-footed Literalism

Taking the Bible literally is one way of abusing it.



Starhopper said...

Whenever I get into a discussion with someone who insists I need to take the Bible literally all the time, I respond with Psalm 57, verse 4:

I lie in the midst of lions
that greedily devour the sons of men;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
their tongues sharp swords.

I say, "Show me this wondrous beast with spears for teeth and a sword for a tongue, and then maybe you have a case."

W.LindsayWheeler said...

What Starhopper refers to is poetry. To use poetry of a text to undermine the idea of literalism....well....

The Bible has a great many literary devices that transfer and teach about God. The Story of Genesis creation is a myth story. Myths were an ancient device for transmitting truths. Behind or under the myth is certain truths, that God created the cosmos and God created it in steps, i.e. incrementalism. First came light, then water, then land, and so on. We don't take six days as literal, but a sign of the degree of time it took; time also signifies a logical consequence of actions. The Truth, God created everything in the cosmos.

There are other devices, such as poetry, rhetoric and then there is History, Commands and declarative sentences. All sorts of things are in there.

It takes a holy discernment to figure out what is what. One must judge aright. History, commands and declarative sentences are to be taken at face-value. Poetry and rhetoric give flavor and color to situations.

If one confuses poetry of Psalm 57:4 with commands and declarative sentences, then one doesn't have the smarts to read the Bible and come to the knowledge of the Truth.

On the position of the linked article about a snail dissolving, that is only the ancients way of understanding what was going on. It is THEIR understanding, not ours. It is not a mistake or error, it is their understanding.

As in the case of the ant, when Scripture calls it a "He" and science tells us it is infertile female, it is not an error, the ancient society's understanding of the situation. They had to give it a name and refer to it. Maybe in God's economy it is a male. Who cares. I don't. If God wants to call it a He, it is His prerogative.

On the subject of the Flood that said, it covered the 'whole' world. The King of Sargon announced after a war that he was Ruler of the world. The 'world' as a concept was horizon to horizon. The ancient peoples did not have a concept of a globe or the extent of the world as we know it. The Flood of Noah's time was from "horizon to horizon" their world.

The Scriptures were written by and to an ancient people that had a limited scope of understanding. It is about seeing situations in the eyes of the Ancient people's and not ours. This is why and how radical fundamentalist Protestantism gets it wrong because their doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" forces them into literalism.

Myth, rhetoric, poetry, History, declarative sentences, commands, are all there. Some are to be taken literally and others as Flourishes. But all of Scripture is there for teaching, reproof, and correction.