Literal Truth

Rushan had a question posed to him recently that requires some attention, I believe:

bq. “I can no longer accept the Bible as literally true, am I still a Christian?”

If you read my “previous article”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=213, you should already know the answer to this: Yes, so long as acknowledge and accept the message of the Gospel. More specifically, so long as you recognize your inability to attain Heaven on your own and accept the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross and subsequent resurrection as your only hope for salvation. If you are able to do and say that, then yes, you are still a Christian.

I might express some concern, however, over what parts of the Bible you consider to be literal and what parts you do not. If you do not believe _any_ part of the Bible to be literally accurate, then we might have a problem, for then what foundation do you have for knowing the only truth that matters, to wit, how to know God and live with Him for eternity? If you cannot believe any part of the Bible to be literally true, then you cannot know whether or not the Gospel itself is true, rendering impotent its power to save. Likewise, you cannot then know that God exists, you cannot then know that He loves you and wishes to have fellowship with you, you cannot then know much of anything except for what your own five senses can tell you – and we know just how deceptive and misleading our senses can sometimes be.

I stated previously, as well, that historical passages of Scripture should be interpreted literally, things like the existence of people who appeared in the various stories (e.g. Abraham, David, Jesus, Paul, etc.) and geographical locations. Archaeology have even been able to verify much of the historicity of the Bible, thus giving it a great deal of authority. The trouble with literal interpretation comes with prophecy and imagery-laden parables. Prophecies are sometimes difficult to interpret, though at least partial interpretations were provided by many of the prophets themselves. But because they are visions of future events, I suspect that some of the prophets could only do their best to describe technologies they had never before seen (such as John the Revelator describing his vision of the end times). Whether we were ever meant to know and completely understand is something of a mystery, but it seems clear that much was given in such visions to provide both warning and hope to those who heard. Christ’s parables were told in such a way as to make those people who would to ruminate over the meaning, but He was also not opposed to providing clear meaning to those who asked (typically His inner circle of twelve).

I do believe that the Bible is a wholly trustworthy document. It’s accuracy has been verified time and again all the way back to the earliest manuscripts, and as such, it holds a great deal of authority and power. It continues to change lives merely by the simplest reading of its pages, further demonstrating that the Holy Spirit has preserved it and uses it to bring God’s children to Himself.

Have anything to add to the conversation?