Taking the Bible Literally Enough

We're asking the wrong question when we try to figure out who takes the Bible "literally enough."

EVERYone who sees the Bible in any way helpful takes different parts "literally"; the question is just which parts.

"A man should not lie with another man." Obviously literal, no other qualifications or context needed.

"Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." Oh but this is hyperbole! Jesus couldn't possibly mean being a pacifist. How ridiculous. He just can't be talking about the military and the second amendment and self defense.

"The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” See, welfare is wrong!

"There need be no poor people among you." Well that was obviously meant for just Israel.

Progressives are just as guilty of this, of course.

"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." See, we need a much more welcoming immigration policy.

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body." How primitive! Those were different times, we can't possibly put those expectations on us today.

"You are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood." We all stand as equals before God.

"In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders." Well, just because there was hierarchical leadership in the early church doesn't mean we need it now!

We simply won't get closer to following The Way of Jesus by throwing Bible verses at one another, each claiming that we take the right parts literally.

If Scripture is meant to reveal to us who God is, then we must begin and end with Jesus, "the exact representation" of God's being (Hebrews 1:3). As N.T. Wright says, "We can’t first gain an understanding of who God might be and then try to fit Jesus into that picture. We have to do it the other way around."

Only once we have a firm grasp of God's character—as revealed in Christ—can we then muddle our way about the Bible. If we get this backwards, we will forever be stuck throwing names at each other, and missing the point.

Anthony Parrott

Anthony Parrott

Washington, DC