Christians take the Bible too literally. You’ve heard it before. But is that really true? The short answer is NO! While there are some things we are to take literally, so much of the Bible is symbolism, parables, poetry and more.
After I heard this take one too many times, I decided to break down a few ways we can be absolutely certain that NO ONE actually takes the Bible literally.
I’ll cover what people REALLY mean when they say or ask this question below the video.
Obvious Places the Bible is Not Literal
- The Bible says “if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” It doesn’t mean to do this literally. It’s an extreme way of attempting to show how serious we should take our sin.
- Jesus tells the Disciples to eat his body and drink his blood. No one did that and no one does that.
- The Bible tell us we should “hate our mother and father” if we are to love Christ enough. Given that the 10 Commandments tell us we must love and honor our parents, this is not literal. It’s another example to showcase how seriously we should take our love for Christ — to put it above all other loves.
- There are many, many parables and metaphors in the Bible that are not literal or true stories, but meant to convey a lesson.
- Plenty of stories include sweeping references like “everyone” in a group, “all of” something or other descriptive phrasing that is likely not literal, but descriptive.
- The Bible also includes songs, poetry and other types of writing that aren’t meant to be taken literally.
In this video, I talk a bit further about some of these passages. It proves no one actually takes the entire Bible literally, even the most devout Christians.
What Are People Really Saying When They Ask if You Literally Believe the Whole Bible?
When people “accuse” Christians of taking the Bible literally, or ask someone if they literally believe the entire Bible, what they are really asking is this: Do you believe the whole Bible is TRUE?
The word “literal” is often used in the wrong context, and so it is here.
Some Christians may believe that Jonah lived in whale for 3 days. Others may not. But what they do agree on is the TRUTH of the main message of the Bible — which is that we believe in ONE true Savior, Jesus Christ. We see Him throughout the Old Testament — from chapter 1 of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation.
We believe that He conquered death and that we are saved by grace through His atonement for our sins. And yes, all Christians believe in the literal resurrection of Christ. That’s what it all hinges on.
There are a lot of things to quibble over throughout the Bible. It comes down to the essential truth of our Beliefs. As to the rest, we pray, read, research, search and wonder and do the best we can to figure out the details.
Do I believe the Bible is literal? No. Do I believe the Bible is TRUE? You better believe it.