Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Does It All Mean?

I've been made a major focus change in the blog to cover more theology, and to try and weave that with how it fits into our culture and life. I regularly read and submit articles to Digg and Reddit, and have noticed, as anyone else who uses those sites, the number of anti-Christian posts. Of course it comes with the territory, and doesn't bother me much, as I feel most attacks are about stupid things Christian have done. I agree Christians do very stupid things, but I want to focus on how that does not reflect the doctrine of Christianity, but rather problems within the Christian subculture. For instance their are many ignorant Americans, who do stupid things everyday. There are even many political leaders in the United States who seem to lack even a basic understanding of the United States Constitution. I do not feel however, that those people should be a poor reflection on the ideas laid out in the Constitution. Much like I feel ignorant "Christians" should not be used as an example to claim error in Christianity. So I have decided to focus on some basic Hermeneutics, the principles and process of Biblical Interpretation, for the next few days. I feel most peoples problem with Christianity stems from an incomplete understanding of the Bible, so I want to share the correct way to study and interpret scripture.

To start I want to focus on one of the biggest problems I have with many Evangelicals. Many evangelicals say "I take the Bible Literally." To that I say "As apposed to what?" By saying one takes the Bible literally, they are actually saying "Others don't take the Bible literally, and they are wrong." So what do they mean by not taking it literally?

There are three ways scripture can be interpreted
  1. Literal
  2. Figurative
  3. Symbolic
These three ways are not an all or nothing way of interpreting scripture, but rather all three must be used for different parts of scripture. For instance When Jesus said "Take and Eat; this is my body." did he mean for his disciples to be cannibals? Of course not, and this even has to be explained later, because some people did take it literally. It should be taken figuratively. What about Revelation 12:1 "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Should we then take this passage to mean there will be a women literally clothed with the sun, standing on the moon, and flaming balls of gas on her head? NO! This is an example of symbolic language.

Many of the examples that I come into contact of scripture that must prove the Bible is irrelevant to today fits into this example. It is figurative of symbolic literature, that someone took literal. There are more complex issues on which type of literature certain passages are, such as the creation account in Genesis. There are so many Christians who are afraid of science because it seems to conflict this creation account. I'm not going to say one way or the other, but Christianity does not rest upon if the creation account was a literal six day period.

(BTW, If you are propagating things like this Coloring book,
please READ A BIBLE.")

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