No One Takes The Whole Bible Literally

I’ve posted a clip on YouTube that recaps a key point that came up in our Sunday school class this past weekend, as well as in a recent blog post, namely that no one simply “believes the whole Bible” and “takes it all literally”.

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  • I think this is a good place to start the “next and needed” Reformation/Revolution of Christendom! A lot of issues that bring about division would dissolve if everyone understood what you teach.Horrendous abuse can happen because people are thinking that they are doing “God’s will”. Understanding things in an absolutist persepctive, limits one’s ability to engage others that differ in opionion from us, whether within our own sphere of influence, or our attitude and ability to engage outside our “comfort zone”. This is pivotal for the globalized world, becasue of the diverse impact of others upon our own thinking, lifestyle, etc.Thanks.

  • Thank you, James. Well said. Fundamentalism has always been driven by fear and control.

  • Anonymous

    Nice presentation, but please pronounce “McGrath” correctly! (silent “th”).

  • Angie, I don’t know if the issues would dissolve, but at least we might be able to have more fruitful discussions (although perhaps they’d be all the more painful for some people if they realized that simply quoting a Bible verse will never resolve it).Anonymous, I’m willing to make special versions for my Irish audience (which I didn’t know I had until now) if there is demand. But I also have to make versions in which I pronounce the ‘th’ if I want Americans, Brits and various others to understand what I’m saying.

  • I recognize that pain as GROWTH. No one grows unless their limited perspective is challenged. That is what education is about after all! So, I would much rather, encounter the pain of incongruency where I wrestle to resolve and come to settlement within myself..than not have that opprotunity…This means that I face myself, in my with my own convictions and where I am presently and then grow beyond that,,,it is a growth that covers faith, intellect and morality…Morality must be understood within the context of faith, because behaviors are boudn within the cultural tradition that reigns within that frame. But, intellectual development challenges these commitments to go beyond one’s own cultural understandings of morality and cultural identity. The individual is bound within all of the frameworks and must be developed in all of these areas to be fully mature…When the individual recognizes that faith is based on symbolic meaning and morality is understood within that frame of reference, which is defined by the cultural values of that tradition and the tradition’s texts or elder/prophets.Intellectual understanding means that one understands that these frames of cultural relativity are understood in absolute terms, but must be challenged to go beyond these limited viewpoints. One who has reached this stage is committed to what one deems most important for the purpose that the individual deems most valuable. In this sense, it is not an absolute but relative evaluation of the individual and commitment from that evaluation.

  • Nice work. Can we have more scene changes and perhaps some explosions next time?

  • BSM

    James -I’d be happy to choreograph a martial arts fight scene in the background of your next video!Explosions may be a challenge…Based on my past experience with leading Bible study, as far as I’m concerned every young adult and adult Bible study class should have to watch this clip. Then again: Those denominations who hold to a rigid interpretation likely would not. Still, perhaps a few will see this video and consider other approaches to their faith? It was Asimov’s Guide to the Bible that first caused me to realize what my church was pushing did not always add up. So, there’s even hope for us fundamentalists (or former in my case):-)-B

  • I always found interesting that this is the golden rule of dispensationalist, yet if we literally read 1 thess 4.16 – “For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of God’s trumpet … it’s hard to imagine this coming like a thief in the night. Or with people quietly vanishing from a plane or in an airport before each other’s eyes. Seems like the trumpet and the cry of the Lord and the call of the Archangel would have be a little louder than a whisper.It’s easy to take Jeremiah 29.11 literally and have warm fuzzy feelings, but Deuteronomy 7 is a little more difficult. But hey, the golden rule is the golden rule.

  • Hi James,Umm – it isn’t just the Irish who say McGrah, you know. The first thing that struck me about this and your previous clip was that I had never heard McGrath pronounced that way before. But if that’s how you pronounce your name, who am I to suggest that you’re saying it wrong. :-)I agree with Bob that this is a must-see for youth bible study groups (and older ones that haven’t heard this). I would like to use it with my campus group some time between now and the end of semester. I assume this is OK?

  • Judy, you are of course welcome to use the video clip in any way you wish. If it makes a profit, you might want to share it with me, but otherwise there aren’t too many restrictions on what you can do with a YouTube video in classes and many other contexts…

  • Make a profit on a campus bible study session? I wish!! :-)OTOH, the students find being introduced to methods of looking at scripture that don’t require a literalist approach really exciting and I find this rewarding.

  • I was, of course, kidding about making a profit! But I would love to hear back about responses, both positive and negative. Do pay a visit to YouTube and give the clip a rating, too, if you have time! 🙂