The proper reading of text is often much more difficult to accomplish than the average person assumes. There is a belief that if one just reads a text, unless it is purposefully created to be a riddle, one just can pick up a text, read it and understand it. The questions which are required for proper exegesis do not cross the mind of the average reader, and so they do not understand what they read with any depth. They can come out of their reading misunderstanding the point of the text itself. This is especially true with religious texts. The fact that how one reads the text, with the assumptions one brings to the text, might lead to what one gets out of the text does not cross their mind. This can be seen in how people will overlook criticism they give to scriptures of religious traditions which are not their own while they find a way to overlook such criticism from their own text. Can they not at least consider that the way they overlook the problem from their own tradition might also apply to other traditions as well?
Christians should be very concerned when someone says that the Bible is a simple text and one just picks it up, reads it, and follows it as if its meaning is obvious when one reads it. The fact that many pick up the Bible and come out with differing interpretations should suggest that this is not the case. But people don’t consider that. They have been raised to believe that it is written just for them and they will simply understand it once they read it. It’s a cultural phenomenon in the United States, leading person after person telling others that they don’t really follow the Bible all because the other person understands it differently. Now, the Bible is not a free-for-all book, but the way it is treated in society makes it such, so that the Bible is often the foundation for theological relativism and not its counter. Everyone reads it, everyone believes their reading is valid, and there really is no one to tell them to the contrary because, of course, if someone did it just means they were the ones not following the Bible. Politicians who like to call out other politicians for not following the Bible, acting as if the Bible is a simple text and its meaning is obvious to all readers, are a danger to Christianity because they want to use the Bible for their own pretext instead of dealing with the contextual questions one might raise in order to proper employ the Bible for one’s life. Historically, this is how many great heresies formed. Someone took their own ideology, read it into the Bible, and believed that what they got out of the Bible based upon their ideological reading is honest, simple reading of the text which must be followed. And because they could find passages which, on a simple, unexamined level seem to support their ideology, they proclaimed themselves the teachers of the truth when they were anything but it.
We can look, for example, at how one is to understand God according to the Christian Scripture. A simple approach makes God very human. For a simple reading of God in Scripture will come out with a vision of God quite different from the Christian tradition: he repents, he has to ask questions to gather information, he lets his passions get the best of him, he had bodily parts, et. al. A simple by the letter reading of the text will not get to the meaning of the text. To ask if a text contains metaphor requires one to move beyond a simple reading of the text. But once one understands the Bible uses metaphor, that it discusses God with words coming from human experience but which do not really represent the divine reality, one begins to understand the difficulty in interpreting the Bible. How does one understand these metaphors, what exactly are they telling us about God? They say something rightfully fits and yet – it can’t be the way they fit for a human person. St. Augustine makes this point clear when analyzing the words of a critic of the way God is presented in the Old Testament:
God does not repent as a human being does, but as God. So too, he is not angry as a human being is or merciful as a human being is or jealous as a human being is, but does all things as God. God’s repentance does not follow upon a mistake, and the wrath of God does not include the agitation of a mind in turmoil. The mercy of God does not involve the unhappiness of heart of one who is compassionate, as the Latin etymology would have it, and the jealousy of God does not imply a mind full of spite. Rather, God’s repentance is what we call the humanly unexpected change of those things that lie in his power. The wrath of God is the punishment of sin; the mercy of God is his goodness in providing help. The jealousy of God is his providence in accord with which he does not allow his subjects to love without penalty what he forbids. […] And human beings judge these things by human standards; scarcely a few spiritual persons understand them, as they should be understood of God. For this reason, when the holy scripture speaks of the Ineffable, it most providentially descends to certain words that seem absurd and unworthy, even to human beings and carnal ones at that, for speaking of God.
Scripture often presents history as it appears to the people involved with it; thus, if God seems to change his way, it seems as if he repents. His eternal decision has not changed: his eternal act is one and the same. What changed is the human condition. This is exactly how we are to understand the book of Jonah. It tells us that God’s universal act will condemn us for our sins, but will save us if we repent and follow him. What God does to and with us changes according to what we do, but God does not change. We can understand God with metaphors, but we must appreciate that such metaphor must not be pushed too far, because if we do, a monster is made out of God and heresy is the result.
 To determine this one should see how people from other religious traditions comment on their own scriptural texts.
 All one has to do is read the text of the early heretics, and this is a common feature of their writings. Those who opposed them had to go into more depth in explaining Scriptural passages than the heretic, showing the true depth required in interpreting a text. However, because of the simplicity of the heretic, it is also obvious why they attracted followers. People want such simplicity, they seek it, though the truth is rarely so simple, no matter what Occam says.
 St. Augustine, “Answer to an Enemy of the Law and the Prophets” in Arianism and Other Heresies. Trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J. (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1995), 384-5.