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Old 05-02-2007, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,917 posts, read 11,365,845 times
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Default Why do Christians Take Some Parts of the Bible Literally but not other Parts?

What I'm really getting at by this question is the word for word literal acceptance of Genesis as fact while Revelations in particular seems to be open for speculation as to what it means. There is an actual industry of preachers and authors who spend their careers trying to explain various passages of Revelations to their congregations and the public. Since they take Genesis literally why don't they take Revelations literally? I think people should at least be consistent when they study the bible. If Revelations can be interpreted as being symbolic shouldn't the same thing apply to Genesis? Many religious people, particularly fundamentalists, go ballistic when someone suggests that the days of creation might be symbolic and yet these same people accept all sorts of interpretations and speculations in Revelations instead of a literal meaning. The rapture is an interesting example. As far as I can tell the whole idea of the rapture was based on the supposed visions of a Scottish teenager in the 1800's and it was widely publicized and now many fundamentalists accept it as fact even though it's not based on Christian traditions. What do some of those think?
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
What I'm really getting at by this question is the word for word literal acceptance of Genesis as fact while Revelations in particular seems to be open for speculation as to what it means. There is an actual industry of preachers and authors who spend their careers trying to explain various passages of Revelations to their congregations and the public. Since they take Genesis literally why don't they take Revelations literally? I think people should at least be consistent when they study the bible. If Revelations can be interpreted as being symbolic shouldn't the same thing apply to Genesis? Many religious people, particularly fundamentalists, go ballistic when someone suggests that the days of creation might be symbolic and yet these same people accept all sorts of interpretations and speculations in Revelations instead of a literal meaning. The rapture is an interesting example. As far as I can tell the whole idea of the rapture was based on the supposed visions of a Scottish teenager in the 1800's and it was widely publicized and now many fundamentalists accept it as fact even though it's not based on Christian traditions. What do some of those think?
Genesis is history, Revelation is prophecy.

Apples and Oranges.

And while the word 'rapture' isn't in scripture anywhere. The teaching is there. It isn't 'Christian tradition' though, it's biblical.
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:28 AM
 
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Default Jesus said, "Whole, cut-up fryers, .89/lb!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Since they take Genesis literally why don't they take Revelations literally?
Also, for what it's worth, here's something I posted in another thread. I was thinking of starting a thread titled "Jesus said, "Whole, cut-up fryers, .89/lb!!"

Thinking, of course Jesus(Hey-sues) from the grocer rather than Jesus(Jee-sus) from the bible....but I haven't yet....but your spot on with the reason I wanted to start it....so I post this here for your consideration....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpha8207 View Post
Just a follow up: It just upsets me when we approach ANY scripture looking for problems rather than to really approach it objectively. There was a secualr example of this in my local grocers ad this weekend. It said "Whole Cut-Up Fryers $.89/lb" and I looked at that and thought "If that were written in my Bible, people would laugh at me and call me an idiot for believing such a blatently contradictive book" but yet those same folks will rush to the store to buy something claiming to whole and cut-up at the same time. I don't know, it just made me really start thinking.

It's like saying "I've told you a million times not to exaggerate." We're allowed to speak figuratively and literally in the same sentence but if it's scripture, well then there's a real problem then. That's when all these folks that are so obviously well-educated really show me what the extent of their intelligence is. I heard a quote someone said once...something like this..."I'll believe anything....as long as it isn't in the Bible." I dunno, maybe I'm rambling.
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
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Hey, that's great. Didn't we just have a discussion about chickens?
Ok, I see what you're saying about history versus prophesy but just because the topics are different why does that have to change from a literal to a symbolic style of writing about it? I mean the Bible doesn't come right out and say this part is literal and this part isn't, that's just an interpretation. The language and style of writing in Genesis could easily be taken in a symbolic way. It has kind of a poetic and descriptive style that doesn't resemble a textbook on history at all. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate your ideas.
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Newton, NJ (but my heart is in Tennessee)
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You have to keep in mind that language often includes figures of speech.

When Jesus said "I am the door"", He was not literally saying He was a rusty gate with hinges. It means He is the way to eternal life. When Paul wrote that salvation is a gift apart from works, it means literally that. There is a literal meaning behind every scripture, but noone takes it word for word literally.

When understanding the Bible, you also have to realize that there are different types of writings (poetry, history, prophecy etc.). This factors into how it is interpreted as well.

There is a science of biblical interpretation called "hermaneutics". There are specific principals for understanding and interpreting the bible in a way that makes sense.

Failure to understand this has resulted in many misinterpretations, unjust criticisms and false beliefs.
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:54 AM
 
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i take all parts Literally, there are Some Christians(liberals and moderates who do not), Evangelicals do and Fundamentalists do. there are poems and philosphies that are figuratively written, songs etc---but they are taken as real and literal by most conservative if not all conservative christians.

so the question is , what christians? the more liberal they are the less likely they will believe in the literalness of the bible and will make up interpretations or leave things out or add things. Conservatives tend to take it mostly word for word or all of it word for word.
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:56 AM
 
7,768 posts, read 9,459,505 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Hey, that's great. Didn't we just have a discussion about chickens?
Yes, we did!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Ok, I see what you're saying about history versus prophesy but just because the topics are different why does that have to change from a literal to a symbolic style of writing about it? I mean the Bible doesn't come right out and say this part is literal and this part isn't, that's just an interpretation.
Actually, I'm pretty sure it does, in fact, say in Revelations that the language symbolizes something else. My hands are a bit tied to get to the resources I need at the present time, but I think it gives a symbolic phrase and then says "this means", or something to the effect. I will say it doesn't do that in every circumstance, but the 'thread' is there, if you will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
The language and style of writing in Genesis could easily be taken in a symbolic way. It has kind of a poetic and descriptive style that doesn't resemble a textbook on history at all.
And many do. I'm just not one of them. Also, is there not significant differences in the styles?? Plus the fact they were written, what, maybe 1300-1500 years apart and in different languages. Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate your ideas.
And I appreciate yours. Thanks!


EDIT: Montana, I did a quick scan using biblegateway and one example of the point I was trying to make was in the first chapter of Revelations:
Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.[
Sorry, no time to dig deeper right now.

Last edited by Alpha8207; 05-02-2007 at 10:00 AM.. Reason: EDIT: ADDED SCRIPTURE
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Old 05-02-2007, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Newton, NJ (but my heart is in Tennessee)
312 posts, read 985,273 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinajack View Post
i take all parts Literally, there are Some Christians(liberals and moderates who do not), Evangelicals do and Fundamentalists do. there are poems and philosphies that are figuratively written, songs etc---but they are taken as real and literal by most conservative if not all conservative christians.

so the question is , what christians? the more liberal they are the less likely they will believe in the literalness of the bible and will make up interpretations or leave things out or add things. Conservatives tend to take it mostly word for word or all of it word for word.
Can you clarify what you mean by "taking it word for word"? I hear Southern Baptists saying this all the time, but do they actually take every word or phrase literally?

The reason I ask this is because if you took every phrase in its wooden, literal sense, it would be absurd. For example, in Matthew 5:29, Jesus said, "If your right eye offends you, gauge it out." I know of no-one who has literally carried this out. I take this to mean you need to remove yourself from what is causing you to sin.

I'm not trying to be argumentive. I strongly believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but I am confused when I hear people say they take the entire Bible literally when there are verses that are obviously meant as a figure of speech.
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Old 05-02-2007, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Central FL
1,682 posts, read 5,805,499 times
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I believe the Bible is the Word of God to us. However, our understanding can be limited. As I grow in the faith and study I understand more of the Word, but I will never understand everything in this world but in the world to come.

Even Jesus spoke in Parables - not literal stories but to prove a point and even sometimes to disguise what he was saying.

Does this mean we can interpret it to say whatever WE want? Of course not...there is absolute truth in the Bible - some things are stated over and over and there is no mistaking - i.e. The Character of God and the Sacrifice of Jesus being two of the main ones.

I had a pastor who once said..."Keep the main thing the main thing and you will not go off course."
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:30 AM
Status: "Enjoying the mountains" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Hot-Houston Texas
20,015 posts, read 20,504,668 times
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[quote=Dolfan;657117]
TFor example, in Matthew 5:29, Jesus said, "If your right eye offends you, gauge it out." I know of no-one who has literally carried this out. I take this to mean you need to remove yourself from what is causing you to sin.


Yes that is what I believe too. He was speaking figuratively here. Remove the sin, or something we treasure, what ever it is that is causing us to sin, turn from it.
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