On Biblical Literalism

One of the complaints commonly levelled against us born-again Christians is that we take the Bible too literally. Reading some Realm of Thought threads, and having perused some Christian literature and some material by Eli Soriano (He’s a local cult leader.), I’ve gotten to thinking a bit …

(I rarely think more than a bit. Gets tiring, you know. :P )

Do we take the bible literally? How so?

As a Bible Christian, I believe it is inerrant and infallible, the very Word of God itself, but that doesn’t mean I take it ABSOLUTELY at its exact word for every single verse that is in it. If Ecclesiastes declares, “Everything is meaningless!” (Ecc 1:2), I do not believe immediately that life is meaningless. If Psalm 137 calls blessing upon “he who seizes your [Bablyon’s] infants and dashes them against the rocks,” that doesn’t mean I should go down to Persia and start killing Iraqi babies.

What of Old Testament laws about food and sacrifice and uncleanness and the Sabbath? What of New Testament counsel by St. Paul for women to submit wholly to men (1 Tim 2:12), for men to pray with their heads uncovered and women to pray with theirs covered? (1 Cor 11:4-7) What of Jesus’ exhortation to gouge out our eyes or cut off our hands if they cause us to sin? (Mat 5:29-30)

I ask this from my perspective as a born-again Evangelical, who believes that these Words from God are inerrant, and that salvation is freely given to those who trust upon our Lord Jesus the Christ:

Christians, where do we draw the line on how literally we take the Bible? What guidelines are we to follow? We talk about context, about discernment, about guidance of the Holy Spirit, but are we being consistent in our communal interpretations of the basic doctrines found in the Holy Word? If I preach the absoluteness of our forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice on cross, but I see no problems with keeping my hair long because I consider 1 Cor 11 to be a contextual verse, am I guilty of an inconsistent interpretation?

I’m still thinking about this. One thought keeps poking into my reflections: Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law, and as disciples of Christ, we are no longer bound by the Law; we instead live by faith, by the Spirit. I know that has some bearing on this matter.

Care to add some meat to that idea?

By the way, it was Raffy’s birthday yesterday, coincidentally, the same day Mir went down. Drop by his site and wish him well.