You Don't Read the Bible Literally Do You?

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  • You Don't Read the Bible Literally Do You?

    In the purest sense of the word, literally no one takes the Bible literally, but some do. Interpreting scripture using allegorical methods (literal value) has led people to gouge out their eyes and cut off there hands (Matt 5:28). This is also called "Plain Sense" reading of scripture, leaving it to the laity to surmise what a passage means has led to an untold number of divergent denominations.

    How can Christians read and study the same Bible, yet come away with opposite conclusions? We have to accept that Hermeneutics is absolutely critical, where we either develop a Christian view based on established truth or fallacies taught by unqualified and often deceived teachers. Sadly, the present spiritual landscape is rife with false teachers unlike any other time since the heresies of the Valentinus, Marcion and Basilides.

    Wholistic hermeneutic evaluates all aspects of the Scriptures before any conclusion is drawn. This requires a student to have studied and become proficient in ALL of scripture before developing a standard for interpretation. How is it that we can claim to speak with certainty about the functions of electronics if we don't know the basics of voltage, current, resistance, and Ohm's law? We would be foolish to dogmatically make statements about any given matter without extensive and well researched knowledge. Anything less then eight years of intentional biblical study is not really enough to be a qualified mentor. Yet despite warning in Scripture not to promote a new convert (novice) to an office of ecclesia (teacher - 1 Timothy 3:6), Churches blindly do. Some purposed leaders mature quickly, others take years, depending on the person. However, eight years of specialized study is typically the minimum for an office as a teacher or mentor if you will. Add to that another decade of pastorial experience to begin to be a sound teacher and even then, caution should be exercised.

    I have watched graduated Seminarians who were in great danger of becoming a false teacher after sitting under poor mentors. One such pastor now operates a Hyper Grace Church which is a mainstream church model as of current times. Paul spend 13 years in the Arabic desert under direct guidance by Jesus's spirit, yet came forward in Bethlehem as timid and the least of the Apostles. A proper assessment of oneself is always critical. Not allowing oneself to be elevated to a position that we are not qualified is a reflection of pious wisdom and sound temperament.

    An example of literal interpretation is the passage in 1 Timothy 4:8, "For exercise of the body [Greek: bodily discipline] profits a little for this time, but righteousness profits in everything, and it has the promise of life for this time and of the future" (Aramaic to English). This passage is not addressing physical exercise although it too can be somewhat applicable. In proper context using the colloqueillisms of that time in light of the Koinonia Greek, the exercise Paul refers to is the religious mortification of the flesh. The austerities and labors of the Essenes and Pythagoreans who were prevalent and integrating into the faith, according to the rules and institutions of their sects. They placed an emphasis on external duties, self-denial, penance, piety and punctuality. Paul insists instead that while these are good physical exercises (disciplines), what is more important is to exercise ourselves unto godliness; including in that term all the graces and virtues of the Christian life.

    While many use 1 Timothy 4:8 as an excuse for physical neglect in favor of what seems to be an elevated spiritual position, in opposition there is a strong warning to those who neglect the physical temple. Where neglect is the same as purposed destruction by ommission. "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple." 1 Cor. 3:17 Who would own a home and not care for its roof, floors, plumbing, electrical, lawn, etc? If we might care properly for God's provisional gifts from heaven (James 1:17) that are merely inert matter, how more are we expected to be good caretakers of the bodily temple in which He dwells!

    Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” We all are told from Scripture to take care of our physical bodies because that’s where the Holy Spirit resides, but more so, we are to yield the members of our body to God for His glory and to bring glory to the Son of God, making ourselves a living sacrifice that is like a pleasant aroma to God and to those who are perishing.

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