Literal Interpretations

"If you are settling in for an evening of TV viewing this evening, and you watch, say, for example, a football game (Raiders by 6), then the evening news and end up your evening watching an old re-run of Andy Griffeth show you would know automatically that you would not watch these three programs in exactly the same way. The evening news at least attempts to be an objective telling of what actually happened in the world today. The football game, while it is broadcast live and it is really taking place somewhere, you know that it is not the same as news about the conflict in Afghanistan.... they are chasing and hitting each other but you know that it is all a game.

"Finally, you watch the characters in the black and white world of Mayberry in quite a different way. You know that there is no and never has been a Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney, just like there was never a sweet little southern town where everyone was white and no real crimes were ever committed. But you don’t get upset and yell at the TV that it is all lies! You understand that even though it is a fictional story that it still often has a moral point and that in fact you have known people in law enforcement who acted an awful lot like Barney and we all long for that widowed relative who cooks, cleans and runs the house for you like Aunt Bea to come live with you.

"TV belongs to our culture and we know how to watch different programs with an appropriate understanding and appreciation of what a sit com has to offer, which news stations are the most believable and what the difference between sci fi and docudrama is.

"Understanding the Bible requires that we read its different books in the way that the culture which created those books meant for them to be read. If someone watches Mayberry re-runs a thousand years from now and insists that everyone either see them as film documentation of real life in an American small town then we would call that person..... a fundamentalist. I trust that you understand what I am saying.The Bible contains, songs, poetry, philosophy, sermons, history and it contains stories.... stories which are intended to teach a moral lesson. These teaching stories, parables, are among the richest and most helpful passages we find in the sacred writings." - Dr. Roger Ray

Galileo had an interesting theory about how the Bible should be read. He believed the Bible was a book meant to explain the soul. God gave us our senses and our mental capacities to observe and understand science. He gave us the Bible to understand the soul. Therefore, things in the Bible that refer to science, such as the day the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, or references to the sun orbiting the Earth, are all to be taken metaphorically. God gave us senses to observe these, therefore when He talks of them in the Bible he is simply using them as demonstration. Because our senses can't observe the soul, though, everything God says about the soul and salvation in the Bible should be taken literally. Interesting thought.

I don't know if that's clear cut, but I agree with Dr. Ray. Every book of the Bible had a particular context in which it was meant to be read. Given that we're coming in way after the fact (much as someone a hundred years from now might be coming on Andy Griffith), we have to look back and learn how to read those books. We can't just read them all the same way. So really, in the whole Literal vs. Metaphorical interpretation of the Bible, both sides are wrong. I like that idea :)

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