Should We Read The Bible Literally?


With the madness of religious fundamentalism as prominent today as it has ever been, should serious Christians take the Bible literally?

 The truth is that no one takes the whole Bible literally, even those who say they do. When did you last see someone chop their hands off when they sinned or poke their eyes out when they looked lustfully at something? (Matthew 5:30) Having said that, is the Bible true?

I want this to be a short post, so the answer is yes?

The Bible isn’t always literally true, but it is true literally. tweet

There is a lot of debate about how we are to interpret the truth of the Bible; for example I personally believe in a literal six day creation, many Christians believe it is a truth literally, not a literal truth. Some people think there is a literal 144,000 witnesses in the book of Revelation, other of us think it is symbolic pointing to a literal truth. 

To my understanding the key here is the context that reveals the authors original intent (what he wanted the original readers to understand); what we need to ask, is what is written a literal truth or is it something that points to a literal truth? Of course what Jesus said about chopping our limbs off is not to be taken literally, but what Jesus said does point to a literal and vital truth – sin is deadly and needs to be dealt with.

At this point we do need to become a little dogmatic; willing to stand our ground. There is definitely room for debate about Genesis (even though I really think I am right ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), we can discuss the rapture and tribulation, the return of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem. But, and it is a really big but, there are some things that no believer should ever wonder if they are literal or not:

Jesus literally came to earth, God in human form.

Jesus literally died on a cross as the Scriptures foretold.

Jesus literally rose from the dead, a physical, bodily resurrection.

Jesus will literally come again/ appear.

All who have faith is Jesus as Messiah literally have their sins forgiven and will one day be literally resurrected just as Jesus was.

To my mind, what makes the Good News so really good is that all the things I have listed are literally true. Jesus really did defeat sin at the cross, He genuinely overcame death and still offers forgiveness to all those who want to receive it.

It is when we know that the Bible contains literal truth, symbolic or otherwise that we can really start to live as God’s loving, worshipping, missional family on earth.

Go well my friends ๐Ÿ™‚



Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Please follow and like us:

6 thoughts on “Should We Read The Bible Literally?

  • March 29, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Excellent post Mark. You always put into words what I believe but am unable to put across, and so eloquantly too.

  • March 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Interesting , well said …

  • March 30, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    HHithertormaneutics are important, Slavery is frowned upon, Wearing of Hats in Church, Divorce, all these have been changed over the years, Jesus himself said “Hitherto I Have Spoken to you in Parables and Similitudes” though not literally True, They contain immense and important Truths. And are a power unto Salvation.

    • Mark Neale
      March 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Ray, thanks for the comment, I think I get your angle, if not let me know.

      When it comes to slavery, the Bible (when taken seriously) is the dynamite that destroys it. Paul’s teaching about head coverings had nothing to do with controlling women, but was to do with honour for exploited women and respect to the husbands and society of the better off women. And of course divorce happens, and sometimes needs to happen, but abusive relationships and shattered marriages are not God’s best for His new created order (nor the old one), though of course he will take the hardest things in life and bring good from them.

      Whilst a parable in itself may not be literally true, it does point to a literal, or if you prefer concrete truth. Some of the Scripture is metaphor and symbol, but the truth they point to is still truth. To my mind we go astray when we take New Testament teaching and think that we have out grown it, or our society is now too sophisticated for such things. I hear so many say “yes, but Paul didn’t understand…” or “they were simple people back then…” – Once we think we are smarter than Scripture and have a better understanding of the New Covenant than Paul we are dead in the water and will fail in our mission to be a light to the world.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.