literalist?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by nodak, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. nodak

    nodak
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,265
    Likes Received:
    15
    I don't want to hijack the thread re amil, postmil, premil, or dispy end times so will ask this here.

    And let me say upfront I too tend the take the Bible pretty literally, even though that sometimes leads me away from the theology and teaching of some who describe themselves as literalists.

    So here is my question: are we supposed to strive to be strict literalists? If we were, wouldn't that mean John the Baptist did not fulfill the predictions of Elijah returning as a forerunner of the Messiah? Wouldn't it mean Jesus should have been the political and military leader the literalists of His time expected?

    How do we know when to be literalists and when not to be?
     
  2. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Messages:
    2,499
    Likes Received:
    454
    There are simple hermeneutical rules to be followed. Don't treat poetry as if it were prose, for example. But remember that the Bible is a spiritual book and must be read with spiritual eyes (as A.W. Pink used to say). There is a crass literalism which was the error of the scribes and Pharisees (John 2:20; 3:4; 6:52). I do not expect, for example, to see a literal beast with seven heads and ten horns etc. rising up out of the English Channel any time soon. Yet that does not give us the right to make any daft interpretation we want.

    The most important thing anyone can do who wants to understand the Bible is to pray (James 1:5). Beyond that, get a good book on hermeneutics- the older ones are best. Try Principles of Biblical Interpretation by Louis Berkhof. Another book worth reading is Not like any other Book by Dr Peter Masters, Pastor of the Metropolitan tabernacle, London (Spurgeon's)
     
  3. Darrell C

    Darrell C
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    118
    It is usually fairly simple to work out that problem, as often Scripture will tell you whether something is figurative, symbolic, representative, et cetera.

    How we take something in Scripture as to whether it is literal or not is determined by context usually, and while there is a danger of being labeled hyper-literal (and that can lead to error as well), the problem most have when they try to make something not literally mean what it says...is that they lose the teaching that whatever passage is in view is teaching.

    For example, while we do not have to literally view Satan as a serpent or a dragon, the lesson is that there is an entity being described, and what he is described as doing should be heeded as literal.

    The sword coming out of Christ's mouth for example, is ridiculed by many:



    Revelation 1:16

    King James Version (KJV)

    16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.


    Revelation 2:16

    King James Version (KJV)

    16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.



    Revelation 19:15

    King James Version (KJV)

    15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.



    But if we balance that with the fact that the Word of God is called a sword...


    Ephesians 6:17

    King James Version (KJV)

    17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:


    Hebrews 4:12

    King James Version (KJV)

    12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.



    ...it's not that hard to see that the sword in view is not a literal sword coming out of His mouth, but a reference to His Word.

    In other words, the destruction which occurs is a result of the Lord speaking. When He returns, He will destroy those encamped with a word.

    We see this imagery here also:


    Luke 2:34-36

    King James Version (KJV)

    34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

    35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.



    For me, the first reading should always be literal, and we then consider when figurative speech is employed. Israel was not a literal vine, but the lesson remains. In regards to the Tribulation, John describes things in his own understanding. The "mountain" he sees fall is likely an asteroid or meteorite. The "Lamb" is Christ, but figuratively spoken of in His Sacrificial ministry.

    While we know there is spiritual truth embedded in what seems to be rather plain, at the same time we have to make sure we do not either remove the teaching or add to it.

    In other words, while the description might seem fantastic, the description is still describing something. As long as we bring out what the text is saying, we will not worry if someone calls us "literalists."


    God bless.
     
  4. Darrell C

    Darrell C
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    118
    By the way, what is it in that/those threads that caused you to start this thread. I would be interested to hear what it is that raised the question.


    God bless.
     
  5. nodak

    nodak
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,265
    Likes Received:
    15
    Simply wondering as someone kept referring to "a literal reading would mean...."

    Had me wondering what the parameters or criteria are for discerning when to read something literally and when not to do so.

    Probably also influenced by a (I believe wrong headed) pastor who once quoted "what is man that thou art mindful of him" to literally mean God didn't even consider women and children.

    As I said, I tend to adhere to a literal reading most places myself, but sometimes the Bible doesn't literally say what a literalist would say it says :)
     
  6. Darrell C

    Darrell C
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    118
    And that's what I meant about hyper-literalism. MacArthur spoke of a man that had a sermon called "Top Knot Come Down!," in which he preached against women wearing buns.

    His text?


    Matthew 24:17

    King James Version (KJV)

    17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:



    lol


    It's an abuse of the text, using Scripture to preach something one wants to teach, despite an obvious error.

    But I think one thing that makes it a little more complicated is the fact that we have the Old Testament which has within it truths not revealed until Christ and Pentecost. Some take that into mind and try to read into the text a little too hard. This would be called spiritualizing the text.

    A literal read is the first step, then consider the text for figurative speech. Then we have to balance that with the Whole Counsel, and if we do this, we will usually understand the text.

    Keep this in mind: God gave His Word to man for the express purpose of communicating His will to man...why would we think He would make that too difficult to do?

    It is true that interpretation is a science, and we have several disciplines which have to be maintained, such as historical and grammatical context, to name a few, which can have great impact on our understanding. We wouldn't, for example, think we should stay on our housetops based on Christ's warning to the Jews He was teaching in that passage, right?

    The original language is important, and lucky for us, we have had many great men who have made it possible for us to be able to get a basic understanding of the Original languages. I strongly (no pun intended) recommend Strong's Online Concordance. That is basically the only resource I draw on these days apart from the Word.

    The link has "protos" pulled up, and if you look in the thread about the Post-Pre Tribulation debate, you'll see how I comment on the argument that our Post Trib brethren offer concerning the "First Resurrection" of Revelation 20. In short, if I do not look at the original meaning and how it is used in Scripture, I might make the mistake of thinking "first" means it is the first resurrection that takes place in Scripture. But we already should have reason to deny that view, because we see many resurrections in scripture.

    And that reminds me of another point I could have put in there, lol.

    Sorry for going on so long, lol, but this is a good topic of discussion.


    God bless.
     
  7. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2006
    Messages:
    38,293
    Likes Received:
    783
    It means don't try to turn everything into an allegory or poetry. A narrative is a narrative.
     
  8. Reformed

    Reformed
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,227
    Likes Received:
    57
    The truth contained in scripture is literal, but that does not mean that every word or sentence is to be taken literally. For instance, when Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life and the Lamb of God, we are not to suppose He is actually a loaf of bread or an actual lamb. We would be right to say that such suggestions would be ridiculous.

    When we look at Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3, we see the prophesy of the messenger who will make straight the way of the Lord. In Isaiah 40 it says that the messenger will make a path (or road) in the desert. Is that a literal path or figurative? I would say the text presents it as figurative. However, the truth contained in the picture of a path is literal. John the Baptist called Israel to repentance of sin and pointed the way - the path - to the Messiah.

    This all about the basic understanding of hermeneutics; asking the who, what, why, when, where questions before coming to a conclusion.
     
  9. nodak

    nodak
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,265
    Likes Received:
    15
    Thanks all!

    And yes, I too am strongly a Strong's user.
     
  10. OldRegular

    OldRegular
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Messages:
    22,678
    Likes Received:
    53
    Do you take John 6:53 literally?
     
  11. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Messages:
    2,499
    Likes Received:
    454
    I do not. I am not a Roman Catholic.
     
  12. agedman

    agedman
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    4,256
    Likes Received:
    185
    Part of understanding the responses the Lord Jesus gave concerning the end times, must consider the predominant view and teaching of the religious rulers of that time.

    A snap shot of that teaching is given when the rulers sought out John the Baptist and inquired just who he was.
    "And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” ...Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?""
    I will be bold to state that most believers do not understand the "Prophet" and skip that part of the reading as unessential. However, it is anything but unessential - especially considering the end time debates on the BB.

    Imo, it refers to the promise given in Duet 18:5.

    The Jews did not look merely for a political ruler, but they also looked for a spiritual leader (prophet).

    It is interesting to me that this relationship of two individuals working as co-partners will be replicated in what the enemy of believers offers during the great tribulation two people who work together to organize and bring world peace.

    The Jews looked for that dual roll of a Prophet and a Christ as two separate persons, one who would be the great high priest, and another that would be militaristic/political leader.

    What they did not recognize was that the dual role would be in the same person at two different times in history (that is if one takes the view that there is an actual millennial kingdom rule of Christ).
     
  13. Van

    Van
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    9,515
    Likes Received:
    49
    The first rule is if the straightforward literal meaning makes sense and does not seem to conflict with any other biblical assertion, then seek no other meaning. Stick with the literal meaning.

    Usually all the arguments against understanding scripture literally are driven by wanting to understand the verse according to some previously adopted doctrine. People will say 2 Thessalonians 2:13 does not really mean God chose people for salvation through faith in the truth, because that runs counter of the doctrine of "unconditional election."

    The bible uses hyperbole and so it is sometimes necessary to understand the statement that way. Get the log out of your eye does not actually teach we have logs in our eyes, but rather our blindness to truth sometimes exceeds the blindness we see in others.

    And as well stated by others, sometimes a figurative illustration is used (i.e. God has eyes everywhere) and while we are correct in understanding the idea is not billions of literal eyeballs, we would be mistaken to toss the baby out with the bathwater, and say God is not aware of everything that goes on in His creation.

    Bottom line, when people advocate for a less than a literal understanding of scripture, beware that an agenda of nullification may be on display.
     
    #13 Van, Sep 24, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2015
  14. OldRegular

    OldRegular
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Messages:
    22,678
    Likes Received:
    53
    I know full well that you do not and are not! Hopefully some brave pre-trib-dispensationalist will try to defend their failure of consistent interpretation!

    I doubt that you will find a pre-trib-dispensationalist on this BB who will insist they interpret that passage literally either. Yet they are perfectly willing to reinstate the bloody sacrifices that Scripture teaches were done away with by the once for all time sacrifice of Jesus Christ; the sacrifice initially mentioned in Genesis 3:15. Yet the pre-trib-dispensationalist is going to reinstate that priesthood!

    I have often thought that the priesthood of the RCC and the Orthodox Communion were simply a rehash, an upgrade if that term is more fitting, of the Levitical priesthood. I thought the same thing as I watched the opulence surrounding the pope today, though he appears to be the most modest of popes in history.
     
  15. agedman

    agedman
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    4,256
    Likes Received:
    185
    You are the one who is being inconsistent.

    The tribulation temple is the fallen Israel who do not embrace the sacrifice of Christ, until they look upon Him - face to face - and they will mourn.

    Why would you even suggest that the sacrifices of the millennium are not that offered in thanksgiving and appreciation?

    Consistency of Scriptures demands the promise made to OT Israel be fulfilled. NT Scriptures restate the promise, yet there are those who would actually embrace the Papists doctrine of amil on this board.

    I don't begin to understand how those, who would argue using page after page of BB threads for the correct and literal salvation passages, would with seeming glibness reject the literal millennial reign, which is one of the most clear passages of Scriptures.

    It isn't pre-mill folks that are Papist influenced.

    Nope, it is those that embrace the very doctrine of the papist church - that of the amil.
     
  16. blessedwife318

    blessedwife318
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2014
    Messages:
    1,872
    Likes Received:
    324
    No one camp has a corner on literal interpretation. Every camp takes some passages literally and then spiritualize others. Some camps are just more honest about that fact then others.
    That's why having a historical, grammatical hermunutic is so important. That gives you a good frame work for when to take things literally and when to take things symbolically.
     
  17. Aaron

    Aaron
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2000
    Messages:
    15,646
    Likes Received:
    223
    An allegorical reading of Revelation IS taking the book literally. It literally is allegory.
     
  18. Darrell C

    Darrell C
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    118
    Of course:


    John 6:53

    King James Version (KJV)

    53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.



    You think Christ did not mean what He said here?

    Do you think someone has the Life He is speaking about apart from eating and drinking His flesh?

    The problem is to understand the literal teaching, and "eating of His flesh and drinketh of His blood" is defined by the Lord here:


    50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

    51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.


    ...and here...


    54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

    56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.




    We balance that with all of Christ's teachings and see His Blood refers to (for example)...


    Matthew 26:28

    King James Version (KJV)

    28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.



    That in view is belief in His Death.

    So yes, one must literally eat of His flesh and drink of His blood in order to have eternal life. In other words...one must believe in the Work of the Cross.

    The fact that He employs figurative speech doesn't change the literal teaching.

    Not sure why one wouldn't take this literally.


    God bless.
     
  19. Darrell C

    Darrell C
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    118
    Doesn't take bravery to balance Scripture.

    Care to point out inconsistencies in my interpretation?


    You might consider that literal as opposed to hyper-literal are two different matters.

    In regards to Levitical service reinstated, that is what Prophecy states will happen, but because of erroneous understanding of a view you falsely impose beliefs and implications which are irrelevant to the Prophecy and how others understand it.

    Do you consider people to receive eternal life through Communion? Does Communion save?

    So why would memorial sacrifice be excluded from the Millennial Kingdom?

    We see it in the early Church:


    Acts 21:26

    King James Version (KJV)

    26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.


    Paul engaged in the heritage of his Nation, why would we think it strange that Israel will as well...when their land is restored unto them according to the Promise of God?

    And that is the problem, misidentifying how a literal view is effected, and then negating major portions of what Scripture teaches.


    And your hatred towards others is relevant to the discussion...how?

    There is no question that Catholicism has it's fair share of Doctrinal error which impacts their Practice, but so do you. That could be said of all of us.

    But there is a distinction between the Catholic teaching of Trans-substantiation and the Law. Catholics maintain something that the Levitical Priest, prior to the New Covenant...did not. And that is the death of Christ. That is contrasted with the blood of bulls and goats. And while they go on to diminish the Word of Christ through works-based faith, that doesn't mean that every single Catholic embraces trans-substantiation, but like many in many denominations...differ from the actual teaching of that group.

    To equate Catholic belief to the Law and Levitical service makes me wonder, again, at your understanding of who and how literalism is employed.

    I would myself disagree with hyper-literalism, but that doesn't mean that we are not literally eating of His Flesh and drinking of His Blood, not when we understand what He meant when He employed that figurative language.

    And as I have said before, when it comes to interpretation, I question the semblance of your own doctrine and interpretive efforts. They too have a tendency to spiritualize away the Scripture and make it mean what they want it to...so it's fits their doctrine.


    God bless.
     
    #19 Darrell C, Sep 25, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2015
  20. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Messages:
    2,499
    Likes Received:
    454
    I don't think so (Heb. 8:13).
    I realise that Dispensationalists solve all eschatological problems by casting everything into the future, but I think you'll be waiting a long time for that. There isn't even a temple in the New Jerusalem.
     

Share This Page

Loading...