Re: Why is the church always lagging?

From: gordon brown <gbrown@euclid.colorado.edu>
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 17:16:50 EDT

On Thu, 13 May 2004, John W Burgeson wrote:

> Literal reading is so easy to do... .

When many people use the word literal, they don't mean it literally. Noone
believes everything in the Bible literally, even those who claim that they
do. This is because much of it is obviously not meant to be taken that
way. Much discussion in Bible studies concerns which figurative meaning is
to be attached to a word or what some word symbolizes. Of course, when
something is obviously not meant literally, it may not be obvious to
everyone what is meant (as, for example, was the case with Nicodemus).
Ironically, when there is disagreement as to whether or not something
should be taken literally (e.g. what Jesus said about the communion
elements), those popularly considered to be literalists may, in fact, be
more prone to take a nonliteral view.

Given the orthodoxy of nonliteral interpretations in so many instances, it
is easy for people to say of almost any passage, "I don't take that
literally" and expect that that should be sufficient to leave the
impression that they do have an acceptable nonliteral interpretation. I
suspect that that is often used as a substitute for saying, "I don't
believe it at all". That suspicion could be dispelled by suggesting what
the alternative interpretation is.

Gordon Brown
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395
Received on Thu May 13 17:20:01 2004

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