“Do Faithful Christians Take the Bible Literally?” by Glenn T. Stanton: “First, we must understand that the phrase ‘take the Bible literally’ is primarily a litmus test—and a silly one at that—for ‘do you really believe the Bible?’ This is why so many Christians hold to this myth—they want to be counted among the Bible-believers. But this is not faithful to God’s Word. I know of no serious, Bible-believing Christian who actually takes the Bible literally.”
“Teaching Children the Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones: “Do you read the Bible like a rulebook? Do you look at the biblical characters as heroes to emulate? Or do you read Scripture as a Story with one great Hero?”
“The Grace of God in the Bible” by Dane Ortlund: For each book of the Bible, Ortlund sums up in one sentence how God’s grace is uniquely displayed therein.
“Don’t read the Bible like a cookbook,” says pastor Greg Boyd in the sermon clip below. The Bible is a story that must be read from beginning to end and understood as an arc, not paged through and grabbed at at random like a collection of recipes. (He references the book The Naked Anabaptist by Stuart Murray.)
“Kimyal New Testament launch in Indonesia,” video by Dianne Becker: In 2010, the Kimyal community in West Papua, Indonesia, received the first copies of the New Testament in their language, the culmination of forty-seven years of translation work. They welcome it into their village with dancing, weeping, and prayer. For additional footage, click here.
In regards to the first article. As far as taking the Bible literally, do you think examples like Jonah and the Whale, Noah’s Ark, etc, should be taken literally, or do you think they are fictional stories but are used to illustrate God’s love and power?
For the two examples you mention, I believe that definitely yes, those were literal events, not allegories. Take Noah: Elsewhere in the Bible he’s regarded as a historical person, not a symbol, in that he’s mentioned in genealogies (Gen. 5, 1 Chron. 1, Lk. 3) and God and Jesus both reference the story as if it actually occurred in time (Isa. 54:9, Lk. 17:26-28). That’s not to say that the story can’t also function as a picture of God’s saving grace. The story certainly raises a lot of “But how could…” questions, some of which can be answered more convincingly than others, but these are too hefty to address here… maybe I’ll save it for a later blog post!
Readers: If you can recommend any resources that intelligently address such questions, including how to read certain stories from the OT, I’d be much obliged!
P.S. When Stanton says that he knows of no Christian who actually takes the Bible literally, he means the ENTIRE Bible, every verse. As he mentions later in the article, the Bible speaks literally in a lot of places, but in other places it speaks poetically, rhetorically, or metaphorically. It’s important for Christians to learn how to identify these different modes of writing.