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Interpretation of the Bible

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posted on May, 5 2014 @ 04:27 AM
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Hello ATS,

I take the opportunity of this site to ask a few questions to the American Christians around who were raised to and still believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, because it's something I really can't understand.

For some background info;
I consider myself a Christian (raised Catholic), but not overtly religious. Strong background in science (engineer). My family never had any problem to reconcile our faith and scientific discoveries because we don't consider them contradicting. My great uncle was a nuclear physicist and a priest, one of my aunt is a nun, both believe the same things about the world.


Through Christian history, there never was any call to interpret the Bible literally, quite the contrary. Most Christian scholars and theologians actually advocated for a reasonable interpretation of the biblical texts.

It's only around the Protestant Reformation that Biblical literalism became a thing, and it continued to grow among American protestants until this day, giving even birth to the highly questionable Christian fundamentalism around the 19th-20th century, fundamentalism still very present in the US as it can be seen based on their stance on a variety of topics, the most controversial being the doctrine of the young earth creationism.

Based on this, I hope many of you can now understand my position and why I'm completely dumbfounded as to why many US Christians think they need to be opposed to scientific discoveries to remain true to their faith. As far as I know, nothing in the Bible tells me to interpret it literally, nor that it is the literal word of God. The book is a wonderful testimony and a wealth of wisdom and spiritual teachings, but why would it be anti-christian to think it's still a book written by men and thus subject to interpretation based on the context and intended audience (early Christians)?
My objective is to understand a bit better your position because so far I cannot make sense of it. I will try to remain as respectful and non-judgmental as possible, but I really expect sincere answers as to why you believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible despite it being a modern and American stance with no roots in ancient Christian history.


My questions are the following:
- Give a bit of context regarding your beliefs and how/why you adopted them (tradition, education, personal journey, ...)
- Do you believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and to what extent? (all of it, some parts, ...) Also how do you determine what should be read literally VS interpreted?
- What is your position regarding the description of Creation in Genesis? (young-earth creation, old-earth creation, allegory, ...)
- What is your position regarding evolution? (literal Adam & Eve creation, intelligent design, ...)
- What importance do you give to Biblical prophecies? What's your position regarding Revelation? (historicist, preterist, futurist, idealist, ...)
- Do you find it hard to reconcile your beliefs with the current discoveries? Why?
- What is your scientific education? (school, personal research, what you heard about science, ...)



Thank you in advance for your time and sincerity, I really hope that with your input I can understand the specifics of your beliefs better because I'm still having a really hard time to do so, even as a Christian.

I'll end with a quote from the Council of Vatican II, because it illustrates my personal stance quite well:

"Since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words."

edit on 5-5-2014 by SpaceGoatFarts because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 5 2014 @ 05:29 AM
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a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts

To a certain extent, there are common interpretations that were never intended in the original script, that people now assume is the only meaning for a segment of text. (eg: the Dispensationalist view of the Apocalypse).

The Bible is full of clever wordplay & metaphorical content but translated as it is, out of cultural context and with alternate "readings" of the original text, many people assume that everything in there must be taken at face value only.

Of all "modern" translations probably the King James Version is the least accurate. Not only because the translators imposed their mediaeval understandings on the original texts that they had, but also because the English language has changed significantly since the translation. An example of the changes in English are the words "Awesome" and "Awful" which originally had the same meaning but now are seen as polar opposites.

Perhaps the inablility to concede that your personal interpretation of scriptures may not match the intent behind the text is where this problem arises. People in this position, with the "word for word" attitude on textual interpretation are actually preventing themselves from seeing any alternate.

This is one reason that I like the "Message" paraphrase. Peterson has made great effort to capture the meanings, in a culturally and historically sensitive way, rather than just a word by word translation. He also goes to some lengths to 'break' familiar formats in some passages so as to expose the true meaning rather than a traditional view. A case in point is in Romans 6 where he takes the whole "armour of God" section and almost seems to be avoiding mentioning the specifics of armour (which none of his readers are likely to have any real experience of) but still remaining true to the conceptual intentions and meanings of the original text.



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 06:31 AM
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a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts I can understand your confusion and I think I have the answer .First we have to lay aside the public education despite their help by not educating kids how to think but by what to think .The one group you will find down the rabbit hole is the Jesuits .They created the higher learning institutions and brought in a mishmash of theology .They were created to destroy Protestantism but couldn't do it from the outside and so they infiltrated it . That is the simple fact of the matter .

To me the bible is the word of God and I have my personal reasons for believing that .It uses many forms of literary styles and so it can be read but unless you are aware that you may be reading a pun or a allegory you are going to be puzzled .Not everyone has a Strong's or even a good translation so you have to factor that in as well . There are lots of people that go through seminary and get the proper paperwork to be a preacher or what have you but they never really believed in a God so they are comfortable milking the machine or what ever man made institution they are employed at ....



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 06:44 AM
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Give a bit of context regarding your beliefs and how/why you adopted them

Raised Catholic. Spent almost 20 years in 'Third Orders' ... first with the Franciscans and then with the Carmelites. I appreciate truth where it can be found ... be it with the writings of Catholic Saints like St. Edith Stein, or be it with the Buddhist masters .... But I remain a Christian. My prayer of choice - the rosary.

Do you believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and to what extent?

No. Most of the bible is not supposed to be taken literally. And much of the Old Testament has been proven not to have happened (Genesis, Adam and Eve, Exodus, Noahs Ark) so obviously they can't be taken literally.

What is your position regarding the description of Creation in Genesis?

One of many creation myth stories on the planet. It didn't happen that way.

What is your position regarding evolution?

God can use whatever method He wants to create people. Evolution, creationism, 'seeding by aliens from space' ... whatever. As long as you acknowledge that God is in charge of the process, it's fine. Oh ... the 'Adam and Eve' story has been proven not to have happened. So to continue to believe in it after it's been proven by science to be wrong, that's not smart IMHO.

What importance do you give to Biblical prophecies?

It depends on the prophecy.

What's your position regarding Revelation?

It's probably meaningless. The church up until the 500's didn't buy into it. Early church fathers like Origen didn't buy into it. Nothing in Revelation is important for salvation. It was written by a religious old man who had a very stressful life (assassination attempts and watched his friends be murdered). It was written while he was living in exile under harsh conditions. My guess is that it's dementia dreams and they are full of religious context because that was what the mans life was full of. It's full of Old Testament scripture references because that's what he lived his life by. Basically, Revelations is suspect and unimportant.

Do you find it hard to reconcile your beliefs with the current discoveries?

You must adjust your beliefs as new information becomes available. To cling to that which has been proven wrong, just because you have been indoctrinated to believe in them, is simply not too bright. It holds you down from finding truth. And truth is the most important thing.

What is your scientific education?

B.S. in Psychology



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 07:50 AM
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My questions are the following:
- Give a bit of context regarding your beliefs and how/why you adopted them (tradition, education, personal journey, ...)
- Do you believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and to what extent? (all of it, some parts, ...) Also how do you determine what should be read literally VS interpreted?
- What is your position regarding the description of Creation in Genesis? (young-earth creation, old-earth creation, allegory, ...)
- What is your position regarding evolution? (literal Adam & Eve creation, intelligent design, ...)
- What importance do you give to Biblical prophecies? What's your position regarding Revelation? (historicist, preterist, futurist, idealist, ...)
- Do you find it hard to reconcile your beliefs with the current discoveries? Why?
- What is your scientific education? (school, personal research, what you heard about science, ...)


You want to know a lot of information

You also state you dont believe in creation, and label those who do fundys.
Can you prove beyond reasonable doubt that evolution is a fact. Lets start at the Big Bang, I want a reasonable theory on how and why it happened, then evidence.
I would consider those who advocate evolution as hard fact, scientific fundys

You consider yourself Christian but not religious, me as well, the difference is my life exists for God. How do you explain being a Christian but not religious, to me, no offence but you sound a little luke warm?-

I dont know to many Protestants who take the bible as a literal word, it has allegory's, hyperbole, and parables. Serious students of Gods word will study and understand what is literal. Have you?
I think your statement that fundys take the bible as its literal word is hyperbole.

Creation? yes. If evidence proves otherwise I will reconsider
Evolution? to many scientists dont accept evolution, if I dont its my choice, if you do then thats great. Adam and Eve are literal, take them from the bible and the whole bible becomes invalid.
Prophecies are revelations of the future, they unfold. Seemingly never the way we think they will.
My beliefs walk right along next to scientific discoveries, the proven ones, not the unproven ones (If you accept the big bang and evolution then fine, I dont, I want more evidence,I am sorry thats my belief)


What is your religious education?



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 08:40 AM
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originally posted by: the2ofusr1
They were created to destroy Protestantism but couldn't do it from the outside and so they infiltrated it . That is the simple fact of the matter .


I don't understand this point. Seems a bit paranoid to me. Protestantism is quite modern, does that mean that Christianity before 1500 was basically wrong? Because they weren't protestant that's for sure.


originally posted by: the2ofusr1
To me the bible is the word of God and I have my personal reasons for believing that .


You don't really help me understand why
You just say you believe it is because...



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 08:44 AM
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originally posted by: chr0naut



originally posted by: FlyersFan



Thanks for your contributions! Much appreciated and good to see people who aren't afraid to think critically.



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:03 AM
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originally posted by: borntowatch
You want to know a lot of information


Well, how else could I know how you came to believe the things you do, and in which context?




originally posted by: borntowatch
You also state you dont believe in creation, and label those who do fundys.


You misread me. I believe in Creation, just not young-earth creationism nor literal interpretation of the Creation myth.
As I explained, biblical literalism and the subsequent fundamentalism (not an insult, a theological term) is a modern invention that is common in the US but not in the rest of the world. I'm not American so there's 0 personal or cultural reason for me to believe in a literal reading of the Bible.


originally posted by: borntowatch
Can you prove beyond reasonable doubt that evolution is a fact. Lets start at the Big Bang, I want a reasonable theory on how and why it happened, then evidence.
I would consider those who advocate evolution as hard fact, scientific fundys

You consider yourself Christian but not religious, me as well, the difference is my life exists for God. How do you explain being a Christian but not religious, to me, no offence but you sound a little luke warm?-

I dont know to many Protestants who take the bible as a literal word, it has allegory's, hyperbole, and parables. Serious students of Gods word will study and understand what is literal. Have you?
I think your statement that fundys take the bible as its literal word is hyperbole.

Creation? yes. If evidence proves otherwise I will reconsider
Evolution? to many scientists dont accept evolution, if I dont its my choice, if you do then thats great. Adam and Eve are literal, take them from the bible and the whole bible becomes invalid.
Prophecies are revelations of the future, they unfold. Seemingly never the way we think they will.
My beliefs walk right along next to scientific discoveries, the proven ones, not the unproven ones (If you accept the big bang and evolution then fine, I dont, I want more evidence,I am sorry thats my belief)


What is your religious education?


You try to turn this into a debate but that's not my point. I have my beliefs, you have yours. I try to understand how you came to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, despite it being something only Americans do, and only since around 200 years.
That's why I asked these questions you don't really answer. Instead you try to attack evolution because?

This is all too common in the US. Please don't try to define yourself as pro/against evolution. That's pointless. What is important is do you or do you not read the Bible literally, and why.

Do you know that the Catholic Church denies neither the evolution, nor the Big Bang. Have you ever thought about how you come to a different conclusion based on the same book?


I related biblical literalism and fundamentalism because they usually go in pair (maybe not always). At least they have in common the belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, which again is something a lot of Christians do not share as they consider the Bible a work of men inspired by God. Not as the work of God.

My religious education is quite poor. As said I was raised Catholic and beyond that my knowledge comes from personal researches.

Also there are plenty of proofs to give validity to the Big Bang model (model that was imagined by a Christian priest!) or to the theory of evolution, and it's also indisputable that the young-earth model is wrong. I could cite all these proofs but I doubt it would make you change your mind because you simply chose to believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, which I don't.

So in your case, facts and Genesis conflict so you have to deal with cognitive dissonance. For me Genesis is an allegorical story, and as such, it doesn't contradict the Big Bang nor the evolution. Actually you could even read Genesis in light of the Big Bang model, it can work to an extent!


It thus all go back to this: Why do you think the Bible should be read literally? Who told you to do so? Where is it written that you have to? Is it all just a personal choice? Because to me it seems it is.



edit on 5-5-2014 by SpaceGoatFarts because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:14 AM
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a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts Prior to the Jesuits the RCC used all forms of methods to persecute Christians .Usually carried out by one of minion Kings. When you look under the text of the bible you find embedded things that we would be hard pressed to accomplish even in this day of computers .Thankfully with the computers we are able to look at some of it but it is something that has been studied long ago .

I offer these 3 vids only as to help explain why I believe the way I do




posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:19 AM
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originally posted by: the2ofusr1
First we have to lay aside the public education despite their help by not educating kids how to think but by what to think .


I don't know about the US, but it's not true in my country.

University education was all about critical thinking and learning to think and research for yourself. (it was a Christian University and we had religion classes too. And yet they also teach modern cosmology and biology).

On the other hand, the Church usually tells me what to think and in which values I should believe.

Seems like you got the two things mixed up if you say the education system doesn't tell you how to think but religion does. Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.
edit on 5-5-2014 by SpaceGoatFarts because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:22 AM
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originally posted by: the2ofusr1




Can you explain to me why you say the Bible is the literal word of God? There must be a reason you believe so. That opinion didn't came out of nowhere.



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:24 AM
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There is a lot of good information in the bible, it cannot be tossed aside. There is a lot of good information in a lot of ancient writings that a person should evaluate. The bible has been translated. Our comprehension has changed, we cannot really understand the totality of the writings. The mind of the observer changes how he perceives things continually based on mood and belief.



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:28 AM
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a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts Watch the 3rd vid ..I do have other things I have looked at that would account for my belief and I didn't go to a church to tell me what the word of God says . I literally read the bible but I don't take all of it literally



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:30 AM
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originally posted by: rickymouse
There is a lot of good information in the bible, it cannot be tossed aside. There is a lot of good information in a lot of ancient writings that a person should evaluate. The bible has been translated. Our comprehension has changed, we cannot really understand the totality of the writings. The mind of the observer changes how he perceives things continually based on mood and belief.


I'm saying exactly the same. My questions are more about the interpretation of the texts. For example do you read Genesis literally and if yes, why? Because as far as I know it, nowhere in the Bible there's a disclaimer saying "you shall read this literally", quite the contrary, most scholars who studied it acknowledged it's a complex text and thus interpretation is key.



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:35 AM
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originally posted by: the2ofusr1
a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts Watch the 3rd vid ..I do have other things I have looked at that would account for my belief and I didn't go to a church to tell me what the word of God says . I literally read the bible but I don't take all of it literally



I know the things you talked about. Gematria and Bible code and all (Don't think I haven't done my researches myself ;p).

I don't believe it but it's OK if you do. I believe that when you look very hard for patterns you will always find them, and that believing that they aren't coincidence, you fool yourself. But it's just my opinion.

Also thanks for clarifying that you don't read the whole Bible literally. In that case, it means it's open to interpretation, and I share that view.

Thanks for your inputs.



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:42 AM
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a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts




As far as I know, nothing in the Bible tells me to interpret it literally, nor that it is the literal word of God. - See more at: www.abovetopsecret.com...


As far as you know, does anything in the Bible tell you to interpret it metaphorically?



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:49 AM
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a reply to: Words Good one :>)




posted on May, 5 2014 @ 09:51 AM
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I believe the bible holds no errors,(fundy?) I believe the bible suffers from issues in translation from its original language to the secondary language. I believe it is misunderstood and suffers poor interpretation from the reader.
I think to many people read the bible not understanding its historical context.
Why did Jesus command the disciples to sell their possessions to purchase swords? The reason is very simple and reasoned if you study the historical context.
I read atheists comments regarding its statements (they take it far more literally than any Christian I know) taken completely out of context, I do know some Christians who misunderstand the context as well.



I dont attack evolution, I know some good Christians who accept evolution and respect their beliefs, how could I not accept non Christians beliefs. However I dont accept evolution.

Do I take the bible literally, do all Christians take it literally, no? Do I think all Christians believe by faith, Mark 11:23, they can move a physical mountain? Are you suggesting that. Do you know the context of that scripture?
Is it a spiritual mountain related to the OT?
Maybe the question should be framed differently, do all fundamentalist Christians think their faith as small as a mustard seed can move Everest?

I am aware the Catholic church accept evolution and the big bang, I know many Protestants who accept it as well.
How did I come to my conclusion, lack of evidence and many questions. What caused the big bang, thats the first question.
There is no debate, I dont believe in the big bang as framed by science.

Maybe I got confused by you using the bibles inerrancy as a position and then adding literalism as an issue.
I believe it is inerrant but cant be taken literally as a whole, better?

I believe it is written by man and inspired by God, I believe God hasnt revealed everything within its words, what is written is enough. It is Gods word.

Your Christianity is poor by your own admission, so you come in with your own position, your own bias.

Why did Jesus want swords, what did Jesus mean when He spoke of faith moving mountains, why did Jesus call the Samaritan woman a dog? I expect you dont know, I expect you will make a judgement.
What if you are wrong.

I have studied science and study the bible daily, I believe the world is a scientific miracle and scientists are trying to unravel its depths. Science is a tool, not a religion.


I thought I answered your questions and I am not from the Americas either. Bias?

If I was to meet a Christian who accepted that the bible was to be taken literally, I would explain why I dont take every word literally, but I havnt had to.
edit on 5-5-2014 by borntowatch because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 10:30 AM
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originally posted by: Words
As far as you know, does anything in the Bible tell you to interpret it metaphorically?

My brain tells me to interpret it metaphorically .. and allegorically .. and as the mythology and folk lore that parts obviously are. A talking snake? A little boat with 16 million animals in it? That same boat supposedly floating around for a year? Common sense .... a lot isn't literal.



posted on May, 5 2014 @ 12:50 PM
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a reply to: SpaceGoatFarts

I take the bible literally where the text implies it, and symbolic where the text reveals/interprets the symbol. The symbols alway buttress the literal account. From cover to cover, the bible flows more consistantly with a mostly literal interpretation (imo). Therefore, I do believe the Creation, Flood, Exodus, etc as stated in scripures. Why believe in Jesus and His miracles if you doubt the OT's veracity?

Science has one fundamental flaw, and that is man's observation. Just because a scientific theory seems true now, doesnt mean it will always be. I trust in Jesus, and that He quoted the word of God, not a mixed mash of mythology.



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