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Is Scripture to be taken literally or is it open to interpretation?

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posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 05:55 AM
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Sorry but I'm getting confused.

When suited people quote Scripture to support their theories / opinions and expect me / us to accept it as verbatim truth of 'God's word'.

However, when otherwise suited, Scripture is quoted and I am led to believe there is a hidden, mystic almost gnostic message there to be intepreted by the enlightened.

Interpretations of The Bible are numerous and somewhat contradictory.

Litteral understanding of Scripture, at times, lacks scientific and historical supporting evidence.

Now my question is;
Is Scripture open to intepretation and inference or is it to be taken literally?

At present it seems to me it is used anyway just to suit an individuals or dogmatic opinion, which to my limited mind, is just a tadge hypocritical.




posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:05 AM
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Originally posted by Freeborn
Is Scripture open to intepretation and inference or is it to be taken literally?


It depends on the outcome desired. One verse can also be used both literally and interpretively in different contexts that can often come to polar results, and again, depending on the outcome desired.

Been there done that. Thank the Blessed Spaghetti Monstor that I got out !!



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:05 AM
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The reason I ask this is beause I have recently been involved in a couple of discussions here on ATS and several people have provided Scriptural quotes to support their opinion.

OK, if that is your belief you are correct to quote it.

However, at times I have been told that my lack of understanding and knowledge is because I am taking the Scripture as literal but it should be interpreted as such.
At other times I am told that the Scripture is meant to be taken literal and that The Bible is indeed 'God's word'.

Now The Bible is obviously open to different interpretations, hence the numerous different Christian denominations.

Other people have told me that there is a secret, hidden message within The Bible which only becomes apparent upon some sort of gnostic, spiritual awakening.

Is it any wonder that Atheists / Agnostics / followers of other religions become confused when discussing Scripture related issues when it seems the goalposts seem to constantly being changed to suit the opinion offered by Christian.

Unfortunbately, I feel the need to point out that this is by no means an attempt to ridicule or disrespect Christians and their beliefs, but is an effort to understand why the constant change.



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:36 AM
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reply to post by Freeborn
 


really it depends on the context of the scripture.

ill give an example.

mark 9:[43] And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

many people will say well the literal translation means we should be loping off limbs. but then we have to ask ourselves is this really what jesus means?

the jews tended to take a literal interpretation of things and sometimes had difficulty understanding jesus (who usually talked in parables). jesus was big on principle. he healed on the sabbath for example, which didnt break the spirit of the law.

jesus here was telling people that if something was stumbling you spiritually, that it was better to "cut it off" than to let it kill you spiritually.

what are some senarios that fit into this into this principle?

i can think of one big example in my life. my friend had a drug problem for awhile, no matter howmuch she tried to quit, she couldnt. after thinking about the problem honestly she discovered that it came down to her old friend. she was very close to her and they loved each other very much. but the problem was they were feeding each other's addiction. after fighting the decision for awhile she finally mustered up the courage to do the only thing she could do, she had to stop having a relationship with her friend. it was one of the hardest thing she had ever done.

to her, i suppose leaving her friend was like cutting off her arm. but she had to do that in order to save her own life.

literal interpretation or symbolic?

i used this because you mentioned teaching that are changed by interpretations.

but i also understand you mean stories like noah too.

the thing about that personally for me is that there is evidence that stories like that did literally happen. even though the evidence isnt 100% conclusive, there is evidence. for example, the chariot parts found in a specific pass in the red sea.



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:46 AM
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Originally posted by miriam0566
than having two hands to go into hell


If the first part of the verse is to be interpretive, then it stands to reason that the second should be as well, in that hell is also a metaphor, instead of a lake of fire and brimstone



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:47 AM
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Originally posted by Freeborn
Now The Bible is obviously open to different interpretations, hence the numerous different Christian denominations.


thats not necessarily a correct conclusion. many faiths dont follow the bible, and alot feel that the bible isnt even necessary.

the bible is for the most part crystal clear on certain things. the problem arises when a person disagrees for personal reasons. maybe they dont like the idea of having sex with their BF or GF as being a sin. so they reason, well its ok if we are in love. its an interpretation, but lets be up front, it doesnt agree with the bible.

another change is from the leaders of the religion. i had a priest tell me that above senario, sex is ok out of wedlock as long as we are in love. lets face it, he didnt want me to get offended and leave his church meaning less "contribution". which is i ironic because i did leave his church.

if you look at it honestly, most interpretation blatantly goes against the bible.

but there is interpretation that doesnt, and is alittle foggy. i usually find this is the case with prophecy. revelation has a million and one meanings. but... this is different that doctrinal teachings that should be up for interpretation.



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:50 AM
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Originally posted by Misfit

Originally posted by miriam0566
than having two hands to go into hell


If the first part of the verse is to be interpretive, then it stands to reason that the second should be as well, in that hell is also a metaphor, instead of a lake of fire and brimstone


true...

actually if you research hell, you find that the fiery place of torture doesnt exist. hell is the grave.

gehenna which jesus commonly used as a metaphor was a place of destruction.

thus going to hell literally means being destroyed forever.

i get into it with more detail in another thread

www.belowtopsecret.com...'
(first pages of the thread)



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:54 AM
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Originally posted by miriam0566
actually if you research hell, you find that the fiery place of torture doesnt exist. hell is the grave.


Oh you go to every church I've been associated with and tell them that, little missy, they'll hang you by your shoe-laces and flog ya until you repent the evil demons inside !!! LOLOL



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 07:02 AM
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reply to post by Freeborn
 


Fair question Freeborn!

What some people sometimes forget is that the Bible constitutes an amalgamation of numerous books: some historical, some poetic, some prophetic, which all need to be interpreted according to their historical and literary context. If these genres are not borne in mind, the reader will almost certainly fail to appreciate what the author intended.

This is why the Church - the gathering of those who believe - is led by people who have studied the background to the Bible and its languages. While this does not guarantee that all will come to the same interpretations it does mean that the proponents of different views will be more likely to have reasonable grounds for what they believe. (I personally have not undergone such training, rather I have made it my business to read extensively what people from different perspectives have said, and also to get to know believers from different backgrounds and experience their ways of doing things, not just what I was personally familiar with in the first place.)

Unfortunately sometimes differences of opinion can be the result of simply being uninformed, giving the impression that any view can reasonably be accommodated when interpreting the Bible. The only real ways to get to the bottom of difficult or controversial passages are to either engage in some serious study or to step into a church where its possible to hear from someone who's been trained, and talk to others who have spent many years doing their own serious reading.

Just a couple of examples:

Failure to appreciate that some of Jesus' teaching was not intended to be taken literally literally can lead to misunderstanding. The meaning of the parables was meant to be taken literally, but not every detail. Thus in John 15:1 Jesus says:


I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser


If someone were to take this too literally they might, say, take time to study the biology of vines and apply all the details to the spiritual meaning. They could dream up some teaching such as that as vines only flourish in hot climates, church services that are blessed by Christ have to have a 'hot' atmosphere. In being too literal they would be leading people astray. However the intended meaning is to be taken literally: Christians, as the 'branches' of the vine, (in context,) can do nothing that glorifies God without remaining attached to Christ, the vine, through meditating on the Bible, through prayer and communion, etc.

Another prime example is: how should we interpret the meaning of the book of Revelation? (I am very tempted to give my view, but won't!) The answer relies very heavily on your view of the literary genre of this book. Those who believe it was written as a literal historical prophecy will understand it one way. Those who believe it shares a common heritage with many other apocalyptic prophecies that essentially consist of a collection of pictures, illustrations and parables with little interest in historical sequence will understand it another way. It also has to be said that some parts of the Bible, such as Revelation, are undeniably difficult, so there is also room for numerous differences as to how we understand the nuances.

Fortunately, however, there is a solution to the question you pose. Much of the Bible speaks very plainly and can be understood without assistance. (Many people testify to how things become much clearer after a sincere prayer for understanding - but that's another story.)

Unfortunately the answer requires some humility on the part of the reader, which is a big step for some (and I don't say that to put people down, I just mean it doesn't come naturally to us - me included). It requires that the reader start by studying the basics, such as the Gospels. Once they have gained a grasp of those, they have the building blocks to move on to other things. Much of the confusion you have identified is simply the result of readers attempting to run as they are unwilling to take the time to learn to walk.

It takes time, which our busy lives mitigate against. But the best things in life are often those that mature gradually. Some things are worth waiting for.



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 07:10 AM
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reply to post by miriam0566
 


Miriam,
I appreciate your contributions but unfortunately I'm still struggling.
Just who decides on whether the Scripture is meant to be taken literally or not?
Surely that is down to individual interpretation.
Taking the example you gave, some people will take that as literal, as nonsensical as that maybe to me and you.

I am aware Jesus spoke in Parables etc but one person may take a piece of Scripture as literal, another will use his own interpretation.
Who is correct?
Surely The Bible is a literal work or it is there for interpretation.
One or the other.

And what of the advocates of there being hidden, mystical messages and codes within The Bible.
Are they any less credible than other proponents of The Bibles 'One True Word'?

As for some Christian denominations not needing The Bible?
How then would they have ever heard the word of Jesus etc?



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 01:00 PM
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How can there not be a gnostic element to the word of God? Gnosis basically means knowledge. Most of the people in the Bible were Spirit filled people, assigned to do a specific task or to bring a message. Spirit has the ability to put people on the same page. God said he was not a God of confusion yet confusion abounds.

Right before Jesus died he said "It is done." Some people don't really believe him though.

He again says the exact same words in the closing of Revelations from his throne. "I make everything new! It is done."

There's one gospel that's completely different from all the others. I've read that it almost didn't make it in the Cannon. But it did. In fact when Gnostic texts have been found - the Gospel of John is usually found amongst them. The first thing you might ask yourself is what's different about it. A lot. Matthew, Mark, & Luke were heavily influenced by Paul, but John the Evangelist was with Jesus from the beginning. He is also referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved."

I could go on and on and on. There is nothing about Jesus that was ever meant to be kept secret. Everything he has to give is totally free. People that keep secrets and put a middle man between that person and he are pond scum. People who buried the truth are afraid of the truth.

I'll gladly answer any question you have.





[edit on 27-8-2008 by Myrtales Instinct]



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 04:55 PM
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Originally posted by Misfit

Originally posted by miriam0566
actually if you research hell, you find that the fiery place of torture doesnt exist. hell is the grave.


Oh you go to every church I've been associated with and tell them that, little missy, they'll hang you by your shoe-laces and flog ya until you repent the evil demons inside !!! LOLOL


lol, what does that say about the the churches though?

i once asked a friend of mine why she thinks there are so many religions in this world. she replied with a very interesting question, she said, where is the best place to hide a tree? answer: a forest.

she (like me) believes that there is one true religion. alot of people may disagree, but for me it doesnt make sense that god would go through all this trouble with prophecies and commandments and bible books, and then say well everyone just do what you like.

anyway lets just say hypothetically we are right and there is one religion and its the god of the bible. that would mean that there is a satan trying to mislead mankind. crhistianity comes along. now, what is the best way to hide the true religion? make a bunch of false ones.

i think the last count in 2000 was that there are over 33,000 different denominations of christianity.

over 99% believe in doctrines not supported by the bible including the trinity, imortality of the soul, and hellfire. interesting huh?



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 05:22 PM
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Originally posted by Freeborn
I am aware Jesus spoke in Parables etc but one person may take a piece of Scripture as literal, another will use his own interpretation.
Who is correct?
Surely The Bible is a literal work or it is there for interpretation.
One or the other.


i undertsand what you are saying, but the bible is not as ambiguous as people make it out to be. its actually very clear on alot of things.

the trinity is a good example, and actually i had a whole thread dedicated to the subject.

www.belowtopsecret.com...

the trinity is a "doctrine" that is mentioned nowhere in the bible. any reasonable person would see that and at the very least question it. its probably the least biblically supported dogmatic belief of all christianity.

yet people hold on to it, why?

probably lots of reasons. but the point is that there isnt interpretation of anything. its not there.

immortality of the soul. big one among christians, it helps support unbiblical doctrines concerning the afterlife. yet ezek 18:4,20 (both verses) say that the soul that sins dies. eccl 9:5,10 say that the dead dont think, work, suffer, etc etc.

again the scriptures are clear, but alot of people choose to ignore them in favor of other doctrines.

yes there are many "interpretations", more than you can count. but any reasonable person can realize whether they are in harmony with the bible or not.



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 05:28 PM
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MARK 9:48, some might say hell does not exist, but please explain this passage here.

we all read the same bible, different translations. how do differences in opinion happen ? maybe the true meaning has been lost in translation, i tend to think that way. i know if i follow the commandments and believe that raised him ( jesus ) from the dead i will be saved. pretty simple really.

the bible will not save you, correct interpretation will not save you.

revenge belongs to god, salvation belongs to god. not the church, not the pope, but god.

just as kind of a side note, the interpretation of " jehovah " has always bothered me, YHWH i have found to be a unpronouncable holy hebrew word, besides that its like calling my parents by their real name, disrespectful if you ask me.



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 06:33 PM
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reply to post by Freeborn
 



Now my question is;
Is Scripture open to intepretation and inference or is it to be taken literally?


Are you personally 'stuck' on a particular part/portion of Scripture that you've read in the Bible?

If so, please post it?

If, on the other hand, your question is MORE similar or likened to "how can anyone believe the Bible because there are MANY (and OFTEN CONTRADICTORY) interpretations, that many in Christianity espouse", please let us know?



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 08:10 PM
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reply to post by pureevil81
 


in mark 9, the word used for hell was the proper noun γεενναν (ge-henna (or Ge-Hinnom))

gehenna was a valley just outside of jerusalem that was used as a trash dump. it was perpetually kept on fire using sulfur. the bodies of criminals who were unfit for burial were also thrown there.

this place was not used for torture or torment but rather for destruction. after all if something is burned, you cannot salvage it.

the jews listening to jesus speak would have understood the metaphor he was using. (remember jews dont believe in hell, at least they didnt at the time)

jesus also showed that destruction (not eternal torment) would be the fate of those who reject him when he gave the parable of the wheat and the weeds. the weeds would be thrown into the furnace and burned up. (see also rev 20:14)

i get into the discussion more deeply here

www.belowtopsecret.com...'



we all read the same bible, different translations. how do differences in opinion happen ? maybe the true meaning has been lost in translation, i tend to think that way. i know if i follow the commandments and believe that raised him ( jesus ) from the dead i will be saved. pretty simple really.


so god is unable to help his servants find the true meaning of the passages?

i also get into what is required for salvation in this thread here

www.belowtopsecret.com...



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 08:57 PM
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reply to post by miriam0566
 


fair enough, but what about " where their worm does not die " ?

miriam "so god is unable to help his servants find the true meaning of the passages?"

isnt that why the holy spirit was given? check out the role that constantine and martin luther had on the bible, not to mention the new testament is copies of copies of copies.

dont get me wrong miriam, i agree with much of what you say, and the bible does serve a purpose. i cant and wont say the bible is worthless, nor can i go against god.

luke 18:18. read this passage again, what does jesus say to the official.?

what about the guy next to jesus on the cross?

i already know miriam, some people say baptism is necessary, and so on...... but what does jesus teach? now jesus was baptized, am i too good to be baptized, no im not.

i know the bible pretty well, i need noone to interpret anything, or to tell me what is necesary for salvation, of course i am always learning and trying to understand things.

i have come to the conclusion the bible was manipulated for the interest of perons involved, but the basic core teachings are still intact. i dont put too much emphasis on the bible, instead i ask the father, through the son.

EDIT: for clarity.

peace



[edit on 27-8-2008 by pureevil81]



posted on Aug, 28 2008 @ 12:17 AM
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reply to post by pureevil81
 


I gave you a star for that post! Jesus promised the spirit of truth, that he would send it and that it would teach us. And that is exactly what happens!



posted on Aug, 28 2008 @ 01:49 AM
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Ok heres how it is, long long ago, people started writing about stuff. Other people added to it, erased from it. mistranslated it. screwed it up. doctored it, made it fit the current clime, sanitised it, packaged it all up and in about the 15th century it was rattified dogmated and sold to everyone as gospel.

Why?

Do you see the pope doing any physical labor? Alrighty then.


Take what you will from the bible, some good advice in it. Will the bible make you a worse person? Depends on the person really. Most people that read and study the bible I wouldnt say were bad people, they probably get a great deal out of what's taught that bennifits them and makes them better people.

The scriptures themselves are widely open for interpretation because what is truth to one may in fact be falicy to another.


[edit on 8/28/2008 by whatukno]



posted on Aug, 28 2008 @ 09:33 AM
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Originally posted by pureevil81
i have come to the conclusion the bible was manipulated for the interest of perons involved, but the basic core teachings are still intact. i dont put too much emphasis on the bible, instead i ask the father, through the son.


if god´s channel for revealing his will is to tell us, then why make the bible?

if the bible is manipulated, as in people twist scriptures, wouldnt people who are actively searching for the truth but able to figure out when a pastor is a fraud?

if the bible was manipulated (as in changed from translation to translation) wouldnt god be able to prevent that?



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