The Literal Interpretation of the Bible
We should recognize and compare the Christian ‘Religionist’ who may be a ‘Sunday Christian’ claiming to be a Christian with that of the genuine Christian ‘Bible Believer.’ We should never assume that all that so-called Christians or pastors we encounter actually believe the Bible is the literal “word of God.” In fact, I personally believe the majority who claim to be Christians do not believe the Bible is “the word of God” containing ‘the literal words of God.’
The dictionary definition for the word “literal” means “taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory, free from exaggeration or distortion.” People balk at this common-sense definition when it comes to the Bible, or certain passages, because they frankly do not believe the Bible.
Most of mainline Christianity agrees with Biblical criticism in some sense. It is only a minority of Christians, a substantial minority of 20% or so (see https://news.gallup.com/poll/210704/record-few-americans-believe-bible-literal-word-god.aspx Gallup chart), who believe the Bible contains the ‘literal the words of God.
Most Catholics also only take the Bible non-literally. This is reasonable for them since they believe the Pope has the authority to trump, supersede, change, or violate the words of the Bible as it is written, which has often been done century after century. So, there is not a lot of difference in Biblical scholarship between ‘mainline’ Christianity and ‘Catholic scholars.’ There are also a growing number of so-called ‘evangelicals’ whose approach is fairly similar to the mainline denominations.
The fact is that unless the Bible itself obviously states anything different, the Bible is meant to be taken literally. Anything else would be to accuse God of lying and not putting our trust in Him and His words. Having said this, the “literal” method of interpretation does not preclude the proper use of metaphor, figures, allegory, or symbolism, which are in fact found within the Bible.
So when I say “literal interpretation” is the proper method of interpretation I do not mean that when the text itself clearly indicates a parable, allegory, or a figure of speech is involved, that we are to ignore those indicators to be slavishly literal. The “literal interpretation” means that we do not take license to treat anything non-literally without those indicators being present.
Therefore, we do not try to ‘spiritualize’ the Bible, as so many so-called Christian preachers do, just because we cannot make sense of something any other way. Too often today, when the Bible is read in a Church setting, we are told it does not actually mean what it says… as the proceed to ‘spiritualize’ the Bible. Some tell us when the Bible speaks of “My people” and “their land” of Israel as seen in 2Chronicles 7:14, it means you and your home country. No! Israel is that unique land and Nation of people in the middle east.
Many Christian preachers do not take the Bible literally, choosing rather to ‘spiritualize’ the Bible as symbolic of something different from what it says as they try to usurp “Israel’s” promised blessings as if those blessings belong to the Christians of today. No, Israel means Israel and Jerusalem means Jerusalem, etc.
So we ought to use “literal interpretation” to mean a “primarily literal,” plain sense, natural reading in contrast to the common “primarily symbolic” or “spiritualized” reading approach that so many use today. Often such people there slant their Bible interpretation to fit their doctrinal agenda.
When we are puzzled in Bible study, we should always strive to allow the Scriptures to interpret the Scriptures by finding the same matter and word or words where they appear elsewhere in the Scriptures. If we do this, we most often will find the real meaning as to what is being said, all without trying to twist the Kings James Bible to fit what we want it to say. The truths of the word of God are often multi-layered and may have multiple meanings and even contradictions, lots of meanings. All the words of verse have a context with an immediate meaning, while also having a far-reaching meaning that is supported by other scripture.
We should accept the historical accuracy of the O.T. accounts of the history of Israel, and the Gospels and Acts. This normally involves rejecting evolution and the consensus view of archaeologists about the history of Israel. It also involves believing that Gen 1 and 2 are literally consistent, and that one can (and should) harmonize the Gospels and other cases where there are parallel accounts of the same thing.
The Key to understanding the Bible is to know that it is written ‘dispensationally.’ This recognizes and considers the fact that God has changed his programs and requirements for salvation in multiple ages as seen thought out the Bible. What was required of Adam in the garden of Eden was different that which was required of Noah and so on until you come to the dispensation of “the Law” for Israel. The dispensational age of the “Law” was followed by today’s most unique the age the Apostle Paul calls “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2). Today’s age of “the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) came to be only after Israel had “fallen,” become ‘blinded,’ and ‘set aside” by God (Rom. 11:10-12, 15, 25, below), while the Lord has turned to “the Gentiles” with a new pure grace gospel by which men are ‘saved by grace through faith alone in Christ’s Cross-work alone’ (Eph. 2:8-9).
We can see the fall of Israel as Paul explains it here in these verses;
10 Let their [Israels] eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them [Israel] be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? Romans 11:10-12 (KJV)
15 For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? Romans 11:15 (KJV)
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery [secret plan of God], lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness [cf. v10] in part is happened to, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in [at the Rapture]. Romans 11:25(KJV)
This YouTube video is worth viewing and listening to. ‘Wescott and Horts Occult Connections’ - Dr. Phil Stringer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0wsTKbL_wQ&t=1714s (YouTube, 1 hour)