Do Fundamentalist take every single passage in the Bible literally?

I’m curious, because I know there’s a passage where Jesus talks about tearing off body parts that make a person sin. I wonder how the fundamentalist readers interpret such a passage. I’ve heard they take every single word literally and at face-:confused:value.


Hmm. Let’s see:

“Take this and eat it, for this is my body…”

“Whose sins you shall forgive…”

“For you are saved by works and not by faith alone…”

Nope, my experience is that they take literally only those portions that suit them. For the others, they will spend countless hours coming up with the most convoluted responses…

Yes, we’re all silly and small minded with no idea what we’re talking about.

They take what society has challenges (to be literal or not) to be literal, because
many simply feel that proud urge to be better believers than others. “You believe
in evolution? Ha, I’m a better believer in God than you then!” some people would
think, but then when confronted with that part where Jesus is talking about tear-
ing off body parts, they be like, “Well that’s a metaphor, why would you take ev-
erything so literally?” to which people such as myself would respond, “Exactly
my question to you: ‘Why do you do it?’.”

I infer that we are talking about Creationism, yes? Creationism is a rather modern
movement that rose in response to the increased belief in evolution, 4.5 billion yr
old Earth, and it’s apparent relationship to atheism simply because science does
not say “GOD.” There comes a very satisfying sense of vanity in the Creationist
community, as it sets them apart from, and in their minds “above”, everyone else
who do not take Genesis etc. as 100% literal.

Jehovah’s Witness also, moving on from Creationism, enjoy the idea of the literal
interpretation of Revelation, in which only 144,000 are going to be saved and that
their the 144,000, though they forget that among the 144,000 according to the lit-
eral interpretation of Revelation are to be Jew, Male, and Virgin ONLY, so yeah, lol.

If we are to take everything in the Bible as literal, we make ourselves look stupid.
It was fine for people of old to take it literally because they didn’t know any better,
but in light of this the modern age when we know a lot more, we can take the Bible
for what it says without having to interpret it entirely as literal.

I was evangelical/Pentecostal/charismatic for several decades, and during that time I was a serious Bible student, teacher, and preacher (and song-writer, but that’s not applicable here).

No, we did not take every word/phrase literalistically. However, we were opposed to the kind of speculative, non-literal, and allegorical interpretation that came out of Alexandria in the first centuries of the Church. One aphorism that I heard repeatedly was, “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” The expanded version adds, “Therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.” That still sounds like pretty good advice to me.

It think its an unfortunate misconception that Catholics have the idea that Fundamentalists take every word literally. There is an understanding of metaphoric language, they are not stupid. They don’t normally commit to the generalizing of passages, and they usually interpret passages as speaking about specific things at specific times. That is a good thing in my opinion, though they err in the fact that they don’t enjoy the liberty of interpreting Scripture based upon the multiple senses. I think they paint themselves in a corner sometimes by thinking that a passage can have only one meaning. Mix their rigid one sense only interpretation with private interpretation and a rejection of tradition and Church authority, then you have a a system that has as many interpretations of the Bible as their are interpreters. It becomes a matter that this preacher says it means this, and that preacher says that, and so on.

It depends what type of fundalmentalists they are. If they believe that the bible is infallible then they are flexible. If they say it is inerrant then they do take everything literal. Many people that believe the bible is inerrant believe that the earth is only 6000 years old based on the blood lines listed in the old testament for example.

No one does because no one can. Literal means without exaggeration, use of metaphor, simile, or any other literary technique, but rather exactly as is. A literal interpretation of the bible would mean that when Jesus calls Peter the rock, a person would have to conclude that Jesus was actually speaking to a chunk of stone, or that when the bible says “all have sinned”, that it included Jesus.

I’m sure people claim they take the entire bible literally, but no one actually does, and they’d realize it if they sat down for a minute and really thought about what that would mean.

I was being serious. In my experience, Fundamentalists take only those portions literally that agree with their way of thought. If not so, why can’t they answer these questions that I posed?

Of course they don’t. But I’d prefer to hear from someone who is actually a self-described “fundamentalist” before qualifying that statement.

So far, I think DaveBj has offered the best response, from a fundamentalist perspective.

Likewise for Catholics and all branches.

As others have pointed out; no we don’t take every passage as literal. :slight_smile:

Just the ones they want to…for instance they claim in John chapter six, Jesus is not literally speaking of eating his flesh, and we Catholics do take it literally.

As with most forms of Protestantism, it all depends on the individual believer and his or her own idea of what the Holy Spirit “obviously intended” by the passage. With Fundamentalists, they don’t even have any equivalent to the Scots’ Confession or the Book of Concord, or the Book of Common Prayer, so it really is up to the individual’s own personal interpretation.

Knowing what John 6 says, I’m going to go with no.

God bless


You are correct that Roman Catholics take this literally, while Protestants read it metaphorically. The reading of what Jesus said here in Luke makes it clear that it is metaphorical:

“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.”

emphasis is mine

If you compare John 20 and Luke 24 you’ll notice that Jesus is speaking to all the disciples, and not just the apostles.

As an anabaptist I do hold to this verse and I don’t believe that saving faith can be devoid of works.

There are many self-described Anabaptists who would disagree with this, including the pastor of our local Mennonite Brethren assembly, so, as I said earlier, it really depends on how the individual interprets the Scriptures, which ones they take literally, or not.

Out of curiousity, which parts? all of it?

Not believing in a Communion of remembrance would seem to contrast with the Schleitheim Confession:

“All those who wish to break one bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ, and all who wish to drink of one drink as a remembrance of the shed blood of Christ, shall be united beforehand by baptism in one body of Christ which is the church of God and whose Head is Christ.”

Believing in confession to priests wouldn’t make sense for a Mennonite, so it’s probably not the second one.

And Anabaptist atonement theology is distinct from the Protestant penal substitution, favoring the more historical Christus Victor/Ransom Theory models (with subtitutionary elements mixed in). This is more in line with Eastern Orthodox atonement theory, and to some extent, Roman Catholic atonement theory, than Protestant atonement theory.

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