Literal Bible Interpretation


Hello everyone.

I was recently in a discussion with an individual about Bible interpretation. This person indicated that he took what the Bible said literally. He defined himself as a Christian fundamentalist.

This got me thinking about a few things. I was wondering what groups out there consider the Bible to be literal in its teaching?

Naturally, if you belong to one of these groups, we want to hear from you here. Tell us why you believe what you do…



Hi Brad, I do not think the word literal is what they mean. I think they mean that where the bible has a clear teaching, they stand behind that teaching. For example, they will take Matthew 25 and point out that the clear teaching is Heaven and Hell, but they don’t see purgatory in the scriptures thus the literal understanding of scripture is, there is a heaven and hell, but no purgatory.

They will recogise that when a passage via context is literal, then they take the literal reading of that text. When a context is figurative, then they read the text figuratively.


Interesting! That is a very good point.


Not that I disagree with Daniel Marsh’s comments, but what Fundamentalists are really doing is reading the Scriptures literalistically, not literally. What is the difference?

Well, “literally” means what the text says–that’s taking the whole of the text into consideration and what the author intended to convey, which is how the Church interprets Scripture.

“Literalistically” means just what the words say, which is why they will claim that phrases like: “and he (Joseph) did not know her (Mary) UNTIL she brought forth her FIRSTBORN son…” must mean that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after Mary gave birth to Jesus. The text does not say that or even imply it and there is amply evidence in the rest of the NT to show that that was not the case, but because they interpret literalistically instead of the proper literally, they get it wrong.


I really don’t know how they take things sometimes. When Jesus says This is my Body, they say it’s a symbol— When He says to go and preach & forgive sins , they say preaching stays but forgiving sins stops with the apostles. When Baptising,— no children & you have to be immerged.
My 2 cents


Hello Brad,
I learned this somewhere along the way that has been helpful to me when reading & studying the bible, “When the PLAIN SENSE of Scripture makes COMMON SENSE, SEEK NO OTHER SENSE. 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. God, in revealing His Word, neither intends nor permits the reader to be confused. He wants His children to understand.” (Author Unknown) This seems to work for me. I am a Baptist.
God Bless,



1Cr 14:33 For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.


This is what one of my minister’s sent me on how our church
intreprets scripture:

**Doctrine of the Scriptures: Inspiration **
Definition: Inspiration is God’s superintending of human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error his revelation to man in the original writings.

Proof of Verbal, Plenary Inspiration.

2 Tim. 3:16. Theopneustos, God-breathed. Affirms that God is author of Scripture and that Scripture is the product of His creative breath.

2 Peter 1:21 The “how” of inspiration—men “borne along” by the Spirit.

Specific commands to write the word of the Lord (Ex. 17:14: Jer. 30:2)

The use of quotation (Matt. 15:4; Acts 28:25).

Jesus’ use of Scripture (Matt. 5:17; John 10:35).

NT asserts that other parts of the NT are Scripture (1 Tim. 5:17; 2 Pet. 3:16).

  7.   Writers were conscious of writing God’s word (1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:11-12). 

Proofs of Inerrancy.

  1.  The trustworthiness of God’s character (John 17:3; Rom. 3:4). 
  2.  The teaching of Christ (Matt. 5:17; John 10:35). 
  3.  Arguments based on a word or form of a word (Gal. 3:16, “seed”; Matt. 22:31-32,  “am”). 

**Doctrine of the Scriptures: Interpretation **
Principles of Interpretation.

  1.  Interpret grammatically and historically. 
  2.  Interpret according to the immediate and wider contexts. 
  3.  Interpret in harmony with the whole Bible by comparing Scripture with Scripture. 

Just my or should I say my minister’s :twocents:


he took what the Bible said literally

Scary fella :eek:

Does this mean that they believe in the last chapter of John, which was not in the orginal but was added later, comprising other texts.

Does that mean he believes the Lord walked on water in His pre-resurrection body, that He really told His followers that 'if anyone has a problem to bring two or three witnesses, then the community then the whole church etc etc

Everyone knows this was added at a later date.

One could go on but it sounds like it may be futile :rolleyes:


Scary fella

How does he know which bits are ‘original’ and which bits were added from other texts?

There can be only one interpretation of sacred scripture and it is that by her who compiled the original documents :wink:


They take the bible “literally” (literalistic) until the come to John chapter 6,
or the last supper acounts, when Jesus says “this is my body”

They would understand that the creation is in 6 - 24 hour days. “That is what the bible says; that is what the bible means”

When they get to John 6 and the last supper accounts, they would say, well, Jesus is not being literal here he is speaking a “figurative, or a metaphor” but certainly not literal.

You might want to listen to the Catholics and the Bible free mp3 download for the John Martignoni web site.


Oh yes…this is the contradiction of the Bible Churches out there. To them, all of that John 6 stuff is just tradition of men…so is that bit about the Virgin Mary.

I personally have a hard time with some of my Bible Church brothers and sisters on this, but it is not their fault. The bottom line is that this all started with the Reformation. The so called reformers needed to make their teaching different from that of Rome to get anyone to follow them. Otherwise, why would anyone leave?

What kills me is that it is such a bunch of hypocrisy! "Oh we take the Bible as literal…just not that part because it does not fit our goals.


Literal Bible Interpretation

I have been informed more times than I care to remember that 'everything in the bible is to be taken literally. God made the entire universe in 168-hours divided into 6 x 24, resting during the last period of 24-hours.

Further, we are to believe every word that issued from His sacred mouth…well almost!

Every word He ever spoke…with exception to ‘Take eat this is my body’ Mk 14:23 and ‘In very truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you will have no life in you’. These two are metaphors…how convenient!!!

Likewise, St Paul is seen as the great apostle that he was. Everything he said can also be taken as gospel truth…well almost!

Everything with exception to 1Cor11:27-28. When he said that, he was ‘having a bad day’!

The CC teaches that what the Lord gave us was ‘a seed’ which grows. Doctrines evolve as the Holy Spirit reveals knowldege and understanding to us, that His blessed Apostles [and the people of His era] would not be able to understand.

I hear fundamentalists screaming ‘poppycock’. How else then do you explain His teaching: ‘There is still much that I could say to you, but the burden would be too great for you now. However, when the time comes, the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth’ Jn 16:12-13


Then why does the Catholic Church not recognize as correct the interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures by the Jews?


How do you know it is the correct interpretation?

What Chapter and verse gives the instruction on how to interpret the Scripture?

The Jews were arguing over it for centuries when Jesus walked the earth. Yet, common lay people claim to know it better than the fathers of our Faith.

So, I ask, where in Scripture is the instruction given?


It could be because the Jews deny that Christ was God. :smiley:

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