There is something wrong with this post, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I would greatly appreciate for someone to help me find any errors in this. I swear up and down that something is wrong, and that’s not just because this is a Pro-Protestant outlook on the Bible.
When the question is asked if we take the bible literal, most of us know that the answer isn’t just a yes or no. However, most people still don’t know why the answer is not just a yes or no, and need to have it explained.
If someone tells you, “I drove my sports car down the road at 90 miles per hour.” Would you take his statement literally? Unless you believe they are a liar, the correct way to understand his remark is to actually think they drove at 90 miles per hour. On the other hand, let’s suppose they say, “I was flying down the road!” Unless you believe his car actually left the ground, you do not take them literally. You do understand what they’re saying though. You know they were driving fast. They are telling you this by “speaking figuratively,” not literally. People who study language know that humans communicate verbally through words in more than one way. Sometimes they make literal statements, which should be taken literally, and sometimes they use “figurative language” which should be taken “figuratively.” Dictionaries tell us that figurative language is language used in a non-literal way in order to add emphasis. Several types of figurative expressions exist, such as the metaphor, simile, personification, and antithesis. While it’s not the most important thing in the world to know and understand the definitions of all figures of speech to understand everyday conversation, it can help. It is also important to know that the Bible uses many figures of speech. One study Bible, the Companion Bible, lists about 180 figures of speech in the Bible, and explains how each figure is to be understood.
Usually we see the difference between literal and figurative speech automatically, without even thinking about it. Often this is because a literal speech doesn’t make sense, so we switch to a figurative speech. When your friend said they were “flying down the road” in their car, you didn’t want to take literally because 1) You know cars don’t fly, and 2) you have heard others use the same expression as a synonym for “fast.” Another way to avoid misunderstanding and ensure you correctly understand someone’s statement is to ask for clarification. Of course, in the case of the Bible, the authors are all dead and cannot be questioned or give clarifications, so we must use other methods to help understand what they meant.What are those other methods? Are we free to pick whatever meaning we wish to believe, as the skeptic charges in regards to the Bible? Well, of course not. Everyone should know that in this type of situation you must study to learn what the writer or speaker meant. What everyone does not seem to know, especially Bible skeptics, is that a method exists to try to find the writer’s intended meaning, it’s called hermeneutics. Hermeneutics can be defined as, “The theory and methodology of understanding (of statements), especially of scriptural text” One essential principles of hermeneutics is that figures of speech are not just to insert whatever meaning one wants. They’re, instead, linguistic devices that are known and understood by linguists to express truth in a certain way once one has learned about them. Even with this, we should not think that everyone will agree on the exact meaning of every single statement the Bible makes. And they will all agree on the meaning of every single scripture. Even if they did agree on the meaning of every scripture, they would not agree on every single doctrine, because scriptures must often be combined to understand a single doctrine. But just because people will never agree on the correct understanding of every single statement made by another, or every single biblical statement, does not mean we are free to throw up our hands and make up whatever meaning we want. That would be nonsense, and it is seen by everyone to be nonsense Regarding non-biblical statements, ask yourself “Do I take whatever anyone says or writes literally?” The correct answer is "I take the literal statements literally, and the figurative statements figuratively. I use my common sense, my experience, and my knowledge of language and grammar to know the difference and to determine what the figures of speech mean.