Shouldn’t we take the Bible “literally”?
Yes we should! What I mean by this is simply that we should avoid the allegorical school.
It is honestly quite dishonest to simply say “it means what it say” because the truth of that kind of method is “it means what it says to you.” That is a very subjective way to read the Bible.
In these next 7 blog entries (6 more) I will cover the 22 common figures of speech that the Bible uses to help us think outside the box, but stay in the book!
(1) Anthropomorphism is when the Bible ascribes human traits to God. An example would be “So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go” (Exod 3:20 TNIV). We know that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) so he does not have hands, but this is the Bible’s way of poetically talking about the Father’s actions.
(2) Anthropopathism is when the Bible describes God in terms of human emotions. An example of this would be “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened” (Exod 32:14). We know from other places in the Bible that God does not change (e.g. “I the LORD do not change” Mal 3:6), so when the Bible speaks of God “repenting” or “changing his mind” it is an effort to communicate in terms that people can understand.
God is Holy, meaning that he is utterly different than we are. This can make it difficult for us to understand him. When we don’t realize that the Bible uses these two figures of speech, we can get a distorted view of who he is and how he interacts with the world.
So the Bible says God has hands, and the Bible says that God changed his mind, but the Bible doesn’t mean what it says…