The over valuing of literal ways of expressing our experience of reality needs challenging. Literal truth doesn’t help us talk about the most important things, and when you force yourself to speak literally, you end up saying some very silly things about those important things. The most obvious example of this is God talk where ‘taking the bible literally’ has become for some the same as, ‘taking it seriously’, or reading it honestly and not complicating it with ‘man made’ interpretations.
Taking the bible literally however is absurd. It isn’t simple so you can’t pretend it is and to be serious about it and faithful, you need to know what kind of language it is using at any given point. To believe, as I do, that it is inspired by God, doesn’t let you off the hook by assuming that God used only modern ways of using language!
So regarding literal language we need to challenge the two assumptions. One is that literal truth is ‘simple’ and without distortion. Second that other ways of talking about reality are not serious and are complicating things for the sake of it. I’m not sure I can do that here – though I’ll have a go on another day. Instead here is a way of thinking that I find helpful, I’m curious to know if you find it so!
Well I for one found it helpful. It seems Pam did too: PamBG’s Blog: Taking the Bible Seriously.