Literal Interpretation and False Assumptions

by Rachel Marron

Preconceived notions are among the largest obstacles to Christianity. Secular skeptics often cite literal interpretation such as the six days of creation, animals on Noah’s ark, or the absence of dinosaurs as sound reasons to reject the Bible and Christianity as a whole.

In reality, conclusions like these reveal how blind we are to our biases rather than any actual intellectual short-comings of the Christian faith. What are some of these common false assumptions?

Read for Yourself

Many have misconstrued notions of what is actually stated in the Bible. Instead, their knowledge often comes from second-hand source like TV or movies. Hollywood tends to misrepresent reality: spies always meet on park benches, undiagnosed-PTSD military personnel only stop saying “sir” in order to salute, and Christians are science-hating hypocritical snobs with southern drawls. Even ‘news’ networks push stories of sensationalism to bolster ratings rather than create an informed populace. While entertainment serves its purpose, philosophies should be judged by their merits. Those merits should reference their source documents, rather than caricatures presented by others.

Acknowledge Literary Genre and Style

Many have the impression that the Bible is one book with many authors written over time. In fact, the Bible is actually a collection of books (and letters), written in various literary genres, which is unified in themes and message. While Christians believe it is more than “just a book,” it is not less. Consequently, one should follow the same literary etiquette used for secular books. Poetry should not be read the same way as historical narrative; proverbs should not be read the same way as prophetic writing. To treat these genres the same is intellectually dishonest.

In addition to recognizing the literary genre of each Biblical book, Westerners must recognize the writing style of ancient Middle-Eastern cultures. Consider, Westerners usually report history in chronological order without commentary. In contrast, Biblical authors commonly arranged historical narratives in order to enhance a message vice chronological flow…

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Literal Interpretation and False Assumptions