Best of JCM: There’s Literal, and Then There’s HYPER-Literal
The Atheist Revolution and its author, the anonymous VJack, was the subject of many blog posts here on Josiah Concept. I reacted to his reactions of reading the Bible cover to cover. He had some interesting (and very, very wrong) takes on much of the material he read.
Elsewhere, I’ve decried apologetics in slogans. So, sorry to use one here, but I’ve said before: “Read the Bible, become an atheist. Understand the Bible, become a Christian.” VJack is made my case for me. He read it, but never quite grasped what he was reading. One example among many follows.
VJack reacts to Christian reaction to his Bible thoughts:
When faced with an atheist who is actually reading their bible and still rejects it, the argument becomes one of interpreting things too literally. “You’re missing the point. Christians don’t read their bibles literally like you are doing.” In other words, I am attacking a straw man by unfairly criticizing Christians for believing things they don’t actually believe. (source)
I’ve never said that VJack was reading the Bible too literally, only that he’s not taking everything into consideration. To read anything–including the Bible–literally is to allow the writer to employ accepted literary devices, such as metaphors and hyperbole.
But, in the portions that VJack has posted so far, he is reading the Bible correctly. God demanded animal sacrifice. God declared certain things clean and other things unclean. Nothing symbolic about those statements.
But, as I’ve pointed out, God has, through Christ, made all things clean. Now, we are no longer bound to the Jewish ceremonial laws, which are the ones that include animal sacrifices. There is a better sacrifice, pure and innocent blood poured out for our sins. That blood was the blood of Christ, which we may use to enter the Holy of Holies pure and blameless before God.
The Old Testament is symbolic of the New Testament.
I should note that there is such a thing as HYPER-literal, but that is a different subject altogether. People reading the Bible hyper-literally do not allow for any sort of literary device. They will take obvious metaphors and read them literally.
For example, they take the Bible’s phrase “foundation of the world” (Ps 104:5) to mean that the Bible teaches a flat earth. Of course that’s ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is using the poetic phrase “circle of the earth” (Is 40:22) to prove that the Bible was forward thinking enough to teach a round earth. The Bible isn’t a science text book and is neutral on cosmology. The phrasing represents the author’s understanding of God’s revelation to him.
VJack is making an attempt–a half-hearted one, it seems–to understand the Bible. I commend him for that.