Watcha mean by ‘literal?’ Hermeneutically speaking of course!

Here is an article written from a Brtish publication, bemoaning us poor religious blokes for our ‘literal’ interpretation of our holy books. She reflects the common secular understanding of us superstitious monotheists.

“It is wrong – and dangerous – to believe literal truth can be found in religious texts

Karen Armstrong
Thursday August 11, 2005
The Guardian

Human beings, in nearly all cultures, have long engaged in a rather strange activity. They have taken a literary text, given it special status and attempted to live according to its precepts. These texts are usually of considerable antiquity yet they are expected to throw light on situations that their authors could not have imagined. In times of crisis, people turn to their scriptures with renewed zest and, with much creative ingenuity, compel them to speak to their current predicament. We are seeing a great deal of scriptural activity at the moment.

This is ironic, because the concept of scripture has become problematic in the modern period. The Scopes trial of 1925, when Christian fundamentalists in the United States tried to ban the teaching of evolution in the public schools, and the more recent affair of The Satanic Verses, both reveal deep-rooted anxiety about the nature of revelation and the integrity of sacred texts. People talk confidently about scripture, but it is not clear that even the most ardent religious practitioners really know what it is.
Protestant fundamentalists, for example, claim that they read the Bible in the same way as the early Christians, but their belief that it is literally true in every detail is a recent innovation, formulated for the first time in the late 19th century. Before the modern period, Jews, Christians and Muslims all relished highly allegorical interpretations of scripture. The word of God was infinite and could not be tied down to a single interpretation. Preoccupation with literal truth is a product of the scientific revolution, when reason achieved such spectacular results that mythology was no longer regarded as a valid path to knowledge.

We tend now to read our scriptures for accurate information, so that the Bible, for example, becomes a holy encyclopaedia, in which the faithful look up facts about God. Many assume that if the scriptures are not historically and scientifically correct, they cannot be true at all. But this was not how scripture was originally conceived. All the verses of the Qur’an, for example, are called “parables” (ayat); its images of paradise, hell and the last judgment are also ayat, pointers to transcendent realities that we can only glimpse through signs and symbols.

We distort our scriptures if we read them in an exclusively literal sense. There has recently been much discussion about the way Muslim terrorists interpret the Qur’an. Does the Qur’an really instruct Muslims to slay unbelievers wherever they find them? Does it promise the suicide bomber instant paradise and 70 virgins? If so, Islam is clearly chronically prone to terrorism. These debates have often been confused by an inadequate understanding of the way scripture works.

People do not robotically obey every single edict of their sacred texts. If they did, the world would be full of Christians who love their enemies and turn the other cheek when attacked. There are political reasons why a tiny minority of Muslims are turning to terrorism, which have nothing to do with Islam. But because of the way people read their scriptures these days, once a terrorist has decided to blow up a London bus, he can probably find scriptural texts that seem to endorse his action.

Part of the problem is that we are now reading our scriptures instead of listening to them. When, for example, Christian fundamentalists argue about the Bible, they hurl texts back and forth competitively, citing chapter and verse in a kind of spiritual tennis match. But this detailed familiarity with the Bible was impossible before the modern invention of printing made it feasible for everybody to own a copy and before widespread literacy – an essentially modern phenomenon – enabled them to read it for themselves.

Hitherto the scriptures had always been transmitted orally, in a ritual context that, like a great theatrical production, put them in a special frame of mind. Christians heard extracts of the Bible chanted during the mass; they could not pick and choose their favourite texts. In India, young Hindu men studied the Veda for years with their guru, adopting a self-effacing and non-violent lifestyle that was meant to influence their understanding of the texts. In Judaism, the process of studying Torah and Talmud with a rabbi was itself a transformative experience that was just as important as the content.

The last thing anyone should attempt is to read the Qur’an straight through from cover to cover, because it was designed to be recited aloud. Indeed, the word qur’an means “recitation”. Much of the meaning is derived from sound patterns that link one passage with another, so that Muslims who hear extracts chanted aloud thousands of times in the course of a lifetime acquire a tacit understanding that one teaching is always qualified and supplemented by other texts, and cannot be seen in isolation. The words that they hear again and again are not “holy war”, but “kindness”, “courtesy”, “peace”, “justice”, and “compassion”.

Historians have noted that the shift from oral to written scripture often results in strident, misplaced certainty. Reading gives people the impression that they have an immediate grasp of their scripture; they are not compelled by a teacher to appreciate its complexity. Without the aesthetic and ethical disciplines of ritual, they can approach a text in a purely cerebral fashion, missing the emotive and therapeutic aspects of its stories and instructions.

Solitary reading also enables people to read their scriptures too selectively, focusing on isolated texts that they read out of context, and ignoring others that do not chime with their own predilections. Religious militants who read their scriptures in this way often distort the tradition they are trying to defend. Christian fundamentalists concentrate on the aggressive Book of Revelation and pay no attention to the Sermon on the Mount, while Muslim extremists rely on the more belligerent passages of the Qur’an and overlook its oft-repeated instructions to leave vengeance to God and make peace with the enemy.

We cannot turn the clock back. Most of us are accustomed to acquiring information instantly at the click of a mouse, and have neither the talent nor the patience for the disciplines that characterised pre-modern interpretation. But we can counter the dangerous tendency to selective reading of sacred texts. The Qur’an insists that its teaching must be understood “in full” (20:114), an important principle that religious teachers must impart to the disaffected young.

Muslim extremists have given the jihad (which they interpret reductively as “holy war”) a centrality that it never had before and have thus redefined the meaning of Islam for many non-Muslims. But in this they are often unwittingly aided by the media, who also concentrate obsessively on the more aggressive verses of the Qur’an, without fully appreciating how these are qualified by the text as a whole. We must all – the religious and the sceptics alike – become aware that there is more to scripture than meets the cursory eye.

· Karen Armstrong is the author of The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism”

What I want to know, is how does one deem anything ‘wrong’ or ‘dangerous’ without reference to ‘holy books’ and the religious heart and mind?

142 thoughts on “Watcha mean by ‘literal?’ Hermeneutically speaking of course!

  1. “These texts are usually of considerable antiquity yet they are expected to throw light on situations that their authors could not have imagined.”

    What situations exactly?!?
    Has the author of this article even read the Bible? And if so, I would like to know what situations outside the realm of the Bible she is imagining…
    Has she read about
    Incest, in the story of Lot’s daughters?
    Substance abuse, as in the days of Noah after the flood?
    Obsession and rape, as in the story of Tamar, David’s daughter?
    Abuse of power, as in the story of Saul?
    Genocide, as in the story of the infant Moses and the Hebrew midwives?
    What is she talking about?
    War? Its in there.
    Famine? Its in there too.
    Racism? Yup.
    Death of a child? Yes.
    Homosexuality? Its covered too…
    How about greed, hypocrisy,betrayal, rejection and lust? I have read about every life situation imaginable with the pages of the Bible.

    Perhaps she is talking about an invasion of space aliens or some other fantastical event… But most authors would actually attempt to read a book before critiquing it. An important step she obviously left out…

  2. “What I want to know, is how does one deem anything ‘wrong’ or ‘dangerous’ without reference to ‘holy books?'”

    Fr. Neo,

    It’s called Conscience Padre. Sorry bro, but we are going to see this quite differently. As an Anglican I’m surprised you don’t too. Yeah, I know the heart is bad, dark and wicked, but let’s not forget in whose image and likeness we are fearfully and wonderfully made. You’re sounding quite the Protestant of late–calling homilies sermons and now inferring that our moral compass can only be found via an external or alien source. Btw, KA is one confused puppy, and I’m not defending her, but instead wondering how you could believe we need scripture to tell us what is wrong.

    I imagine that most (pagan, secular, Christian or otherwise), if they could observe in full view a near full-term partial-birth abortion, would know intuitively/intrinsically that it was wrong and the worst sort of heinous act. They might deny it publicly, but they would know differently in private. It’s written on our hearts by the Creator. The Protestants call it General Revelation (our good buddy Calvin says in so many words that GR will justify the damning of the reprobate because in truth they know better), and RCs call it Natural Law. We don’t need the bible to tell us that certain things are wrong, evil, sin, bad, dangerous, etc.

    How was morality defined by the early apostolic Church prior to the official canon of scripture? Yeah, they had the OT. And, of course, St. Paul, being the good Jew and scholar that he was, had to help us “understand” the Hebrew text and illuminate its God intended meaning beyond the literal interpretation. He was quite the historical revisionist (and I’m glad too!). According to him the OT pointed to Jesus and His messianic vision all along, that is, if one could only read the OT allegorically. Your main boy, St. Augustine, was a champion of the allegorical hermeneutic. What of the practice of Lectio Divina? There’s more there (in scripture) than meets the eye.

    Why was God so pissed at his “chosen” people when they were worshipping a golden calf? If God’s “chosen” didn’t know such an action to be wrong until He revealed it to them via Moses delivering the Law (sacred text), why such a harsh judgment? They knew better, that’s why.

    Final thought: I’m not down playing the value or worth or inspiration of scripture, but only saying that we mustn’t put the cart before the horse.

  3. Well perhaps we don’t need the scripture to TELL us what is wrong, but rather to REMIND us what is wrong, when we want to act as if we are confused or have forgotten. Paul does tell us that men are without excuse since since the foudation of the World God’s invisible qualities have been evidenced through the world via creation… But we also have the evidence of Young King Josiah…
    I can see where we shouldn’t need to have someone tell us not to commit adultery or to steal, but what about tithing? Would I know to tithe without the law? Would I know to keep the Sabbath Holy? … But we humans being what we are … its good to have things spelled out for us. We tend to have conveniently selective memories…

  4. I disagree with you Constantine. Yes, we know by our conscience that some things are wrong and some things are right. However, without the grid of Scripture we do not understand why it matters! I can say X is wrong, but you may say X is right. Which one of us is correct? How do we know that we know that we know it is wrong or right? (BTW that repetition was intentional) I had a professor in undergrad that said an unbeliever does not know the first thing about chickens – even if they have 1000 chickens! The first thing about chickens that believers know and unbelievers do not know is that they were created by God to live in God’s world. This is why nothing can be true without Scripture…there is no worldview for it to work in.

  5. Correction on my previous post: “This is why nothing can be true without Scripture…there is no worldview for it to work in.” I meant, we cannot know anything apart from Scripture informing our worldview, otherwise our entire foundation is wrong.

  6. I think it comes back to priests. Gurus, rabbis, priests. I think the author’s point about reading in isolation is a good one in that it’s a difficult thing indeed to read without demanding an immediate answer to a specific issue. It’s a difficult thing to recall the hard truths – the truths that demand perseverance and a gentle remaining in Job’s ashes when that is the appropriate season. We are loath to find room for suffering or discomfort, even when it is the precious blessing that directs us back to God. My sense is that this is exactly the role of priests – to embody the scriptures and to serve as translators to impatient sheep in times of high stress and indolent frustration.

    This doesn’t mean that the scriptures are insufficient in and of themselves – but it does mean that as individuals we are insufficient to read them honestly and humbly, especially when we are under specific threat.

    There is no question that the scriptures represent an objective claim and platform for bottom line truth, but the author of the article does a good service when she reminds us that the scriptures are meant to be consumed, lived in, wandered around within, and invited to flame within our hearts. Objective they may be, but immediately complete in fallen hearts and fallen consciences they are not.

    I hadn’t read this post before adding my latest yesterday…ironic that we were on such complementary paths…

  7. You’re not going back to the idea that we need Father or Sister to interpret the scriptures for us because the masses are too ignorant to understand the Word for themselves are you? I had one RC friend who used to hide under the covers with a flashlight to read the Bible because it had been so ingrained in her that she was incapable of understanding them on her own, she actually felt she was doing something wrong to try to read them….
    I’ll admit that there are elements to the Bible that are difficult. Some of the prophetic writings of Daniel, and Ezekial….but what is so tough about don’t steal, don’t lie, and don’t sleep around… or love your enemies, bless those who curse you? We’re the ones that make it complicated, usually to promote our own agenda that we know deep down inside really doesn’t jell with what is so plainly stated.

  8. This took a ‘sola scriptura’ turn I did not wish for it to take. See my slight revision above. I agree with C, Ange, and I like Gall’s embodying of the Scripture…

    Padawan,

    Your chicken example sounds Zuberian. That name no longer has any meaning to me!

  9. Constantine,

    You just hate the Bible! You are like the spider JE was talking about in his sermon. You are placing God in the hands of us sinners.

    Father Neo,
    That Armstrong is probably C of E like you (Anglican). Wake up and smell the brimstone.

  10. I am a literalist…. as with so many other things, unappologetically…

    Now my spelling and typos, yeah, I will appologize for those, profusely…ha ha.

  11. I think that only a person with their nose too deep in the book could disagree with the writer of that article. Some good points were made, granted it may not have been 100% right on.
    I think too much faith has been put in the books and the traditional systems of informing the young ones.
    The point of throwing quotes and verses back and forth is amazingly true.

    In the antiquity of the book, is the thinking of the day. It need not be the thinking of today – except in the largest of spiritual values, as opposed to the picky little points that are argued about so commonly.

    Constantine, no the heart is not bad, dark and wicked, We have been told that in great error. It is very unfortunate for those who live under that cloud.

    Life is wonderful, expansive and to be lived. Right and wrong are to be discerned and applied accordingly.

    Forgetting the picky points, consider the grand overall picture.
    It’s time to get out of the boxes, the us against them attitudes and live as God wants us to.

    Remember always the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, live and let live….Jesus would have us do no other.

    Gary

  12. Invisible posts by Anonymous writers? Hmmm.

    Karen Armstrong also wrote: Islam: A Short History. It was revisionist. I don’t know if she knows the bible or not. I do know she is a former nun.

    The “problem” with literal scriptural interpretation is so much loose interpretation which allows any and all things by people like Karen Armstrong. It is a backlash from the people.

    I do know that the presence of scripture is complicating. There are many great saints who saw very little of the bible in their lifetimes. St. Theresa of Avilla only saw the Psalms! Prayer and Christ are about all we must have, I think. But, in today’s milieu, there is waaay too much oblique apologetics for nearly every sin and the sinners who want it maintained.

    Come, Lord Jesus.

  13. Angevoix
    Once you KNOW, you need not be reminded.
    To be more accurate, if you need reminded, you do not KNOW.

    Think about it, really think.

    Gary

  14. This is a copy of a comment I put on another blog yesterday:

    I have an observation about faith.

    I think most faith is somewhat missplaced (if not entirely). What I mean is that really people have ‘faith’ that the system of delivering information to them is accurate and unbiased. The Bible, for example, is believed by most to be accurate. I think that is a leap of faith. What the parents and family pass down, people have faith in that – or not.

    All this information and the faith in it is supposed to develope a belief or knowingness about God/Cause/Diety. If that original faith is blind, maybe the end belief is not accurate, or complete.

    I believe such is the case – not entirely – yet to a significant degree.

    With the mess the world is in, despite all the religious ferver going on it would seem obvious that something is not accurate!

    Gary

  15. Moody Padawan Niece said…
    Correction on my previous post: “This is why nothing can be true without Scripture…there is no worldview for it to work in.” I meant, we cannot know anything apart from Scripture informing our worldview, otherwise our entire foundation is wrong.

    I would not say that it is wrong, but we must ask, is it somewhat inaccurate?

    MPN makes a good point, even if not by intent.

    Gary

  16. Interesting conversation, this. I’ve a question for the literalists:

    It is my observation (having once called myself a literalist) that we, none of us, take the bible literally. We don’t believe in stoning disobedient children or killing men who lie together (OT), for instance.

    We may say we take the Bible literally, but acknowledge that doesn’t mean we take every verse literally. We interpret it through the context of the whole (as well we should).

    My question: If we then acknowledge that we don’t take every verse literally, then doesn’t that mean in fact that we DON’T take the bible literally?

  17. Well done, Dan.

    ‘Literal’ is one of those red herring words the liberals like to use to put Christians in a box. No one takes all of the Bible ‘literally.’ What Ange and our folks may prefer are words like, ‘seriously’ or ‘with authority.’ The Scripture is indeed the Word of God and carries weight as such, that is a better way to express what we are trying to say.

  18. Father, I have a question.
    Is the word of God limited to the bible? Is there, or is there allowance for, post Bible information/revelation?

  19. We interpret it through the context of the whole (as well we should).

    Exactly…I still consider that taking it literally…
    For which I still am not appologetic…

    As for thinking, really thinking…I probably spend too much time thinking about such things…but just to try to respond…this old gal needs to be reminded from time to time of the things she knows. Especially during times of confusion, trial, and difficulty. Not in the sense of not knowing them, but more in the sense of reinforcing what you know and bringing to the surface what lay deep within. A good example, I know how to ride a bike, but have not done so in years. If I hopped on I’m sure it would come back to me…but please don’t ask me to write a dissertation on the physics of doing it… todays lessons are not the same as yesterdays (hopefully) or tommorrows… so yes, I need to be refreshed on stuff from time to time…

    MPN … don’t bail!!! We need the female voice!!!

  20. Ange, we crossedin the mail again!

    You made a good point in that today’s lessons are not the same as yesterday’s.
    Where does that leave/lead us?

    Gary

  21. Certainly not basking in the glory of our superior intellect…(that’s not directed at you or anyone else who has posted)

    How about coming as a little child…?

  22. I think our intellect is not in question. Understanding, well that could be in need of help!

    Coming as a little child?? I miss your meaning.

    Gary

  23. I believe that at times our intellect gets in the way of our understanding. We want things to make sense. As I have said before, faith by its very definition does not make sense…or it wouldn’t be faith…

    We have to come in the humility of a child understanding we need answers and who the source of our answers is. And at times trusting even without answers, as in the parent-child relationship…

  24. MPN,

    You said, “…without the grid of Scripture we do not understand WHY (my emphasis) it matters!”

    Tell me why I wouldn’t understand why por favor. I couldn’t disagree with you more. I’d like to “hear” what you have to say on this. I don’t need scripture to tell me that I was created by God for God.

    Come on back now MPN. I’m not sure why you bailed, but come back. I enjoy your banter.

  25. Angevoix mi amiga,

    You said, “I had one RC friend who used to hide under the covers with a flashlight to read the Bible because it had been so ingrained in her that she was incapable of understanding them on her own, she actually felt she was doing something wrong to try to read them…”

    That is so hilarious!!!! It’s kind of like Calvin Becker (“Portofino”) in reverse. Having been “born and raised” under the thumb of Rome I understand. Too funny! Thanks for sharing that story.

    Seraph,

    I’m going to nick name you Benny from now on. That way you can direct and orchestrate the Holy Spirit with your white coat, even on Blogs. I don’t hate the Scriptures. I just don’t accept them as my final authority. What’s the crime in that Benny?

    Btw, reading some of our Scripture literally–i.e. Revelation—in any sense of the word, at all, is going to cause some serious malfunctions. It ain’t meant to be read that way folks. When you do as the “Left Behinders” have the only valid response is: “Houston—we have a problem.”

  26. Now this is what I don’t understand C. You don’t believe we are supposed to take the Bible literally, but you believe in the assumption of Mary…
    Those two juxtapose positions really baffle me…

  27. Fr. Neo said:
    ‘Literal’ is one of those red herring words the liberals like to use to put Christians in a box. No one takes all of the Bible ‘literally.’

    Not in my Southern Baptist neck of the woods, mister. Literal is not a liberal red herring around here, it’s what the evangelicals say they believe.

    And so I agree with you. I have always been much more concerned that you take the Bible seriously than literally.

    And Ange, “I still consider that taking it literally…” If you want to call that literal, you have my blessing. That’s what I used to call it but have decided that doing so is confusing and now I prefer, along with Fr. Neo, to call that taking it seriously.

  28. I call it taking it literally. I refuse to attach a negative connotation to the label.Just as with my Celt ancestry, I don’t allow others, even of like, background to define for me what it means to be a Celt. I don’t allow other White people to define for me what it means to be White, and I don’t allow other Christians to define for me what it means to be a Christian…
    Just because some who call themselves literalist behave in biggoted and narrow ways, doesn’t mean I’m going to give that label over to them. and they have a perfectly legitimate right to say the same of me, and I’m okay with that.

  29. Angevoix,

    But if a word has acquired a certain meaning in a certain context, then to use it in another way doesn’t facilitate understanding. Language is supposed to be a tool for clear communication.

    The word “redneck”, for instance. If I decide arbitrarily that it’s a complimentary term (as occasionally happens in my redneck of the woods), and use it that way outside of a very small likeminded community, I’m definitely going to engender misunderstanding.

  30. But not all terms are that derogatory in meaning. Take for example the word “conservative” some consider that to be negative others positive. In the circles I travel literalist is a good thing.

  31. I’m not sure anyway that there is that much confusion about the definition of the term. I think the confusion lies in determining if it a good thing to be that way. I believe the Earth was created in seven days, that there was an actual garden and a burning bush, that Christ rose from the dead and caused Lazarus to do the same. I believe that the ax head floated, and that an actual viper jumped out of the fire and bit Paul, though he didn’t die, and that a virgin concieved. That is taking the Bible literally, I believe. If that is considered wrong in some camps that is their problem, not mine.

  32. Hmmm. In the Horsebite cafe, “redneck” is a good thing. Not so in nearby downtown Big City swishy restaurant.
    I guess I’d argue that we need to ajust our language usage according to our audience.

    I just noticed that you’ve reposted above. Yep, sounds like you’re literally a literalist, so no confusion about terms!

  33. Given Ange’s last post, I’m thinking there are two issues here.

    1. We don’t take the Bible literally, none of us, word for word, because we don’t believe that we ought to kill our disobedient children as taught in the OT. Rather, take the Bible interpreted as a whole literally.

    2. For some of us, the literal 6 day creation, literal Jonah and the great fish, etc are important.

    For others of us in regards to these bits of facts from the bible, it is not vital to our faith that they be taken literally. Rather, we think the Truths of the Bible are what ought to be taken literally (ie, we literally ought to love our enemies, ought to care for the poor, etc).

  34. Seraph, I agree with your sentiment about the Bible.
    In my opinion people’s greatest leap of faith is in total reliance on the accuracy of the printed word. Way too much wiggle room!
    To take that a step farther, by relying so completely people deny thamselves the use of their God given faculties to discern how to live. God would not have given us free will and the power of discernment without fully expecting us to use them! I say discernment as opposed to the intellect that Ange and I spoke of. Intellect as I see it, has more to do with survival skills than higher matters.

    Gary

  35. Ange, and others, all this discourse is great – we are learing from each other.
    Remember, “In My Father’s mansion are many rooms.”
    We are all accomodated by the Father.
    Burger King anyone? 🙂

    Gary

  36. Ange, when I first commented to you I suggested you should be a literal Christian. It was my meaning that you should follow the concepts taught by Jesus, literaly follow – partake of His concepts.

    It was not my intention to profess to take every word in the Bible literaly. I know that you do, but look at where your faith is placed. The Bible is full of parables and cryptic messages. I have heard you and others say that scriptures are interpreted in the context of the whole passage. In that I agree. I think that the intent of the BIble is to provide concepts for us to THINK about, to ponder and put meaning into our lives. The concepts teach us how to relate to each other as well as how to relate to God.

    We seem to get the ‘relate to each other’ part down ok, but it is our realationship with God that I wonder about. Most Christain tenants actually limit God.(conceptually) Man can not truly do that, but in his mind he does. I say it is time to open the limits and look for the broader picture of a truly unlimited God.

    Gary

  37. Gary, I know it is not your intention, but your admonishments to me to “Think” and “look” come across as a wee bit condescending…I am a 41 year old single mother who has been living, paying my bills, raising my children, educating them, etc…with no help from anyone but my God and the guidance, strength, and wisdom I receive in prayer, in the Word, in Worship. In other words, discussing these matters is not abstract philosophizing for me. This is how I live. This is how I survive in a world as a single parent who has no one and nothing but her faith in God. I never said that reading the bible constitutes the entirety of my relationship experience with God. Far from it. But when I do read the word, I take it literally. The presupposition that anyone who takes the Word literally must be a gullible simpleton is, to be honest, insulting. Even though I know it is not your intention to be so…

  38. Ange, I can realte, I was the sinle dad for a few years, 3 girls.

    I find that writing on the key board does not always convey what I wish.

    Consider that I was asking for you to think and look. I ask because when I did, I found out some very powerful things.

    Never did it cross my mind that you, or anyone else is gullible or simpleton.

    I do, in general terms question where some people place their faith. In fact, I wonder if some of them do not realise where their “really” is.

    As a people we need to question ourselves once in a while – keeps us on our toes.

    Gary

  39. No wonder my typing does not convey correctly – typos!
    relate, single
    Please insert where needed. 🙂

    Gary

  40. Alright, alright, I thought I could keep quiet on this one, but I guess I’m gonna have to put my two-cents in here.

    I think somebody said this previously, but HOW can you claim to be a literalist and interpret PARTS of the Bible literally and other parts NOT? It’s pretty easy to say we believe in a literal seven-day creation, because that was so very far-off and vague sounding….but what about when it comes down to things like, “let women keep silence in the churches,” and the part that condemns divorce and remarriage, etc., etc. I think we’re pretty darn selective with what we want to interpret literally. Then again, those who are TOO literal (like the group I came from), unfortunately, often become legalistic and cold, having a FORM of godliness, but no mercy.

    And what about those who claim NOT to be literalist? What’s their objection to literalism? Is it so they, too, can wiggle out from under some of the instructions they’d rather not be subject to? And as for the historical and cultural interpretation of various instructions, is that, too not just another excuse?

    In my opinion, it all boils down to whether or not we have “the law written in our heart” (like those spoken of in Heb.8:10), whether we KNOW right from wrong based upon the “law of love” (love for our fellow man), and not just because it’s printed or not printed in black and white. I believe Constantine said something to this effect in one of his posts above.

    I am reminded of a verse I’ve always found intriguing (I Tim.1:9) which says, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, etc.” Hmmm.. What does THAT mean? Does it mean, as I suspect, that if I am made righteous by the indwelling righteousness of Jesus, that the law is written in my heart, and I am no longer under the printed or spoken law, because that which is born in my spirit by HIS Spirit KNOWS what is right and wrong? And conversely, what am I saying about myself (and about the Spirit of Christ) if I insist that I must be saved by a printed or spoken law?

  41. Written in your heart – a very good way to say it!
    That is what I was meaning to say when I said if you need to be reminded, you do not know. When it is written in the heart, reminders are redundant.

    My question is – how do we really know that instructions in the Bible are truly God’s intention? Because it says so in the book? How does that work?

    Gary

  42. Consider that I was asking for you to think and look. I ask because when I did, I found out some very powerful things.

    But for you to say those things to me conveys that you feel that I have not already done so…or at least not as deeply as yourself… or I would have found out the “powerful things” you have. I have found some very powerful things. They are the ones I live by.

    I think somebody said this previously, but HOW can you claim to be a literalist and interpret PARTS of the Bible literally and other parts NOT?

    Was this question directed at me? I really don’t think you know me well enough to know my stand on such issues… Except maybe the women speaking at church…and btw I attended an orthodox Jewish service on Friday which was a very good illustration of my interpretation of this scripture. But regardless, I can handle people disagreeing with my point of view, that is fine and dandy with me. But what I do not like is being made to feel as if my point of view is the result of a failure of intellegence. Also people restating my position and saying, ” no you don’t take it literally…”
    I find that incredibly presumptive.

    I have stated before that I refuse to go into a lengthy defense of why I interpret the Bible literally.
    So here I leave the defense of the point of view I am entitled to have, stating again, without apology, that I interpret the Bible literally. The older I get, the more literal I take it. And I intend to continue taking it literally until the day I die… period.and I mean that literally…
    And if that isn’t enough to cook your noodle, my dear pastor, with a doctorate in divinity believes the Bible is perfect. And I agree.

  43. Clarification…I should have said in connection with “the law of love,” love for our fellow man AND love for God.

    As per how we know whether Biblical instructions are from God…good question! Maybe again it has to do with the guidance of the Spirit within us. Much of the instruction in the NT was based upon whether or not we were offending other believers or non-believers (or our own consciences) by our conduct, and as such would once again fall under the category of violating the law of love toward ourselves or our fellow man.

    This is emphasized pretty strongly by Paul in Romans 14 when he adjures us not to put any occasion of stumbling in our brother’s path (even if that rock over which he stumbles is okay in our own lives.) I love verse 22 which says, “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” That person has a LOT of liberty, as long as he doesn’t cause his brother to stumble!

    Whoops! I see that I’m quoting the Bible a lot here. Heaven forbid that somebody should think I’m a literalist!

  44. Angevoix-
    I don’t understand why you feel so compelled to defend your spirituality, as though everyone is casting aspersions on it. Nobody is. Just because somebody says “look and think,” is that cause for defensiveness? Do you feel like you already know all there is to know? I myself like to consider these types of commands in the spirit they’re intended, in hopes that I can learn something more than what I’ve already been shown. Because of the way you recoil when somebody speaks of having been shown powerful things, you’d think we were accusing you of knowing NOTHING. Not so!
    Personally, I think you’re taking a little bit too much pride in your intelligence and your spirituality or you wouldn’t be so easily pricked. Come on down here with the rest of us commoners. But then again, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common!”

    And as for being a literalist, I am certainly not condemning you or judging you for what you do or do not take literally, I’m merely pointing out that when we take on the name “literalist,” it ought to be all-encompassing. I’m in no position to judge ANYONE, and for that reason, I refuse to take on a sweeping label such as literalist or spiritualist or WHATEVER, because I believe there are parts of the Bible which need to be interpreted either one way or the other. This is the same reason I would hesitate to take on any denominational name, because there are none with which I would totally agree with doctrinally. I’m just a Christian.

  45. After having a minute, I wanted to delete the two prior comments, but found I was unable to. If you would like to Fr. Neo, please, by all means, I will not be offended.
    SJ,
    For all of my pride, in my intellegence or whatever, I have never once so far as I know, made or posted a personal assesment of you, or how I felt about your personality, etc…

    I am sorry if my comment about your quoting scripture so much still bears a sting…but it is just a little ironic to me that one who professes to not take the Bible literally quotes it all the time as her authority.
    Up until this point, on Fr. Neo’s blog, I have really enjoyed the banter that goes on here. As everyone knows, none of us agree with each other all of the time, but I have never felt it get personal until today. I am truly sorry that you think so poorly of me.

    I don’t know if you have read my blog or not. But early on I was inspired to post proverbs for my sons. One of my favorites is as follows: What you say about another person tells more about what is in your own heart than it will ever say about them.

  46. Angevoix said,

    “Now this is what I don’t understand C. You don’t believe we are supposed to take the Bible literally, but you believe in the assumption of Mary…
    Those two juxtapose positions really baffle me…”

    Mi amiga (I really do feel this way–hope you don’t take offense at the term),

    I never claimed that we couldn’t or shouldn’t take some Scripture “literally,” but that certain parts, i.e. Revelation, never should be viewed in such a way. Just my opinion. Trounce it if you will. I do really believe that reading some parts of the Bible literally is dangerous. I know sometimes I come off flippant (usually on purpose), but I’m serious too. I’ve never intended any disrespect toward you, and if I’ve done so by an unintended inference (to you anyway) I apologize. I guarantee, Seraph would never get my apology, but any rift between you and me I’d like to heal. So, if you take Revelation literally, so be it. Maybe we could discuss this idea respectfully (maybe with some humor interjected for good measure) in order to enjoy our differences (cause I ain’t ever gonna interpret that book and some others any way other than allegorically). Ha!

    Yes, I do believe in the assumption of the Blessed Mother, but that’s a non-essential. If I’m wrong, so be it. I don’t see how believing that hurts anyone. But reading Revelation literally; that I believe could actually do damage.

    I respect what you have to say, and I admire your stance. I also admire that you’ve raised two sons as a single mom. That must be one of the hardest things in the world to do. I’d double down on the bet that they’ve turned out great due to your parental guidance and love. My experience in exchanging ideas with you has never been anything but pleasant and thought provoking, even when we disagree (a lot! Ha!). You are thoughtful and insightful, and I always enjoy what you have to offer by way of sharing.

    Btw, I don’t sense any pride in your responses, just a little Scout coming out. Maybe I don’t mind that because I do the same–on purpose.

  47. Hmm…
    After reading all of your “Banter”, I was hoping to have something insightful and wise to say… but it pretty much seems to have been said.

    You all make many valid points in there. Though not taking the word “Literal” literally seems slightly ironic to me, but that is beside the point. However, Constantine was right when saying that there are dangers to interpreting parts of the bible literally.

    …Please, should you feel the need to disregard what little I have said, then by all means, go right ahead.

    Before I go, may I say that you take the word sparring quite literally!

    ~Dominus Vobiscum, Dieu Vous Garde.

  48. C
    I have not taken anything you have said with offense Constantine, because I understand the spirit in which it was intended. I hope you did not take offense at my question about the assumption. It wasn’t meant to be an attack…or even really a serious inquiry. We all have some humorous bents to our nature that make us seem contradictory at times. Even in my response to Gary, I was trying to gentley convey how the way he addressed certain issues with me made me feel. I understood it was not his intent to come across as he did to me.
    Its kind of ironic. I was talking to my oldest son about blogging yesterday, and I was telling him what little I know about you, Morpheus, Fr. Neo, & DT. I exclaimed to him how interesting I think it is that we all think so differently! And yet that is really part of the beauty of it. We are so different, yet we find common ground in Christ.
    Yes, we get heated at times. I know that my opinions are not exactly mainstream, and I know I tend to gravitate to some hot-button issues, such as race and non-violence. there are times I am sure when I brought of the issue of race and you all have groaned and said, “Not that again!” I am very upfront with my opinions, maybe a little forceful and pushy at times. I know that at times I am hard to take. This is not news to me. But haven’t we all gotten that way from time to time? Haven’t we all read another post and wanted to lash out? But let’s gravitate to the subtlety of mind that is required to debate our issues respectfully without getting personal. Well, except for you and Seraph… Although I do have a theory that Seraph is like an M&M, and that the hard outer shell merely covers the underlying sweetness. Ha Ha Ha. Are you squirming Seraph?

    As far as my ideas being dangerous…. If you only knew…

  49. Angevoix,
    I do owe you an apology for getting personal on this forum. It was inappropriate. And I do not think poorly of you; I admire your obvious intelligence and your dedication to being a servant of God and a godly mother. I have no doubt of your sincerity. I just feel like we need to be cautious about promoting our own spirituality. And perhaps you are right that in pointing out your supposed faults, I am showing my own you-know-what. Believe me, a good friend has burst my bubble on numerous occasions by pointing out the pride I was attempting to stand on on various spiritual issues. It was an extremely humiliating pill to swallow, but I knew he was telling me the truth in love. And I guess that’s where I have done wrong where you are concerned. I have done it in the wrong spirit, and for that, please forgive me!

    As for literalism, Constantine summed up my view so much better than I did by saying some parts are to be taken literally, and others would be dangerous to be taken so. So in that respect I do not take on the label “literalist,” although I do indeed interpret parts of the Bible literally. And as of yet, I can see no reason not to quote scripture when it pertains to the conversation. Why shouldn’t we, if parts of it are meant to be taken literally?

  50. That was a funny kind of appology SJ.
    In your first paragraph you basically reiterate what you said, say it is the truth, but delivered in the wrong spirit….hmmmm

  51. To be honest, it never occured to me that anyone would read my post and think that I am “promoting myself spiritually” or that I am coming from a mentality of being somehow “above” anyone else, probably because I have never felt that way at all. I have learned many things from everyone on this blog. Never in my life would I assume the spiritual arrogance of thinking I am superior to Fr. Neo, C. or anyone else on this blog. To the contrary…I have no degree in Theology, or as of yet anything… When Fr. Neo and C. or Morpheus and Jholder choose to “go deep” I am lost to be sure… I’m just happy that they allow this outspoken single mother to come along for the ride…
    I don’t and have never believed that a person’s spirituality can be measured in their Biblical knowledge, style of worship, degrees, etc… and I sure don’t believe that a person’s spirituality should be measured by how much they agree with me! To think so is surely narcissistic! I really don’t think we should attempt to measure another’s spirituality at all and when we begin to do so we are in error… As Paul said I compare myself to myself. That is enough work for me…

  52. I suppose I’d better bow out of this conversation, as everything I say seems to escalate contention. Sorry for causing confusion, and unrest. I had originally thought I could offer my opinion on “literalism” without it being construed as a personal affront to anyone. Obviously I was wrong. However, I have appreciated and do appreciate learning from you all through the offering of your opinions. I’ll just keep mine to myself from here on out. Thank you!

  53. Karen Armstrong is a learned scholar, no doubt. Some of what she says is valid. We don’t have immediate understanding of a text a lot of the time. That’s the purpose of exegesis. As to the idea that biblical scholars could not have imagined the situations we face today, well . . . they could not imagine the technological changes but the seven deadly sins remain the same. In some ways, man hasn’t changed much at all . . .

  54. Yes I bailed. Should I have? I’m not sure yet. Will I regret this post? Perhaps, but not because of what I will say in it. If I do regret it, it will only be because of the backlash and disrespect I receive from any and all who comment on it, including Fr. Neo. So, am I back? I’m not sure. If so, I will very carefully watch what I say, not that I’m ever taken seriously here anyway.

    C – You said, “MPN, Tell me why I wouldn’t understand why por favor. I couldn’t disagree with you more. I’d like to “hear” what you have to say on this. I don’t need scripture to tell me that I was created by God for God.”

    Fr. Neo doesn’t want a “sola scriptura” blog again, so I’ll keep this brief. Actually, I will just ask you questions. Then, perhaps I will post again.

    Okay, you don’t “need” scripture to tell you that you were created by God for God. How do you learn who Jesus is? What of His sacrifice? Do you innately “know” that? Just wondering.

  55. Wow, this is the greatest dialog I have seen on this medium yet!
    Ange, you are OK!

    SJ made some good points, there can be more to learn. It is commonly said, the day you stop learning is the day you, shall we say , move on!

    Does anyone here find it ironic that all this conversation is taking place 2,000 years and more after the fact of the subject of said conversation?

    I am really suprised no one jumped on me for my comment about ‘limiting God’! Did you get it?

    Ange, you are more mainstream than you may think. I, on the other hand, am not. I am intentionaly rocking the boat, just a little.

    SJ, I did not question the Bible being of God, of course – all is of God. I questioned the intent, to rock the boat. I am sure the intent was as God wished – – at the time. We are a different collective now, 2,000 + years down the path.

    SJ is right, more to learn.

    In that spirit, does anyone see room to allow that God/Jesus authors currently? In this time, for us now, in the evolving age?

    Gary

  56. Thank you Fr. Neo & Seraph.
    To try to state it clearly, In my mind questioning the validity of someone’s opinion is and should be separate from questioning the validity of the person, or their walk with Christ.All of us on this blog disagree vehemently on different issues, but I feel what draws us together is a common thirst, our common passion for the things of God. Despite our diferences, I truly feel that those who sojourn here are just that, fellow sojourners on this pilgrim journey… and I thank God for my traveling companions…Even the Republican ones.ha ha ha.
    There is a difference in saying to someone, “I disagree with that opinion,” or “why do you think that way?” and calling them prideful and arrogant… and offering your own assesment of why they think that way… After all isn’t the message of Christianity that we are all a hopeless mess without Christ? Intervention is a hot catch phrase of late. Thank God for His eternal intervention!!!

  57. Didn’t Jesus say “Judge not, least ye be judged.” ?

    I think He would have us write that in our hearts, and He would smile.

    Gary

  58. Ange, we are of a common goal, you are accurate in that.
    I do not think that ‘vehemently’ is the best descrition of the differences. I think all have been quite civil. 🙂

    We live in a world of duality, polarities. We have the concept of right and wrong for the sake of communication and learning. In that spirit, no one here is wrong or right. There are variations and degrees. All are as they are according to their understanding.

    Gary

  59. Ange, you said :
    I don’t and have never believed that a person’s spirituality can be measured in their Biblical knowledge, style of worship, degrees, etc…

    I say, Amen to that.

    Gary

  60. Angevoix,

    You’re not hard to take. At least not for me…and I disagree with you often! Ha! (Though I don’t disagree with you on the race issue or non-violence for that matter, though the latter is so hard for me to accept and live out.) And no biggie on the Assumption. It’s not an essential.

    Seraph is an M&M, huh? Well, I’ll just let you continue to think that. You see, that’s his problem. He needs to get tough on the inside too. He’s too busy speaking in…well…I’ll stop now.

    Do you really read Revelation in a manner that expects what’s described there to play out in the present and future?

    SJ,

    You said, “I’ll just keep mine to myself from here on out. Thank you!”

    No! Come on back Jesuit gal. Padre’s Blog gets a little rough and that’s what makes it both informative and fun. Sparring is allowed. And thus far it’s been respectful enough. If we couldn’t be genuine and authentic, in a respectful but “boxing” way, I wouldn’t be here (Sorry Seraph. Until Padre tells me to shut up you have to deal with me).

    Don’t bail SJ!

  61. MPN and SJ,

    Disagreement is a part of our wonderful forum. It is hard to detect tongue in cheek comments via the internet, that is one weakness of blogs, but we are here to spar and spar boldly–yet with love.

    You know I love you young Padawan. You know also that I love to give you a hard time. A Calvinist must have a rock chin around this blog–but we want and need to hear your perspective. BTW, Constantine still has a tulip growing from his gall bladder that he cannot extract despite his best efforts.

  62. MPN,

    You said, “Okay, you don’t “need” scripture to tell you that you were created by God for God. How do you learn who Jesus is? What of His sacrifice? Do you innately “know” that?”

    First, I’m glad you’re back MPN. You are taken seriously, but of course, that doesn’t always equate to agreement. I always enjoyed your posts from way back, when we did discuss the loony notion of “Sola Scriptura.” No backlash or disrespect, just candor, and a little fun to boot. There is a difference. Padre allows sparring on his Blog. Maybe because he knows that without it, all we’d speak here would be pleasantries and never cut to any quick where potential truth might be buried waiting to be found.

    Now, to your questions. Of the three, the first one has me thinking. Big points to you MPN. I have a cut above my right eye. I don’t really have a good answer. The second question is a different issue altogether and loaded at that. If I were to attempt to answer it, I would start crowing from the rooftops, so I’ll let that one go. My answer to your third question is “yes, but…”

    Back to your first question again. The early church, of course, had oral tradition, which in some (large) part gave birth to Scripture. Yes, I know that “circular” letters in the early church are much of what we call Scripture now, but not all of it. Some is plain ole Tradition (for good and bad). If we didn’t have Scripture now and only oral tradition, our clarity about Jesus would be solely dependent on the Church. Given the record of the latter on many fronts, I’d say I’m glad we have Scripture to support our understanding and knowledge of Jesus. Of course, that begs the question of which came first—the chicken (Church) or the egg (Scripture). Also, I’m biting the hand that feeds me, because I’m relying on Scripture to provide the knowledge necessary for “salvation,” but denying from whence it came—the Church. Shouldn’t we allow in some measure the author/creator of said Scripture to be its own interpreter? Yeah, God is the ultimate author in a sense, but the cultural and historical environment are also including and can make things cloudy. I’m tap dancing on this one. Good one MPN.

    As to the third question…I answered “yes, but…” I do indeed believe with all my heart that God speaks to us all the time outside of the “official” channels of Church and Scripture…but…our clarity about Jesus would be amiss without the bible.

  63. C-thanks for your response. I need to read it more in-depth, I don’t have a lot of time now, but I did want to clarify my second question. Yeah, the way I stated it is loaded, but I mis-typed. Oops. What I meant to ask was, where do you learn about His sacrifice? This is similar to the first question, just a different focus/aspect. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get THAT deep!

  64. C asked
    “Do you really read Revelation in a manner that expects what’s described there to play out in the present and future?”

    Interesting question. Sorry I nearly forgot to answer you. I am actually in a discovery process on this one.
    I believe that Revelation is the “literal” transcript of what John experienced in his vision. Being a person whom God communicates with in a similar manner, at times the meaning is not always clear. (remember the grasshopper!?)
    I was raised to beleive the “Left Behinder’s” interpretation of Revelation, but as it so happens, a little while ago, for no apparent reason I can make out, I felt a tug in my spirit and felt God was telling me that particular interpretation is not Kosher. As it happens, I came across a post referring to a book by an author stating the same thing and also that the concept of “The Rapture” is only 200 years old. I do believe in the return of Christ, and I believe there will be an antichrist not just in spirit, but in bodily form at some point. As for the rest…still formulating.

  65. That would be close to what I was taought, one against Christ.

    Another interpretation or defintion has come to me that i felt worth consideration.

    Anti, as in pre, before Christ, One to pave the way.

    What do you think?

    Gary

  66. Fatherneo
    I reread the article, subject of this post/thread, and have one answer to your question at the bottom.

    I read that she is saying that it is wrong and dangerous to literally read a verse or single sentence in isolation – or out of the context of the whole passage. This seems very fair to say, to me.
    I do, however, find that most people of the cloth, at least, do take the full context into account. Therefor the concept as a whole is derrived/taught. So it is all ok.

    In my opinion the article was warning against the individual’s lone practice of finding a sentence or two here and there and applying a literal meaning, in isolation. I am sure far too many do that – and it therefor can be dangerous. Misconstued faith can be rather devilish!

    Gary

  67. Anti-Christ

    Against Christ–I see it more as a concept or system rather than an individual person. See our discussions from April and May…

  68. Gary and all,

    Perhaps what might be helpful in our ‘literal’ discussion, would be to mention that, while the Scripture is one big book, it is also a book of books. The reason why we don’t take Revelation ‘literally’ is because it is a book of apocalyptic symbols. John the Divine would not have us take it ‘literally’ because it symbolizes the events of his day (and does somewhat point to the future) in a way that is highly symbolic. Of course he is speaking truth, but it is symbolic truth. The gospels, on the other hand, are meant to be taken ‘literally,’ that is historically because they are telling Jesus’ story. Yes, he was born of a Virgin, did miracles, died and rose again–literally and historically; the gospels are written with that assumption, whereas Revelation was written with the assumption that the symbols written about are a ‘window’ written to the spiritual world. Don’t worry about getting a bar code. Do worry about Jesus question. “Who do men say that I am?”

  69. Don’t worry about getting a bar code. Do worry about Jesus question. “Who do men say that I am?”

    I love that… I know that it might seem a little strange for me to not have worked out how I feel about Revelation… to be honest,I’m just so busy trying to live out my walk today, I never really felt I had time to obsess about it. That was the real reason I never got caught up in the “Left Behind” series. And the fact that it just kind of troubled me…turning the Bible into a novel…
    Regardless of what we believe about how it all turns out, Christ instructions were to be found working when He returns…so that’s what I focus on…

    And by the way… just to put this out there…I’m vowing to beat my blog sword into a plowshare. It wouldn’t make me feel great to think that there might be any lingering resentment out there in cyberspace…

  70. I agree with Constantine – well put Father. I think that was the best breif explanation I have heard yet.

    On another note, I rocked this boat a few times and no-one flinched! You all are pretty solid! See that as a coin, two sided, a compliment yet a challenge.

    Gary

  71. Hmm…

    Well, If I may attempt that anti-christ question….

    I think that “anti-christ” isn’t some person who will arise and be like an evil Jesus, but rather the anti-christ spirit that opposes Christ.

    but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is in the world.

    1 John 4:3 (those italics were mine)

    They knew that the antichrist was already in the world. They were already dealing with it in the early church! Of course, it was still coming. It’s been coming for awhile now. And it is still coming.

    …And by the way C, “Deiu Vous Garde” is French, and it means, “God Keep You”

    I don’t really know Latin, French or German, but I am hoping to learn. It sounds cool.

    But anyway, I hope that was marginally helpful. Hasta Luego

  72. Fr. Neo — You might actually hit 100 comments with this post! Wow! We should duke it out more often….NOT!

    Gary – may I suggest you commence speaking in tongues. ha ha ha. You have my prayers…

    Seraph…please go easy on the new guy…

  73. No, I just know Seraph and how grateful I am that he has never gotten it into his noodle to spar with moi… and show me up to be less than “inexpugnable”.

  74. Ninety-six comments. Must be time consuming just to participate. I like the quality of the bloggers here, though.

  75. So, Ange, I take it that you think that “inexpugnable” is a good thing. Can you see reason for it to be other than a good thing?

    Gary

  76. Only if you don’t understand the power of the one who lives inside of you, or attribute being inexpugnable to something that is of yourself, your own strength. But I mean it in the same sense as Paul, when he stated that in all these things we are more than conquerors.
    But I understand how it can be misinterpreted by people who don’t understand the context…

  77. Understanding how people use words is very important to communication.

    One of the deifintions of this (50 cent word! ) is fixed. That could indicate the lack of flexibility to learn more.

    Not you though…….. 🙂

    Gary

  78. Not you though…….. 🙂

    Why thank you. I could use just a little bit of a breather before receiving anymore negative personal assessments… Inexpugnable I am, without feelings I am not…

    I posted the definition of the word on my blog so that it would be clear. The story of the word inexpugnable…I was sitting at the table looking through my dictionary for something else and the word just jumped off the page at me, much like when a particular scripture speaks to your heart. When I read the definition I was floored and really blessed. Especially the Latin. “That which cannot be taken by the storm.” I have kept it printed out on my wall since that time. It is a constant reminder of who I am in Christ and that no weapon formed against me will prosper. I find it especially encouraging when I am going through a trial. I don’t just believe that I am inexpugnable, I believe that ALL Christians are inexpugnable. I have shared this word with others who I have known were going through different trials of their faith, they have been blessed as well. The only people I have discovered who don’t really seem to get it are the ones who don’t understand who they are in Christ. They usually misconstrue it to represent some sort of personal arrogance. I guess that might be true if I believed that it applied only to myself…
    But far from it…It belongs to everyone who identifies Christ as Lord of their life. Whether they can spell or not….Whew**

  79. Good work…. whew!

    Ange, although The Good Father Neo has asked Seraph to deal with me, do you have a comment or answer to my question of #21 in this thread?

    Gary

  80. I don’t believe the word of God is limited to the Bible. But Holy Scripture is. I think there is a difference. Scripture is what we use to establish doctrine. But any word that we receive outside of the Bible should align with what is in the Bible. Otherwise we are “adding” to the Word, which is something we are admonished against in Revelation. That is really how we learn to discern the voice of God…but of course that requires that we have a solid knowledge of the scriptures. There are some really crazy things taking place in the body of Christ right now. As C. Said, we have people running around barking like dogs. We have pastors telling their congregations to call them “Lord”.We have people selling all of their belongings or going into massive amounts of debt because someone said God told them the date Christ is returning, we have pastors who enslave their congregations, telling them who they can marry etc… I’ve even heard of pastors telling their members to divorce their spouse and marry someone else in the body. Insane. Is it any wonder people think we are loopy? If you haven’t caught on I’m not into all of this prophetic word stuff. Not that I don’t think it is ever authentic…but I think God prefers to speak to all of His children one on one. You really shouldn’t need someone else to tell you what is on your daddy’s mind…Most of the time I think people gravitate to it out of spiritual laziness…
    Okay. I’m taking a little blogging break now…
    Ya’ll be sure to check out MCM’s picture. She is as cute as a button.

  81. You really shouldn’t need someone else to tell you what is on your daddy’s mind…

    I like that – well said.

    What do yo think of “Channeling” ?

    Gary

  82. Gary,
    #21
    God speaks in a variety of ways. Channeling, no. Scripture, Tradition, wise counselors–yes! We need to remember that Scripture not only tells us about God, it leads us to an active relationship with him. That relationship will be trascendent, mystical and ordinary–but never inactive–not if we are open to the Lord’s presence.

  83. I suppose the wise thing to do is to maintain an active, vibrant relationship with the Most High and to recall that sometimes one may come across a talking donkey.

  84. I too used to think that way. Then it ocurred to me that to flatly deny the option was to put a limit on The Christ/God. I was always taught that God is Omnipowerful and Omnipresent. No limits there. Myself, I will NOT limit my God. If He could do it then, He ceratinly could do it today.

    On another note, I always wondered about the deeper meaning to the Cross. Was there more meaning than taught? I always felt there must be.

    I also looked at Jesus’ saying “Judge not..” and at the same time found the church to be very judgemental.

    I looked back, at some point to find that I had been soul searching, unconsciously. I was lead to a person, who was right under my nose, that opened my heart to the option of channeling.

    Granted there are some demonic-ish people taking advantage. However I feel that if one desires truth it will find it’s way to you.

    Then in reading the soeme channeled information from The Christ, I find that He adresses that issue. He suggests that we look at all possibilities/offered information, use the discernment we are endowed with, and walk away from that which does not ring true in our hearts.
    Jesus puts great power in the heart, as you all know. All He wants is for us to realize He is our elder Brother, and that we truly are the Children of God

    Gary

  85. Gary, dear one…I am telling you as one who has been there and done that. Channeling is straight up demonic. You need to run in the opposite direction as fast as you possibly can. You are dealing with familiar spirits. I am not debating this issue with you. It is much too serious.

  86. This set of comments makes me glad I made comment numbering work for Fr. Neo. I was wondering why the blog was so dead – I had failed to scroll down to this post, last I read there were only (ha) 50 comments.

    Gary, I feel the urge to respond to a few of your comments…

    in 66, you wrote, “We are a different collective now, 2,000 + years down the path.”

    I don’t see us as any different. We are still struggling against sin and death, are we not? Sure, the attacks of the evil one continue to become more and more sophisticated, and for many they are not even necessary, because “against Christ” is the spirit of the age. But different? Perhaps only more cynical and worldly than ever before, but not different.

    In 69, you said: “Didn’t Jesus say ‘Judge not, least ye be judged.’ ? I think He would have us write that in our hearts, and He would smile.”

    This is a much-abused verse… Christ here is talking about hypocritical judgement, as the pharasees do. And of course, we cannot judge a person’s soul. However, there are plenty of places in scripture that assure us we are to judge the fruit of the members of the Body, and in some places, even call to cast out the unrepentant from the Body.

    As you said in 114. “I also looked at Jesus’ saying ‘Judge not..’ and at the same time found the church to be very judgemental.”

    Perhaps this is why, there is more than one kind of judgement. So as not to use the overloaded term “judgement”, let us say, we are called to discernment between good and evil?

    You seem curious as to hear what we all think about 21. where you ask, “Is the word of God limited to the Bible? Is there, or is there allowance for, post Bible information / revelation?”

    No, and yes, BUT!!! Further revelation cannot contradict either scripture or the tradition of the Church which brought us scripture. It can only show us the fullness of the meaning of our life in Christ, as revealed from these sources. But I am soon to be chrismated in the Orthodox Church, so what else would you expect me to say? (grin)

    As an aside, in 79. you wrote: “Anti, as in pre, before Christ.” I’m afraid you’ve mixed your prefixes, that would be Ante- (before) (like “antebellum”, bofore the war) The prefix anti- means “against”.

    Oh, and Ange, if Seraph is an M&M, he is definately one with a nut in the middle.

  87. “Oh, and Ange, if Seraph is an M&M, he is definately one with a nut in the middle.”

    LOL. This is the second time in a week that I almost fell out of my chair laughing. The first was from a response by Morpheus and now this one from you. Ahh, laughter is good medicine.

  88. jholder

    “It can only show us the fullness of the meaning of our life in Christ, as revealed from these sources.”

    I agree, in fact feel that is what comes from the reading I have done. It does not detract from the Bible, it adds fullenss of understanding.

    Jesus wants us to write in our hearts!

    Gary

  89. Gary,

    After just having worked a 9 hour day, will you forgive me for being a little selfish and not elaborating in depth.
    To summarize in brief. Before I became a Christian I had some very intense occult experiences. This phase of my life lasted about 2 years. It nearly destroyed my life, and if it weren’t for the grace of God, it would have. And even though my life was spared, it took me way off course, which is why, at 41, I am just in the process of completing my first college degree. In other words it has taken me 20 years to catch up what I lost.

    Thanks for the numbers, Jholder. I’m okay with nuts. Almond Joy is my favorite.

  90. Ange
    I am not sure what you mean by occult, I will just assume the typical negative connotation. Sorry you had that experience. Caution is of the utmost importance.

    I would not, by any means, equate that experience with mine. Reading is a totaly different thing. I have put books aside, and re-read some over and over, that may give my impression of them.

    Gary

  91. Hmm.

    I would have to agree with Ange on this one. Channeling is a very dangerous practise, and even research can be harmful. Of course, this is true of many things, like sorcery, or pantomime.

    I know that you kids are wise and spirit led, so I don’t need to worry about you.

    Oh, and speaking of which Seraph, my name means “hushed,” or “in an undertone” directly it would mean “under voice.” What is it with you guys and Star Wars?

  92. Sotto Voce:

    I’m assuming you mean something different by “pantomime” than I’m accustomed to. In my world the pantomime is a musical play done by amateur theatre at Christmas, and while it can be very tooth-grindingly bad, it falls short of demonic. An eccentric taste, perhaps, but not dangerous.

    So… huh?

    (Or did I miss the joke? That happens sometimes, doesn’t it Constantine?!)

  93. “and while it can be very tooth-grindingly bad, it falls short of demonic. An eccentric taste, perhaps, but not dangerous.”

    LOL.
    I thought pantomime was what those silent folks with the black suits and white faces do on the street. You know the boxed in thing…
    My son says that looks like a case of demonic possesion to him…

  94. Oh THAT. No question about it. Definitely demonic. The youth pastor once brought one into the Pentecostal church I attended in my teens, and BOOT! Exorcised right through the double glass doors into the street.

  95. Did you not know that we are all channels, to some degree?
    Who amoung us has not taken in the Father’s love, and passed it on to one in need? A Channel – of God’s love. There is nothing demonic in that ! We do it, even if we do not realise it. Is it not the mission of the church to bring forth the Love of God, on earth as it is in Heaven?
    As I said, yes there are those who take advantage – the world is full of that, hence our defense of discernment.

    Jholder we agree a lot, I just find there is more to know. As I said above, I do not limit my God.
    There truly is more depth to gain.

    Gary

  96. Gary,

    FatherNeo has his holy water out just in case…tell us about your channeling experiences.

    Sotto and Holder,

    Life is indeed great with a bag of peanut M&Ms at your side and a good blaster in your hand.

  97. Speaking for myself, not the person who opened me to the potential, I have read a number of books. The ones(series of 4) that stand out for me are channeled from The Christ/Jesus.

    Now – that was a leap for me, I was skepital, but when I read the words – who else would talk like this? Who else would be so supportive? I know that is a loaded question, and explaining is difficult with this key pad.

    The best I can do here, to give a flavor, if you will, is to copy a paragraph from Vol. 1. :

    “So, therefore, when people in your world who have feared channeling say, “How can you believe in channeling? Why would you want to channel or to see someone channel? That is giving your power to another being.” know there is nothing outside of you. You, as you witness what is called channeling or allow yourself to ‘channel’, are opening in awareness to your expanded, total self.”

    Jesus’ message serves the Atonement. He wants us to see past the separation we have built around us and see the At-one-ment.

    Gary

  98. I’m not sure I even believe in this stuff, but supposing I do….

    I would say that the difference between the indwelling God and channeling, is that indwelling respects our selves/souls/voices as precious and not passively subject to use, whereas channeling uses the subject as a tool for another’s ends. It’s a disrespect of the innate value of humanity.

    Personally, the idea disgusts me in the same way that wearing a brand-name on my t-shirt disgusts me; paying to be someone else’s billboard.

  99. madcapmum
    I can see your point, and I certainly do not seek to make anyone believe as they do not wish to.
    I still say we all do it to some degree. We pass on information. Semanitics I suppose.

    I understand that those few who do channel – openly – do so by agreement.

    Gary

  100. MCM- Ah, we’re back to the tongues issue, I see. LOL Also, excellent response on the channeling issue.

    Even though I said I would not debate this issue, God knows I am not particularly talented at keeping my mouth shut.

    Gary asked-
    “Who else would be so supportive?”

    I have said before on numerous occasion. If I were someone’s enemy, and I really wanted to damage a person, I would send someone under the guise of friendship… What would you expect a demon impersonating Jesus to do…utter obvious vile heresy? We are told straight out that satan masquerades as an angel of light…

    But on one element I will agree with you Gary, If we are honest we all at times allow ourselves to mouth words of darkness rather than light.

    –Yet that is very different from deliberately cavorting with familliar spirits and opening yourself up to not only their influence but to their manifestation through you.

  101. Ange, you are clever 🙂

    I suppose it works both ways – sure that makes sense. It seems real easy to see a negative channel – if that is how you see it. Why, then, would it be so hard to allow a positive spirit to use the channeling process?

    All I can say is that this scource has not lead me astray, in-fact this scource has brought me back from a lapse. I feel more a Christian now, than before the opportunity to read this material.

    Gary

  102. Familiar spirits are demons. But familiar spirit seems more appropriate when refering to this type of activity…
    Gary asked –
    “Why, then, would it be so hard to allow a positive spirit to use the channeling process?”

    There is only one “positive” Spirit, and that is the Holy Spirit… Why would you want to talk with “a” spirit when the Holy Spirit is always available, when Jesus promises to be with us always?
    I’m addicted to His presence, not “a” presence… He is the one I want to speak with, His voice is the one I want to hear. Why would I seek Him through someone else…? Would you make love to your wife through an interpreter? (btw, if your answer is anything other than “no” please take that as a rhetorical question.)

    I prefer to dial direct…

    Anything that seeks to make us dependent upon it as our source, or a source, is not of God. He is THE source. He wants to be closer to you than your own breath.

  103. Ange
    You are right, yes indeed.

    There are some, I was one, who need a little nudge. Explanation in printed form can be that nudge, worked for me. The Holy Spirit knows this I am very sure.

    I say this to you Ange, you need it not, you speak well, You are a channel!

    Gary

  104. A post script:

    It is not a shocker to say that you are a channel, your prayers are a link/channel to the Father?Christ.

    Gary

  105. “Anything that seeks to make us dependent upon it as our source, or a source, is not of God”

    If in-fact the source is The Christ speaking through His servant on earth, are we not already dependent to Him as Lord?

    I think maybe you feel that The Christ would not do this, as opposed to the tool being real and useful. I think He would use all the tools you speak of, and more.

    Gary

  106. Gary,
    I still think we are talking about different things…you seem to me as if you are trying to blur the lines in order to make it seem acceptable with an “everybody is doing it” defense. You seem very determined in your acceptance of this practice and I am one really tired woman facing the opening day of school tomorrow So I really feel there is nothing more for me to say about this. No offense is taken on my part in this discussion, and none is intended towards you. I think you’re playing with fire, but in the end it is ultimately your choice.

  107. Ange, I meant no blurring of the lines. Yes I believe as I beleive, you also, and that is as it should be. I just wanted to clear the blurring. You said that God speaks to you in many ways. That is His “direct line to you”. If you keep it to yourself, cool, no-one knows. If you tell me what He says – well then you channeled. Not a big deal, and certainly no defense on my part. It’s just as I see it. I know that you are concerned about the demons – I am not as I have an elder Brother that will deal with them! 🙂

    I honor your sovereignty, certainly no offense taken or implied, it’s been a thoughtful discussion. I wish the Padre had spoken up more, maybe he will yet!

    Count your blessings,
    Gary

  108. jholder – No.
    However I have read the 3. They were interesting. I did not find the concept of God speaking essential to finding value in the phylosophy he promoted.
    He has a book out now, What God Wants, it is good phylosophy too, I liked it better.
    No, the books I liked most, are from our elder Brother/Teacher.

    Gary

  109. Jholder
    A friend of mine said she did not really like the CWG books, because he said obvious stuff.
    I said – well yes obvious(in hind sight) but at least he is saying it. Taking a good look at our paradygms could be the best thing to come out of those books.

    Gary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.