Should the Bible be taken literally?

A common label thrown at Bible-believing Christians is that they are “Biblical literalists,” that is, they interpret every part of the Bible in a completely literal, rigid fashion. Sadly, this charge is often made within the church. I was in a class at my church last Spring where nearly all the members were shocked that I believed that the original writings of the Bible were inspired by God. I was accused of being a literalist (eek!).  I thought I had gone to the Unitarian church by mistake.

Sometimes the charge has merit, such as when someone takes a given passage in a wooden fashion and causes unnecessary divisions. Interpreting the Book of Revelation is an example, where in my opinion some are too literal with their end times predictions.  Sometimes people take verses out of context to “prove” something they favor.  Some Bible reading tips to help avoid this are located here.

But I think the charge is mostly aimed at those who take the Bible seriously and who believe that the original writings were inspired by God. The Bible claims to speak for God several thousand times, so one would think that anyone calling themselves a Christian wouldn’t find it controversial to claim that the Bible is God’s Word.

Jesus used hyperbole, or extreme exaggeration, in saying it was better to gouge out our eyes or cut off our hands if that would stop us from sinning (at least I hope He was exaggerating!).  He also said to love your enemies and hate your parents.  But the passage where he said to hate your parents is also hyperbole.  He was making the point that we should love him so much more than other people and things that relatively speaking it would look like hate.  He obviously didn’t mean that literally.

Sometimes the criticisms are leveled at those who think Noah and Jonah are real people. But when you read those passages, do they sound like allegories or real events? If God made the universe and everything in it, is any miracle in the Bible too hard for him?

Ironically, those who hurl the literalist label are usually the first to take a verse literally and out of context. The favorite verse of some Christians (and non-Christians) appears to be Matthew 7:1, where Jesus says, “Do not judge.” They use this as an excuse for any and all behavior and to deflect criticism. If they would keep reading they would see that Jesus meant not to judge hypocritically. There are plenty of verses teaching that we need to make sound judgments, such as John 7:24 (“Stop judging on mere appearances and make a right judgment.”)

In an additional irony, they use this verse to judge those who make judgments. If anyone ever throws that verse at you out of context, then just reply by asking, “If it is wrong to judge, why are you judging me right now?”

40 thoughts on “Should the Bible be taken literally?”

  1. Yes….i think its true
    people are forgeting its given by god…they all are going away from god. they are jackels……we must do ……..and still doing effectively to do what our god wants

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  2. It is ridiculous to believe the texts of the bible, or any religion for that matter, are any more than an interpretation of events by an observer. The important aspect of such texts is the underlying meaning, the moral of the story, the fabrc that gives rise to the allegory. The writings are merely an illustration of a fundamental concept, ideal or truth.

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  3. FabreFaction, thanks for visiting and for your comments. Do you have any specific examples in mind? The Bible does teach some conceptual truths, but it also claims to describe hundreds of real people in real places at real points in history.

    For example, the Bible claims that a real person named Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead. Sources outside the Bible acknowledge his life and death, and the radically changed lives of his followers and the absence of any credible accounts for the location of his dead body, among other things, give evidence to his resurrection. No one is forced to believe this evidence, but I don’t think it is fair to say these are just illustrations.

    Wouldn’t it be fair to apply the same tests of historical validity to the Bible and other religious writings as we do to other historical texts? Does the fact that they make religious claims automatically mean they can’t be true?

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  4. To me the people in the bible are as real as those in the works of Shakespeare and other texts I have read. I am not questioning the importance of the text in the lives of others and do not have a problem with those that live their lives by the Bible, I can certainly think of much worse texts to live by. To me it is another written record to be absorbed into my life, like all other texts I have read.

    While it is possible to read accounts of events in World War Two, The Iraq Wars, etc. these can only be interprestations of events by observers. I was not there, I cannot make a personal assessment of the events, in the same way I cannot make a personal assessment of the events illustrated in the Bilble and the common Gospels. All I can do is take from these texts that which I have faith in. These texts are interpretations though, the American record of events in the recent Iraq war differ significantly from that of the Iraqis.

    If I believe the Iraqi record does that make me anti-American? If I believe the American version of events, does this make me anti-Iraqi? If I believe the Christian record of the birth of religion, does that make me anti-Hindu? If I believe the Hindu record of the birth of religion, does that make me anti-Christian?

    To me, all historical texts are examples of interpretations of events by observers. I have found that the Bible has taught me more about myself than the prehistory and life of Jesus Christ. The important aspects of the text are those that chime with my inner self and reinforce my belief in humanity. If I believe in an absolute work of fiction, and that text gives me strength and guides my life, is that any better or worse than believing in a widely accepted religious record such as the Bible? To me, the answer is no, so long as the individual lives a good life, accepts and trys to understand the differences between themselves and others, trys to avoid pre-judgement of others (prejudice) and accepts their own failure and success with grace and humility.

    I hope this goes some way to explaining my original post and answers some of your questions.

    Kind Regards…………….. FabreFaction

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  5. Oh by the way…………

    Just in case you were wondering, I found your site through the Random Blog feature of The Bestest Blog of All-Time.

    Kind Regards…………….. FabreFaction

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  6. The Bible reflects the ongoing story of the relationship between a God Who created and LOVES mankind and man, who oftentimes insists on rejecting Him. God left us with something more than a book – He left us with the invitation to receive His Holy Spirit, a gift from Him that comes through us awakening to the truth of His salvation. With the Holy Spirit, we can rightly divide the words in the bible. Another way to say this is that we can see the difference between worldly influences and God’s will in the stories that are recorded there. The words in the Bible can be used in corrupt ways (to condemn, castigate otheres) as much as they can be used to draw man into a loving bond with God and the formation of agape community. It is the latter purpose for which Jesus came to invite us. I personally love reading the Bible, now that I can see and understand what it is that God is saying to all of mankind!

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  7. FabreFaction, thanks for your clarification and for letting me know how you found this site. I hope you visit often. You may have noticed this already, but one of the interesting things about the Bible is how honest the historical accounts are. Even heroes like King David have their failures accounted for in detail for all to see. It isn’t like the “Russian history” where only the good parts are mentioned.

    Those are certainly noble goals you are aiming at. The key message of the Bible is that no matter how hard we try to be good, we just can’t meet God’s standard. Therefore, we need a Savior or we will have to face God with our own righteousness. If that message is true, Jesus is our only hope.

    Beautiful Feet – well said!

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  8. Good post, Neil. I don’t know how many times I’ve had non-believers tell me that the Bible was rife with historical and scientific errors, contradictions, etc. but each and every time I ask them to give me an example to discuss, they change the subject. As far as the miracles of the Bible, I’m working on a post for later today about that very subject.

    I appreciate your Christ-like spirit when dealing with unbelievers. Too often Christians become defensive and come across mean when responding to non-Christians. Scripture tells us to do otherwise. You are a credit to the faith.

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  9. I am happy to meet anyone and anything at any time. I am happy to be who I am. I am my own saviour, only through my own actions can I right any wrong. I do not expect to be perfect, I expect to be human. I expect to be judged by all as I am, a human being with failings and emotions. If I cannot save myself, what is the point of toiling through this existence?

    I agree there are representations in the Bible of human failings, and that is one of the reasons why it is such a powerful text. It connects with humans on a realistic level, people will fail and they will also succeed. I am not interested in whether the Bibile is historically, and/or factually correct. I am interested in the messages, and similarly I am interested in the messages in the Koran.

    I see most of the religious texts I have read as a guide to living life in such a way as to tip the scales in the favour of good. This to me is the underlying fundamental message. Err on the side of good rather than evil. For the path of good is the true path of the righteous and the fallen.

    In my eyes there is no one true path, any path that tips the balance in favour of good is a worthwhile path. Christianity is one path, there are many more.

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  10. Hi FabreFaction,
    When you speak of being judged, who are you picturing as the judge? (I couldn’t tell if you meant being judged by God or just by other humans). And with respect to saving yourself, what/who do you see yourself being saved from?
    I agree that various religions point people towards being good and that Islam, like many religions, teaches that if your good deeds outweigh your bad then you’ll go to Heaven. But Christianity is unique in that it teaches that we are all sinners and fall short of God’s standard, so our only hope is a Savior who by God’s grace died in our place. We just have to put our trust in him. No amount of good deeds will suffice.

    Which for me is actually a better model, because if I am honest I must admit that I have been well below 50% good in my life. I have no hope of getting the 100% good standard that God requires, let alone the 50% standard that other religions claim. That isn’t why I chose to follow Jesus, it is just a different way of looking at it. I was a major skeptic until I investigated the claims of the Bible and Christianity and found them to be true.

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  11. When I was a practising Catholic I found it strange that so many repented in confession and seemed to walk away feeling cleansed and somehow purified. I could never understand this, how could these people look themselves in the mirror and feel as though they had addressed the wrongs they had done? Whenever I looked in the mirror after confession I still had the same feelings for the wrongs I had done. I had to take action to balance the scales, I realised it was not possible to undo the wrongs in many cases, but it was possible to take positive action in the wake of my failings.

    I am not sure waht exists beyond what I can see, taste, feel, smell and hear, and I certainly do not have a clear idea of what happens after my death. I have hopes, but I also have fears. I strive to tip the balance in the favour of good in my life, through my actions and interactions.

    I judge myself, as ultimately I am responsible for my actions and must therefore be able to assess the outcome of the actions and the success and failure of the actions. I do also expect to be judged by all I meet, there are few people I have met that do not judge on some level. The analysis of my actions is my salvaton in many ways. My knowledge and experience help guide my actions, prevent me from doing wrong. But when I fail and do something wrong, I analyse why and integrate the results into my knowledge and expereince to help me not to do it in the future. The only source of forgiveness I seek is within me, I must forgive myself in order to learn not to fail in the same way in the future. While I understand that confession in the presence of a third party can be cathartic, I find forgiving myself to be more rewarding and more penitent. Similarly, when I do something well, I analyse why and integrate the results into my knowledge and expereince to help me to continue doing good in the future.

    What is your salvation? Is God your judge and/or council?

    Thankyou for taking the time to take a look at my blog and for your comments.

    Kind Regards……………. FabreFaction

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  12. I am glad you have found a path with Jesus Christ and wish you well. I do not sense a bad person when I think of you and when I read your writings. It is enough to my mind to be travelling on the right path.

    Kind Regards………………….. FabreFaction

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  13. Hi FabreFaction,

    Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate your honesty and how seriously you take your actions and how you keep an open mind and are able to be so polite when you disagree with people (I need to work on that more!).

    I am not Catholic (but I married a great one, who is now a Methodist). I believe we can confess directly to God, but the Bible also teaches us to confess to each other. You are right that confession doesn’t undo wrongs. It does mean that we now see our sins and actions as God sees them.

    God is my creator and judge, and, amazingly, He is also my Savior. The Holy Spirit is my counselor to help me understand God’s Word and to become more like Christ (alas, much too slowly!). I enjoy sharing with people what He has done in my life, but I realize that whether someone puts their trust in Jesus is between them and God. I’m not on commission :-).

    Please feel welcome to visit and read along with us. Blessings to you.

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  14. Hi Neal – You’re more than welcome. I’m sure that we both can learn from each other. Lots of Evangelical Churches, including my own http:www.nc4.org, have added the Chicago Statement into to their arsenal to defend their belief, even to their own congregation, that the bible is not only to be taken literally but it is inerrant.

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  15. I think what many people don’t understand is that if you call into question any part of the Bible, you have to question the whole thing. You can’t beleive that only part of the Bible was inspired–you have to take it all. Picking and choosing isn’t allowed.

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  16. Whereas I hold to the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, I think it is a logical falacy to proclaim “all or nothing.” There are logical arguments for that might set up degrees of authority in what is written. And then, there is the whole question of Canonicity. Some parts of the Bible went through more scrutiny than others as they were preserved throughout history.

    For example, King David most likely only had the records through Judges. How was he to know that some of his own psalms would become “Scripture”? He wrote to the situation, and God blessed it. The Jews didn’t agree on the whole OT scripture until AFTER the fall of Jerusalem (in fact, about the time the Revelation was given, in the AD 90’s). Certain second century documents were held “equal” to the apostolic record for a time. The epistle to the Hebrews was long debated (being even MORE anonymous than the Gospels of Matthew and Mark).

    By common usage and acceptance, our present Scriptures were finally codified in the fourth century. By common usage, the churches set apart the NT documents (copies acutally) as the accepted Scriptures. And so they stand. We accept the whole preserved Word — but more by faith than my reason (logic).

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  17. But now that we have a canon, accepted, as you say, by faith, we cannot just decide that some parts of the Bible are true, while others are fabrications or fairy tales. To question one part of the Scriptures (one part meaning something that contributes a great deal to the whole message)would call into question all the rest. I realize that there may be certain copy errors in the Bible, but these errors would not affect the message of the rest of the Book. It MUST be seen as one book, with one subject–Jesus Christ–and if any information pointing to Jesus is viewed as inaccurate or false, then our faith is invalid.

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  18. Hi Tim and Henry, I have read your blogs with great interest. Jesus said, “judge it by it’s fruits” Jesus also said, “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have told you. Finally, Jesus expounded unto them all that the prophets and the palsm said CONCERNING HIM. Have you ever read I am the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Why was not Moses, David, or Solmon included in this statment. There is only one prophet in the entire bible that Jesus told you to read of him and to understand. Learn the truth about God, LORD God, and the Lord. Learn what Jesus actually said about Moses, then you may see a differnce in Salvation and Grace. The 2nd Temptation of Christ and the LORD’s prayer. Compare the 1-4 commandments of the Old Testament with the 1st and 2nd commandment of the New Testament. “TRUTH” AND GRACE CAME BY JESUS CHRIST.

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  19. There was virtually no debate on most of what went into the New Testament. Some books were debated and left out and others were debated and included. James MacDonald wrote “God Wrote a Book,” which is an easy read about the authority and creation of the Bible. I highly recommend it.

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  20. This may seem simplistic, but I see it is as matter of trusting God enough to believe that He can and does protect His word. We can dissect and inspect all we want, but at some point we have to decide, “Do I trust God enough to believe in the authority of His word? Do I trust in His sovereignty enough to believe that He has preserved the Holy Scriptures?”

    I am finding so much of the struggles within the church come down to trust in God. I wonder what we could do if we could put aside our differences, and rely on Him. How much more could Annual Conferences accomplish- and I mean real accomplishments, not “we, well fought to keep the gays out” or, “well, we fought to keep the gays in”– if we trusted Him?

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  21. Two things.

    1) According to the Bible, there are two environments, both of which are literal. Those two environments are the spiritual and the natural. Said another way, both the heavenly and the earthy are real.
    The problem comes when people try to explain the spiritual as if it were earthy.

    2)According to science, every human brain generates electromagnetic waves. Every human body has, within it, a liquid antenna network called a cardiovascular system filled with iron-bearing blood.
    Is it not possible that every one of us is continually transmitting to and receiving data from each other- that data being stored in our minds at some level below our ability to be aware of it? If so, we may, all, be part of an experience storage system that can be accessed if we were not so busy denying it.
    Couldn’t that data base be sufficient for calculating the probabilities of certain events?
    If so, if certain tragic or glorious events were calculated as eminent, wouldn’t it be likely that someone would become aware of it?
    Wouldn’t that be a source of knowlege that we would call “prophecy”?
    If, in the realm of human explanation, something like that were possible, couldn’t God come up with something better?

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  22. This is something I am struggling with. I am torn between taking the entire Bible literally or taking some literally and some more-than-literally. I certainly believe that Jesus is my savior and I fall short of God’s “glory”. However, it is through Jesus Christ and God’s grace that I am saved. I 100% believe the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    However, a lot of the things in the Bible seem like they would be more of a metaphorical meaning rather than an exact historical account. I am not saying they are lies, made-up, or meaningless. Rather the contrary, I am saying that perhaps the metaphorical meaning was intended and that is what we should draw meaning from.

    I don’t believe any part of the Bible is untrue or a lie, but I do think that maybe some parts are meant to be metaphorically interpreted. I am not saying that because I don’t take a certain part literally/factually that the Bible has no validity. I am simply saying that with certain parts I look at them as they might be intended to be taken metaphorically.

    If I am wrong and I should be taking every word of the Bible as historical fact I REALLY PRAY that God will point it out to me and correct my beliefs. This is one of my hardest struggles with my faith (my faith in Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit will always remain strong, but I am talking about the details of the faith and how I read the Bible), and that is if I am supposed to be taking all of the Bible literally, or if some (certainly not all) parts are supposed to be taken metaphorically.

    I’d appreciate to hear your take on what I’ve said.

    I am certainly not in opposition of you, I am just trying to figure all this out for myself. I’m trying to ascertain if the Bible should be taken literally as historical fact (in all cases), or if some parts/stories are meant to be taken metaphorically.

    I will never abandon my faith, but I am trying to make my faith into what God wants my faith to be.

    I’ve also heard that if you believe something that is not what God intended you to believe (not true about God/the Bible), you are not technically believing in God and you are believing in a God tailored to your beliefs. This would be classified as idolatry. Now maybe a lot of people do this unintentionally, and I may be doing it unintentionally, but I don’t want to. I really want to believe in what God wants me to believe in, but the hard part is figuring out exactly what that is (I do believe in Jesus as my savior, God, and the Holy Spirit as my counsel; The Apostle’s/Nicene Creed essentially). It is the details that trip me up, and just reading the Bible in general. It can get confusing and I worry if I am committing idolatry by accident, any help on this matter is appreciated.

    P.S. This might be a strange question, but are there any references in the Bible about the Bible (I know it wouldn’t be the Bible back then (Pentateuch, Manuscripts, etc), but I’ll assume you know what I mean) or anything like that (prophesy? anything in the new testament? etc?)?

    Thanks, and God bless you,
    –Benjamin

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  23. I mean I believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, God had a hand in it, and the Holy Spirit was with those who wrote it.

    However, I don’t think that means that every word of the Bible is meant to be taken as historical fact. I’m not saying the Bible contains lies, fairy tales, or nonsense. I am saying that certain parts/stories of the Bible may not be historical fact, but may have metaphorical meaning instead.

    Do you see what I’m getting at?

    Anyways, I hope you respond Neil as I am anxious to discuss this with you. Not to win an argument, but hopefully to learn something and shape my faith for the better.

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  24. Hi Benjamin,

    Thanks so much for your candid comments. I love having that kind of dialogue.

    First, I don’t see anything wrong with your approach. You appear to have an authentic Christian worldview and are asking questions that we all should ask. I don’t think anyone has a 100.000% perfect grasp on theology. There are various issues where really smart and authentic Christians disagree. I think it is most important to agree on the essentials.

    But I do think that once a particular passage is selected it is possible to get a good idea of what it means and whether it was historical fact or not. For example, the parables of Jesus weren’t meant to be read as historical fact, but the messages of the parables are intended to be viewed as the truth.

    I guess what would help the most in this conversation is some examples of passages you find troubling. Let me know what ones you are thinking of.

    Regarding the Bible talking about the Bible, there are quite a few verses, such as these:

    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

    2 Peter 1:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    Also see all of Psalm 119.

    Also, the Bible mentions 2,000-3,000 times that “God said,” or “the Word of the Lord said,” etc.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

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  25. Should I feel worried about my faith though? I mean I am trying to understand and every day I pray that God will shape my faith as he wants it to be. As long as I am trying can I be punished for unintentional idolatry? I mean I am not simply refusing the word, I am trying to understand it as God wants me to.

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  26. God loves the truth and wants us to seek it. I think you are taking the right approach. If your faith is in the finished work of Jesus Christ (and it certainly appears to be!) then you can live without fear of punishment. He has taken the punishment for any of your sins – past, present and future.

    Re. Revelation – join the club! That is a challenging book to understand. It takes work, because many of the references are to Old Testament things. And there are many interpretations that fall within the definition of orthodox Christianity.

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  27. Well thanks for your help. So would you say if I end up believing the wrong thing (and thereby committing idolatry by accident) as long as I believe in the basics (accepting Jesus as my savior, Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, etc) that is a sin that would be forgiven?

    I mean it’s not like I’m just refusing the word, I am trying to accept it as God wants me to, and believe everything God wants me to.

    I accept Jesus as my savior, the son of God, and the one who died for our sins. But how can I be forgiven of a sin that I don’t know if I’ve committed, and done by accident?

    I even pray sometimes, “Lord, if I am committing idolatry (or any other sins for that matter) by accident/unknowingly please forgive me, and I confess those sins to you.”

    I also pray, “Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit please guide me in my every way and help me to believe everything you want me to believe, and understand the Bible as you want me to.”

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    I mean I do believe that most of the Bible is “true” (historical fact), and the parts that aren’t “true” I would NOT say are nonsense/lies. I would say they are metaphorical or more-than-literal in the sense of meaning.

    But I hope I am not misinterpreting something.

    I am only 16, so maybe I’ll get better understanding as I get older, but it seems like a lot of problems (within the faith, or preventing people from joining the faith), are rooted in whether or not certain passages of the Bible should be taken literally or metaphorically.

    If you have MSN Messenger, or yahoo messenger I would love to discuss this with you some time.

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  28. Hi Benjamin,

    I don’t know if I would classify an incorrect interpretation of something in the Bible as idolatry. I do think your attitude is the right one to have and that God answers those sorts of prayers affirmatively.

    If someone has really accepted Jesus as their Savior then all of his sins are forgiven. All of them, even the ones he doesn’t remember.

    I don’t know if this illustration will help, but consider the criminal on the cross. He probably hadn’t read much of the Old Testament and the New Testament hadn’t been written. His theology was probably weak. Yet he put his trust in Jesus and he was with the Savior that day in paradise.

    I think you are right that the literal / metaphorical debate can be controversial. Some of the debates don’t have a lot of meaning, but many false teachers try to turn anything they don’t like into a metaphor. Then they end up denying essentials such as the deity of Jesus or his exclusivity as the only way to forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

    You’re only 16?! You have a very mature outlook on these things.

    May I ask what denomination you are a part of?

    I don’t have a messenger service, but I’m thinking about getting Yahoo.

    Peace,
    Neil

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  29. I am part of the Lutheran denomination. Which denomination are you a part of, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Isn’t the whole concept of denominations kind of funny? It almost seems as if the word “denomination” could be replaced by “interpretation”. I know it is not exactly the same, but it seems that interpretation is the divider within the Christian faith.

    Yeah, I’m only 16, I’ve had people tell me I sound more mature than my age.

    I do wonder about a lot of stuff, and I am hoping to find the answers. One question I have, and I don’t know if you have an exact understanding of it, or just leave it up to “I don’t know” like I do…

    Do you think hell is eternal torment? permanent separation from God? etc?

    I have often wondered about that and I am not even sure if the Bible makes it clear, literally or metaphorically.

    What do you think?

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  30. Maybe we could continue our correspondence by email to make things easier. I believe you have mine because you started the blog.

    If you would rather leave it on the blog that is fine with me as well. Let me know, thanks.

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  31. Hi,

    I attend a Methodist church. Our pastors are Biblically sound and orthodox (I wish all pastors were) but there are some apostate liberal factions throughout the denomination. There are no 100% “safe” denominations, in my view – one needs to ensure the church they are in believes the essentials.

    Good point re. denominations / interpretations. I don’t have a problem with the concept of denominations if they just related to preferences. For example, if some people like acapella singing instead of instruments that is fine with me. I just don’t think it is productive to claim the Bible requires it and that everyone should follow suit.

    Re. Hell – I don’t know the exact properties of Hell, but I think it is eternal torment and separation from God. Jesus warned against it often and in the strongest possible terms, so whatever it is it must be awful. Even if there was no physical pain it would be absolutely miserable, as an eternity of regret over choosing against God would be bad enough.

    I also wrote a couple pieces on Hell at my other blog – http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/tag/hell/.

    I sent you my email address, but it might be good to have the questions on the blog. There are lots of well-informed Christians who read this and may have better answers than me, and I’m pretty sure that others have questions similar to yours.

    Thanks for the dialogue, I enjoy it!

    Neil

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  32. Yeah, I wondered if that was what was meant by eternal torment, which would be separation from God and not actual physical torture. What do you think of the catholic practice of penance of forgiveness of sins? Would you say that is along the lines of trying to reason salvation through “works”? I am not downing catholicism or anything, it just seems to me that we have to realize that we are sinners and nothing we can do except accepting Christ can ‘erase’ that. Sure following Christ will usually prompt you to try and do the right thing, but as long as you accept Christ, you are forgiven, right? -Romans 10:9

    By the way I LOVE that I can have this dialogue with another Christian. I think God wants us to discuss this sort of thing often.

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  33. I don’t understand everything about penance, but it does not appear to be Biblical to me. There are examples of church discipline in the Bible (which, sadly, few churches even consider using), but they don’t seem to support penance. I don’t know if it would fall into the works category, unless it meant you had to do some sort of good deed.

    My rule of thumb for heresies is this: Anytime someone says you need the atoning sacrifice of Jesus PLUS something else (punishment or good deeds) then that is a heresy. Likewise, if someone says they can attain salvation without Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, then that is also a heresy.

    You are right about Romans 10:9 – believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

    Thanks for the questions and comments! I think God wants us to sharpen each other with education and to encourage one another. Be blessed!

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