CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter
It is strange that people say they take the Bible literally when the Bible does not say that it should be taken literally.
It is strange that people say that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible says that Christ is the Word of God. Christ does not say that the Bible is the Word of God. So if you take the Bible literally, it is not the Word of God, so you can’t take it literally.
The real reason for saying we take the Bible literally is to pick out some verse that will justify excluding some group that is unlike my group, and then ignore all the rest of the Bible.
It is hard to take the Bible literally even if we have good intentions for doing so unless we know Greek and Hebrew. There is very little of either of those languages that can be treated as an algebraic equation for translating into English.
For instance, we now accept the word atonement as Biblical. It is not. It is not even atonement. It should be pronounced at-one-ment. A bible translator made it up to express a Biblical sentiment—being at one with-- for which there is no direct English equivalent word. You cannot take atonement literally because there is no such thing.
Who was that translator? Tyndale? Wycliffe? I forget. I’d like to say it was Wycliffe, because for a short time in the 1950s, I was the first English-speaking pastor of the Wycliffe Methodist Church in the Pilsen area of Chicago.
Not long before that, Pilsen was the largest Czech settlement in the world, outside of Prague.
Now that I think about it, I wonder why a Czech speaking Methodist church was named for one famous for translating the Bible into English. I guess they were not taking the Bible literally.