Gary discusses a few “contradictions” commonly pointed out by critics.

The Bible is literature. God speaks to us in words and themes that can be understood. Not all literature can be interpreted in the same way.

Some will claim that the Bible must be interpreted literally. But what does that mean? There are always caveats. Does a dragon really mean a dragon? Should you really pluck out your eye if it offends you? Should we literally eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood?

The word “literal” is derived “from the word Latin litera meaning letter. “To interpret the Bible literally is to interpret is as literature. That is, the natural meaning of a passage is to be interpreted according to the normal rules of grammar, speech, syntax, and context.”[1] The Bible is not a book of incantations. It must be read and understood based on its own terms. The Bible is the best interpreter of itself.

In most cases, literal means really true even if that really true truth is depicted as a symbol, parable, or hyperbole. Something can be true because of the type of literature it is and not be physical:

In Scripture, the distinction between literal and non-literal is perhaps the most important, though sometimes the most difficult to make. It is here that much controversy in the church has been centered. Arguments arise over whether something is literal or non-literal (e.g., the “thousand years” of Revelation 20). Or, if a word or sentence is regarded as non-literal, what kind of non-literal symbol it is, and what the symbol stands for. Symbols are highly adaptable things. And the more symbolic a text is, the more it can yield to various interpretations.[2]

This means that becoming familiar with the Bible in the way it uses language and its choice of events to include in the redemptive story are fundamental to becoming a good student of the Bible.

Beginner's Guide to Interpreting Bible Prophecy

Beginner's Guide to Interpreting Bible Prophecy

With so much prophetic material in the Bible, it seems difficult to argue that an expert is needed to understand such a large portion of God’s Word and so many ‘experts’ could be wrong generation after generation. If God’s Word is a ‘lamp to our feet and a light to our path’ (Psalm 119:105), how do we explain that not a lot of light has been shed on God’s prophetic Word and with so little accuracy? A Beginner’s Guide to Interpreting Bible Prophecy has been designed to help Christians of all ages and levels of experience to study Bible prophecy with confidence.

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Gary discusses a few “contradictions” commonly pointed out by critics. These textual “issues” seem to be difficult on the surface, but a bit of deeper reading makes it obvious that these “problems” with the Biblical text are not really problems at all. Christians must read in order to understand, and recognize that differences in how things are reported in the Bible are theologically significant and add depth and layers to the text as a whole.

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[1] R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977), 48–49.

[2] Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books/Scripture Press, 1994), 120.