Should Christians take the Entire Bible Literally?
Debate Rounds (4)
Rounds are as follows:
2. Initial Arguments
4. Rebuttals/Case Summary (No new arguments please)
BoP is shared.
Literal: "taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory."
Entire: "with no part left out; whole."
I will be taking the PRO side stating that Christians Should take the Bible Literally.
i will also like to add that i will be using different translations of the bible and showing the meaning from Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
Good luck con :)
Let's get on with it then, shall we?
When the question is posed, "Should Christians interpret the entire Bible literally?" There are really usually multiple questions being asked here:
1. Should every word in the Bible be treated as a fact and not taken metaphorically? (If it says, the water was blue, it means that the water was blue, not "Yes the water is a dull blue, which is a metaphor meaning that the setting of the story is sad.)
2. Should every commandment in the Bible still apply to Christians today? (If the Bible said "Do not murder", then even today, we should not murder)
I will be arguing against both of these. And as the Burden of Proof is shared, I will also be arguing in favor of a more practical and logical method of interpreting the Bible.
The Bible is considered a very popular work of literature, and therefore, must be examined like any other piece of literature. Obviously, the Bible is divided into 66 distinct books, each with a different purpose, audience, and meaning. The Bible altogether has over 40 authors and was written over the course of an entire 1500 years. This of course, definitely means that each book of the Bible was created differently, with different intentions in mind, and ultimately, very different kinds and styles of writing.
In the Bible we see books of law: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and parts of Genesis. These were meant to be taken as direct commandments and to be applied to one's life.
We also see books of history: Almost everything after the Pentateuch is history, including the kings of Israel and Judah, and the period of the judges, etc. In the New Testament, Acts described the origins of the Christian church as well. These were usually meant to be taken as fact, as records of events that actually happened.
There are poems and songs, including love songs: this is evident in Psalms, Job, and Song of Songs. These were usually used for worship, especially Psalms, which even has side notes on how the music should be played and when. These especially were NOT INTENDED TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY, as they used many types of metaphoric language, and were usually used to invoke an emotion or to draw attention to a certain idea or point.
There are different wise sayings: this includes most of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These usually were not meant to be taken very literally either, rather, they were meant as a rough outline on good principles to live one's life by.
There are letters: Most notably, Paul's letters. These were meant as greetings to good friends, and advice to them. Many times, these letters expressed doctrine that was clearly intended to be the basis for Christianity, and to expand on the principles taught by Jesus.
And last but not least, the Gospels: The Gospels are very unique and almost need to be described as an entirely separate form of literature. The Gospels contain some aspects of history, the telling of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and was meant to be taken as a literal account of the life and teachings of Jesus. They also contain key doctrines to the Christian faith, intended as direct literal commands for Christians. Most notably, here we see parables, hypothetical and metaphorical stories, meant not as a literal history or command, but as a way to simplify complex theological doctrines and ideas, making them easier to understand.
I think you can see where I'm going with this.
I have already more than adequately refuted the first part of the question, "Should every word in the Bible be treated as a fact and not taken metaphorically?"
Poems, parables, wise sayings, and the like were never intended to nor do they remotely resemble something that is to be taken literally. Take Psalms 1:3 for example: "That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither"whatever they do prospers."(NIV) Is this verse literally calling somebody a tree? Not in the slightest! It is meant as a metaphorical device used to show that somebody who follows what the Lord commands them to will thrive.
Now, on to the second part of the question. This one is slightly trickier. The answer relies on one of the most important aspects of literature analysis, and that is author's purpose. This question requires delving deeper into some of the principles mentioned above.
I will be taking this one step at a time. Let us start with the Pentateuch.
Like I said, these were a book of laws and ethical codes and commands intended for the Jewish people who fled from Egypt. That is the key phrase: "intended for the Jewish people who fled from Egypt." Let's see how the Bible supports this.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2;5: "Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it."(NIV)
This is the introduction God gives to all of his laws in the OT. And clearly, it is definitely directed toward the Jews. These were laws meant for the Israelites when they "go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you." They were given so that Israel would be set apart from the nations surrounding them, to set an example for the pagans living in Canaan. They are definitely NOT direct commands to Christians alive today. A good example of this is laws that are particular to certain states. The Ohio laws are certainly meant to be read literally in the sense that their words should be read and understood exactly as they are written. People in Pennsylvania, however, are not bound by these laws, even if they are understood to mean exactly what they say.
This VERY SAME IDEA is also mentioned in the New Testament multiple times, including by Jesus himself!
Jeremiah 31:31-34: "'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made to their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,' declares the Lord. 'This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,' declares the Lord. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,' declares the Lord. 'For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.'"(NIV)
Hebrews 8 (too long to include here but reiterates the same point, calling the old covenant "obsolete" and "outdated".
And Jesus in Matthew 5:17-18: "'Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.'"(NIV)
This passage seems to contradict this idea. However, the key word here is fulfill. Jesus says many times that he is the fulfillment of the law. His death and resurrection--the atonement for our sins, that is how he has fulfilled the law. The ancient languages tell us that fulfill means to complete or put an end to. Clearly, that is what Jesus did through his death, taken away the bond of sin and the law on us. He was the ultimate sacrifice to be a substitute for us and to be retribution for our sins, and through this, he completed and fulfilled the purpose of the law.
So what is the point of this? Obviously, since the Bible is not entirely meant to be taken literally in the first sense, to properly interpret it, we must decipher the kind of writing being presented and analyze it like any literature of that kind would be analyzed. If it is fact and meant for us, take it as fact and meant for us. If it is not meant for us, still acknowledge it as fact, but don't apply it to our own lives. If it is metaphorical, determine the meaning of the metaphor and the impact or point that the writer was trying to create and determine how that affects our understanding about the rest of scripture and how that point affects us today. Since the Bible is not completely directed at us, as in the second sense of literal interpretation, we must enlist the help of logic and the Holy Spirit to determine which parts of the Bible CAN be applied today and HOW they should be applied today.
I again would like to thank Pro for taking his time to accept this debate, I really look forward to anything that he has to say on the subject. Best of luck to him and I hope to gain new insight through his arguments. Thank you. :)
I think you might have just woken up or..?? Almost everything in your arguments above supports me, that Christians should take the Bible literally. Here is proof:
"In the Bible we see books of law: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and parts of Genesis. These were meant to be taken as direct commandments and to be applied to one's life."
"We also see books of history: Almost everything after the Pentateuch is history, including the kings of Israel and Judah, and the period of the judges, etc. In the New Testament, Acts described the origins of the Christian church as well. These were usually meant to be taken as fact, as records of events that actually happened."
"There are letters: Most notably, Paul's letters. These were meant as greetings to good friends, and advice to them. Many times, these letters expressed doctrine that was clearly intended to be the basis for Christianity, and to expand on the principles taught by Jesus."
"There are different wise sayings: this includes most of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These usually were not meant to be taken very literally either, rather, they were meant as a rough outline on good principles to live one's life by."
"The Gospels contain some aspects of history, the telling of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and was meant to be taken as a literal account of the life and teachings of Jesus. They also contain key doctrines to the Christian faith, intended as direct literal commands for Christians."
Most of the passages that you have brought up actually contradict eachother (literal vs non literal meaning) since that the beginning you mentioned that most of the bible has to be taken literally.
Care to rephrase or start fresh or will it be a easy win for me?
The title of the debate shows the fault in con's argument. "Should Christians take the Entire Bible Literally?" As established at the start of the debate, entire is defined as: "with no part left out; whole". Therefore, if there is even one statement in the Bible that was not meant to be taken literally, then the resolution is negated. Of course there are parts that SHOULD be taken literally, but as I have shown, there are just as many parts that should NOT be taken literally.
"There are poems and songs, including love songs: this is evident in Psalms, Job, and Song of Songs. These were usually used for worship, especially Psalms, which even has side notes on how the music should be played and when. These especially were NOT INTENDED TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY, as they used many types of metaphoric language, and were usually used to invoke an emotion or to draw attention to a certain idea or point."
"There are different wise sayings: this includes most of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These usually were not meant to be taken very literally either, rather, they were meant as a rough outline on good principles to live one's life by." (I say these were not meant to be taken literally because they also use metaphorical and figurative language to help clarify these ideas and principles, ex: "Healing it is to thy navel, And moistening to thy bones."(Proverbs 3:8)(YLT) Obviously, following God does not literally 'moisten your bones'.)
Voters may also ask why the BoP is shared, and that is simply because I offered an alternative theory (that wasn't necessary to win the debate) as to how the Bible SHOULD be interpreted, if not literally.
Other than that, Pro doesn't make any real arguments at this point, so here I will elaborate on the alternate theory that I have proposed in the last round.
Here is a good, basic outline to interpret most Biblical passages, step-by-step:
Ask yourself the following questions
1. What does the passage say?
2. Who wrote the passage or book?
3. To whom were they speaking? How does this affect the meanings of certain words or phrases in the passage, and ultimately, the overall meaning?
4. What is the context surrounding a certain paragraph or verse? How do the surrounding paragraphs give light to the meaning of certain ideas?
5. What is the context of the rest of the book? How does the purpose of the entire book affect the meaning of the passage?
6. How does this passage relate to the overarching message of the Bible? Does it relate to Jesus and his resurrection? His love and mercy?
7. What is the culture and history near the time that the book was written?
8. At this point, does the meaning that I have deciphered agree with the rest of the Scripture? If not, must I review the previous steps, or look for a new perspective?
9. Even if the passage is not directly spoken to me, what principles or ideas from the passage can I apply to myself?
10. Now that I have a new understanding of the passage, what should I do about it?
I hope that Pro can make an argument in round three, and I wish him luck. Thank you.
When you are formulating your responses and you include both my side and your side, you are kind of debating with yourself. But nonetheless, here are my arguments.
1. Writing Styles of the Bible 
Historical Narrative - large portion of the bible is written this way;
This is done by describing and communicating events that have been recorded or have happened. All of this is based on actual evidence, where the only intent is to document a historical event.
Poetry - describe the inner emotions of the writer
There are passages that have been written with this type of format. Although it is composed of a large quantity of symbolism and similes, most of these written documents are also based on actual events. The main idea is true and pure.
"Parables: Is an older writing style that has come down to us from ancient times when stories, sayings and histories were passed on verbally. Parables were used to teach a single message" 
As you can see these are written in order to teach. They should be taken as is. (to teach)
It is written and it should be taken as is. Mostly seen in the Old Testament where God has passed His laws through Moses to the humans to follow.
Some examples of books of Law could be : Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
2. Intent of Writing
The Bible has been formatted by the church into what we see today (a over 800,000 word long passage)  in order to teach and bring guidance to the humans. Just like any book with the above purpose (teach and guide) if it were to contain passages that are open to interpretation or different interpretation then it can result in dispensary. Take this into consideration:
If the laws that have been instigated today in our modern society were to be biased and not purposeful, it will result in what you might call "abuse of law". There are such loop holes and people (lawyers usually) are looking for them in order to win or get something out of a situation.
Hope this makes sense.
Let's look at Pro's arguments, piece by piece.
1. Writing Styles of the Bible
Historical Narrative- I must concede this point as it is obvious that Pro is correct in that they are only meant to be read as they are written.
Poetry- Pro concedes that symbolism and similes are often used. This fact alone allows me to win the debate, as the first round established that something literal is something, "without metaphor or allegory" and that words are used "in their most basic sense". The use of symbolism implies that words are not being used in their basic sense, rather, they are being used in a metaphorical sense to represent something else.
Parables- Parables were written to teach, so they are "literal" in the sense that their single message should apply to us today. However, as Pro states, Parables are stories used to convey messages and allow their meaning to be more easily understood. These stories were not records of actual events that happened, rather they were fictitious in nature, but used to convey a very real principle, so this does not meet the criteria of being "literal" either. Pro's second link shows us that parables had another purpose--to further confuse the message being taught to some. Certainly, a story that is fictitious in nature and used to confuse people cannot be taken completely literally.
Law/Statutory- I concede part of Pro's argument in this round. While they are meant to be read "as is", many of these, especially those in the Pentateuch, no longer apply to society today as I have already shown. In addition, you may read Deuteronomy 4, which clearly shows God's introduction to the law he was about to give. It is clearly stated here that these laws were intended to govern only the Israelites, and nobody else. Therefore, in the sense that they should no longer be applied to Christians today, these can't be taken completely "literally" either.
2. Intent of Writing
The Bible was clearly, as Pro stated, meant to teach and bring guidance to humans. However, not every Biblical command was intended for readers to follow. Pro's analogy is irrelevant, because as I have already shown, laws of one state do not have to be followed by people in another state. An American lawyer wouldn't look for loop holes in the laws of France, that is absurd. I agree with Pro's statement that there can only be a single correct interpretation of the Bible. This does not mean that some of these interpretations must be derived from the use of metaphor and simile in the Bible.
I would like to thank Pro for his arguments once again, but unfortunately, Pro fails to meet his half of the burden of proof, therefore, the resolution is negated.
Con, you have failed to provide your BoP, you have agreed on a large percentage of the arguments that I have supplied.
I urge the voters to carefully read through each round and decide who had better conduct.
Thank you for the debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Chaosism 1 year ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: Con presented examples of which parts of the Bible should be taken literally and metaphorically. One specific example of metaphorical intent is the poetic nature of Psalms, which is described by Con. Pro does not refute this point hence, there exists a part of the Bible that should not be taken literally, which favors Con. Additionally, there is a simple, instant-win embedded within Con's cited passages: "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts." Unless this implies the laws will *literally* be written on their hearts, then Con's position is correct.
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