FAQ: Can We Take the Bible Literally?

Warm up Questions:

Do you take the Bible literally?
If not, how do you take the Bible?

Questions for Christians

What does the word “literally” literally mean?
Do you take the whole Bible literally?
How do you know when to read a piece of Scripture literally?

Describe a passage in the Bible you take literally.
Describe a passage in the Bible you take figuratively.

Should we read the Bible differently than other books?

Questions for non-Christians

Do you read the sports page literally?
Do you judge the Bible by different standards than other books?
Can we take miracles accounts literally? Why or Why not?

Tips for reading your Bible

  1. Never read a Bible verse. Read a paragraph or more.
  2. What do you know about the book?
    • What is its Genre:
      History, Biography, Poetry, prophecy, a letter, proverbs
    • Who Wrote it? When? Where? Why?
    • How would the original audience have read it?
  3. Does the passage contain a quotation from or reference to another book?
  4. Does it make more sense taken literally or as an idiom, parable, metaphor, hyperbole, allegory, etc? If so what does the figure of speech mean? Why is that a better interpretation?

Some Scriptures on Scripture

Joshua 1:7-8; Psalm 119:1-176; John 5:39-47; Acts 17:11; 1 Timothy 4:13;
2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:14-18

Additional Resources