Biblical anti-hyperliteralism vs nonliteralism

I have previously written against hyperliteralism, but a recent Reddit post inspired me to clarify that opposing hyperliteralism is not the same as supporting nonliteralism. From the Reddit post:

My position on Christianity being revealed would only serve to create bias. I will leave it out.

If the Bible was taken literally, but is nonliteral, God wrote passages, such as the creation story — knowing full well that they would generally be taken literally; knowing that his words would decieve most people who read them up to a few hundred years prior to the present day, and knowing that the only thing needed to avoid this deception was to put a clear, unambiguous disclaimer, in the Bible, stating that the Bible isn’t meant to be taken entirely literally — and yet he chose to decieve people through his words.

Does this sound like God? Perhaps biblical literalism sounds more like God. The following is the alternative scenario.

Being all powerful, God made the Bible literal and true. The world lead people to use rationale that made them believe that the Bible is not literal, despite the fact that such a scenario would entail the willful deception of many by God. In this scenario, the world decieved humanity; instead of God decieving humanity.

If someone still believes in biblical nonliteralism, please could they argue for it here?

Thank you. 🙂

My response:

The first problem is with the sorts of statements that are said to be literal when in fact they aren’t. For example, Young Earth Creationists will often point to 2 Peter 3:8 which says “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years…” This is a radical abuse of scripture. If you read the whole verse – not even the next verse or next chapter – the same verse – the full passage is: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day” indicating time makes no difference to God who transcends time. The 1-day-as-1000 years interpretation is called “literal” or “literalist” but it is more accurately “hyperliteralist” or just “wrong.”

Another case of hyperliteralism is when a parable is taken literally. The Bible says “This is a parable,” which litterally means “this is a fictional story used to communicate an idea.” If the parable is taken literally then it is not just “literalism” but “hyperliteralism,” or taking things literally when you aren’t supposed to.

Some argue that Psalms and Proverbs, as Poetry, or Revelations and Genesis, based on their genre, are also not mean to be taken literally in this way.

To be clear: I don’t support non-literalism. I simply oppose hyperliteralism.

I’d also add that this is one reason that empirical data is theologically important: To adjudicate among multiple logically valid interpretations of scripture, and to protect the Christian against false interpretations of scripture.

PS: This is my first article using WordPress Gutenberg. Fun stuff.

Related articles:
1 – April 2018, On Faith
2 – March 2018, Metaphorical Truth and Metaphorical Legs
3 – June 2017, An Approach to Reading the Bible: Moderate Literalism and Methodological Plausibility
4 – September 2016, Am I Cherry Picking or is This a Decent Definition of Faith?
5 – July 2014 – Literal, Anachronistic, or Shallow?
6 – August 2013, Caeconomics and Transphilosophy

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