Taking The Bible Seriously Does Not Mean Taking It Literally

Meaghan McDermott reports, in today’s Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, on the finale of a four-week series of sermons by Rev. Lee Ann Bryce of Community Christian Church in the town of Chili, asserting a friendly relationship between science and religion, and a non-idolatrous approach to scripture.

The story quotes Rev. Bryce saying, “It is possible to believe in miraculous stories while not believing the stories are the literal truth.  Taking the Bible seriously does not mean taking it literally.”

AUR would contest that so-called Literalists actually interpret the Bible “literally.”  Despite their proud self-description as Literalists, they often resort to metaphorical interpretation of scripture, in regard to “Lamb of God” or the dragon the the Apocalypse, for example. 

On close observation, the interpretation of fundamentalists is always materialistic or quasi-materialistic in nature: apocalyptic figures are seen as external political entities rather than internal spiritual forces, and the afterlife is conceived as a sort of science-fiction alternate reality, just like this world in all of its artifacts and sensory characteristics, but just somehow “better.”  Materialism is a much more accurate description of the allegedly fundamentalist approach to scripture and religion than literalism.

However, Community Christian’s solution to the heresy of bibliolatrous “literalism” is right on the mark, emphasizing the spiritual meaning of scripture, and the incomparable nature of God.  Speaking to the error of Creationism, one member of Bryce’s congregation ponders, “The Bible says God created the world in seven days.. if God is infinite, what is a ‘day’?”

Bryce is also one of over 11,000 clergy members who have signed on to the Clergy Letter Project rejecting the Creationism of bibliolaters and encouraging school boards to teach good science, rather than bad religion, in biology class.  Kudos to Rev. Bryce, and to much thanks to the Democrat & Chronicle for reporting on this story.