Should the Bible Be Taken Literally?

Can you believe in God without literally believing every word in the Bible? Eric Metaxas reflects on if the Bible should be taken literally.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. How did you arrive at your understanding of the Bible?
  2. Do you believe the Bible must be taken literally? Why or why not?

Jesus said, "I am the door." I think that's some kind of metaphor, right? He doesn't mean that he swings on hinges. When it says that the earth was created in six days, does that mean six periods of 24 hours? Might it mean something else? If somebody tells you, "You need to believe all that stuff literally or you can't believe in God. You can't believe in Jesus," you can tell them they're wrong because there are plenty people who can debate some of these things— debate the age of the earth, debate whether, uh, Job of Jonah are poetic or literal— these can't be the deal-breakers. I mean, if, if, if that's what is driving somebody away from experiencing the God of love who wants to bless them and help them with their life, and.... I mean, if that's what's keeping you away, don't let that— that's like, ridiculous. If God says it happened literally, okay, then I'll say, "It happened literally." Jesus walked around literally. He rose from the dead literally. There are things that you have to take literally, but there are poetic forms, there are things that are said in Scripture which are not meant to take literally in that sense, and if you think that you have to check your brain at the door and you have to believe that all that stuff happened literally or you can't possibly be a Christian, I would say, uh, "I don't think that is true." I would, I would be really careful about letting some weird, uh, thing like that keep you from, from, uh, from believing the Bible is true, and again true, not literal, but true. I think that, um, intelligent people who believe the Bible can have disagreements in conversations on this, and they're fun but they, they shouldn't be the thing that keeps you from God because God is real and, uh, you kind of don't want to miss that.