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Bible: metaphor or real

March 1, 2010

I have been too immersed in my own thought patterns and culture.

Thankfully God is expanding my boundaries and opening doors for me to learn and embrace dialogue with more people of varied beliefs.

Over the last year or so I have become much more involved with and aware of diverse viewpoints, especially when it comes to issues of faith. While I have always known there were different denominations and understood some of why those exist, I have been raised in a family that taught me grace, unity, and acceptance. Maybe if I looked more closely as the beliefs of my family there was also a great deal of tolerance and an element of avoidance of conflict, but deep down I believe the unity and acceptance stem from hearts that believe God calls us to love others, even those who are not like us.

I have been spending more and more time with those who have different views than I do. Last summer I learned about theology (free grace, Calvinism, Lordship Salvation, Arminianism, etc.). I have started spending time with people of other ethnicities, even going to the point of participating in gatherings where I as a caucasian am in the minority. I have spent more time with people in different age groups. I have spent more time with men. It has been an amazing year where I have learned about all these different groups and cultures and how they view life through different filters and viewpoints than I do.

The one group I think I have found the most unique and difficult for me to understand are those who classify themselves as Christian, but who believe the Bible is a metaphor, or at least key parts of it are just a metaphor. They may not believe people in the Bible ever lived (e.g. Adam and Eve, or even Jesus). They may not believe in Satan or the devil being an entity that actually exists. They may not believe that the death and resurrection of Christ existedI have a close family member who falls in this group and we have had many discussions over the years that have left me puzzled about how to see life through that person’s viewpoint. As I have spent more time listening and trying to understand this group lately I am having to redefine words I would use to describe my own beliefs.

Many people in this group would probably refer to me as a fundamentalist or a literalist because I do believe that Bible is not just a metaphor but is absolutely true and that the people and facts of the accounts given in the Bible actually occurred. I believe that the Bible is a serious and sacred book and that it should be taken seriously because it was given to us by God to provide direction and guidance for our lives. I take the Bible as literal truth, but those in this group treat it as metaphorical truth.

One of the things I have been considering a lot lately is how to dialogue with people who have different views, morals, ethics, and biases than I do. I want to be able to enter into conversation with people of other ages, ethnicities, cultures, and viewpoints without doing something that will offend them and turn them away from ongoing discussion. Out of all the people I have encountered I think this group might be the most difficult for me to dialogue with because at first glance we appear to be so similar and of the same faith convictions, and then to find we are so different in our beliefs. Maybe it is not that different than a discussion with someone of the Mormon faith who believes not only that the Bible is a source of truth, but equally treats the Book or Mormon as a source of truth.

I look forward to more discussions and education from this group of people and the other groups I have the privilege to interact with. Seeing the world through others eyes is an amazing thing. God has made each of us so unique and special.

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