An Eight-Step Guide to Bible Literalism through Christian Apologetics
I began this project several years ago after meeting many Christians who did not properly know how to use the powerful techniques of Christian Apologetics. Believe it or not, I met many Christians who had been so brainwashed by today's culture that they actually thought that whole swathes of the Bible were not meant to be taken literally!
I know it is disturbing to hear, but many of them were even looking to non-Biblical sources for information on understanding life, morality and religion.
So, I created this guide in the hopes that it can lead at least a few wayward souls into the wonderfully fulfilling field of Bible apologetics.....
Step One: Accept the divine, absolute, and literal truth of the Bible.
This is by far the most important step: If the Bible isn't the literal and absolute truth, we might as well just give up the whole game right now.
Step Two: Redefine "literal" when needed.
Yes, the Bible is a the literal word of God. We all know that from step one. But does this mean that every word is supposed to be taken literally? The answer is yes, except in those cases where it isn't.For example, the Bible clearly says that God hates homosexuality. That part is literal. The bible also says that God hates mixing different fibers in clothing. That part is not literal.....Now, critics will ask "Ok, but how did you decide?" If this happens, do not panic. A few simple rules of thumb will help: Many many "problems" can be set straight by interpretation. However, I cannot stress enough that you should only attempt to re-translate and interpret those sections being questioned. You would not want to go to a random passage and see if there are any mis-translated words or areas that can be taken as hyperbole. So do not, under any circumstances, interpret or re-translate a section which no one is questioning, those are by definition already literally true!The best part of re-interpretation is that you can still believe in the common meaning when you want: you only have to acknowledge the re-interpreted meaning when someone questions it, which is the subject of our next step:
Step Three: Learn to believe two or more contradictory ideas simultaneously
You, as a Bible apologist, should be able to believe any number of mutually contradictory ideas. For example, you should have no problem believing that the Old Testament is the unchanging word of God, and, at the same time, believe that the New Testament is the unchanging word of God. This seemingly impossible feat is easily accomplished.
Let us take the above as an example and look at each section in detail:The Old Testament is the unchanging word of God.This is obviously true. Since the Bible is the divine word of God, the Old Testament is literally and absolutely true. Therefore, all the stories, conclusions, and moral lessons of the Old Testament are still valid and are valuable and relevant for today.
The New Testament is the unchanging word of God.This is obviously true. Since the Bible is the divine word of God, it is literally and absolutely true. Therefore, all the stories, conclusions, and moral lessons of the New Testament are valid and are valuable and relevant for today.If anyone were to intimate that these two collections of stories are mutually exclusive and incoherent if viewed as one treatise on God, religion or morality, you can quite properly inform them that they are both true and do not contradict each other.
So to the ancient Hebrews, God was a angry cloud who demanded sacrifices and rituals and had myriad laws and statutes from which the slightest deviation could result in the deaths of thousands. To the early Christians, God was a transcendant being who required next to nothing but private prayer and actively worked to prevent the punishment of people who had committed moral crimes what would previously have required stoning. The glory of this step is that both of these are true... They are both accurate representations of one unchanging God.....
Step Four: Ignore or re-interpret the last 600 years of scientific knowledge
Many of those who attack the Bible will try to use science to show that parts of the Bible aren't literally true. When someone does this, you have several courses of action available. ...A good rule of thumb is to try to re-interpret science before you try to re-interpet the literal Bible.
a) Claim science is wrong.
b) Claim that the attacker believes science to be a god.
c) Claim science has always agreed with Bible.
d) Redefine "literal" (via step two) so you can claim the Bible doesn't actually say what the attacker claims.
While many apologists automatically choose the first option, the others are equally valid......
Step Five: Acknowledge the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies contained in the Bible.
As a Bible apologist, one of your main occupations is to locate and be amazed at all the wonderful and fulfilled prophecies contained in the Bible. After accepting the previous steps, this step should present no problem.....
We'll just apply the previous steps to reveal the prophecies.
a) Because of step one, we already know the Bible is the divine and literal word of God, so now we can use this knowledge to automatically assume all the prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled, thus supporting the literal Bible further.
b) Using step two, we can make virtually any phrase found in the Bible into some sort of prophecy.
c) Step three allows us to believe the facts and prophecies are in agreement.
d) Thanks to step four, we can bend facts around to fulfill even the most tenuous of prophecies
What you'll be looking for, mainly, is phrases in the Old Testament that can be twisted around (via step two) so they remotely resemble something found in the New Testament.
So when you see a phrase like "Do not break any of the bones" in the old testament, you, as an apologist, should easily be able to read that as a prophecy if you just try. Since none of Christ's bones were broken, we know that "Do not break any of the bones" must have been a prophecy, even though it was referring to slaughtering a sheep and didn't mention anything about being a prophecy of Christ.....
Step Six: Learn that moral relativism is not true.
Moral relativism, the belief that all moral decisions and evaluations are dependent on the surrounding society and culture, is simply not true. If something is wrong, it is wrong for all people at all times.
Take slavery for example: we modern Christians know slavery is wrong, and that slave-holders are immoral, but 200 years ago people thought slavery was perfectly moral. If the moral relativists are right, those slave-holders weren't immoral, they were just following the morality of their times. But, since we modern Christians know that slavery was always wrong, there must be an absolute morality as given by the Bible.
Step Seven: Learn that absolute morals can change depending on the situation or society
Now while it's true that slavery is, and always has been, morally wrong, this doesn't mean that slavery was always always morally wrong. There are many situations where the rules of the time and the culture of the society cause the absolute morality to be modified.This means that while slave-holders were wrong to keep slaves 200 years ago, it wasn't wrong for people in ancient Israel to keep slaves.
This is because of any or all of the following reasons:
a) In that society slavery was simply the way things were done back then, so God "put up with it".
b) Slavery just wasn't that bad for Hebrew slaves, rather like Club Med in fact.
c) Slavery might have been slightly harsher for non-Hebrew slaves (minor things like beating them, selling them, and stealing their spouses and children), but it kept them from sinning by giving them something useful to do.
d) It was based on nationality and ethnicity, not race, and so it got the "moral thumbs up" from God.
e) It was really for the best, since the slavery provided shelter and food for the slaves, and good labor for the owners.
Remember, none of these points have anything to do with moral relativism. This is true because there is no moral relativism in the Bible.Following this same scheme, it is possible to resolve all the so-called "moral conflicts" in the Bible, all without ever saying the phrase "moral relativism".....
Step Eight: Become comfortable with your own insanity
During the process of becoming a Bible apologist, you may find yourself becoming quite insane. Don't worry, this is a normal, and even necessary, step on the road to true Bible literalism.
Many people become frightened at their growing insanity at this stage and back off, saying it's impossible to reconcile the literal Bible with the world around us, or even with itself.
But, alas, they are wrong. It is quite possible to do these things, but you must first become comfortable with your own cognitive dissonance. You must learn to believe all the impossible and contradictory ideas inherent in Bible literalism.
You must learn to believe the Bible is both an ancient work of literature which must be interpreted through the lens of those who wrote it while simultaneously believing it to be a profoundly relevant moral treatise for modern life.
Your blossoming insanity is the key to your future as a Bible apologist.
Congratulations! You are now well on your way to becoming a Bible apologist! Though this guide doesn't try to be a comprehensive resource on Biblical literalism, we hope it has answered some of the non-apologists' objections, and helped you along the path towards true Bible apologetics.