I am a life-long member of the evangelical church, and I usually hear that people say Evangelicals interpret the Bible literally. But is that actually true? If you want to know the answer, then let’s find out together!
So, how do Evangelicals interpret the Bible? For every Evangelical, the Bible is the absolute, truthful Word of God, and it should be taken literally. However, the Bible also contains metaphors, symbols, similes, etc.; therefore, not everything can be interpreted literally.
I believe most people’s impulse is to answer “yes” to the question “is the Bible interpreted literally?”, but it has more than just a straightforward answer. So, if you want to know the nuances, then keep reading!
Explanation Of Evangelical Interpretation Of The Bible
A lot of Evangelicals claim they interpret the whole Bible literally. However, not one of them takes a scene where a sword comes out of Jesus’ mouth in Revelation 19 as something that has literally happened (it’s kind of hard and weird to imagine).
Another good example would be Psalm 64:7, where it tells about God shooting the arrows at his enemies. I’m not actually sure He has a gigantic bow to shoot anyone He doesn’t approve, hasn’t He?
So, do all Evangelicals take the Bible literally? Well, there’s no exact answer as both “yes” and “no” fit.
Instead of saying “I take the Bible literally” whenever other Christians ask about it, I prefer to say “I take it faithfully” as I have faith in everything it says.
Now you might ask, what does it mean? By saying “faithfully,” I mean that we take some parts of the Bible literally, and others – not so literally.
An excellent example of the literal part would be the Old Testament stories about Adam and Eve, Moses, and so on. It would also be good to include all the Gospel miracle stories (which for sure includes Jesus’ resurrection), and this is exactly what sets us, Evangelicals, apart from other Christians.
Moreover, if I use the word “literally,” I can read the Bible just like Jesus and other Apostles did.
If you don’t understand if a certain part of the Bible is literal or faithful, I strongly advise consulting your church. By saying “church,” I don’t only mean pastor (but you can ask him as well), but rather your community as a whole.
Your community is a gift given to you by God, and if you can, you should take the most out of it, and share with it as much as possible.
The Difference In Interpretation Of The Bible Between Evangelists and Catholics
We, Evangelicals, believe that the Bible is the only rule of faith (which basically means it contains all the needed material for theology, which is very clear, and, therefore, doesn’t need an explanation, as it is self-explanatory). Therefore, everything that’s said in the Bible is the truth for Christians (either literal or faithful).
On the other hand, Catholics believe that the rule of faith not only includes the Bible itself but also the apostolic tradition, which is needed to interpret the Scripture correctly.
That’s why in order to prove their point, Evangelicals usually start to talk about Martin Luther’s theory of sola scriptura, which means “Scripture alone”. To support it, let me cite some verses.
John 20:31 – These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equipped, prepared for every good work.
This is probably the most significant difference between Evangelicals and Catholics, and this is up to you which one you believe is the right one.
What Are Some Other Things That Set Evangelicals Apart From Other Christians?
It is obvious that Evangelicals are Christians, but how are we different from others? A lot of people tried to identify the main differences, so I, as a member of the evangelical church, decided to come up with my own.
- Born-again Experience
Every (or almost every) Evangelical went through a very personal conversion experience in which we were born again in order to follow the path of God and find trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.
How does it happen, you might ask? And this is exactly what we are going to discuss!
When a person understands that he or she stepped on the path of sin, they need to find strength and faith inside in order to deal with it. It might not always be easy, but our Lord savior is still there for everyone. All you need to do is to ask for help.
Then, as a person’s faith in God increases, and he or she starts to believe that the Lord will help them on their way, they begin to feel ashamed of their sin. And it is okay, as it is a part of the process of being born again.
When this person is ready, their soul and body cry for forgiveness and their mind thinks about it all the time. This is where the prayer of confession comes. However, it is not enough to do it just once, as every good deed needs repetition in order to be remembered.
After everything described above is done, the next thing this person should do is to baptize.
And finally, to get this born-again experience to the peak, they need to speak in tongues through the Holy Spirit (go to the article “Why Do Evangelicals Speak In Tongues?”), as it requires lots of faith, and will prove you’re ready for this fantastic experience.
- Bible Is The Main Authority
As was already discussed before, for every Evangelical, the Bible is the absolute, truthful Word of God, and it should be taken literally. However, there are also some metaphors, similes, and so on, and the person reading the book needs to know how to distinguish them.
If they’re not sure, it is better to consult either a pastor or a community they belong to.
The Bible is also considered the final authority, and it is above humans and their authority.
- Jesus Is The Savior
Jesus died for us in order to help us, people, get rid of our sins and then resurrected as the promise of the eternal life in heaven after death.
As was stated in our previous article (go to the article “How Do Evangelicals Celebrate Easter?”):
“John 14:9 – Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
And the main reason He came to this world was to save us from our sins, or otherwise, we could destroy ourselves. Jesus was perfect and innocent, but He also didn’t want us to die. Therefore, he took our punishment and cleared us from our sins.
His death indeed was a tragedy as He had to do because of what we did. But there was no other way our sins could be atoned, and the door to heaven could open again.” This is exactly why Jesus is the central figure of our beliefs, as He did everything He could in order to save us from ourselves.
If you are interested in learning about other Religions in the world, then check out this book on World’s Religions on Amazon.