Summary: An article from James & Dave’s Bible Page:Understanding How God Speaks to Us Through the Scriptures
Three chefs were working in a restaurant one day, when their kitchen supervisor approached them with an order, and instructions on how to properly prepare it. The first chef looked at the instructions, and said "You can show a recipe to 100 different people, and each of them get a different meaning. You can’t understand recipes, so why even read them?"
The second chef took a slightly different angle. He said "I don’t believe this recipe to be the literal directions of our supervisor. I believe the ingredients all have hidden meanings. I think the meat represents one thing, the spices and other ingredients symbolize something else, and the time and cooking temperature are some sort of mysterious allegory."
While the other two were engaging in their debate, the third chef simply took the recipe, and prepared the dish according to instructions. The dish turned out to be delicious, and I’m sure you can guess what happened next. This chef was rewarded for following directions properly, while the other two were reprimanded, or worse.
While this little story may seem somewhat silly, it sadly illustrates the attitude that many people take toward God and His Word, the Bible, which is to be OUR instructions, our "recipe," for how to live our lives.
As we will examine shortly, Jesus and the Apostles took the Bible quite literally. The tendency to allegorize and spiritualize Scripture was popularized around A.D.250 by a man named Origen. Origen was a prolific author, and a valiant evangelist in the early church. He suffered brutal persecution, and eventually martyrdom for his beliefs. Although his courage and zeal were certainly commendable, he unfortunately embraced several false and heretical doctrines, which stemmed from his unorthodox views of Scripture. Rather than affirm the Apostolic teaching that the Scriptures were the infallible Word of God, he taught that they were merely the "husk" which hid the "kernel" of Truth, and thus, began replacing the plainly revealed teachings of Scripture with enigmatic, allegorical interpretations. As a result of this teaching, the floodgates were open to a devastating deluge of confusion and division, from which the church has never fully recovered. In order for the Church as a whole to function as God intends, there MUST be a re-discovery of the foundational,literal Truth of the Bible.
THE CHARACTER OF THE BIBLE
To understand the intended meaning of Scripture, let’s look at what the Bible says about itself. The Bible is a REVELATION, which means " to reveal, to unveil, to lift a curtain for all to see." God gave us the Bible to REVEAL Truth, not to CONCEAL it. The Bible is written in simple terms, for simple people (Matthew 11:25; 13:19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.) 80% of the Bible is simply history, promises, and guidelines for living. The other 20% consists of prophecies about future events.
Understand that when we refer to the Bible being literal, we are not denying that it does contain some figurative language. However, we need to keep two important facts in mind;