Should the Bible be read literally or figuratively?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,305
    Rev. Dr. Rock Schuler discusses the complexity of the Bible and recommends taking the text on its own terms.

    Rock Schuler

    Rock Schuler is the Rector (Pastor) of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Olney, Maryland. He has served as an ordained minister of the Episcopal Church since 1990 after studying for the priesthood at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. He was awarded a Doctorate of Ministry in Congregational Development in 2002. In the course of his ministry, Rock has served on an Indian Reservation, in rural Wyoming, and in major suburban areas. In addition to pastoring the people of his congregation, he has been involved in community service projects to serve the homeless, refugees, and the addicted. He’s also been involved in international outreach projects in Latin America and Africa. Rock’s spiritual roots lie in the early Christian Church, in Native American spirituality, in the liturgical worship and traditions of the Episcopal Church, and most especially in his own personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. He appreciates the mystery and mysticism of the Christian faith while offering thanks for a lifelong and joyous love of Jesus. Rock, born in 1965, is from Wyoming, where he served his first two churches. He is married to Jennifer, whom he met while serving a parish outside of Philadelphia, and has two beautiful daughters, Leia and Rebecca. Rock is into science fiction and fantasy (especially "Battlestar Galactica," "Star Trek," "Lost," and "The Lord of the Rings"), movies, reading, kayaking/canoeing, hiking, and running.

    Host: Should the Bible be read literally or figuratively?

    Rev. Dr. Rock Schuler: The Bible should be read neither literally nor figuratively. The Bible should not be approached in a simplistic way as if it were all one type of literature. In fact, the Bible is a collection of many different types of literature. You will find in the Bible historical accounts, you will find poems, music, you will find stories, Parables, wisdom teachings, myths, legends, there is a whole array of literature in the Bible which is actually a collection of many different books. So each type of literature in the Bible should be read understanding its purpose, what type of literature it is. In other words, it would lead to potential mistakes and abuses of the Bible to read a portion of it designed to be understood symbolically, literally. So it takes study, it takes a certain amount of knowledge and understanding, it takes a willingness to humble ourselves before the Bible and listen to it on its own terms.