In the Republican presidential debate on Wedneday, November 28, a person asked the candidates if they believe in every word of the Bible. Guiliani responded, “The reality is: I believe it, but I don’t believe it necessarily literally true in every single respect. I think there are parts of the Bible that are interpretive. I think there are parts of the Bible that are allegorical. I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be interpreted in a modern context.” Fox News is taking shots at Guiliani for this answer and there is a belief that this answer will divide Republican voters, especially those who claim to be Christians.
I am mystified at what the fury is over. Does anyone read the book of Revelation and understand it to be literally true in every single respect? I think it is pretty clear that the reason the book of Revelation is difficult is because of its heavy use of symbolism. Revelation speaks about a dragon sweeping stars from the sky and beast rising up from the sea and from the earth. I am not aware of any scholars or Christians who think real, literal dragons are going to fly into space and remove the stars from the sky. Further, even Paul in Galatians 4:24 tells the reader that the story concerning Sarah and Hagar in Genesis is to be interpreted allegorically.
I am not a Guiliani supporter and am fairly confident that I will not be voting for him. But I hate to see the media try to create something that every Christian accepts. It is possible to believe that every word of the Bible is the very words of God and yet understand that God often spoke using metaphors, allegories, and symbolism. Jesus commanded us to pluck out our eye if it causes us to sin. But I do not see any Christians wearing eye patches because they literally followed this command. We understand that Jesus used a metaphor to describe how we need to treat sin, cutting every wickedness out of our lives to be a follower of Jesus.
What is cause for concern is the person who thinks that the Bible is not the word of God, but is simply a compilation of handed down stories. This belief simply makes the Bible nothing more than general moral compass, removing the force of God’s commands. If Giuliani had answered that the Bible is just a story, then we would see a right for outrage. But to state that the Bible is literal, allegorical, interpretative, and needs to be interpreted in a modern context is true. The Bible is literal. But the Bible also has allegories and symbols. The Bible also requires interpretation, as seen in Jesus’ profound teaches in the parables. The Bible must also be understood in a modern context, otherwise we would not have preachers who take the word of God and help us make modern applications. Giuliani’s answer was an appropriate answer.