In this digital, turbocharged era we don’t always take the time to consider the bigger picture and the bigger questions. Rainn Wilson shares his thoughts on some of the most important faith questions of our day in his new book, SOULPANCAKE, and he wants to know what Beliefnet readers have to say, too. The Question is: How literally should we interpret religious texts? Post your thoughts in the comment section below. Return to Rainn Wilson main page.

Religion is manmade...it has many interpretations!
- Sharon Sequra

I don't think we should interpret them too literally.
- Sheila M. Greenway

I think that religion can send a person to hell...its all about GOD/JESUS...Worshiping GOD/JESUS
- Sandra C. Hodges

Not too literally, like the first post says. I think that we create hell by closing off ourselves to divine inspiration in the moment because we're too busy reading something someone else wrote. These text show us a path toward becoming better, as do the teachers in religions. So, for you it may be Jesus, and for me it may be another. If you are unable to accept me for my beliefs then your religion has failed to do its job, which is to create peace.
- Mizza Breeze

- Diane Higginbotham

- Tressa Mizer

As literal and metaphorical. They should be viewed on may levels at the same time. The more confusing it gets the deeper the mysteries that are contained.
- Bob Wells

I think we should read any spiritual text with an open heart and mind, letting God speak to us through whatever our spiritual or religious text might be, to our personal lives. By letting God into our present life openly we experience the diversity that is God. It's not about the words, it's about the experience, our relationship with the Divine.
- Brie Broome

Funny you should ask that. I'm a non-Christian who lives in a pious, conservative small town in the Bible Belt. All around me I see believers who take the Bible literally, and won't even consider otherwise. Often literal readings go hand-in-hand with narrow-mindedness, even fanaticism.

And the effects are pathetic. I feel so sorry for these people. I guess it doesn't matter much if an individual insists the world was created in seven days and that we're all descended from Adam and Eve. At this late day that's not going affect real science (which excludes creationsim and intelligent design) or impact what is taught in science classes in public schools.

But to think that only Christians will go to Heaven has dreadful implications. It implies that everyone who isn't a Christian is worth less than anyone who is. And it naturally follows that only the right kind of Christians will go to Heaven. Whole wars have been fought over just who meets that definition.

Those who take literally the end of days as described in the Bible, principally in the books of Revelation and Daniel, and (almost inevitably) believe the events described are at hand---well, this doesn't exactly encourage such believers to look to the future of this world. There's no need to prepare for tomorrow, to preserve our planet for our children, to plan anything long-term.

And as if all that's not sad enough, literalists tend to cherry-pick which Biblical passages they take literally and which they don't. When Jesus is described as "the lamb of God", nobody claims he was a baby sheep. Not only is it absurd, but it doesn't suit their purposes.

But when a literalist wants to beat down the arguments of a "tree-hugging" environmentalist that we must protect the Earth, he can cite those famous (or infamous) passages that "prove" we're living in the run-up to the End Times, such as that bit about how the establishment of the nation of Israel is the "super sign" that the end is near. I mean, how can anyone debate with such people? That would require a common ground of reason, or at least an attempt at it. And there's no reasoning with such believers.
- Mary Anne Landers

religious text were written and rewritten to scare people the bible is the worst example of things rewritten to suit the church to keep people in that scare mode now they are doing the same things but, they knew some of us won't believe it ...so they keep us scared by telling us there is a threat to our health and our loved ones health.
They don't want people to be not scared being not scared causes us to question and when we question watch out I am never scared of what they throw my way and I do question and I have been told to " shut up you sound crazy" cause they want the anwers to those questions too but are so afraid to ask them cause they are like sheep have to follow the crowd sad really :(

God will never want you scared or to follow what is not in your heart remember that one
- Angie Spizziri

Not literal. They are metaphors and analogies, after all.
- Serenna Morgan

Link to Rainn Wilson main page 

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