Literal Translations


Matthew 5:30 “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you…” John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son…”. John 3:19 “And the judgement is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but the people loved the darkness more than the light…

Now. The first scripture we have no problem interpreting this passage as a metaphor of a spiritual truth. God doesn’t *really* intend that we literally cut off our hand when we sin. In fact, this is interpreted as inhumane and against a moral code. We might even send an evangelist to another country who practices this literal truth to show them the error in their thinking. However, when we come to the infamous John 3:16 in which we base an eternal judgement on another’s salvation (much worse in my opinion than cutting off a hand, personally I would rather have my hand cut off than be judged to eternal damnation) we have no problem taking this passage as a literal truth. We conclude in this passage that one must do what exactly? Profess that Christ is God through man? That we believe? And if we don’t, we go to hell. In Rob Bell’s book, he does an excellent job at asking the question what exactly does one have to do in order to ‘get into heaven’? Believe the right things, do the right things, be born in the right country, etc…

My conclusion is that perhaps Jesus is pointing to a spiritual truth and not a literal truth, even when it comes to salvation. The Bible is powerful not because of literality but because it points to unchangeable spiritual laws. In the same way that we would look at a passage of scripture that represents, not a literal translation, but an example of how to deal with sin, I would challenge you to believe that even when it comes to salvation, Jesus represents not a literal translation, but an unchangeable spiritual truth of the mystery of God. One way to see God better.

Modern Christians love to believe in the inerrancy of scripture and use it to condemn people to a hell they have never seen. However, we also love to pick and choose which words are really true and merely metaphor. What about me? I believe it is all a metaphor and really true.