Yesterday I was listening to a sermon from SermonAudio defending the king James Bible. It was being preached by a man who was an Independent Baptist.
Something to be aware of, is that Independent Baptist is not a denomination. It’s more like a way of saying, “Unaffiliated Baptist”.
Yes, quite a few Independent Baptist churches are Fundamentalist. Quite a few are “quiver-full” if you know that phrase. As long time readers will note, I consider myself an Independent Baptist even though I am currently at a Southern Baptist church.
Sadly, one characteristic that you also find at some Independent Baptist churches usually is that it means “I never went to seminary.” There are some truly gifted Independent Baptist churches whose pastors were never trained nor ordained. My old church was indeed one, and you’d never know it! The pastor had an amazing grasp of preaching and the Bible.
What was startling about the sermon I listened to, was that the Pastor announced he was going to preach about the King James Bible – then began preaching expositorally from Acts 27. It took a little while (one thing you can count on from an Independent Baptist church that is fundamentalist, is long sermons. They don’t hang a clock on the wall, they hang a calendar). And finally it dawned on me – he’s preaching allegorically.
Allegorical interpretation of the Bible is a strong no-no. While I can honestly say that we had one class in Seminary completely dedicated to allegorical thought, it was touched on many times, and repeatedly. Think of it this way.
Allegorical thought is the complete opposite of literal interpretation.
9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. Acts 27:9-11 (KJV)
What is this passage referring to? Is it referring to the King James Bible?
Nope. It’s referring to the fact that on Paul’s ship, during the hurricane, Paul told them, “if they leave the ship, they’re going to die.”
I’m all for King James defense. But if you want to write a sermon on defending the King James, hey, great! Let’s use literal interpretation of the Bible.
“well, we were preaching our way through Acts, and…”
well, do a MacArthur, and deviate from your topic for a week. See, that’s what Sunday Nights are for! Or if you feel the need to preach this on a Sunday morning, then by all means, let everyone know “Today, we’re talking about something special…”
I personally have found that a congregation does very well with being told what’s going on. It makes life easier on everyone.
There are a lot of other passages you could have drawn on… Jeremiah reading from the Scroll and the king cutting off leaves and throwing them in the fire… Psalm 12… Psalm 119… the re-discovering of the scrolls of the Bible and King Josiah, hey, lots of passages!
The problem with allegorical interpretation is, that’s a Pandora’s box. If you say, “We accept Genesis 1:1-5 as literal, but we don’t accept verse 6…” it may start that way now… but believe you me, it’s going to be an issue ten years from now. Because it’s going to spread. Once you open that door, and bring in fanciful interpretations, I can spiritualize and allegorize away any verse in the New Testament.
Because if you accept all 52,280 verses as Scriptural except one… then you accept none of them. If you say, “We don’t accept Genesis 1:6 literally” then someone can argue John 3:3 is not to be taken literally. And you can’t argue against it.
Either every word in the Bible is true, or every word is parables, to be interpreted in whatever happy way you like.
How do I know it’s literal?
Because all the prophecies in the Bible were fulfilled literally. If they were fulfilled literally, then they were meant to be read literally.
There are a few parables in the Bible. We know certain hallmarks of what is a parable and what is not. Names are not mentioned in parables. By the way, Luke 16 is not a parable. It’s real. It really happened.
There are visions in the Bible. Literally, seven visions are in Revelation, and each one has meaning. There’s three distinct visions in Daniel. In almost every case, an Angel is standing by to give the explanation of the vision. Or the vision is one of those told to be sealed up until the time of the end.
Why? They help to serve as a barometer of how close we are to the Rapture. If you read the old commentaries, they had literally no understanding of what these passages mean, and offer a combination of allegorical thought and what amounts to a shrug. The earliest Christian communities understood a pre-trib rapture, taught it… but Rome allegorized it along with everything else, and so much of Christianity lost the understanding of the end times. When you read the writings of some Waldensians, Albigenses, the early Mennonites, they all believed in a pre-trib rapture. Why? Because it’s pretty clearly stated in the Bible.
But the vision passages were just completely incomprehensible. Why? they were sealed until the time of the end. As the age of grace began drawing into the Laodecean age, people began to understand, a little at a time, what the vision passages mean. I’ve seen more understanding come around since the 1990’s, literally. We’re now comfortable we understand the open doors in Revelation (two of them – hint – it’s proof of a pre-trib rapture), we understand more about Gog and Magog and its timing, we understand more about Petra…
We even now see how the initial attack against Israel is supposed to be between Arab states and Russian, and very possibly Germany (that one goes back and forth all the time). Three years ago, I had thought it meant we still had 20 years, because Russia would have to be rebuilt. Amazingly, it happened right in front of my eyes. We’re a lot closer than 20 years. The Rapture will probably be in my lifetime. I’m not going to say how close it is (because nobody on this planet has any idea) but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was today. I used to pray that I got a full-time pulpit before the Rapture. I’m starting to believe strongly the answer to that prayer has been “no”.
So, there you go – I dealt with the allegorist’s favorite objections. You have sealed visions that are understood in the end times (hint – Song of Solomon falls partly in that category), you have a very few parable passages (in every case identified as one) and explained (almost all of the parables have their own explanation given).
There’s no scriptural basis for allegorizing. If the Bible says it, it means it.