January 25th the LDS Newsroom did a press release called ‘Reverence For The Bible’ (see here) which I imagine was to let the world and other Christians know a number of important things:
It offers practical solutions and spiritual guidance that inspire us to overcome challenges and trials, its in the center of the Latter-day Saints’ spiritual lives.
I knew much of what was said in the press release but it was good to have it re-emphasised. The part that I found interesting coming from the church is the different approaches in how we perceive the Bible.
Biblical inerrancy maintains that the Bible is without error and contradiction;
Biblical infallibility holds that the Bible is free from errors regarding faith and practice but not necessarily science or history;
Biblical literalism requires a literal interpretation of events and teachings in the Bible and generally discounts allegory and metaphor;
The “Bible as literature” educational approach extols the literary qualities of the Bible but disregards its miraculous elements.
Number 1 and the first half of number 2 was answered well by the article stating that during the centuries-long process in which fallible human beings compiled, translated and transcribed the Bible, various errors entered the text. I think we all know that from our teachings around the 8th Article of faith.
“The Church has issued no official statement on the subject of the theory of evolution. Neither ‘Man, His Origin and Destiny’ by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, nor ‘Mormon Doctrine’ by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, is an official publication of the Church”, said David O McKay. This quote answers the second half of number 2, which hasn’t been overturned by a succeeding prophet as far as I am aware.
It is number 3 and 4 where I wonder where we stand: The Church does not strictly subscribe to either of these interpretive approaches. Rather, in the words of Joseph Smith, it regards “the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly”.
What I would like clarification on is the part where it says, “not strictly subscribe”. Does this mean that we could partially subscribe to 3 and 4?
We believe the bible to be correct but we also believe that part of it may have:
Allegories – a story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning, i.e. the allegory of the olive tree which is actually about the house of Israel, allegory of “the bride”, allegory of the lamb, allegory of the bread, allegory of the cup
Metaphors – an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something important in common. “Words are bullets, and should be used sparingly, aimed toward a target.” Jonah and the whale?
Bible as literature – educational literature but we may disregard some of its miraculous elements.
So If I am interpreting the press release right
What do we officially believe is real history?
What is fiction?
What is meant to be Allegorical or Metaphorical, which we interpret as literal?