Flat Earthers and Biblical Interpretation

I had my first encounter with a real live flat earther…

…ok, not exactly.  But I did have a conversation with someone who is related to one.

My friend sent me a paper written from a flat-earth perspective and I thought I would post some of my response here:

As for the Biblical interpretation…

All I can say is that the paper is an example of what not to do with scripture. Taking metaphors/idioms and using them literally makes for good comedy, (I've got my eye on you) but it is a way to confuse things horribly in serious study. The person who wrote this paper hasn't thought through how their exegetical approach would carry out with other biblical passages.

For example, would Jesus' teaching in Matthew 10:16 require us to eat grass, walk around on four legs, and say "bahhh?" Or are we allowed to take Jesus' words as a metaphor? Again, I am quite confident that the author of this paper loves God, and reveres scripture, but I imagine that they don't take Jesus command (recorded in Luke 10:37) as a requirement to put wounded people on our donkeys and take them to the closest inn.

All that I would want is that the same lenses we wear when we read these two passages should also be worn when we attempt to understand what scripture might teach us about cosmology. Specifically, we should read God's book with the intention of understanding God's message. We rightly understand Matthew 10:16 to be Jesus' attempt to encourage humility, peacefulness, and innocence in the face of evil; we rightly understand Luke 10:37 as Jesus' attempt to encourage human compassion that trumps personal convenience and racial animosity.

We ought to also understand that scripture does not intend to speak to a physical model of the construction of the universe. The passages quoted in the paper are not God's attempt to teach us about the relationship between the sun, stars, heavens, planets, and our earth. They ARE intended to speak to the grandeur of God, or his sovereignty, or the mystery and beauty of the creation, or the destruction that is wrought when God's wrath is poured out on evil.

To 'read the Bible literally' is to take the Bible for what it is, not turn it into something else. Where the Bible is law, we must understand it the way we understand laws; where the Bible is prophecy, we must read it the way prophecy is read; where it is song lyrics, we must interpret them the way we interpret song lyrics; where it is narrative, we must understand it as a story. No one would take the jacket from a CD and use it as an argument about the curvature of the earth, so we ought not to do so with the Psalter...

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