Drowning in a Sea of Symbolism 2

Please either listen to the two minute audio clip above or read the notes below or both at the same time!

This is the second in a series of three essays. To go to the beginning, to the first essay, please click here.

Yesterday we began to explore the dangers of misunderstanding scripture by using unlicensed metaphor and symbolism. Today we consider the thoughts of Charles Spurgeon on the subject.

Charles Spurgeon held that literal interpretation was the manner in which the Scripture was to be interpreted. He told his students that, “The first sense of the passage must never be drowned in the outflow of your imagination; it must be distinctly declared and allowed to hold the first rank; your accommodation of it must never thrust out the original and native meaning, or even push it into the background.’

Spurgeon himself interpreted the text quite literally; he took its promises at face value and used them in his personal prayer life and preaching. He refused to retreat to a “spiritualized” interpretation which either negated or obfuscated what he viewed as a clear teaching of the text. In fact he once chastised a famous commentator for the spiritualized interpretation of the resurrection in Revelation 20 by saying, “Would any man believe this to be its meaning, if he had not some thesis to defend?”

Spurgeon makes a very good point here. If we have a shaky end-time theory to begin with, then we will find ourselves desperately imposing symbolic meaning to verses in order to shoehorn them into our cherished eschatological perspective. We end up with our own understanding of scripture rather than the thoughts of God.

Once again, the golden rule is that we must be careful in discerning what is obviously a metaphor and what is clearly not. We will not go far wrong if we consider everything described in scripture as being literal unless it is obviously figurative.

These quotations were taken from the very helpful archive Spurgeon Archive that can be found by clicking: here:

Tomorrow we explore some of the dangers of getting lost in symbolism.

This is the second in a series of three essays. To go to the beginning, to the first essay, please click here.

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