I had always been taught that the Bible was to be taken literally. Adam & Eve really existed. The Flood really happened. The Exodus was historical fact.
I didn’t know how to understand the gospel without understanding the Bible as literal. In fact, the gospel I grew up with was so tightly wound up in that interpretation of the Bible, I wouldn’t even be considered a Christian if I didn’t hold to that understanding.
The literal interpretation said that I was a terrible human being and deserved death.
The literal interpretation said that I, as a woman, couldn’t be trusted to lead in the church, in my home, or even my own life. I needed a man to do those things for me.
The literal understanding told me that God is a God of wrath who told me that my salvation was not through my works, and yet threatened to damn me to an eternity in Hell if my life were not “righteous”.
The literal interpretation dared to say that a good God could ever damn someone to an eternity of unending torture.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that I do not have to take everything in the Bible literally to take it seriously. I do not have to believe in a specific interpretation of the Bible to be saved.
Because it turns out that God is good.
Because He is good, I do not have to live in fear of His wrath. I also do not have to subject myself to the emotional or spiritual abuse that commands me to hate myself for being inherently bad.
It turns out that there is a lot of freedom in how to approach the Bible. The Christian world is far more diverse than I was led to believe, and there is so much evangelicals could learn from how other traditions approach the Bible.