Since there is an misleading and ongoing thread in various forums about the Catholic Church saying that the Bible is not true, it is appropriate to point out that Adventism, like Catholicism, takes some verses literally, and others it does not take literally. There is no real difference between what each is saying; the difference lies in interpretation, not principle.
My position is that BOTH churches believe that the Bible is completely true, but not all to be taken literally. This is an exercise to show that Adventism can be misrepresented in the way that Catholicism is being misrepresented.
“The Bible points to God as its author; yet it was written by human hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presents the characteristics of the several authors. The truths revealed are all ‘given by inspiration of God’ (2 Tim 3:16); yet they are all expressed in the words of men. The infinite One by His Holy Spirit has shed light into the minds and hearts of His servants.” – Ellen White, Selected Messages, Washington, D. C., 1958, book 1, p. 21.
“Some look to us gravely and say, ‘Don’t you think there might have been some mistakes in the copists or in the translators?’ This is all probable . . . [but] all the mistakes will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble, that would not manufacture difficulties from the plainest revealed truth.” – Ellen White, Selected Messages, Washington, D. C., 1958, book 1, p. 21.
“It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts.” – Ellen White, Selected Messages, Washington, D. C., 1958, book 1, p. 16.
“The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God’s mode of thought and expression. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God’s penmen, not His pen.” – Ellen White, Selected Messages, Washington, D. C., 1958, book 1, p. 21.
Determine the literary type the author is using. Some biblical material is composed of parables, proverbs, allegories, psalms, and apocalyptic prophecies. Since many biblical writers presented much of their material as poetry, it is helpful to use a version of the Bible that presents this material in poetic style, for passages employing imagery are not to be interpreted in the same manner as prose. – Methods of Bible Study, General Conference website
In the New Testament application of Old Testament prophecies, some literal names become spiritual: for example, Israel represents the church, Babylon apostate religion, etc. – Methods of Bible Study, General Conference website
The Scriptures were written for the practical purpose of revealing the will of God to the human family. However, in order not to misconstrue certain kinds of statements, it is important to recognize that they were addressed to peoples of Eastern cultures and expressed in their thought patterns. – Methods of Bible Study, General Conference website
A background knowledge of Near Eastern culture is indispensable for understanding such expressions. For example, Hebrew culture attributed responsibility to an individual for acts he did not commit but that he allowed to happen. Therefore the inspired writers of the Scriptures commonly credit God with doing actively that which in Western thought we would say He permits or does not prevent from happening, for example, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. – Methods of Bible Study, General Conference website
The literal interpretation of Scripture should not be confused with a “literalistic” understanding of biblical texts. For example, some Christians believe that “chariots . . . with flaming torches” in Nahum 2:3 is a literal reference to motorcars. Other Christians understand Revelation 16:12 to mean that the Euphrates River will literally dry up, so that the kings of the East (Chinese and Japanese) and their armies can march across. Such interpretations fail to recognize that the authors of Scripture used symbols, similes, metaphors, and other figures of speech. – Principles of biblical interpretation, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
“Why would Jesus introduce into a parable figurative illustrations that do not accurately represent truth as clearly set forth elsewhere in the Scriptures, and particularly in His own literal statements?” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary
After many such examples, Shea observes that this closely parallel use of “days” and “years” prepared the “ancient Semite, whose mind was steeped in this parallelistic type of thought,” to intuitively associate the “days” of chronological prophecies with calendar years, especially in symbolic passages where literal days do not make logical sense. – Reference to William H. Shea, “Year-Day Principle, Part I,” in Selected Studies in Prophetic Interpretation [Review and Herald, 1982], 67-69)
Jesus used fictional stories such as the rich man – George Knight, Ph. D., Professor of Church History at the SDA Theological Seminary, Adventist Review
The Bible was written in a different culture, in languages other than our own, and with literary imageries and symbols unfamiliar to most people today. The different translations compound the need for correct principles of Biblical interpretation. – Samuele Bacchiocchi, Endtime Issues #21
Joh 3:16 KJV For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Mat 27:26 KJV Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Luk 24:7 KJV Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
Luk 9:22 KJV Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
Joh 2:11 KJV This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
Joh 6:26 KJV Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Luk 2:7 KJV And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Joh 6:53-54 KJV Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. (54) Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Mat 5:29-30 KJV And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (30) And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Isa 66:23 KJV And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
Rev 21:23 KJV And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
1Co 4:14-16 KJV I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. (15) For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. (16) Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
Mat 16:18 KJV And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Gen 17:9-13 KJV And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. (10) This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. (11) And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. (12) And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. (13) He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.