When I was saved I was struck by the remarkable series of promises that the LORDhad made to the children of Israel, as recorded in his Holy Word. However, whendiscussing these doctrinal issues for the first time with born-again Christians, I wasstunned to find that many of them did not believe that these promises still applied toIsrael. Instead, they said, the promises had been removed en bloc from Israel andgiven to the church. And yet, when I pressed for a scriptural justification for thisopinion, their replies made very little sense.As a newly saved person, I had read the Bible as a literal text. I assumed that God hadsaid in a fairly straightforward manner what he intended we should understand, andthat His words were to be taken very much at face value. Though I did not realise it atthe time, I was following Cooper’s Golden Rule of Biblical Interpretation:"When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense;therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaningunless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise."So what had my new Christian friends done that I had not done? They had adopted theview, perhaps without giving the matter much thought, that parts of the Bible wereliteral and parts were allegorical. In the former case, they took the Bible to mean whatit plainly said but that, in the latter, they believed it meant something other than whatit plainly said and that the literal meaning should be disregarded.There were huge problems with this in my view. Firstly, how did they know which parts of the Bible were allegorical and which were not? And who decides what the‘real’ meaning is? Secondly, I was struck by the fact that most of the parts which theyhad decided were allegorical were those which pertained to God’s ongoing relation-ship with the children of Israel. Why would the LORD address the future of hischosen people in a vague and poetic manner when he had always addressed the other phases of their history in very literal and specific terms?Moreover,
sincere Christians could accept as literalonly those Biblical prophecies which had already been fulfilled but would treat asallegorical those which had yet to be fulfilled.Something was seriously wrong. Vast portions of Scripture were being pushed into anallegorical dead-end and denied any ongoing validity, except to the extent that theymight possibly be applicable to the church. What is more, countless passages inIsaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and many other places could not beapplied to the church without being subjected to obvious distortion, while others wererendered so vague and non-specific that they seemed to add nothing to the Word of God. This was especially evident in those passages where the LORD was using robustlanguage and powerful images to convey what was clearly a very specific message.