Taking the Scriptures Literally

This year we are currently studying from a manual filled with teachings from President Joseph Fielding Smith. Often when this man’s name is brought up in more liberal Mormon circles, many conservative stereotypes are thrust upon him, perhaps validly in some cases and in others not necessarily. For many years I saw him as the anti-evolution / “I have all the answers” guys, which strongly lowered his credibility for me. This was easy for me since I am a young whippersnapper, and for some reason it is often easier to ignore seemingly crazy statements from past leaders, then it is do to the same thing with those who currently lead us. However the more that I study his words, more the credit I want to give him. I was raised in the church by people who had incorporated strongly conservative messages into their interpretations of the gospel, and one example of this is that many who I learned from took the scriptures in an extremely literal fashion. They took every piece of the bible as well as all of our scriptures as being exactly how things are, and little interpretation was really allowed. As I have studied more about Joseph Fielding Smith I have found quotes from him that oppose some of these lines of thought, which honestly came as a bit of a shock to me. One really interesting quote from him said  “Even the most devout and sincere believers in the Bible realize that it is, like most any other book, filled with metaphor, simile, allegory, and parable, which no intelligent person could be compelled to accept in a literal sense.” I share this for two reasons. One to show President Smith in a light he is not normally shown, and another to express the need and beauty that comes from recognizing the allegory and symbolism in the scriptures. I think these are important messages to share.

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