googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: 1 Chronicles 16:30: Does the Bible Say the Earth Doesn't Move?

Monday, June 18, 2012

1 Chronicles 16:30: Does the Bible Say the Earth Doesn't Move?

A frequent visitor to my blog left a comment where he alluded to biblical passages that speak of the earth not moving (geocentricism). He didn't cite a specific verse but this isn't the first time I've heard that criticism so I'm aware of certain passages which are frequently cited in support of that claim. Perhaps the most frequently cited is 1 Chronicles 16:30:

Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. (1 Chronicles 16:30)

At first hearing, this criticism seems to have legs (for any Bible critic reading this, I'm using an expression. The criticism doesn't “literally” have legs). The genre of 1 Chronicles is historical narrative – unlike Psalms which is Hebrew poetry. So when we read a passage like 1 Chron 16:30 in the midst of historical narrative, it seems as though the Bible might literally be saying the earth does not move. A quick look at the context, however, quickly dispels that notion.

First off, the passage is clearly introduced as a psalm (i.e. “song” or “prayer”) of David. 1 Chron 16:7 says, Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.” Like the book of Psalms, the passage uses poetic descriptions to convey spiritual truth – not necessarily literal truth. In the same passage (v. 32-33) David says that the sea “roars,” the fields “rejoice,” and the trees “sing.”

Why don't the same critics who allege this passage endorses geocentricism, also assert the Bible teaches that trees sing? It's because they know that people will immediately recognize trees singing as an obvious use of metaphor. Yet they still quote v. 30 as though it's meant to be a statement of fact. This is a clear case of quote mining where critics cite a passage out of context in order to make it sound like the Bible says something that it clearly does not intend.

Another thing we must be careful to consider is what is meant by the use of the words like “world” and “earth.” Often, when these words are used, they are not referring to the physical earth but the people of the earth. This is demonstrated in the same verse in question. 1 Chron 16:30a says, “Fear before Him all the earth.” Do you think this means the literal “earth” should fear Him or doesn't it more likely mean the people of the earth? It could mean the literal earth in the same sense that the “fields” rejoice. On the other hand, it could also mean the people of the earth. The Bible does use the words “earth” and “world” in that sense; Here are some indisputable examples where this is so:

And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity. (Isaiah 13:11a)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (Luke 2:1)

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. (John 3:16)

In these passages, and others, the word “world” clearly means the people who live in the world. No one, for example, could rationally argue that Luke 2:1 means that the literal earth (that is, dirt and rock) is going to be taxed.

We also must ask what is meant by “not moved.” The most ordinary meaning, of course, is that it means “stationary” and that is what the critics who cite this passage claim it means. However, “not moved” can also mean “not moved from its course” or “unpersuaded.” Psalm 21:7 says, “For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.” I'll ask you: does this passage mean the king is stationary or does it mean that he should not be moved from his trust in the Lord?

In conclusion, remember that this is a psalm. In a poetic passage that says the Lord established the earth that it should not be moved, would it be entirely unreasonable to interpret that to mean the Lord established the ways of the earth (or its people) and it/they will not be moved from the way He established? What is unreasonable is that critics (whether intentionally or by ignorance) ignore the clear context of a passage and assert the correct interpretation of an obvious use of poetry is that it is meant to be literal fact. It's no wonder that critics see the Bible as rife with errors. They obviously have trouble reading.


Steven J. said...

I would, myself, say that Psalm 104 is a better expression of "the Earth never moving," but never mind. Yes, 1 Chronicles 16 speaks of trees singing. It also speaks of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Israelites being established in Canaan. Is all that equally figurative? I do not think you will take that position. The point is that the passage is, like much poetry, a mixture of literal and figurative speech. Similarly, the Song of Deborah in Judges 5 mixes what seems to be figurative language ("the stars in their courses fought against Sisera") with what is unmistakeably quite literal language (describing how Jael treated Sisera). We know that many ancient peoples in the area -- and even many Jews of the first centuries BC and AD -- thought that indeed the Earth stood motionless at the center of the cosmos, so the passage is not nearly so obviously figurative as a reference to trees singing.

Now, it is worth noting that passages speaking of the Earth "not being moved" are not the sole indication of biblical geocentrism. Gerardus Bouw picks, as the clearest example of geocentric declaration, Joshua 10:13 ("So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day"). Now, that might be interpreted as merely a description of how it appeared to an Earthbound observer (though Martin Luther agreed with Bouw), and I'd go with Ecclesiastes 1:5 ("The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose").

Again, the sun arising and going down is arguably just a phenomenological description (though Bouw argues against this view, saying that if one can view statements about the rising of the sun as figurative, one can do the same with statements about the rising of the Son), but the sun "hastening to his place where he arose" is not a description of how it looks (at night, we can't see the sun, so it doesn't look like anything; descriptions of what it does are inferred from our cosmology).

Bouw, besides adducing additional prooftexts, makes another argument, noting that skeptics often ask what the Earth was orbiting for three days before the sun was created; a geocentric cosmos doesn't have this problem. Genesis 1, it seems to me (and the creationist Bouw), implies through the order of creation a geocentric cosmos.

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

I'm sorry I haven't been responding promptly to comments. This summer has proved especially demanding on my time and it's all I can do to even write new posts.

If you're going to stick with the idea that the Bible teaches geocentrism, I would suggest you avoid Psalms all together as your proof text. In the context of Psalms 104, which you cited, are also references to the wind having wings, God being “clothed” with honor, the clouds being God's chariot, and His ministers being a flame of fire. So if you are claiming that Psalm 104 is “literally” saying that the earth doesn't move, why do you not also assert that the Bible “literally” claims the wind has wings as attested in the same passage?

You're correct that I don't believe the mention of Abraham in 1 Chronicles is figurative. I did say that the poetic passages don't necessarily convey “literal” truth as much as spiritual truth. Psalms, for example, says that God is our strong tower. Of course, He's not “literally” a tower but He does give us protection, comfort, and refuge. So the passage is true even if it is not “literally” true. I also know from other, non-poetic passages, that Abraham was a real person. Remember that the Promised Land was described as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Obviously, milk and honey didn't literally flow through the land like a river. It's a figurative expression to describe a real place. It's not really hard at all to discern the literal from the poetic in any passage. It could be a not-too-demanding 8th grade reading exercise.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!


Anonymous said...

"It's not really hard at all to discern the literal from the poetic in any passage."

Sure, just as long as you already presuppose to veracity of the Bible, it's a simple matter to have it conform to your specific belief structure. For those people that don't automatically assume the Bible is true, it becomes very much more difficult to distinguish between literal and figurative supernatural events or language that doesn't seem to coincide with scientific reality.

RKBentley said...

"Very much more difficult"? Really? Do you have similar problems reading other pieces of literature? If I described a man as having "chiseled features" I think you would know in a moment that it is only an expression. Surely you wouldn't think someone carved out the man's face from stone. Why do you not apply those same rules of common sense when reading the Bible? Perhaps it is as you said; people tend to approach the Bible with the attitude that they either believe it or they don't. If they don't, then they would believe that a term like "chiseled features" is proof that the Bible teaches that people literally have carved faces.

Thanks for visiting. God bless!


Anonymous said...

The difference between the Bible and other works of literature, is that the Bible makes at least some supernatural claims that are generally accepted as literal fact by those who presuppose the text is the inspired word of a higher being. In that context, I do think that there is a distinct and intrinsic disconnect between the interpretations, even between believers, of various passages.

For those, like myself, who are not already assuming the inherent truth of the Bible, interpretation is far more subjective when I am not guided by my already formed belief structure. When I read Shakespeare, which also contains the supernatural, there is a tacit
understanding that those events are not expected to be interpreted literally.

You seem to assume that I simply peruse the Bible seeking to find 'gotchas' in an effort to discredit and/or disprove the Bible. I would not need to read the Bible to understand that there are rather significant discrepancies. All I need do is compare the various Christian sects that base themselves around the Bible and note the many differences, large and small.

I think people tend to focus on the Theist/Atheist interpretations, and quite frankly, I think both sides have an agenda to one degree or another. I daresay a Christian reading the Qur'an would tend to interpret that text in the same way as an Atheist reading the Bible. The same would apply to Muslims reading the Bible.

RKBentley said...

Even when discussing supernatural events, it still is not difficult to determine if a passage is meant to be literal or figurative. Jesus literally turned water into wine. Trees do not literally sing.

Instead of discussing generalities, is there a particular passage you believe is obviously meant to be figurative where I might think it is literal?

God bless!


Anonymous said...

Great post! Your answer was very insightful.

I'm looking forward to reading more!

Russel LaFleur said...

What about when the Bible says that God made the sun and moon stand still....we use the heliocentric model not because it's the truth but because so called science wants to push God out of our minds. For instance, evolution, the universe being billions of years old etc...same thing with the heliocentric model. The fact or truth of the matter is God's word clearly states that the sun and moon both stood still "in their place of habitation" it doesn't say the earth stopped spinning. If you search this out scientifically you'll see the geocentric model was used until copernicus who was ironically a sun worshipper. Either you believe Gods word for what it states in Joshua or you try to reason it away to fit what youve been taught by the same people that tell you that we evolved from a lifeless rock and a big bang

RKBentley said...


Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry that it took me a while to publish it and to respond. I've been especially busy lately.

Anyway, the language the Bible uses to describe Joshua's “long day” is not unlike the language we still use today to describe the seeming movements of the sun and moon. We STILL use terms like “sun rise” or “the sun coming up” to describe how the sun appears to move across the sky. Yet we've been in space – we've seen the shape of the earth – we've been on the moon and watched the earth “rise” and “set” and we know how these things work. So even though we know how these things work, it's simply easier to describe the sun as moving. The Bible does the same thing when describing miracle of the sun's not “going down” when Joshua commanded it to “be still.” I'm not trying to “reason away” some seeming inaccuracy in the Bible; I'm assuming the ordinary meaning of the words in the Bible represent its intended meaning.

The ordinary meaning of the words in Genesis describe a miraculous creation that happened in six days. In the case of the sun, the Bible describes what it appears to be doing. However, there's nothing in Genesis that even remotely could describe evolution or billions of years. When Exodus 20:11 says the Lord made the heaven, earth, and everything in them in six days, there's no need to look for an obscure meaning where “six days” really means “billions of years.”

You seem to be advocating a hyper-literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Surely you can't mean that. When Jesus described Pharisees as “stiff necked,” do you believe they “literally” had stiff necks? When the Bible says that Pharaoh’s “heart was hardened,” do you believe the heart in his chest literally became hard? We should read the Bible in the same way we read any other piece of literature. Some parts are literal and some are figurative. It's not hard to figure out which is which – any more than when we read the newspaper or a blog.

Thank you again for your comments. Please keep visiting and commenting. God bless!!


Jason Lee said...

Good day,

I personally have nothing against religion other than the wars caused by ideological differences in regions governed by a dominant faith. However, don't you see the irony in your defense of the literal and metaphorical when the church and it's followers confidently stated for hundreds of years that it was ridiculous that the Earth orbited anything other than itself. It's almost as if you're saying the bible has stated this for a millenium but the church has misinterpreted it's expression of the cosmos all this time. Now that we have indisputable evidence of it's formation in a chronological scale, it has almost become "obvious". The prominent issue with the Church has never been it's scriptures but it's followers who will defend it regardless of it's less than literal nature. It will never be what the bible states but what the church interprets it to be.

On a side note, you should take a look at some of your comparative retorts that take shape with a hint of defensive sarcasm. You use obvious in-text metaphors to suggest that anything harmful to your beliefs are equally obvious and therefore invalid. Had the quote about trees being able to sing been used as a threat to your beliefs, you would have defended it as such by stating Genesis clearly meant it through the birds. Had that quote been Muhammad turning water to wine, I can almost bet that your retort would be to suggest such is a clear metaphor. I don't expect one of your nature and stance to agree as you were born raised in that particular religious culture.

I am not one to debunk any stories from scripture as I believe that Genesis is written poetically using metaphors and comparisons from the earthly to the divine. The issue is that it's followers use it prominently for history. Would you have stood up against the Church and supported Galileo or Kepler for their accurate predictions of the planetary orbits? I find that difficult to believe as it's likely you would've been brought up to learn of Geocentrism as a child.

Lastly I'm certain you've heard of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Altrahasis or even the Quran sporting stories of the Great floods similar to Noah's Ark. Given that the great floods occurred during the period of 5000 BC in Mesopotamia where both the Sumerians, Babylonians and the Hebrews would have experienced the devastation, which story could an unbiased individual account for truth? The Epic of Gilgamesh is dated around 2100 BC whereas Noah's Ark is dated 1656 AM. Both dated eerily close in terms of chronology. Geological evidence suggests of a great flood that occurred approximately 5000 BC, which means the stories of that flood were not officially recorded (by any doctrine or mythology for that matter) for at least 1500 years later when records of the first writings could be found (Sumerian accounts). That means the story of Noah's Ark was not prescribed until at least 3500 years after the flood occurred or about 1500 years after the earliest records from the Sumerians or Babylonians. I wonder if you believe the historical accounts from the earliest records, or do they seem like mere mythology compared to the accounts of Noah? I'm currently studying the mindset of individuals who were raised in religious/indoctrinated environments prior to full neural maturation. In other words, those who were raised in a conformed religious cultures since childbirth compared to those who made life stance choices later on in life. This is to study pattern recognition and rationality in those who follow their own religious stance as a personal choice or those who were born into such stance.

Thank you for your time,

Best regards.

Appreciate the time,


RKBentley said...


I'm going to ignore your religion-causes-wars statement and get to the meat of your comment. I'm sorry that you've used hypothetical examples rather than real examples because it's usually fairly easy to look at a passage and tell if something is meant to be literal or metaphorical. It takes like a 7th grade reading comprehension.

The test is not whether or not something threatens my faith but rather it's the ordinary context of the passage that determines how it should be understood. If the Quran had said that Muhammad turned water into wine, the context would tell me if the account was supposed to literal or figurative. I wouldn't say it's only figurative because I don't believe the Quran; I might say it's meant to be literal but I still wouldn't believe the Quran.

Many churches today have made the same mistake as the church in Galileo's time: they wed their interpretation of Scripture to the current scientific trend. Geocentrism was the popular SCIENTIFIC model of that day. It was the model that had endured for centuries since Ptolemy. So even though there is no passage that says the sun orbits the earth, the church interpreted certain figurative passages in light of the Ptolemaic model. Some churches today have reinterpreted the clear text of Genesis to make it compatible with evolution. It's too bad because the theory keeps changing. When you wed your interpretation of the Bible to pop science, what happens when the scientific model is discarded?

Personally, I believe I would have agreed with the emerging heliocentric model of Galileo but I reject the theory of evolution.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!


Dan said...

Pure rationalization. You can have any verse mean whatever you want it to mean by ascribing poetic license.

RKBentley said...


I think you have me mistaken for theistic evolutionists who ascribe poetic to any verse that contradicts mainstream science. I read the Bible the same way I read any other piece of literature – I look for the obvious, intended meaning of the words.

Do you believe 1 Chronicles is really saying the earth does not move? In the very same prayer, David says that the trees sing. Why don't critics ever try to say the Bible teaches that trees can sing? It's because they know that particular metaphor is too obvious to characterize as a statement of fact.

I believe in a literal, six day creation as described in Genesis. I believe trees sing and fields rejoice in a metaphoric sense. I believe these things because they are the OBVIOUS meaning of the words in the Bible.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!


Suren said...

Steven J. said."... as the clearest example of geocentric declaration, Joshua 10:13 ("So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day"). Now, that might be interpreted as merely a description of how it appeared to an Earthbound observer (though Martin Luther agreed with Bouw), and I'd go with Ecclesiastes 1:5 ("The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose"). "

Steven , with the same logic then I we can conclude that NASA believes that the sun goes around the earth? "On Saturday, June 11, 2011, International Space Station astronaut Ron Garan used a high definition camera to film one of the sixteen sunrises astronauts see each day. This image shows the rising sun as the station flew along a path between Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Image Credit: NASA" BTW any sane person would understand "hasteth to his place where he arose" is not to be understood literally as the Sun is not a person and "he" is not alive!

Suren said...

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. "

Well Willam Wordsworth did not wander as a cloud but daffodils do exist . However flowers don't actually dance! Yes, poetry does contain true facts but also has alot of metaphor!. Why can't people read the Bible and understand the same way they read and understand the contents of a magazine that may contain facts, history poetry ect? No one thinks like this when they read poetry or any other book!

Psychologically the conclusion is obvious : all these attacks against the bible is the result of psychological defence mechanisms. I.e A psychological subconscious attempt to escape the possibility of God's existence as a result of the fear of being accountable to God.

JohnS said...

Galileo shows how the Catholic Church was wrong in their teachings, even when they asserted that they were right. They believed wrong things. - that the earth was the center of everything and that it was still because of verses in the bible. God’s ordained church was wrong. They taught wrong things. They taught it for a LONG time (since their beginnings) as ABSOLUTE TRUTH. The Catholic Church (God’s ordained church) was blatantly wrong.

Catholics were wrong about things they were CERTAIN about. They don't KNOW what they claim to KNOW. They’re just asserting it without good objective evidence. The Catholic Church cares more about if it fits with the Bible FIRST before they care about if it’s ACTUALLY true or not. Why? Because they NEED the Catholic Church to be true. They don't care if it's ACTUALLY true, the truth doesn't really matter to them, it must fit the Bible first. Galileo's discovery didn't fit with the Bible. Catholics had to make it fit.

Fundamentalists. Just asserting that they’re right (with no good objective evidence). Even when they were BLATANTLY WRONG. They make the same repeated assertions that it MUST fit the bible first BEFORE actually seeing if it’s actually true or not. The Catholic Church doesn’t care for the real truth, they just want the truth that fits their narrative. Faith is not a good way to truth.

It took science to find out that the Sun doesn't revolve around the Earth. It wasn't God's ordained Church that had this truth. The Bible said that the Earth stood still (and that's what people dogmatically asserted as being absolutely true). They were wrong. The Catholic Church doesn't KNOW what it claims to KNOW, they don't care about the truth, they care if it fits the Bible first.

RKBentley said...

John S,

Are you aware that, before Galileo, even secular models of the universe were geocentric? Why do you fault the Church for believing the same models of secular philosophers like Ptolemy? If you ask me, the Church of that time made the same mistake that many churches make today – they wed their interpretation of Scripture to the shifting opinions of secular “science.”

Nowhere does the Bible teach geocentrism. There are some places where the Bible uses similar descriptive language as we do to describe the apparent motion of the sun (like we might say, “the sun went behind a cloud”). There are other passages that use poetic language or metaphor which critics assert are meant to be literal. But if you read the Bible with the same comprehension as you might read, say, a history book, you should be able to spot these literary devices.

Thanks for visiting and for your comments. God bless!!


Unknown said...

They are finding out trees do communicate one with another intelligenty now, just as birds sing to God so can trees in ways we don't know yet, even as the wind(spirit) blows through the trees, yes earth is flat and doesn't move, Center if Gods creation, here's a good book to read, Edward Hendrie
The Greatest Lie on Earth: Proof That Our World Is Not a Moving Globe, cheers

RKBentley said...

To my anonymous visitor,

I generally take it easier on Christians who disagree with me than with non-believers but I can't be sure if you're truly a Christian or just a troll trying to goad me. Either way, you're in grave error. Maybe I'll look into the book you recommend but probably not. If I do, it certainly won't be because I think you could be right.

This passage is a psalm. It's like a poem where the Bible conveys spiritual truths – not necessarily literal truths. Maybe there is a way plants communicate that we haven't discovered but that is not what is being discussed here. This is purely a metaphor. How do you treat passages like Isaiah 55:12, “the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands”? Are you going to tell me the hills really sing and the trees really have hands? Please!

Visitors' comments are always welcome even if you disagree. I'm also always open to being corrected on my understanding of Scripture. However, I will not sit by and listen to someone malign the Bible by saying such an obvious metaphor is actually meant to be a literal truth.

God bless!!


Anonymous said...

Everything has a voice. Just because you don't speak the language doesn't mean it doesn't speak. Jesus said that if the people had not cheered his prophetic arrival in Jerusalem that the very rocks would cry out. I am NOT going to say the Lord Jesus was speaking a metaphor in this instance. He is not exaggerating. All of creation has a voice and is infused with the consciousness of God. Quantum Physics actually proves that "inert" particles behave with consciousness dependent upon an understanding of whether there is an observer or not. If a particle can make a decision to choose one of two states based on the abstract understanding of being observed at the sub atomic level or not, I have ZERO difficulty in believing that it is a litteral statement that the trees truly do sing. Be very cautious about discounting the possible in the realm of the supernatural. We live in God's box (or dome), He doesn't live in ours. If Jesus said you can speak to a mountain and it will move or speak to a storm and it will calm, how is it so hard to believe that you could not also speak to trees AND perhaps, they might just talk back. There are two types of speaking in tongues. 1. Heavenly tongues and 2. Foreign language tongues (where the Apostles began proclaiming the good news in diverse languages that were understood by foreign visitors in their midst)... Speaking with nature is just another form of the gift of tongues, albeit a much lesser known / manifested version.

The Lord even says of the stars that they have a voice that the whole world has heard. You can hear a foreigner speaking a diverse language and just because you don't understand it doesn't mean they aren't speaking.

RKBentley said...

To my anonymous visitor,

Thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate your comments though I can't say I agree with them completely. Such a hyper-literal interpretation of Scripture, I believe, leads to dangerous hermeneutics. Does the Bible EVER use metaphor or any similar literary devices? Certainly it does. But if we begin to assign the label of literal to what seem to be obvious metaphors, we begin to blur the lines between literal and literary.

I'm not sure a majority of quantum physicists would agree with your claims that inert particles have a will. Even so, I don't agree that you should use the shifting opinions of scientists as a way to interpret Scriptures. You claim that “everything everything has a voice”? Does my laptop have a voice (other than what I say through it?) Does my shoe string have a voice? Does this McDonald's napkin I'm about to throw into the trash have a voice? Where in Scripture does it say that? Even passages like the stars singing, don't necessarily mean everything sings. And I would consider such passages in the context of other clear metaphors like trees clapping their hands. If nature has voices I cannot hear, do trees have hands I cannot see?

We need to treat Scripture carefully. Slavishly believing every word as literal is perhaps as grave an error as believing every word is figurative. We need to try read the Bible like any other written work where the plain meaning of any passage is likely the intended meaning.

God bless!!


Cd1cd1 said...

Are you saying that God did not establish the earth so that it be not moved? God does not deal in lies or deception. Thus if He says he set the earth on it's foundations that it be not moved, weather poetically or literally it is the case. Even when God speaks poetically, His poetry is still in truth. For God is truth.

Cd1cd1 said...

God speaks in truth weather it be poetry or literally. His poetry is truth, hints "poetry"!

Was it poetry when Elihu said, "Hast thou with Him spread out the sky, which is strong and as a molten looking glass." Where did this come from, are you saying it came from nowhere and means nothing?

Revelations says the stars and heaven will appear to be rolled up like a scroll, have you seen a scroll being rolled up?

When Jesus comes back, all eyes will see Him, even those who pierced Him. How is this possible on a ball? Are you saying there will be multiple Jesus' as to everybody will see Him, no matter where they are on the ball.

Isaiah 40:22 KJB-
It is He who sitteth upon the circle of the earth.

Here is God's throne, and in revelations the heavens being rolled up as a scroll, reveals Him who is above us on His throne. This is how all will see Him.

RKBentley said...


I can't decide if you're sincere of if you're trolling me. Not every word in the Bible is intended to be literal. You say that even what God speaks poetically, it's still true because He is truth? Then how can it be poetic if it's still literally true?

I agree that God does not deceive us. What you fail to see is that, by treating literary devices as literal truth, you're making God a deceiver. Jesus said He is the vine. Is He “literally” a vine? If He meant that literally, then He's lying. Is He literally bread? Is He literally a door? Do we literally eat His flesh and drink His blood? You can see that by characterizing obvious metaphors and poetry as literal truth, you turn the Bible into foolishness.

My ministry is apologetics. I will defend the Bible against all false claims – even false claims made by people who say they believe the Bible.


HalleluYah!!!!! said...

Brother Bentley,
I am on the same page as you in many ways; Jesus (*Yahshua) is Lord! Yet I caution you to not make the same mistake as the church in Galileo's time (that is asserting 100% knowledge about reality and bible interpretations)...

For us, sometimes that can be challenging and frusterating, to have to wait, Trust, sit in the middle of (at least apparent) cantradiction and paradox. Yet our bodies are like that; the bicepts and tricepts could be considered a contradiction/paradox...yet it is designed that way so that we can move, etc...

So, while I don't assert geocentricism, I think it would be wise for you to be open to that. There are some big lies and misconceptions -as you say, pop-science is changing. I don't assume NASA has revealed all it knows to us...perhaps they have perpetuated errors or their perspective is partial...

Let's be open to a figurative AND literal interpretation possibility; perhaps the trees singing and clapping is a metaphor...and, when Yahshua Messiah returns in glory, I wouldn't be surprised to see Creation reacting in amazing wonderful ways. The Lord "Opened the mouth of the donkey"...what happens when all the animals mouths are open?... I think there is good evidence that trees are conscious (What the documentary "How plants talk to one another")... AND... Maybe we are not as globular as we think -I don't automatically dismiss people who prefer to talk of the earth as a more flat disc (though I'm not sure if it is or not).
I do assert that we can all agree that Job was giving potent revelation when he said that Our Good Lord 'hangs the earth on nothing'.

The Word of YHWH is pure...and more real than what we think reality is/apprearances!

In regards to your commenter's question about the story of the flood: just because we find Summerian tablets which are older doesn't mean that their version is the correct version. The oral traditions have been shown to be super accurate. Moreover, as a matter of faith, believers trust that the Holy Spirit was working in the writing of the, whenever He inspired it (inspired someone to write down what was oral); that's Truth.

And... Then Grace and Truth were incarnate and walked among us. This is DEEP!

justinkasse313 said...

Brother Bentley, thank you for taking the time to facilitate this blog. I would like to ask you, Do you subscribe to the heliocentric model or not and where did you acquire the knowledge regarding the shape of the earth which has convinced you enough to dispute the definitions of the scriptures for this subject? I will revisit this post for your reply. God bless us all.

RKBentley said...


Thanks for visiting and for your comments. Since, I'm not really sure of your relationship with Jesus nor your opinion of Scripture, you'll excuse me for not addressing you as brother.

I don't know how my understanding of the solar system is in “dispute” with the “definitions of the scriptures for this subject.” To my knowledge, there is NO model of the solar system given in the Bible so I find it difficult to see how my views can differ from the Bible's. Perhaps you could point me to a specific passage that describes these things? The passages often cited are usually figurative or poetic.

When the Bible is silent on a subject, another way we might learn about it is by observation. We can observe something like the shape of the earth. Have you ever seen Google Earth? Not only can we see the earth from space, we see it using a satellite. Have you ever studied how satellites orbit the earth? Their orbits are only possible because the earth is globe-shaped. Therefor, since the Bible is silent on heliocentricism and the shape of the earth, I formed my opinions based on what I've read about these subjects.

Now, on some other subjects, like the creation and the age of the earth, the Bible is not silent. The language used is clearly not poetic or figurative. Furthermore, “age” is not a quality that cannot be observed. In this case, I firmly stand on the side of the Bible and against the opinion of the majority of secular scientists.

I won't rehash all the same points I've already made on this post and to other visitors. I will only say again that when people insist that figurative passages in the Bible are “literal,” it makes understanding the Bible impossible. You will find yourself trying to defend ridiculous claims like trees “literally” sing like a previous visitor to this post has said.

If you would like my opinion of a particular passage, I could maybe give you a more concrete answer. However, I won't make any promises. If you cite a passage like Joshua's long day or Psalm's description of the earth resting upon pillars, I will probably ignore you. No hard feelings.

God bless!!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thank u!

Dan (different Dan) said...

Finally someone I agree with about this topic! Thank you for the way you explain these passages. I agree with your interpretation. I have been confronted with geocentrists recently who say that if don't take the Bible literally (as in, if I don't interpret it the way the they do), then I don't believe the Bible. To me, it's not a matter of belief, but interpretation. I believe the entire Bible, but I don't interpret it the way they do.
They also mix literal with figurative in the same verse sometimes. Like God walking on the curcuit of the stars. They'll say, "See? the curcuit of the stars. The universe goes around the earth." Well, so does God actually walk around on them too? Or is that verse perhaps saying that God is above the stars in His majesty, glory, and authority, being the sovereign God of the universe? (and everything else for that matter).
Interpretation of Scripture is very important, and I tend to interpret it they way you do. Thank you for your blog.

RKBentley said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments.

You're right that we must use balance as we approach the Scriptures. If we assign “figurative” to every passage we disagree with, then how can we know where to draw the line? If Christians who believe in evolution claim there was not a real Adam, then was there a real Noah, Abraham, or David? At what point in Luke's genealogy between Adam and Jesus do the people stop become myth and start becoming real? Maybe Jesus was myth! You can see how that doesn't work.

Likewise, when people start assigning, “literal” to passages that are clearly figurative, then the Bible becomes nonsense. Is Jesus literally a vine? Do we literally drink His blood and eat His flesh? In 1 Chronicles, David says the trees sing. You can see above one person commented that trees really do sing! Incredible! Then what about Isaiah 55:12 that says the trees will clap their hands? To say this is literal is foolishness.

Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees'. When He did this, He would preface His remark with the stinging phrase, “haven't you read...,” followed by a Scripture reference relevant to the situation. In every instance, Jesus relied on a clear and obvious reading of the passage – never once appealing to some tortured interpretation of the text. I think we should approach Scripture the same way as He. I'm sure you agree!

Thanks for your encouraging words. Please keep visiting and commenting. God bless!!


Dianne said...

Thank you for your insightful and informative blog posts. As you pointed out, the passage in question means that God "established the ways of the earth (or its people) and it/they will not be moved from the way He established."

I would like to add something with regards to this point. Looking at the Strong's definition for the Hebrew word translated "moved", which is "môwṭ" (pronounced 'mote') corroborates your view. It is a primitive root which means "to waver; by implication, to slip, shake, slide, fall." Further definitions show that the meaning includes the sense of being carried off or cast out of course. Either the word "removed" or the phrase "thrown off course" would be a better translation. As such, the passage means that the earth will not be removed from the course established for it by God.

That is certainly true for the course of history, as prophesied in the Bible, but it is also true astronomically, with respect to Earth's orbit and rotation, which experiences only minor oscillations or changes over time. In fact, our entire solar system has been discovered to be unique and remarkably stable, in contrast to the planetary systems found outside of our own, to date. “The discovery of thousands of star systems wildly different from our own has demolished ideas about how planets form..." forcing secular astronomers to search "for a whole new theory.”

Its uniqueness and the fact that the stability and specific parameters of our system combine to make Earth habitable also validates Isaiah 45:18, which states that "For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else." The word translated "established" includes the meaning "to be firm" and "to be stable."

Furthermore, given that the orbit, rotation, and axial tilt of the earth control our day/night and seasonal cycles and are the primary three factors influencing our climate, their stability highlights the reliability of God's promise in Genesis 8:22 that "While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease."

Dianne said...

My apologies. I forgot to include the reference for the following quote: “The discovery of thousands of star systems wildly different from our own has demolished ideas about how planets form. Astronomers are searching for a whole new theory.” [See “Astronomy: Planets in chaos” by Ann Finkbeiner, 02 July 2014, at]

RKBentley said...


Thank you for visiting and for your comments. You've left several but I'm not sure I can respond to them all so I'm thanking you for all your comments now. Even though I don't always respond to every comment, I do read them all. Yours are very interesting.

Some of the points you've raised here I have discussed in a series, “Some Comments on the Creation Week.” You're right that God specifically established the seasons. The tilt of the earth on its axis and its elliptical orbit around the sun aren't just accidents of a Big Bang. They are by the design of the Creator.

You can read more of my comments here:

Please keep visiting and commenting. God bless!!