Beyond Biblical Literalism

Beyond Biblical Literalism


Scripture: Psalm 33:12-22 (NRSV)

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
14 From where he sits enthroned he watches
all the inhabitants of the earth—
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.
16 A king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and by its great might it cannot save.
18 Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
21 Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Reflection: Beyond Biblical Literalism


I am tired and I am weary – not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. I am tired of people lying. I am weary of those in power punishing those who tell the truth simply because it sheds light on their false narratives. I am tired and weary of people using scripture to support those false narratives that turn a beautiful faith into something bordering on demonic. I’m tired of it. So tired of it. Maybe you are too.
Most of that faith distortion comes from the foundation of Biblical “literalism.” Any of you taking the time to read this know how absurd that approach is – and how dangerous. The thing is, I have to admit that, on the surface, Biblical literalism seems to be straightforward and I can see why people go for it. Let’s see a bit how it might work with this passage.
“Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Isn’t it “obvious” that this says God should be the foundation of a nation that wishes to do well?
“A king is not saved by [their] great army; a warrior is not delivered by [their] great strength.” It’s that “clear enough” that humankind, even at our most powerful, doesn’t really affect what happens in the world? Afterall, “The warhorse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.” Who are we then, who aren’t powerful warhorses, to say we can fix anything? Who are we to say we can save anything – like the planet.
‘Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him…to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” God “clearly” pays attention to those who care about God, and not so much about the others. If we respect and follow God, God will deliver us from death and things that happen in the world. We don’t impact those things. God’s in control. “It’s all right there!”
“Our soul waits for the Lord….” So, don’t get all worked up. God’s the one with the power. God’s the one who can change things. We don’t have the power. We couldn’t change things if we wanted to anyway. So, let’s wait for God. God will take care of it. We can just sit here and hope and trust.
ARGH!!! I’m so tired of it – but I can see why people read it that way. It’s easier. And, “isn’t it obvious?”
Yes. It’s as obvious as it is wrong. So, thank you. Thank you for digging deeper. Thank you for doing the hard work of drawing the more profound meaning from what can lead us astray on the surface. Thank you for your perseverance. Thank you for your willingness to preach and teach a better, more active, relationship-oriented and love-based approach to God’s Word.
Thank you for your actions beyond the pulpit to show people that actions matter and that we are not simply passive observers. Thank you for showing that the human condition is not one of utter weakness. Thank you for helping people to see that we have profound purpose, that our lives have deep meaning in relationship with God and partnering with God.
All of the important things that you are doing may not be obvious on the surface, but thank you. I see you. I feel you. I am grateful for you.


God of depth and diversity, thank You for inviting us to partner with You in sustaining, protecting and striving to save the good that exists in our world today. Thank You for instilling in us the desire to make it even better. Thank You for our laughter and our tears, all reflections of the depth of emotions and passion You bless us to have in our human experience. Please, draw near to us. We need You, even if we are needed as well. Amen

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the family and friends of Drew Page, who served the Southern New England Conference and the historic Connecticut Conference staff for more than 12 years, including as editor of this Starting with Scripture weekly devotional.  Drew also served in various communication roles, including as news writer, videographer, AV event support, and IT specialist. Drew died July 27, 2022. His obituary and August 6th memorial service information.
  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~25,500 gun violence deaths in the US this year
  • For those suffering from the extreme heat conditions

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For clergy, and others, who are helping people to see that we have profound purpose, and that our lives have deep meaning in relationship with God
  • For friendships formed and blessed memories made at summer camps
  • For the birth of Ameena Nanette Mabrouk to parents Heather Ramsey Mabrouk and Nawfal Mabrouk. The Rev. Heather Ramsey Mabrouk is the SNEUCC Together We Thrive Program Director and Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership

 This Week in History:

July 30, 1965 (57 years ago): Medicare, a program providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935.  Currently 80,907,990 individuals are enrolled. [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Shawn Fisher
Shawn Fisher

The Rev. Shawn Fisher is Senior Pastor at First Congregational Church of Bloomfield, CT.

August 01, 2022
Subscribe to our emails
Framingham, MA Office

1 Badger Road
Framingham, MA 01702

Hartford, CT Office

125 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105

Toll Free Phone: 866-367-2822
Fax: 866-367-0860
General Email: