Though reluctant to enter the current impasse between my friend Dr. Michael Abrahams and some of my fellow Christians, intellectual honesty will not allow me to sit on the fence or the sidewalk.
I know some Christians do but suspect that most do not really think about it, that ‘the blood of Jesus’ is a non-literal expression which summarily symbolizes the sacrificial life of Jesus. This expression is not a protective talisman or rabbit’s foot so Christians who ‘plead the blood of Jesus’ against whatever should understand what they are really saying and doing. The expression has nothing to do with real literal blood so haemophilic or haemophobic does not arise at all!
Teachers/preachers in churches need to remember as well that the younger children think in concrete terms and they and all adults need clarification on abstract ideas like the entreaty “let Jesus come into your heart”. Is he to enter the flesh organ in the chest cavity? I gather, but have never checked it out, that in a particular section of Africa where the liver was more prized than the heart, invitations for salvation were worded “let Jesus come into your liver.”
Another under-recognized non-literal expression is the “finger of God” pertaining to the manifestation of divine power that the Egyptian magicians could not match (Ex. 8:19) or the writing of the stone tablets with the commandments of God (Ex. 31:18).
The notion of ‘the finger of God’ is obviously figurative language since God, being absolute Spirit, does not literally have body parts like fingers.
The expression points to the ultimate source of a phenomenon or event even if mediated through a human.
Musicians in churches need to examine the words of hymns and choruses and help congregants to make sense of archaic words in old hymns and fuzzy words and ideas in more modern hymns and freely composed choruses.
It’s a riot I know and very likely a concocted story that at a church service in England a sister asked to sing one of her recently composed songs. It ran:
“When Jesus put his Reeboks on to run the holy race, they may check him for drugs but he’ll be clean because he’s trained by God.
Chorus: Trained by God, trained by God, Jesus is trained by God. They may check him for drugs but he’ll be clean because he’s trained by God.”
I cracked up the first time I heard about that and I still crack up rehearsing it now.
Folk need to appreciate that literature often employs figures of speech. Take the scientific weather report about the sun rising and setting at particular times. Helpful but non-literal information nonetheless.
I recommend to Christians and Bible critics the CD Reading the Bible Meaningfully (available by calling 876-521-5052 or downloading from www.thechisholmsource.com).