In my daily meditations, I am re-reading some of Meister Eckhart's writings, including many of his sermons. I am struck by how he mines each scripture for deeper meanings, not taking them literally. For example, when he was talking about Jesus throwing the sellers out of the temple patio, he sees metaphor. He says that the temple Jesus wants to clear out is the temple within us all in our very souls. All obstacles between us and God must be kicked out. All distortions have to go.
I'm preparing to speak on July 16th on forgiveness, and I see a direct application from his understanding of the throwing out of all that does not belong there - in this case resentment, bitterness, judgment and things that require forgiveness.
People may not realize it, but the Bible was not taken literally and was not considered to be inerrant until the Enlightenment. At that time, facts had to be proven or they were considered false, and so people began to declare that the things in the Bible were literal facts rather than deep, metaphorical, spiritual teachings to guide our lives. The religious people began to panic and changed their orientation to the Bible. Today, this is one of the obstacles to people who consider becoming Christian-- it cannot be taken literally -- the earth is actually billions of years old, people did not live with dinosaurs, there were not 2 original people who were thrown out of the garden, etc etc etc. Ever since the Enlightenment, followers of Christianity and Judaism have significantly dwindled, and many of us think this literal/inerrant fantasy is the primary reason.
BUT, the stories are significant, powerful, magnificent teachings to instruct and guide us. They are way more powerful when we realize the ancient people share with us their walk with God, their folly, their conclusions, and their profound understandings. It is exciting to contemplate the stories, the songs, the prayers, the wisdom and listen to what they mean in the life of the people of the 21st century.
We are to clean the gates to our inner temple so that we can know God, and there are many more messages that can change our lives. If we listen to the parables, to the teachings of love and forgiveness, the understanding of God's Presence always with us, our lives can be lifted and brought into the Spiritual Light, into knowing and knowing that we know - God and I are one!
Good gracious hallelujah!