Is The Bible Allegorical?

In March of 2013, Bill O’Reilly stated on his national T.V. program called  “The Factor”  that the Bible is simply allegory, which refers to figurative language as contrasted with literal language.  He called such things as creation, the story of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood and Jonah and the Whale as allegorical and not to be taken in a literal sense.  He also believes that the general theory of evolution is a proven scientific fact.  There are many things that I can appreciate about Bill O’Reilly, but when he begins to pontificate on Biblical subjects, he gets way out into left field.  He said this as he was interviewing two people, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey,  who had made a movie of the Bible broadcast on the “History Channel.”   The movie has been well received by the public with high ratings. These people presented the Bible as true history, and Bill O’Reilly strongly disputed that claim. 

One person E-mailed O’Reilly with these words: “Shame on you O’Reilly, you call yourself a Christian.  The Bible is not allegorical.”   O’Reilly responded with these very sharp words: “You are entitled to that opinion, but you are not entitled to impugn my Christian status.  There are millions of Christians that do not take parts of the Bible literally.  If you want to believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale,  fine!  But don’t demand that I believe it too.  A strong belief system is a very good thing if your faith helps you and others.  But if you are judgmental and demanding and demand that people believe the way that you do, that is a very bad thing as we see with the Jihadists.”    My message to Mr. O’Reilly is simply this. . . There are also millions of  people who call themselves Christians who believe and teach that the Bible is the literal and  inspired word of God.   It is quite proper to question a person’s religious beliefs.  This is not the same as impugning motives.  I have no clue as to why you believe what you do.  You tend to use emotionally laden words in responding to people, but my interest is in the substance of what you say.  

My intent here is to defend the Bible record and not the movie makers, who have taken some liberties with the text of the Bible.   I strongly disagree with O’Reilly as to what he chooses to believe is allegory.   As he explained later, his approach to the Bible grows out of his theological training as a Catholic.   The Catholics also teach “Theistic Evolution” which O’Reilly believes.   This is simply the position that “the general theory of evolution” is a fact of science and that God used this method to produce mankind after billions of years of evolutionary history.  My purpose here is not to get into a discussion regarding the theory of evolution which goes way beyond the space of this article.  The Bible does teach “micro-evolution”, that is, changes within limits, which is entirely scientific, but the concept of life having evolved from non-life or that all forms of life existing on the earth evolved from a single life form (macro-evolution) is totally unproven and is scientifically unsound.   I can recommend a lot of publications and materials on these points.  I do not blame O’Reilly for strongly believing what he does, but he needs to be open to evidence.   A man named Saul also had strong views, and he was guilty of putting Christians to death, but he did it ignorantly in unbelief.   He learned better.

Figurative Language and the Bible

What I do want to discuss is this whole matter that the Bible is merely allegory, especially in the areas mentioned by O’Reilly.   In later discussions, O’Reilly did admit that he believed in the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus, which are Catholic positions, but he regarded the Old Testament as not to be taken literally.   I do not intend to “force” my faith on O’Reilly or anyone else, nor should the Christian use carnal weapons to advance religion, as do the Jihadists; but I do strongly believe that the Bible as a whole is to be taken in a literal sense.   No real Bible student would contend that the Bible contains no figurative language, and allegory is just one type of such language.   The definition of allegory is simply this: “description of one thing under the image of another.  A story in which people, things, and happenings have a hidden or symbolic meaning.   Allegories are used for teaching or explaining ideas, moral principles, etc.” (New World Dictionary). The Bible often uses real people and events in an allegorical sense.    Every Bible student I know recognizes this principle.   In most cases, the context itself will make this distinction clear.   When Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:1) he was using figurative language.   No one should understand that he was referring to himself as a literal vine.  The Bible contains hundreds of such examples, just like we also use such language in ordinary speech.  But even figurative language, if it is to have impact and meaning,  must be based upon something that is literal.  An example of allegory is found in Paul’s writings in Gal. 4:22-31.  This allegory would have absolutely no meaning or point if it were not based upon real history.  If there had been no Abraham, no Hagar and no Mount Sinai in Arabia, Paul’s use of allegory would be pointless.  

Genesis Is Real History

Now the Genesis record is set forth as real history.  Nothing in the context indicates otherwise.   The Bible states that these are records of the generations of  Adam (Gen. 5:1), of Noah (Gen. 6:9), of Shem, Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah (Gen. 10:1), of Terah, who was the father of Abram (Gen. 11:27), etc.  Take Adam, for example.  If Adam did not really live, then that entire account is a fabrication --He did not live 959 years, did not produce children, etc.  None of these details would be true.   Not only that, all references to Adam throughout the Bible would simply be based upon myth.   See 1 Chron. 1:1; Job 31:33; Hosea 6:7; Luke 3:38; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45; 1 Tim. 2:13; Jude 1:14, etc.   So O’Reilly has just trashed all of these scriptures and declares that the writers did not know what they were talking about.  What about Noah and the flood?   Well, the same thing holds true for this record.  See Isaiah 54:9; Ezek. 14:14, 20; Matt. 24:37-38; Luke 3:36; 17:26-27; Heb. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 2:5, etc.   All of these accounts stand or fall together.   Bible critics have long denied the historical accuracy of the Bible, but the scientific work of archeologists have proven over and over their arguments are groundless. 

Years ago, while I was playing major league baseball with the New York Yankees, we had a Catholic priest called “Father Joe” who traveled with the ball club.  On one occasion, he and I engaged in a mini debate of sorts in front of about 15 Yankee teammates.    This discussion was about the nature of the Bible.  He stated that Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible.  I stated that was strange since Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Jesus and Paul quoted from these books and attributed them to Moses.   I stated, “Well, who should I believe?   Should I believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and Jesus or should I believe you?”  The Catholics have a long history of trashing the Bible and keeping it out of the hands of the laity.  

Jonah and the Great Fish

Now what about Jonah and the Whale (or great fish)?  Nothing in the context indicates that this is anything but an actual account of what did happen.  If this was not factual truth, then Jesus stated a lie in Matt. 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32.   All of the great doctrines of the Bible are grounded upon historical facts.  If the Old Testament is all allegory as distinguished from real history, then we have just trashed all of the New Testament and neither Jesus nor His apostles or prophets knew what they were talking about.   Are we operating here on facts and evidence, or is it just a matter of what we want to believe or how we feel?  Mr. O’Reilly, sadly some people do not believe that the Bible is the word of God, even though writers of the Bible declares this as fact over and over, but a lot of people do not want to take the Bible at face value.    Many people reject the Bible because of statements involving the supernatural intervention of God and the demands it places on moral conduct.  Yes, the Bible does contain miracles, because the power of God is above nature itself.   That seems to be the whole point.  God is creator and He is above and beyond creation.   My problem does not lie in the limitations of God, for nothing is impossible for God, but my problem lies in the limitations of man who arrogantly dismisses the word of God as myth.   If we do not believe that God works miracles and is above nature, then what is the point of  believing at all?    Those of us who do believe these things do not want to be compared to Jihadists.   Yes, and I will defend what I believe based upon evidence and facts.  But rest assured, no real Christian believes that Christianity ought to be propagated by use of the sword.

“The Factor” is not a debate format.  It is much too short and is mostly “sound bites”.   But it would be very interesting to see someone of O’Reilly’s persuasion actually be willing to debate some of these questions.  Actually, I know a lot of people who would welcome such a debate.   Although “The Factor” is a rather poor way of debating even political questions, I do appreciate a number of positions that he holds.  But when he ventures into the area of the Bible and religion, he is way off the mark a lot of the time.  This is strange for someone who calls himself a “culture warrior.”  He has announced that he is writing a book about “The Death of Jesus” just as he has written books about “The Death of Lincoln” and “The Death of Kennedy” which I have purchased and read.   He has also said that the book about Jesus will contain some surprising facts about the death of Christ.   I just hope that these surprising facts do not contradict the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the words of Jesus as recorded in the Bible.  It should prove to be interesting to see if Bill can uncover things overlooked by Jesus and the apostles themselves. 

Godly Anger

I notice that O’Reilly gets angry about certain injustices that he finds in the world and is quick to point out the corruption that exists in religion [including even the Roman Catholic Church] and in politics.   This is genuine righteous indignation that ought to swell up in all of us when we witness crime and corruption that destroys lives, etc.  Not only is anger in these cases the proper emotional reaction, and I share that anger, I am also deeply disturbed that there is a constant stream of attacks made on the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible which in fact undermines all morals and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.    Compared to Bill O’Reilly, I am absolutely nothing and have a very small voice, but all of my life I have studied and defended the Bible.  Real evidence and substance can cause me to change my mind, but nothing short of that.  If all of these Bible stories are myths, then the entire integrity of the Bible is in question.  The Bible is a pack of lies.  If the Biblical record falls, then there is no sound foundation for faith or believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is “according to the Scriptures” (see 1 Cor. 15:3-4).   As Paul wrote, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.  Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised” (1 Cor. 15:12-15).   

                                                                   --- Lindy McDaniel, March, 2013

The photo at the beginning of this article is that of the Old Yankee Stadium taken in about 1968.    I took this photo from a one engine sea plane flown by my good friend John Tremble, who was a flight engineer for Eastern Airlines.  This is where I enjoyed a lot of good times playing for the Yankees from mid-season in 1968 through 1973.  By the way, I think Yankee Stadium is symbolical.  It symbolizes greatness in baseball.    Also Yankees Stadium and Wrigley Field can be used as an allegory, but I won’t go into what that might mean.  By the way, both stadiums are real.
If you know of others who would like to receive advanced copies of Pitching For The Master attached to E-mail, please write to me at:  1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166.  Or contact me at my E-mail address:    I appreciate your comments pro or con.

Is Christianity Merely A Subjective Belief System?

Does truth, facts and evidence have anything to do with the religion of Jesus Christ?   Is the only foundation for belief in Jesus Christ subjective in nature?  This is certainly not what the Bible teaches, but more and more people are coming to these conclusions.   Most disturbing is the fact (did I really say fact?) that people who profess to be Christians are believing and teaching such things.   We are told as a religious maxim “not to judge others” as if there is no basis upon which to judge anyone or anything.  And we are told that if we “judge others” that is a bad thing, which itself is a “judgment”.    If we have no right to “judge”, how can we declare anything to be “bad” or “good”?   Once you do away with standards, you can use any measurement you wish.

Is Christianity simply a matter of what one chooses to believe?    Is belief in Christ contrary to all reason and logic?   Is believing totally subjective in nature and not subject to proof or any use of human reason?   Is faith totally “blind” and not based upon anything but our choosing to believe?   Does faith fall into a different realm from scientific inquiry or other areas of human disciplines and discovery?    Does faith lie totally outside of the realm of empirical evidence?  Does it rest on no stronger foundation than that of many of the eastern religions who teach “If you believe that something is, then to you, it is.”?    Is perception reality?   Is faith simply your own personal choice?   Like, you have your faith, I have my faith and others may choose to have a different faith, but all faiths are equally valid.  If all faiths are equally valid, then they are equally invalid.   So what difference does it make anyhow?  Folks, I have always asked a lot of questions.  That is the only way I know how to grow in knowledge and understanding.

Is truth merely an illusion of the mind?    The humanists teach that there are no absolutes.   There is nothing that we can say that is absolutely right or wrong.   One person’s philosophy is just as good as that of another.   We should not be judgmental because there is no objective way of measuring anything.    We ought sweeten our tone by submerging ourselves in a spirit of ecumenicalism.  Are we becoming a country that has lost all sense of reason and logic?    Millions are being influenced by the philosophy of subjectivism and no longer care about facts, proof and evidence.   This is affecting our politics, economics, our homes and every facet of society.    We are fast becoming a lawless society driven by polls. 

In such a short article, I cannot address the broader issues involved, but I can address some of the specifics that deal with religion.    As a Christian, I do believe in God, not based on blind faith, but on evidence.  As a Christian, I do believe that the Bible is the word of God, not because this is what I personally choose to believe, but because of compelling evidence.   I also believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, not because this is something that is comforting or feels good, but rather, I find the evidence compelling and overwhelming.  For those who believe that everything is relative, the Bible itself must seem extremely out of touch for the times, for I am not aware of any book that is more dogmatic and unyielding than the Bible.

Bible Warns About Subjective Thinking

Here are a few passages from the Bible warning about the danger of subjective thinking.  

Pro. 14:12: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”.    Note: the same thing is taught in Proverbs 16:25.  Just because something seems right, that does not make it right.  We may believe a lie thinking that it is the truth.

Pro. 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Note: Our own understanding is limited and is not something that we can lean on as a foundation.

Judges 21:25:  “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  (Note: How did such thinking work out?  It produced confusion and destruction.  They became a lawless society.)

Jer. 10:23:I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.”  (According to Jeremiah, a prophet of God, this “inner light” philosophy does not work).

Three Prominent Passages
Warning About Subjective Thinking

When people refuse to have God in their knowledge, the end result is that they are blinded and walk according to the instincts of their own hearts.  They do not have a true understanding of what is real and what is false.  They have no foundation or standard by which to make judgments.   They can be deceived into believing that right is wrong and wrong is right.   Looks like I have just described the first sin committed by Eve.  She thought that Satan had told her the truth.  She thought that she would become like God knowing good and evil, and besides that, the forbidden fruit looked good and tasted good.  How could something that appears so good ever be bad?    This is a fundamental truth, at the beginning of the Bible, regarding man’s rejection of the ways of God.   Read carefully the following passage:

Genesis 3:1-6"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'  The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'  The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." (Note: The lesson here is that Eve was deceived and believed a lie.  To her, Satan’s lie was the truth.  She believed the lie, but that did not make it true.  The lie appealed to her on different levels, but it was still a lie and was not based on reality.  There is only one reality that we can depend upon – God and his word.  Another major passage that emphasizes the same truth is found in the great passage below:)

Romans 1:21-32:  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools,  and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.  Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,  and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,  being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;  and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”  (Note:  Instead of honoring God and recognizing God as creator, they started creating their own gods from their own minds.  Now be honest folks!  Does not the above describe and explain the world in which we now live?   When people are caught up in a mass deception, it is hard to dissuade them.  But beliefs have consequences and taking polls do not change the facts.)

Another passage I want you to consider is 2 Thess. 2:3-12 which describes the spirit of lawlessness and apostasy springing from the world of religion itself.  Read carefully these words:

2 Thess. 2:3-12:  "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.  Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.  Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,   and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.  For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,  in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

When the apostle Paul wrote the above warnings, this mystery was already at work among those who professed to be followers of Jesus Christ.   Satan was up to his old tricks in producing false powers, signs and wonders to deceive the people. The truth was taken out of their hearts and they were caused to believe what is false. And why was this so?   Because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.   They were deceived because they took pleasure in wickedness.  Again, what a clear warning for our own times.   Folks, deception always involves people thinking that something false is actually the truth.  It makes absolutely no difference what we think about something.  The truth lies outside of ourselves.  If it lies within ourselves, then your truth is just as valid as someone else’s truth.  The real question always is,  “Is what we think or how we feel based upon some kind of standard outside of ourselves?”    Many politicians make their careers out of deceiving the people and making it seem that what is false is actually true.  Sometimes I say that truth has very little to do with politics.  It is only perception that counts!

Legally speaking you can believe whatever you choose to believe within certain restrictions.   Thank goodness, the constitution guarantees the freedom of religion.   But if Christianity is based merely upon how we feel, it differs not one iota from all the other religions of the world.  When the gospel was taught in the 1st century, evidence was brought to light which was strong enough to convince good and honest people that the Bible is the word of God, that God does exist, and that Jesus Christ is the son of God.  Even Jesus taught that no one should believe in Him apart from convincing evidence (read John 5:3-47).   Consider the gospel preached as recorded in Acts chapter two.  On what basis did the unbelieving Jews become believers?    They already believed in the God inspired message of Moses and the prophets.   So Peter took that fact and connected the writings of Moses and the prophets to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, proving that Jesus was the Christ according to scripture.  He also appealed to the eye-witness testimony of the apostles to the resurrection of Christ.   It was on the basis of such strong testimony that many came to believe and cried out, “men and brethren what must we do?”   (Acts 2:37).   That is, in the light of all this evidence, and the declaration by Peter that this Jesus whom they had crucified (It’s hard to imagine anything worse that that!) is now alive and reigning as both Lord and Christ,  how could they make their lives right before God?   That was the force of their question.   Their emotions of  being cut to the heart, were not based upon any subjective feeling, but upon their being convinced by the evidence presented.   As Paul later wrote: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).  So personal faith, if it is valid, must always be based upon objective evidence.

Please, dear friend, when you read these words do not think that I am saying that I am always right.   I have been deceived many times and on many levels.  No, what I am saying is that there is a standard by which all things can be judged.   I am thankful that all people have been created by God and are made in the “image of God” with a built in conscience and ability to reason and think.   So use your mind to the glory of God!    Our good creator has not left us without guidance.
                                                                                          --- Lindy McDaniel

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If you know of others who would like to receive advanced copies of Pitching For The Master attached to E-mail, please write to me at:  1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166.  Or contact me at my E-mail address:

This article should have been posted in February, 2013.   Sorry for the delay.  I plan to post two more articles in quick succession so that I will be on schedule for the year.   The photo at the beginning of this article was taken in July, 1957 just after my brother Von had pitched a one hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates.   Baseball has objective standards and rules.  These are not determined by how we feel or personal perception.  Subjective feeling does not work in any field of endeavor, so why do we think that belief in Christ, the most vital truth affecting our present and future happiness, operates any differently?    Should anyone be willing to die for their faith, as so many have been willing to do, if such were not based upon the solid foundation of truth?   I welcome your comments pro or con.

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