Question 504

By: Robert Serreyn

Question? I heard this term called LETTERISM could you explain what it means?


Letterism is a teaching that takes the Figurative, Symbolic language of a verse or passage of scripture and interprets them in a LITERAL sense.

The problem with taking a LITERAL INTERPRETATION (letterism) of a verse that is meant to be understood in a SYMBOLIC (Figurative) sense you get what is called ACCORDING TO Dr. Walter Martin (Kingdom of the Cults fame) Hermeneutical Nonsense BECAUSE it forces a interpretation on the text that is unwarranted.

Here are a couple of examples…

BOTH the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormonism) ARE LETTERIST in doctrine.

Let me explain…

In Mormon theology they teach that God is a Exalted Man (a human who as ascended into Godhood) BECAUSE they point out that scripture says that God has Hair – Revelation 1:14, Eyes – Proverbs 15:3, Mouth – Isaiah 1:20, Nostrils Isaiah 65:5, Feet – Revelation 1:15, Hands – 1 Peter 5:6, John 10:29, and Fingers – Exodus 31:18, Deuteronomy 9:10 THEREFORE God must have been born human.

In Roman Catholic theology they believe that the Wafer and Wine BECOMES the Literal Flesh and Blood of Christ (this is what is called Transubstantiation) they teach this BECAUSE as “They Claim” scriptures like Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:22, 1 Cor. 11:24, 25. are to be taken in the LITERAL SENSE.

Here is why this is false…

In Psalms 91:4 the Bible says that God HAS feathers and wings.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

If a literal interpretation is taken then you have to conclude that God is a bird.

here is a another example, In John 6:48 Jesus (God) calls himself the Bread of Life.

I am that bread of life.

If we are to take a Letterist (literal) Interpretation then God is a Loaf of Bread of course we all know (at lest we should) this is utter NONSENSE.

In Conclusion:

Figurative (symbolic) language IS USED to teach or describe a truth but not to be taken in a literal (letterist) sense, Verses that are to be taken literally ARE NOT to be interpreted symbolically.

In other words we are to interpret the Bible LITERALLY where its literal and we are to understand the Bible in a symbolic sense where it is figurative.

The Word of God tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15…

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (INTERPRETATING) the word of truth.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing to know IS Jesus Christ as savior, just simply believe that Jesus Christ went to the cross and DIED and shed his blood, was BURIED and three days later RESURRECTED from the dead to pay for your sins.

The moment that you do YOU HAVE (at that second and forever) Everlasting Life which WILL NEVER be taken away no matter what.

-Christ DIED for you – Romans 5:8

-Christ PAID your sins in full – 2 Corinthians 5:21,1 Peter 2:24

-BELIEVE (Trust In Completely) in Christ ALONE as the complete payment of sin for salvation – John 3:16, Acts 16:31, Ephesians 2:8,9

“For the wages(payment) of sin is death (eternal torment in hell); but the GIFT(salvation) of God is eternal life THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord”. Romans 6:23