Which denominations believe that the bible should be read "literally?" Do they believe that all of the text should be read this way? Why?

Context: It seems like most of these people would still read parable/poetry as metaphor. But I still hear the argument that the text should "always be taken literally."


3 Answers 3


Wiki gives us:


Look in there, lots of links which will lead you to various denominational groups.

That also clarifies it as a form of biblical hermeneutics aka biblical interpretation.

So then, as this is the Christian exchange, I'll assume you want the Christian denominations that use it.

All your Christian Fundamentalists use that form. However, not all who are called "fundamentalists" are so. Many Pentecostals are anything but literalist and get called fundamentals all the time. A lot of Evangelicals are in the literalist camp but again, not all. I do know GARBC (the General Assembly Regular Baptist Church denomination) are literalist.

Too many Christian groups are not denominational, or are non-denominational. Consider John Hagee's groups and ministries. Non-denominational, yet, huge.

Many people consider (and some Hebraic's consider) the Hebraic Roots folks to be in the Christian camp, thus a sort of "denomination" in it. However, they all do not fit nicely, or not, into any particular group, instead running the whole length and breath of Christian beliefs. Some are literalists, some not. Messianics (Jewish believers in Y'shua) run the length and breath, likewise, of Judaism instead, also encompassing Charismatic and Pentecostal as well.

  • 1
    I don't see the links with lead to various denominational groups.
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 23:55

Catholics read the Bible Literally,

The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."

CCC 116

which references this:

Therefore that first signification whereby words signify things belongs to the first sense, the historical or literal

St. Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 10

So, the first sense is always what how the words resound in our heads as facts and figures.

But it's not exclusively literal, there also is the spiritual sense,

That signification whereby things signified by words have themselves also a signification is called the spiritual sense, which is based on the literal, and presupposes it.


So, yes you can be a Catholic and believe that all the Bible can be taken literally. You are not forced by the Church to believe in a strict historical interpretation of the first 11 Chapters of Genesis. You're not forced to believe Tobit or Job or Jonah really happened as written. But you are compelled to believe all the Truths in the Sacred Scripture.

Basically, the Catholic Church teaches that the first way to read scripture is literally and only through reading literally we can start to penetrate the spiritual truths.


One could perhaps compile such a list by looking at the affiliations of the 200 or so evangelical Christians who signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I personally am not an evangelical, so I don't recognize many of the names, but perhaps others do. John MacArthur and Wayne Grudem are a couple of the more prominent signatories.

Article XII of the Statement reads:

WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

This and some of the supporting articles I think imply that the signers believed that the Bible should be read "literally".

There is a somewhat paradoxical article, however - Article X - that qualifies the Statement overall as referring to the "autographic text" of Scriptures, which are admittedly absent.

  • from the very article you cited: "...In the Statement, inerrancy does not refer to a blind literal interpretation..." Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 17:14
  • While true we don't have the autographic text (which in a literal sense would mean the original manuscripts), what we have is very high confidence (n.b. Article X and the section Transmission and Translation) that the text we have accurately reflects the autographic text, and particularly that any irreconcilable variations do not affect doctrine.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 20:52
  • @Matthew the Chicago Statement presumes that some autographic text exists in the same sense that Muslims insist is true of some incorrupt autograph of the Koran. The insistence that somehow what we have accurately reflects a hypothetical document that we have no copy if is patent logical absurdity.
    – guest37
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 21:35
  • Your comment is self-refuting. We do have a copy. In fact, we have more copies of most Biblical manuscripts than we have of many other historical documents (about which no one is complaining). To the extent that we have both very early and very many copies with very little meaningful variation (i.e. not counting spelling and punctuation variations), we have confidence (which is admittedly not proof) that, yes, what we have really does accurately reflect the autographic text. To claim otherwise is to apply an unreasonable and exceptional standard to the Bible.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 2:07
  • If we don't have the autographic text, how can we claim that what we do have accurately represents the autographic text? That is the absurd claim. We can believe that what we have accurately represents some hypothetical autographic text, but belief is not knowledge.
    – guest37
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 14:49

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