St. Augustine expressed frustration as he tried to interpret Scripture.  Certain fundamentalists believe Scripture is self-evident.   According to them, all you have to do is read the Bible and follow the words as they are written.  Scripture needs no interpretation according to this view.  This fundamentalist view ignores difficulties found in Scripture itself; after all, Scripture was revealed by God to people at various times and places.  In his Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Augustine denies a fundamentalist reading regarding the days of creation and he reminds Christians to listen to the best science available.

Often Scripture uses metaphors to speak about God rather than providing a direct description of what God is.  According to the medievals like St. Thomas Aquinas, God has no definition because definitions imply limitations; nothing can circumscribe the infinite God.  So why does Scripture use metaphors?  According to Aquinas,” For God provides for everything according to the capacity of its nature. Now it is natural to man to attain to intellectual truths through sensible objects, because all our knowledge originates from sense. Hence in Holy Writ, spiritual truths are fittingly taught under the likeness of material things.” 

None of us can directly see God in this life.  We can have knowledge of God through revelation and by investigating God’s effects.  Revelation uses concrete physical images to paint a picture of what God is like.  The metaphors do not mean that God literally has a right hand or is a rock, but they attempt to put into finite human words the mystery of God’s being.

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