When we come to the Scripture, we need to learn the art of understanding biblical literature. I came across the following recently (via a “friend”–not personal friend–on social media). It’s from C S Lewis’ Miracles. I think Lewis is right that somehow we get confused about what is literal and what is metaphorical.
The material imagery has never been taken literally by anyone who had reached the stage when he could understand what ‘taking it literally’ meant. And now we come to the difference between ‘explaining’ and ‘explaining away’. It shows itself in two ways. (1) Some people when they say that a thing is meant “metaphorically” conclude from this that it is hardly meant at all. They rightly think that Christ spoke metaphorically when he told us to carry the cross: they wrongly conclude that carrying the cross means nothing more than leading a respectable life and subscribing moderately to charities. They reasonably think hell “fire” is a metaphor—and unwisely conclude that it means nothing more serious than remorse.