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Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?

Someone told me that Lutherans don’t take the Bible literally, which is why we don’t teach millennialism, that is, Christ’s thousand-year reign with his believers on earth, as found in Revelation chapter 20. What can I say to this person?

Actually, Lutherans do take the Bible literally, that is, according to its genre.

Apocalyptic literature uses figurative language

In order to interpret the book of Revelation, we must recognize that apocalyptic literature uses figurative language.

Even those who accuse Lutherans of not interpreting Revelation literally must acknowledge at least some figurative language in Revelation chapter 20. For example, in verses 1 and 2 where one thousand years is referenced, it states that Satan is bound by a great chain. The chain must be a figure of something since Satan is a fallen angel and cannot be chained with a physical chain. Also notice that a key, dragon, serpent, and even the Abyss are all figurative.

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Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 9
Issue: September 2021

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David Scharf

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