I found a reference that helps us to look deeper into what is said in the Bible. For some reason it was taken out of the second edition of A Course In Miracles. It is found only in the original source text and the edition done by William Thetford. The later edition misses the first paragraph of the following. I find it contains a very helpful answer to the idea that what the Bible says is to be taken literally. I love the Bible, but with many ideas I have struggled. They did not seem to speak to me of a God of love and light.
While teachers like Emmet Fox helped me to come to a deeper and more consistent understanding of what is said in the New Testament, I never found the issue expressed better than here, by Jesus himself. Thank you, Jesus.
"You have begun to realize that this is a very practical course, because it means EXACTLY what it says. So does the Bible, if it is properly understood. There has been a marked tendency on the part of many of the Bible's followers, and also its translators, to be entirely literal about fear and ITS effects, but NOT about love and ITS results. Thus, 'hellfire' means burning, but raising the dead becomes allegorical. Actually, it is PARTICULARLY the references to the outcomes of love that should be taken literally because the Bible is ABOUT love, being about GOD.
The Bible enjoins you to be perfect, to heal ALL errors, to take no thought of the body AS SEPARATE, and to accomplish all things IN MY NAME. This is not my name alone, for ours is a shared identification. The name of God's Son is One, and you are enjoined to do the works of love BECAUSE we share this oneness. Our minds are whole BECAUSE they are one. If you are sick, you are withdrawing from me. But you CANNOT WITHDRAW FROM ME ALONE. You can only withdraw from yourself AND me.
I would not ask you to do things which you CANNOT do, and it is impossible that I could do things YOU cannot do. Given this, and given this QUITE LITERALLY, there CAN be nothing which prevents you from doing EXACTLY what I ask, and EVERYTHING which argues FOR it. I give you NO limits, because God lays none upon you. When you limit YOURSELF, we are NOT of one mind, and that IS sickness.
And once again, if you haven't seen the trailer for the upcoming feature length documentary about A Course In Miracles and what it means and does for some 120 teachers and students, please watch it, spread the word. It will be released and published shortly.
Update: The documentary film, A Course In Miracles Unleashed, was released in Septermber 2008, and is available on DVD.