The Divinely Sinful Saints
by Con Trong Bui
Archway Publishing

"Moreover, human beings do not have words for “things” or “beings” that exist in the nonphysical worlds. Therefore, symbols and analogies must be used..."

Interpretation of the Bible has undoubtedly produced a plethora of arguments since the first emergence of the Old Testament around 2000 B.C. when it was passed down from generation to generation in the oral tradition to today’s modern translations meant to make it accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. At the heart of the most heated debates and the driving force behind the numerous Protestant denominations is the question: Should the Bible be interpreted literally? In this book, Bui argues that it should not.

The crux of the author’s argument against literal interpretation is centered on his belief that all religious scripture, being divinely inspired, can’t be understood by humans because there is no human language which corresponds to a divine language. In other words, spiritual concepts can only be related to humans in symbols and analogies. These stories, being symbolic of a spiritual concept, automatically render a literal interpretation of the story misleading. Relying heavily on the story of creation in the first chapters of Genesis and including other well-known stories from both Old and New Testament books, the author presents his argument in a thoughtful and meticulous manner.

For Bui, a Vietnamese immigrant with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from Ohio University and a doctorate in metaphysics from the Brotherhood of the White Temple, it makes no logical sense to interpret the Bible literally because to do so leads to misinterpretation. He questions commonly held beliefs such as the existence of the Garden of Eden as a physical place in the way in which one would envision a garden. It is a valid question. If one insists on a literal interpretation of the entire Bible, there are many questions which must go unanswered. For example, where was the Garden of Eden located? How does one legitimately ignore science? His intent is clear throughout the book: the wish to help those who read the scriptures gain a deeper spiritual understanding of their meaning, one which can’t be found by interpreting spiritual concepts in human (literal) terms.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Bui’s work is his adherence to the Socratic method. As the book is a persuasive thesis, he uses this method of asking questions very effectively. Within each section is a series of questions prompting readers to consider their preconceived notions concerning the various concepts discussed. Most of these questions will leave readers wondering why they’ve never considered them before or why discussions about them have never been tackled during their religious upbringing as they point to obvious curiosities within the biblical text. There are many instances of contradictions and inconsistencies within the Bible that the author tackles, and his conclusions are fascinating. Whether one agrees with those conclusions in whole or part or not at all, it is still a fascinating premise that the author has outlined, and his reasoning is scientifically provocative, especially his theories concerning black matter and how it relates to God before the creation.

The biggest take away of Bui’s work is there doesn’t have to be a separation of God and science. Some of the most fascinating of his theories discuss the blending of creation with scientific realities. If one believes in a creator and also accepts the truth of scientific evidence, perhaps the explanation lies in the symbolic language used in the writing of spiritual texts. For the author, this seems to be a feasible theory and one which certainly gives one plenty of food for thought within the pages of this fascinating book.

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