From William Barclay: "The New Testament scholar E.F Scott said that religion is far more than merely the strenuous exercise of the intellect, but that nonetheless a very great part of religious failure is due to nothing other than intellectual sloth. To fail to think things out is in itself a sin."
Do you ever - I know I do - quote a piece of scripture because it fits the situation in which you are in? Do you use scripture to support your belief - either because you've been taught that what you are quoting has a particular meaning or because it just fits your own opinion? I think we do that.
I think we don't look for ourselves. We don't take the time and effort to pull out the Bible and study, not only the chapter and verse, but also the surrounding chapters - even the surrounding books. We don't take the time to explore the people to whom the scripture was written, and their circumstances, or the geography of the place in which the listener stood.
I truly believe that the Bible is a living book that contains the word of God that God wants us to hear. It can reveal some of the nature of God. But it's not easy. It requires effort and work.
I believe that Jesus is the revelation of God, and we would do well to allow Jesus' light to shine on all of the scripture we are trying to understand - even the verses that are credited to Jesus. We need to look at all of it in the revelation Jesus provides so that we can more fully (and correctly) understand it. The Word is the word.
My worry with those who say they "take the bible literally" (and I don't mean everyone who does) is that they haven't really read it for themselves, and haven't given it the strenuous exercise of intellect necessary to understand it. And my worry is that they (and we) are not listening to the living presence of God in our lives when we lift out a verse and use it as a proof of our own thoughts and opinions.
We do that, don't we?