Augustine is a good pre-modern interpreter, in my opinion. If the literal meaning of a text (as he perceived it) did not fit with his theology, he shifted into a non-literal interpretation.
Since one of the ways Protestantism argued against Roman Catholicism was by pushing the literal interpretation and since the modern era honed our skills at reading texts in their historical and literary contexts, we have found ourselves increasingly in a conundrum. Here are some of the strategies that have resulted:
- Fundamentalism--act like you're following the rules for reading in context, but find a possible way to interpret the evidence to make it come out your way.
- Evangelicalism at its best--highlight the distinction between "that time" and "our time," so that you can let the text mean what it meant, but then adjust the application for a different context. Deal with potential issues in your theology rather than playing games with the original meaning of the text.
- "Liberalism"--let the text say what it said and then dismiss it as wrong
- Theological interpretation--let the text say what it said literally but reopen the door for more than literal interpretations