On Literalism

“So you’re not a literalist?” he asked me, a smirk on his face. He closed his Bible.

“I’m not,” I said, “and not a fundamentalist by any means.”

“Don’t have enough faith to trust the word of God?” he quipped. “Takes a lot of faith.”

“Actually,” I said, “I think I have too much faith to be a literalist or a fundamentalist. It takes no faith at all to believe something that is right in front of you. That’s easy. You’ll end up thinking nonsensical things, but it’s easy.”

He frowned.

“What’s not easy is trusting that, despite the flaws of the text, the history, and the context, it still has a Divine word stuck in there. What’s not easy is holding that the scriptures say something and that our intellect also has a part to play. What’s not easy is realizing that imperfect people wrote an imperfect document, and yet God stIll speaks through it…”

“But…” he said.

“That takes faith,” I interjected. “Literalism and fundamentalism are the least faith-filled expression of any religious tradition.”

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