Biblical literalism as an interpretative method can be traced back to Martin Luther’s denunciation of the Catholic Church and his use of scripture to undermine their authority. Martin Luther’s democratic mission later combined with the tenets of the scientific revolution and fundamentalist politics to produce biblical literalism, the idea that the Bible is a series of testable assertions that can be proven or disproven and that a layman can read and understand the meaning of scripture.
Biblical literalism is absurd, but it is simple. The fundamentalist is not interested in deeper truths, but rather weaponizing the Bible. A perfect example is women having authority in church. The verse fundamentalists cite to support this view is from, 1 Corinthians 14, where Paul tells the church of Corinth that women should be silent during the service. In many fundamentalist churches, this verse is used to deny women the right to become pastors, or even pray aloud during the service.
Biblical scholar Ken Bailey notes that during this time in the Middle East, services were often held in classical Arabic, which women could not understand (most spoke a local dialect). Throughout the service they would begin to gossip, often so loudly that the minister would ask them to be silent. Paul, Bailey argues, was repeating this injunction in his letter.
As Nye notes in the debate, Ham and other fundamentalists are rather selective with the verses they choose to interpret literally. Reverend Cornel West put it bluntly, “fundamentalists want to be fundamental about everything except, ‘love thy neighbor.’ ”
The source of the quote above was a debate between a Biblical Literalist and Bill Nye the science guy. I will speak as plainly as possible here and say that I think biblical literalism does much more harm to Christianity than any possible good that can be accomplished from it.
But I will also say that as the quote above mentions that the literalists are very selective on which verses of the Bible they choose to remember when it comes to literalism. They seem to pick out a verse here and another there and skip everything in between about loving and welcoming others into their midst.
One of the biggest problems with this part of Christianity is the way they have to stretch their reality to meet their beliefs. From my experiences most literalists are anti-science. They say science just can’t be right that the earth is millions, even billions, of years old. To them it is no more than six thousand years. They say carbon dating is just God trying to trick us. The hypocritical part is that they denounce so much science but continue to take advantage of its discoveries.
This anti-science phobia is very visible to many including most of the past couple of generations. This alone drives many away from God and his church on earth. It doesn’t have to be…..