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But the main theme of this blog is that such “markedly strict literalism” results in a closed mind. And a whole set of Christians who are only cheating themselves. And a set of Christians who are driving away potential converts “in droves.”
I’ve referred to such close-minded literalists as boot-camp Christians, or as “Comfort Zone Christians.” Yet another descriptive term could be “half-way Christians.” As in, Christians who go only half way in building up their spiritual “mansion.” They put in a foundation, as in “an underlying base or support; especially: the whole masonry substructure of a building.”
Which makes this a good time to note that the word “fundamental” comes from the late Middle English – Medieval Latin – term , meaning
But then these Christians don’t build anything on top of that foundation. That results – spiritually speaking – in something like the image at right: A “foundation,” with noting built on top of it. Or put this way:
The theory or theme here is that people who read the Bible in a strict, narrow or “fundamental” way are only cheating themselves.
(See About the Blog.) The result is that they have “perverted” the original sense of the word “fundamental;” they have altered that term “from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended.” Instead of laying a foundation, and then building a spiritual house on top of it, they’re happy living on just the foundation itself.
And they end up living a barren, “spirit-less” life, contrary to John 4:24: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (Not to mention, 2d Corinthians 3:6: “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”) Not only that, these too-iiteral fundamentalists end up – spiritually speaking – sleeping, eating and living only on a cold, concrete foundation, and thus effectively in a hole in the ground. That’s the metaphor for the day anyway…
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On a more positive note: Last Sunday, August 6, was the Feast day for The Transfiguration of Jesus, For more on that see On the Transfiguration of Jesus – 2016, and/or The Transfiguration – The Greatest Miracle in the World. One key point is that it’s arguably the “greatest miracle in the world” because – unlike the other miracles of Jesus – this one happened to Him. All the other miracles involved Jesus doing things for other people.
But the key point there is that the Transfiguration “stands as an allegory of the transformative nature” of the faith of the Bible. That is, the allegory of undergoing a “marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better.”
But you can’t do that if you read the Bible too literally.
The key point there is that this Mary had to undergo quite a transformation herself…
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The upper image is courtesy of Alexander Louis Leloir, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. I’ve used the image in previous posts, including On arguing with God and On “originalism.”
The image to the left of the first main paragraph is courtesy of a 2012 post by Peter Enns, the “American biblical scholar, theologian, and writer… Outside of his academic work Enns is a contributor to HuffPost and Patheos,” and is “best known for his book Inspiration and Incarnation, which challenged conservative/mainstream Evangelical methods of biblical interpretation.” The post is titled Why I Don’t Give up on Fundamentalists (including the not nice ones), and includes these thoughts: 1) “Fundamentalists are human beings and therefore are of infinite worth,” 2) “Fundamentalists are my brothers and sisters in the faith,” and 3) “Some fundamentalists are on a journey out of fundamentalism, even if they do not yet know it, and they need a place to land.”
The “‘foundation,’ without anything built on top of it” image is courtesy of Construction of the administrative building foundationszfk.ru.
The lower image is courtesy of the Marian perspectives link at Mary, mother of Jesus – Wikipedia. The caption: “The Virgin in Prayer, by Sassoferrato, c. 1650.” (Or in the alternative: “Jungfrun i bön(1640-1650). National Gallery, London.”) Also, for a thorough analysis of how the term has evolved over the years, see What Is “Fundamentalism” and Who Is a “Fundamentalist?”