Here’s a interesting quote from Kevin Lewis, a Lutheran theologian, on the heresy of literalism:
“there are better, more legitimate, less blasphemous ways than this to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God. The Word is to be affirmed without the heresy of divinizing each word of Scripture as though it fell from heaven a perfect expression of the mind of God. The drive for certainty in a skeptical age is more dangerous to our faith than we might suppose. It leads away from “faith” to a calculating “belief” not satisfied with the promises of God but restless to prove, verify, and guarantee those promises with scientific precision.”
I’ve come across this lecture by Rev David Simmons, an Episcopal priest from the US, entitled Literalism: The Heresy of the 20th Century. I had never heard biblical literalism described as a heresy before, which is why it caught my attention. It is a very interesting overview of how the Scriptures came to be interpreted literally in modernism and what are the implications of such an approach to Scripture. See what you make of it.
Watch the following clips below:
Here’s a very interesting video on the dangers of fundamentalism, and the difference between literalism and fundamentalism – John Dominic Crossan
Quote from John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism
‘The fundamentalists will appeal to the need for emotional security by trafficking in religious certainty. The system they create will survive momentarily – it might even flourish for a time – but it will not endure. Delusions can be immensely satisfying. For short periods of time people seem to enjoy turning off their brains and listening to those who assure them that all is well. […] Fundamentalism is both an expression of and an assisting cause in the terminal sickness that hangs over religious life today. When the depth of that sickness becomes obvious, it will leave in its wake disillusionment, despair, and pain. No seeds of renewal are contained in a literalism that is itself afraid of truth.”
I would have to add that there is also a form of fundamentalism present in Atheism – it’s trafficking not in religious certainty, but rather in an exagerated confidence in science, and particularly in the extent that theories such as evolution can explain all reality. I have to say that I don’t have a problem with the theory of evolution, except Darwin himself did not claim absolute truth, and he was open to other theories that may explain reality better.