[ExI] Are literalists the only consistent members of a faith?/was Re: Deuteronomy Chapter 13

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 10 16:36:37 UTC 2009

--- On Tue, 6/9/09, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 9:05 PM, Dan<dan_ust at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
>> Cute, but my guess is most monotheist members of these
>> religions are not textual literalists.
> ... meaning that they are lukewarmly, weakly, lazily
> accepting a
> denomination they do not really embrace anymore.
> As a "relativist", I am supposed to doubt of the existence
> of absolute
> values, but the fact of being serious and consistent in
> what you
> believe is a pretty good candidate for a universal value
> and for what
> makes a human being worth of respect.

I think you're defining the various adherents purely in terms of being literalists.  This is an identity problem that depends on how you delimit these terms.  I'm not sure that those who fall outside your limits are necessarily inconsistent or unserious.  They might simply have different views of what it means to be a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.

I actually use the term Biblical literalist to mean a Christian who believes the Bible is literally true -- not to mean Christian per se, but merely a subset of Christians.  So how would I define "Christian"?  That's a tough call, but I would try to look for what I believe the core beliefs of Christianity are...  And, in this case, I don't think Biblical literalism is a core belief.  (Granted, some sects do believe it is.)  If it is, then not only are most so called Christians today not Christians, but most supposed Christians throughout history are not Christian, especially members of faiths that put a premium on allegorical interpretation of the Bible.

I'm not sure where to draw the line here though.  While I'd class many literalists, Lutherans, Catholics, Coptics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, etc. as, more or less, Christians, I'm not sure how what exactly makes for the core belief...  Is it accepting the Nicene Creed?  If so, Biblical literalism would seem optional.  (Of course, one might debate just what that creed means and how it relates to literalism.)

Moreover, and again, literalism in itself still involves interpretation.  It's a fallacy to think that the Bible or any book just tells us what its message is.  That's always influences by how its interpreted.  So, literalists (and those who buy into literalism as practicable -- including people who might disagree with the literalists' specific stances, but actually think it's possible to do exegesis without some interpretation) are still open to all the problems of hermeneutics -- a field that was started, IIRC, in interpreting the Talmud.




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