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Author Topic: Is there any form of Christianity which takes the Bible symbolically?  (Read 9960 times)
RandallS
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« Reply #15: February 21, 2010, 08:11:37 am »

However, Fundamentalism as a movement did not represent a new direction but was rather a reaffirmation of the beliefs and practices of earlier generations which had been under assault by liberal theology in the late 19th century.

That's debatable -- as in non-Fundamentalist Christians often strongly disagree that some Fundamentalist belief and practices were common in early Christianity. Biblical literalism, for example.
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« Reply #16: February 21, 2010, 08:57:40 am »

Please do me the favor of quoting the passage(s) where Jesus rebukes the disciples (or anyone else, for that matter) for taking Scripture "too literally".

You might also take some time to review Matthew 24:36-39 (Noah referred to as a historical person); Mark 12:26 (reply hinges upon the tense of a verb); Mark 10:6-8 (Creation story referred to as historical fact) and Luke 24:44 (prophecy has been/must be fulfilled).

Jesus was a fundamentalist.


I will try to find the verse; it has been a while since I've done much with the Christian Bible.

However, I would point out that your noting that Jesus treats *some* of the Bible literally is pretty flimsy evidence that Jesus was a fundamentalist. 

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« Reply #17: February 21, 2010, 10:48:26 am »

However, I would point out that your noting that Jesus treats *some* of the Bible literally is pretty flimsy evidence that Jesus was a fundamentalist. 

Agreed. Perhaps I was being overly contentious. Please permit me to modify my statement to, "In my opinion, there is reason to believe that Jesus viewed the Scriptures as fundamentalists do today."
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« Reply #18: February 21, 2010, 10:56:45 am »

That's debatable -- as in non-Fundamentalist Christians often strongly disagree that some Fundamentalist belief and practices were common in early Christianity. Biblical literalism, for example.

I was not referring to early (1st-2nd century) Christianity so much as I was that of the immediately preceding generations of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Check out Webster's 1828 Dictionary or the New England Primer to get an idea of how Christians (and indeed most of the general population) viewed the Scriptures in that era.
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« Reply #19: February 21, 2010, 01:27:39 pm »

Where I am coming from, though, is an impassioned personal pursuit of the truth. To me, at least, it really makes a difference if there was a Noah, and a Flood, and whether that Deluge was local or global.
I'm not saying it doesn't matter at all whether or not Noah and his counterparts existed and the truth of their situation, just that whether he/they existed or not doesn't change my belief structure.
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If I'm wrong, I want to know where and how and why I'm wrong. If I'm right, I want to know how to share that knowledge with others.
I can absolutely agree with you here. This is part of why I've been researching religion after religion for answers over the past 15 years. One day when my children aren't quite so young I might indulge my passion to know with the energy to find out. At this point my biggest passion is for sleep! Grin





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« Reply #20: February 21, 2010, 02:07:32 pm »

I can understand your position. Where I am coming from, though, is an impassioned personal pursuit of the truth. To me, at least, it really makes a difference if there was a Noah, and a Flood, and whether that Deluge was local or global. I really want to know whether the first human was sculpted and then inspired with life by God, or whether generation 92,141,293 of some African ape family went awry. It really does matter whether or not the Israelis do indeed have a divine title deed to all the land between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates. I want to know, to believe, and to share the truth. I want no part of a lie, and while I am willing to enjoy a yarn or two here and there I want to know and to keep in mind the distinction between fact and fable. My own religious path has led me to believe that Orthodox Christian Doctrine is a good starting point...but it's not the finish line. I think that there is a lot more to discover in both the physical and the spiritual world, but at the same time I believe that it really can be harmonized, that there is a way that the pieces all fit together.

If I'm wrong, I want to know where and how and why I'm wrong. If I'm right, I want to know how to share that knowledge with others.



Well, you know, if I demanded the absolute literal truth out of my religion's mythology to believe in the deity, I'd be atheist, because no Mythology, including the bible, is literal history, let alone truth.  It's written so that the people of that day and age can understands it, often passed down orally long before it's written down, most likely changed, with the best intentions, to reflect that generation's mores and expectations, based on what they know and have never seen.
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« Reply #21: February 21, 2010, 05:14:09 pm »

Check out Webster's 1828 Dictionary or the New England Primer to get an idea of how Christians (and indeed most of the general population) viewed the Scriptures in that era.

I somehow doubt that these two books are representative of Christian views if the era so much as they are representative of Protestant Christian views in the US.
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« Reply #22: February 21, 2010, 06:26:19 pm »

I somehow doubt that these two books are representative of Christian views if the era so much as they are representative of Protestant Christian views in the US.

A narrow and region-specific range (Webster was from Connecticut) of US Protestant views in the era, to be even more accurate.

Koi has remarked many times the way that the entire history of Catholic settlement of the US gets conveniently left out of histories, especially those written and cited by Protestants (esp. fundy Protestants) with an agenda.  Protestantism may have been the religion of the Anglo-elite in the more densely settled parts of the eastern US, but there were quite a few Catholics of French and Spanish descent running around in the western (California, the southwest), central (the Louisiana Purchase territory), and southern (Florida) regions. 

And even in the Protestant-dominant regions, fundamentalism was only one of many approaches; New England certainly had plenty of Puritans and other conservative Protestant groups, but the region was *also* a hotbed of Unitarianism, one of the most liberal theologies in that era, just as today.
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« Reply #23: March 23, 2010, 03:08:19 am »

One of the things I find most annoying about Christian Fundamentalists is that they take the Bible strictly literally. I mean, wouldn't it make so much more sense if they saw their mythology as what it is - mythology? Of course, some of the stories in the Bible are indeed historically accurate, but what I'm talking about here is the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark etc.
I don't mean to cause any offense, I'm just wondering.
Blessed Be!

I am a Christian, and I do not always take the Bible literally.  For me, it's more important that a story is true than that it is literally or historically factual.  Like mythology.  And I use the word "mythology" in the wonderful powerful truth sense, not in the sense of "silly fairy tales".  (It's late, I hope you can grasp my meaning.)  I have enormous awe and respect for the Bible, and I believe it's probably the single best source for learning about God.  But God gave us our heads in order to use them, and it's just obvious that much of the Bible spent generations as oral history before it was written down, and even then it was edited over the centuries.  The text comes out of a particular culture, etc., etc., I'm sure we've all heard this speech before so I will not bore you.

I am often frustrated by the circular arguments of fundamentalists/literalists.  It seems more important to these people that the Bible be literally true than to learn about God and her/his desires for humankind.  The amount of energy that is expended on imagining far-fetched explanations for how the Bible can be literally true seems truly wasteful and entirely beside the point.  It's like they really believe in the Bible, and belief in God is just a consequence of believing in the Bible.  I prefer to really believe in God, and the Bible as a consequence of God. 

And since this seems relevant, I will explain how my tradition believes the Bible should be interpreted.  We believe that the Bible can only be correctly interpreted with all 4 of the following ingredients:
1) the community of believers (there's no such thing as a solitary Christian)
2) prayer & the holy spirit (God is present with us in the Holy Spirit, we need to ask for guidance and listen to her/him)
3) in the context of the whole Bible (how does the passage fit with the overall theme and message of the Bible?)
4) Jesus was the fullest revelation of God (when in doubt or when there's an apparent contradiction, always go with what Jesus did/said)
Hopefully that made sense.  Ask for clarification if you like.
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« Reply #24: March 23, 2010, 03:38:04 am »

Here in Canada I think quite a few of the more mainstream churches treat the Bible as a symbolic text in which God reveals himself to the world.   

Betty
Similar in Germany. I'd say most Christians here (Catholics and Protestants) don't take the bible literally, but of course we have also a few fundies.
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« Reply #25: March 23, 2010, 08:27:26 am »

It's like they really believe in the Bible, and belief in God is just a consequence of believing in the Bible. 

As far as I can tell, this is pretty much how most Fundamentalists think. They NEED the believe to be literally true because they seem to feel that if any part of the Bible isn't literally true, then it would bot be 100% certain that salvation is true or what the Bible says is necessary for salvation is true.  This doesn't explain why some fundamentalists read verses out of content and connect them with other verses in other parts of the Bible (also taken out of content) and read those verses as one text, of course.

Quote
And since this seems relevant, I will explain how my tradition believes the Bible should be interpreted.  We believe that the Bible can only be correctly interpreted with all 4 of the following ingredients:
1) the community of believers (there's no such thing as a solitary Christian)
2) prayer & the holy spirit (God is present with us in the Holy Spirit, we need to ask for guidance and listen to her/him)
3) in the context of the whole Bible (how does the passage fit with the overall theme and message of the Bible?)
4) Jesus was the fullest revelation of God (when in doubt or when there's an apparent contradiction, always go with what Jesus did/said)

This is fairly normal for non-fundamentalist Christianity, as far as I can tell.
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« Reply #26: March 23, 2010, 05:08:23 pm »

I am well aware that "Fundamentalism" as a term derives its origin from The Fundamentals, which was published as a series of 12 volumes between 1910 and 1915. As a matter of fact, I own a copy, although I have not read it in its entirety. However, Fundamentalism as a movement did not represent a new direction but was rather a reaffirmation of the beliefs and practices of earlier generations which had been under assault by liberal theology in the late 19th century.



Which earlier generations are we talking about? Most Christians between 200 CE and the mid 1700s CE were illiterate, so they could not read the bible to take it literally. Prior to that there really was no "bible", and after the protestant reformation and the mass printing of bibles, there was a period of bible literacy before what you termed the "assault by liberal theology". 
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« Reply #27: March 23, 2010, 05:32:15 pm »

Which earlier generations are we talking about? Most Christians between 200 CE and the mid 1700s CE were illiterate, so they could not read the bible to take it literally. Prior to that there really was no "bible", and after the protestant reformation and the mass printing of bibles, there was a period of bible literacy before what you termed the "assault by liberal theology". 

I am thinking primarily of the period of the first and second great awakenings.
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« Reply #28: March 23, 2010, 09:03:35 pm »

I am thinking primarily of the period of the first and second great awakenings.

So, say 1725 to 1840 or so?  Doesn't that leaves most of the history of Christianity out?
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« Reply #29: March 23, 2010, 10:34:33 pm »

So, say 1725 to 1840 or so?  Doesn't that leaves most of the history of Christianity out?

Do you prefer quantity to quality?
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