Why English Majors Make Lousy Fundamentalists

Why English Majors Make Lousy Fundamentalists

Why English Majors Make Lousy Fundamentalists

This is just an interesting read.  The more I learn about literature and language, the more skeptical I am of a strictly “fundamentalist” approach to all scripture, and yet the more understanding I am of why fundies see things the way they do.  Of course, the word “fundamentalist” conjures a range of labels, but most of them indicate to me a view of the Bible that attempts to honor it, but falls short of embracing its totality.  Like a fundy, I totally believe 2 Tim. 3:16 to be true.  But I’m going to understand it in a different way.  And even fundies disagree over interpreting the passages, so “taking everything literally” doesn’t solve all problems of interpretation and doctrine.  After all, Jesus didn’t literally produce wool from his body, swing on a hinge, or grow vines.  So when he says he is the lamb, the door, or the vine, he is no doubt being symbolic.  And although a fundy knows this is metaphor, this understanding is an important basis for how all else can be metaphor.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this readers—especially the converse.  How can/how have “English majors” and other types misapprehended the scriptures?

One response to “Why English Majors Make Lousy Fundamentalists

  1. Apparently throughout my life, I have been the most extreme literalist when it comes to the Scriptures. I wasn’t until I came to FHU that I realized it.

    Over the past 2 years, the way I have interpreted Scripture has changed dramatically (see next paragraph). But I still consider myself a literalist when it comes to certain Scriptures such as the Sermon on the Mount. I believe more literalism (not liberalism) is good.

    As you have been shaped by literature and language, I have been shaped by history over the last 2 years. Now, I look at the Scriptures with a more historical mind-set and less of a theological mind-set. But I still hang on to both as if my life depended on it.

    You brought up 2Tim 3:16. My interpretation of that has changed recently. Instead of viewing this passage a proof-text of the inerrancy of Scripture, I now see it as a statement of the effectiveness of Scripture and its superhuman value. I view this passage less doctrinally and more practically.

    The same is true with Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19. I no longer view these as a proof-text for what should be left out of our worship. Instead, I view these as spiritual instructions as to how we should submit to God’s Spirit in all aspects of our lives.

    The greatest change to my interpretation of Scripture that history has brought is my view of Biblical canon. One of the most hard-set views of fundamentalism is this. I have found that one of the greatest difficulties is to challenge a fundamentalist to examine what books should be canon or not. In fact, it’s hard to for a fundamentalist to have any other view as cannon/non-canon. They see things in such black and white terms.

    When looking at Scripture and possible Scripture from a historical viewpoint, it changes the foundations of interpretation. One of the advantages of looking at things historically is that one can see how fundamentalism became today’s dominate way of viewing not only Scripture but all modern ways of thinking.

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