In this video Conversation, Greg Boyd considers the implications of an "ultra-literal" approach to scripture, an all-or-nothing mindset that characterizes a fundamentalist worldview.
But perhaps the difference between those who read the Bible literally and those who take more exegetical liberty is not as extreme as it might sound. For example, Boyd notes that though many evangelicals claim to read the Bible with a literalist perspective, most do not. For example, when we read in the scriptures that the earth is held up by pillars-- or that the earth is surrounded by water-- the majority of readers would understand the metaphorical language without accepting the text as reporting scientific fact.
Some believers conceive of their faith as a proverbial "house of cards" where shifting one element will collapse the whole thing. To help believers get past this mindset, Boyd suggests that pastors and theologians would do well to model "responsible exegesis" that holds up Christ as the center and allows the scriptures to truly communicate the message of the gospel.
"If we have Christ in common," says Boyd, "Then all of our disagreements will be relatively minor."