Dangers of an Ultra-Literal Perspective with Greg Boyd

Conversation with: Greg Boyd

In this video Conversation, Greg Boyd considers the implications of an “ultra-literal” approach to scripture. Such an all-or-nothing mindset, which often defines the fundamentalist worldview, does nothing to promote unity among believers.

To discuss this video, see the post "A Pastor’s Perspective on the Dangers of an Ultra-Literal Perspective" on our blog Science & the Sacred.

Video Transcription

There is a slippery slope mindset where the idea is that if I say Genesis 1 is literal, that maybe it's sort of figurative, then maybe Jesus rising from the dead wasn't literal, either. There is this kind of 'all or nothing' sort of mindset that characterizes a fundamentalist world view. The reality is that no one really takes all of The Bible literally. They might say they do, but they don't. They don't believe that the earth is held up by pillars - The Bible says that - or that it is surrounded by a bunch of water.

I think the best thing is, and I speak as a theologian and a pastor, just modeling responsible acts of Jesus and modeling how your faith doesn't hang upon interpretation of every particular verse. Having a sense of proportion. A lot of people, especially if they come out of a fundamentalist mindset, have a sort of house of cards theology, where the house is just built out of these cards stacked together, and if you knock out any one of them, the whole thing comes tumbling down.

That was actually the kind of faith I initially inherited when I became a Christian when I was 17. Everything was equally important. I was taught that if Adam and Eve weren't literal and if Genesis 1 wasn't literal, then the whole Bible is a book of lies. It took one semester of college for my faith to be destroyed, going into it with that kind of mindset. It took me three years to gradually come back to my faith, kind of putting the pieces back together again. But it was just miserable and so unnecessary.

That's when I decided that whatever else I do with my life, I want to use whatever influence I have to keep that from happening to other people. Putting unnecessary obstacles of people coming to faith, or unnecessary things that get people out of the faith, just modeling a sort of freedom about that, like not everything is equally important. We can disagree on Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and this interpretation or whatever, but holding up Christ as the center. If we have got Christ in common then all of ur disagreements are going to be relatively minor. We can grow together and help one another by talking about this and debating these sorts of thing, but we don't have to bet the house on it.

Billy Graham, author and evangelist

The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. ... whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God.

- Billy Graham, author and evangelist