26 November 2009

Against biblical literalism

Here is an interesting assertion from John Calvin. Commenting on the literal interpretation of the Bible, he says:
Once this principle is accepted, a boundless barbarism will overwhelm the whole light of faith. For what monstrous absurdities will these fanatical men not draw forth from Scripture if they be allowed to raise in objection every tittle to establish what they please! (Institutes 4.17.23)
Admittedly this occurs in the context of his discussion of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. But he clearly intends his criticism of biblical literalism to apply more broadly since he also takes a swipe at an early Christian heresy completely unrelated to the issue at hand.

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