Doug Wilson, Reformed apologist vs. Christopher Hitchens, eloquent atheist.
Check out the first 13 minutes of their new documentary, Collision, here.
What does the pastor mean when he says he’s not a fundamentalist because he doesn’t take the bible litterally, but that he believes it absolutely (in it’s context.) I don’t understand that statement.
“Fundamentalists” are known in the broader culture for being naive about Bible interpretation. And the supreme example of their naivete is taken to be that they interpret the Bible “literally.” I’ve never heard anyone who wasn’t a conservative Bible believer actually bother to define what “literally” means, but I gather that people who make this charge against fundamentalists have two things in mind. 1) They think the Bible is really full of metaphors and that the meaning is kind of hidden. 2) They think that Genesis 1, especially, is not supposed to be read as a historical treatise. It’s just a literarily beautiful way of saying that God is the one ultimately responsible for making the world.
Doug Wilson knows that in order to defend his straightforward, conservative interpretation of the Bible (which might justly be called “literal”) he’d have to do a lot of explaining which the people in his audience wouldn’t get. So he distances himself from the “fundamentalists” and from reading the Bible “literally.” He does, in fact, even in that video, explain that faithful Bible interpretation involves understanding the different genres of literature the Bible is written in: poetry, prophecy, narrative, Gospel, epistle. Thinking fundamentalists would say exactly the same thing. Nobody reads “I am the door” literally, as if Christ is saying that He is made of wood and has a handle. Unfortunately, there are unthinking fundamentalists (well, I say unfortunately, but then I think of how God chooses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty) who simply cannot evaluate Bible interpretations. They see a phrase like, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” (Gen. 6:3), and they simply cannot see that the verse could mean several different things. It means to them what they first heard their preacher say it means.
Basically, “fundamentalist” is a bad word almost everywhere but in the very conservative churches that first got the name. Reading and thinking fundamentalists nowadays recognize this, and they don’t use the term to describe themselves to lost people. The term has a history for us—it tells of the original founders of the movement who held tightly to the “fundamentals” of Bible doctrine while the liberals went on ahead into apostasy. But it’s used in the mainstream media today to refer to fanatical Islamic and Hindu believers who blow other people up. Wilson is right not to use the label of himself. Almost the same goes for the word “literally.” I never use it. I prefer describing my interpretation as “straightforward.”
I think I need to stop telling people that I go to a fundamentalist church. No wonder they look at me weird.