Bible Review 10:2, April 1994

Literalism vs. Everything Else

A continuing conflict

By Martin E. Marty

A fissure runs through communities that take the Bible seriously, especially within American Protestantism. “Literalism” marks the divide between the two camps, the two spiritual regions, the two political forces. Listen to the two factions fighting for the spoils within a single denomination—as in the recent case of the Southern Baptist Convention1 or the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod—and you will hear them fighting over biblical inerrancy and a literal approach to Scripture. As battle lines are drawn between the “evangelical” and the “mainline” churches, no concept is used more frequently as the divider than literalism, by whatever term it is called.

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