The Infallible Knowledge of Some Protestants
"Evangelicals tend to lump Catholic teaching in with liberal theology and are convinced that only those of the Evangelical persuasion take the Bible at its word. The hypocrisy of this viewpoint became clear to me as I examined verses like 1 Peter 3:21– “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you” – and Philippians 2:12 – “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – verses which the Catholic Church takes quite literally, but which we as Evangelicals insisted on explaining away because they contradicted our beliefs. "It became apparent to me that Evangelical theology does not take the Scriptures more literally than Catholic theology. Despite our insistence that we Evangelicals were “the good guys” who stick to a literal understanding of Scripture, we told jokes about people who believe in the Real Presence. “They probably think God is a celestial chicken!” we would say, referring to a goofy literal interpretation of Psalm 91:4: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” In other words, if you as a Catholic or Orthodox Christian put John 6:22-71, Luke 22:19, and 1 Corinthians 11:29 together and come up with a literal understanding of the Real Presence, you are just too dumb to understand that some things in Scripture are meant to be taken figuratively. We had you in a box; if you didn't understand Scripture the way we understood it, you were damned one way or the other. If you didn't take literally what we took literally, you were a dastardly liberal. If you didn't take figuratively what we took figuratively, you were a superstitious Catholic. Only Evangelicals struck the right balance. This of course presupposed that we had infallible knowledge of what God meant to be taken literally in Holy Scripture and what God meant to be taken figuratively – and there’s the rub. No Evangelical pastor will tell you that he is rendered infallible when he preaches that the secret rapture can occur at any moment. No liberal theologian will tell you that he is rendered infallible when he writes books explaining that there is no hell. No Protestant (in his right mind) claims infallibility. Yet by stigmatizing or anathematizing anyone who takes literally what they take figuratively, or takes figuratively they take literally, both conservative and liberal Protestants are claiming that that they do have infallible knowledge of how Scripture is to be understood. And this has consequences."
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