Does Legalism In The Faith Hide Doubt

I have not seen the HBO series “The New Pope.” But, reading a review I am intrigued by part of the story line. It is that resorting to legalism can be a strategy to deal with doubt.

There are several kinds of legalism. The most simple one is literalism. Here, the believer claims there are not inconsistencies in the Bible. For example, when there are different accounts of the same event, these are dismissed by saying all the various accounts happened.

Another version is when only certain parts of the Bible are taken literally and other parts are dismissed as myth. This can be called salad bar literalism/legalism, choosing what one likes.

A third is taking the writing respected authorities as the literal truth. Catholics, for example, are to let Catholic clergy interpret the faith rather than doing it themselves. Thus, the legalism is in what the clergy write rather than in the Bible itself.

The Pope character makes it known that when a person presents himself as the absolute last word in expertise it may well be as effort of cover up some doubt. Apparently, the Pope character does some of this himself.

A long time critical columnist, Jack Anderson, once wrote, “Always be suspicious of the person seeking high public office.” The same might be good advice about the person who always has the authoritative answer to all things in Christianity.

That is why I find the Christians who take none of the Bible seriously much more attractive.


1 Response

  1. Juan Ruiz

    “That is why I find the Christians who take none of the Bible seriously much more attractive.”

    Not sure there’s an alternative bearing in mind there was never meant to be a Bible: an anthology of stories written at different times by many authors, with deletions, omissions, additions, meldings. And the decision which of all the possible books were canonical and which were pseudoepigrapha. Why some were accepted and others rejected. Then, of course, you have the problem that unless you are reading everything in the original languages, you are getting a translators opinion.

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