One thing Jesus often critiqued was interpretational idolatry. He did this with the woman caught in adultery and with David gleaning on the sabbath, among others.

Below are a couple examples of mainstream apologists more concerned, at least subconsciously, with maintaining a worldview than following the moral and more loving path.

Sean McDowell defending slavery:

Anyone aware of the totality of slavery instituted in the OT understands how historically vapid this take is. And, more importantly, how unloving this take is. It also makes God out to be a moral relativist, among other things. In most cases these are examples of people being better than their Theology. But, harmful beliefs / interpretive frameworks can still do harm.

William Lane Craig defending genocide. This was best addressed by Randal Rauser here:

For a more comprehensive defense of Randal Rauser interpretive framework I’d recommend his excellent book “Jesus Loves Canaanites”.

So the question I have is if God has written the laws on our hearts, including non-Christians, as evinced in Romans 2:12–16, why should this not be a strong controlling hermeneutic? I would argue that what we see in Fundamentalism / US Evangelicalism is an emotional need to protect a particular interpretive framework that Jesus strongly critiqued among the Pharisees.

How do you persuade good people to commit atrocities? Condition them to discount that inner witness. Teach them how to otherise. Having grown up in fundamentalism and been all in for a few decades, “otherization” is the default mode of it unfortunately.

We should be highly skeptical of any interpretive framework that stifles empathy, love of neighbor, and/or love of enemy. Why? On 1/6/2021 a mob of many of those who would label themselves Christians stormed the US capitol with intent to control and kill.

They honestly believe they are on the side of Truth itself. This, I argue, is in no small part because of their interpretive framework that malnourishes and muzzles the inner witness the vast majority of us have. Their interpretive framework also has a myriad of protection mechanisms in place to filter out outsider critique. They know that they know that they know they are right.

The truth is, no one can escape their own subjectivity but we can become increasingly more aware of it. In the US, white Evangelicals often apply a nationalistic interpretive lens which compounds the possibility for greater harm should their worldview be stressed to a breaking point. Again, 1/6 is evidence of this.

The fundamentalist’s need for certainty, to avoid the moral failings of their interpretive framework, tragically and harmfully misses the mark. This will manifest in misguided cruel ways. That need for certainty, for validation, when under severe stress will manifest itself in ways that seeks control to continue to suppress underlying anxieties. E.g. scapegoating, blacklisting of the object of stress (usually a person, book, etc.), or, in extreme situations, “divinely authorized” violence.

Ironically, in the fundamentalist’s attempt to attain and maintain their broad Biblical interpretative certainty, they blind themselves to the subjectivity that suffuses it in their misguided attempts to avoid it. In this they miss the very thing they say they have, relationship with Jesus.

I sincerely hope that substantially more leaders in their midst will rise up to defend against the ravenous wolves and cancerous conspiracy theories running amok in their churches.

“To believe is human to doubt, divine.” Peter Rollins