Religious moderatism still makes you narrow-minded.
I propose that this is the logical outcome of the culmination of my three previous essays. In Children of a Vengeful God I attempted to show that the Christian metaphysical hypothesis, if granted, does not dispute with the hypothesis of free will that is so naturally attached to it; that if we are morally repelled by the barbarous stories or tenets as given in the Bible, we are no more required to submit to them even if we should acknowledge the general or physical “truth” of the doctrine. By this, I mean that metaphysical truths and moral opinions do not often occupy the same sphere of knowledge, and that the preternatural fact of one does not imply the reasoned fact of the other. Therefore, if God did exist to dictate that we should tomorrow stone all homosexuals to death we may accept this as factual truth per se, but shall not be obliged to carry out these acts under the basic admittance of free will. I differ in my opinion than to other commentators when observing this relation because I grant that even if the literal reading of the Bible were correct, our current system of morality would in no wise be jeopardised. And by this it is implied that the Biblical, or factual, opinion on morality does not necessarily entail that we must follow it, should we have any strong reason to oppose it. Hell is the presumed destination of all disobeyers, but some like myself would be more attracted to the idea of damnation than to wilfully submit to a god who would promulgate orders of genocide as he would confetti at his own self-appointed coronation event.
We are thus able to determine that the question of whether we read the Bible literally or figuratively is quite irrelevant insofar as we are concerned, though we, like Matthew Arnold, also grant that a figurative reading may be more pleasant and more relevant to the average modern audience owing to its self-correcting elasticity. But a person may read the Bible literally and critically, and the Bible figuratively and uncritically, therefore this alone is no proof of critical readership — indeed there are critical readers of the Bible who are fundamentalists, and non-critical readers who would happily call themselves moderates. In my article Tailor-Made Christianity I likened Christian moderatism to selectivism, whereby the moderate observer reads (granted that he does read) and takes selectively bits and passages which appeal to him, and consequently ignores the rest as being too literal or old-fashioned. So we must do away altogether with this idea that religious moderates are less “fundamental” than fundamentalists, by taking such liberties in Biblical interpretation, because a person who would still adhere unquestioningly to his religion granted that he could be selective about it is, by definition, a wilful fundamentalist. The very fact that a Christian would consider himself “moderate” is perhaps illustrative of a type of mind that has not adequately or critically involved itself in the subject-matter inasmuch as to decide that to be only moderately Christian is to be wilfully and obscurely fundamental, and not admit to it. For a “Christian” who truly possesses that moral ability to select with discrimination from the Bible should find that there is nothing stopping him from extending his ability to welcome the wealth of ethical wisdom supplied by other religions apart from that of his own. And a Christian who, in the knowledge of this, would select to adhere to Christianity and Christianity alone as opposed to open-minded moral eclecticism, is in every sense of the word fundamental.