The next great task for the human race is to wean ourselves off literal interpretations of religion. We need to eradicate fundamentalism in all its forms.
Perhaps this is right. Orthodoxy uses traditional church interpretations of verses, not the Fundamentalist individualist-based interpretations. From our perspective, it is a task to wean people onto Orthodoxy, and that means off of Calvinist-based Christianity and other religions that use literalist-only interpretations- the Sadducees in Israel for examples used a literalist-only interpretation style.
Atheism is no help. Human beings are spiritual and look for meaning. Science holds answers but not "THE" answer we look for and long for. Family life and love -- continuity of relationships -- come closest for fulfilling our longing for purpose.
This is consistent with an Orthodox position.
As I argue in my book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) the answer to fundamentalism, literal-minded religion and all the horror and absurdity they create
Please read my posts on Calvinism to see how Calvinism did generate certain abuses.
...is to work on the evolution of religion: reject false certainties rooted in myth and embrace myth as a window into the unknowable.
Of course. The church does evolve, it changes- you can find trends of change in Orthodoxy, such as nowadays we pray with nonOrthodox, and there is also a question over whether to accept Catholic baptisms (only Greeks don't accept Catholic baptisms now). We should reject false certainties yes. And yes, certain Old Testament myths do serve as a window into the unknowable.
It's my opinion that Pritcha o Ione
, the Parable[?] about Jonah was in fact a parable or midrash. I read that Nineveh did historically not accept Israel's God like it says in the story about Jonah. However, it appears that Jonah's story is very valuable as a parable to explain spiritual phenomena, and Jesus spoke of it that it would be given as a Sign to the generation in his time.
Clearly the issue for any sane Christian believer (or any believer in not just religion but any human construct, including science) is how to decide what parts of the moral teaching of the Bible (or Koran, or scientific theory) to edit or discard and what to live by....
Sure, this is a big task for Christians. Jesus told us he overcame the Old Testament. Henceforth we do not have to follow many Old Testament laws. For instance, He stopped a prostitute's death. But he did not go through and explain which each of the Old Testament laws he overcame. It is our task as a Church, based on Jesus' approach of love and forgiveness, to decide how to deal with the Old Testament, especially many of its harsh eye-for-eye rules.
Meanwhile, there are many passages in the New Testament we can look at in another way than first hits the eye, like details in different Gospels that appear to technically contradict eachother.
Thanks Frank for helping us think critically about the Old Testament and keep an open, inquiring mind about what we see in the New. Best wishes for your journey in Orthodoxy.