Thursday, September 12, 2019

Listen to my Bible Story?

Our choice of words is vital when we want to communicate about important subjects. An important reason of this is the connotations of words. For example, my mother took exception to my description of a fragrance: it reeks. It did reek, but that word implies that the fragrance was unpleasant.


Words change their meanings over time, and have different associations now than they had before. One of these is the word "story".
Credit: Clker clipart
Words change their meanings over the years. One example is in Genesis 1:28 KJV, where God commanded mankind and animals to replenish the earth. Back in 1611, that was understood to mean fill, but newer translations avoid replenish. In A. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of Black Peter", we read: "The outhouse was the simplest of dwellings, wooden-walled, shingle-roofed, one window beside the door and one on the farther side. Stanley Hopkins drew the key from his pocket and had stooped to the lock, when he paused with a look of attention and surprise upon his face." As Americans can probably see, an outhouse is more aptly named than the American, uh, relief station.

Our focus is the word story. It has several meanings, including a valid historical account, but it can also mean fictions that cowboys tell while riding the trail back to Dodge. I was told a story (as in, "We want to tell you our experience") about two American sisters visiting another country. The tour guide presented something rather fanciful, and one sister said to the other, "That's a story!" Problem was, the guide had just stopped talking and many people heard the remark.

It has reached a point now that when we tell Bible stories such as Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the Resurrection, and others, people tend to think of them as cute and fun, not as important historical events. I'll allow that it's a mite frustrating at times to avoid referring to the story of Jesus changing water into wine because of the positive use of the word story. We need to do a rethink, and find valid substitutes so people — especially children — know that these are not simple entertainment when we are doing serious apologetics. Fortunately, the article linked below gives us a few options.
I grew up with Bible “stories.” I heard them in Sunday School and youth programs. I read books about Bible “stories.” I was taught about Bible “stories” for years and years. People have compared Bible stories with other stories and fictional movies like the Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Aesop’s Fables, or Star Wars. I even talked about Bible “stories” when teaching in the past.

But all that changed.

One day I made a comment about the evolutionary “story.” I had a man come up to me, and he was clearly not happy. He was very upset that I had called evolution a “story,” because to him, it wasn’t a “story” but the “truth.” He was okay with me calling biblical accounts “stories,” because, as he put it, ”the Bible was full of myths and fictional accounts so they could rightly be called stories.” But how dare I call evolution “a story” in his view.
To finish reading, click on "What’s Wrong with the Word Story?" And please get rid of those dreadful bathtub-style cutesie Noah's Ark things. Don't you want the kids to take the Flood and God's Judgment seriously?

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