4th October 2013
Let's stop using the word ‘story' or ‘stories' when we refer to the New Testament. And the extensive historical sections of the Bible in general. We should readjust our language to fit the facts. We often hear ‘the story of the birth of Jesus', or ‘the Christmas story'. Or more generally ‘Bible stories.' The TV series The Bible was promoted as ‘tales' and the stage show Salome, as based on a biblical ‘tale'. This kind of language suggests that is all the Bible contains-stories. And stories can be anything- usually made up yarns carrying a moral of some sort. Certainly not actual events.
We should correct the way we use language to bring it in line with the reality of the literature of the New Testament, and what it claims about itself. The apostle Peter testifies "we didn't follow invented stories". John details the physical evidence of the Gospel and reports details of the crucifixion providing the evidenced basis for fact based faith.
Paul details eyewitness evidence of the resurrection which is open to falsification naming eyewitnesses who were local and alive at the time of his published letter.
Historian Luke documents a carefully investigated sequential eyewitness account of the teaching and work of Jesus up to His ascension. His work stands as a seminal example of historiography. His account of Paul's final sea journey provides more detailed maritime data than anywhere else in literature of the time. In many places editors in the Old testament note; ‘as it is to this day', and in both Testaments persons and events outside the Bible's theme are referred to, thus anchoring Bible events to wider verifiable history.
If other forms of communication are used such as parables or visions, they are clearly stated as such. It would be better and more accurate to use a term like ‘account' or ‘report'. Not story. When Scripture is read in churches (and let it be read well) let us dispense with ‘story' and use accurate terms like ‘the account of . .as documented by Luke', or similar terminology. Its up to us to counter misleading and even deceptive terms with accurate ones. Uphold with relevant terms the nature of the evidence to our faith presented in the documents.
Currently there is increasing debate over religious freedom. According to assertive secularists Christians can talk about their religious ideas in their church services, sharing their ‘cultic tales' with self- reinforcing emotion! Keep it at home hidden in the closet. The notion that preachers declare historical facts, mandated by Christ openly to the world with universal trans- generational relevance is abhorrent to these elites.
Remember when the Democrats pushed that sort of thing here two elections ago? Last week a couple of newspaper articles opposed Christianity in politics claiming religion must be kept away as a private oddity . The Quebec government is currently at it by proposing to ban religious symbols in public spaces and to prevent people wearing them who work in the public sector. They can try and bury or buy out religious sentiment and feelings, but evidenced facts with global significance cant be closeted. We are not just a faith -people. We are reliant on Truth revealed to faith in objectively evidenced Scripture, reason and experience.
Let our use of terms match the reality of the Bible and the challenge of the day. When we do the ordinary Sunday work of reading the Bible. And not just on Sunday. Or not just in church. Let's quit using the misleading word, ‘story'.
Ian Clarkson (also published in ACCatalyst September 2013)