The Bible's Greatest Truth
One Sunday as a youth at First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, I was walking around the building and overheard my pastor say to a member of our congregation, “Listen, just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
I was beyond confused and slowed my pace. How can something that didn’t happen, the very definition of the word “false”, be true?
It turned out they were talking about one of the stories from the Bible, and the point of that conversation was that even if the account given in the Bible was not or could not be 100% accurate, it was still “true.” The message stayed the same.
As a Youth Director, my favorite part of my job is talking about the bible with our kids.
It’s still a new story to them and they are never afraid to ask questions or point out how ridiculous a story is. Here are some of the issues that bother them:
• Where did Cain and Abel’s wives come from?
• How are people measuring years in the bible? The human body cannot live to be hundreds of years old.
• How scientifically, was Jesus created? Did Jesus only have half his necessary DNA?
• Did Jesus have siblings from Joseph and Mary?
And of course what do we do when the Bible contradicts itself?
• Were men created before women (like in Genesis 2:18) or at the same time (like in Genesis 1:27)?
• How many of each animal did Noah take on the ark? Genesis 19 says two of each but Genesis 7 says it’s seven.
• Did Jesus begin his ministry before the arrest of John the Baptist (Gospel of John) or after (Matthew and Mark)?
• Did Judas hang himself (like in Matthew) or fall and have his body explode (Acts)?
When we discuss these questions another inevitably comes up: what does it matter?
It’s not that these aren’t important issues, it’s that the Truth of the Bible, the central message stays the same: You are loved by God so much that God died on a cross to save humanity.
That is Truth with a capital T. The rest are just details, even if you can argue them “true or false.”
The question I think we should be discussing in regard to biblical literalism is “how does this change the story?”
If we take these particular verses as word for word true with little to no room for interpretation, what will it mean for us? Will it change how we view God? Will it change how we respond to God?
Because there ARE some details that really matter in regard to how humanity was saved (though I’m pretty sure the number of animals on the ark and the cause of death of Judas Iscariot are not among them.)
There are parts of the Bible that I believe to be literally and absolutely true. There are accounts that make or break this amazing story.
So as we discuss what is literal and what is not, and what is true vs TRUE, I invite you to ponder the opposite side of the argument.
Think about what matters to you, why it matters to you, and ask yourself what parts of the Bible show you the greatest TRUTH.