I forget how bizarre and baffling our Bible can be. I was reared in a church going, Christian home, and I have heard odd stories from the Bible my entire life. From infancy, I have been accustomed to fanciful stories like the Garden of Eden, Jonah’s ride in the belly of a huge fish, even Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection from the grave.
I find it easy to accept all of these stories. Unless I’m careful when discussing Bible stories with my children and grandchildren, I can make it difficult for them to share my faith as they grow older.
Have You Noticed How Strange the Bible Is?
While there are LOTS of bizarre, baffling Bible stories, here are some of the more strange stories found in the 1st 15 chapters of Genesis:
- Two different accounts of how the heavens, earth and humans were made
- A talking snake that tricks a woman
- People who become parents after the age of 100, and who go on to live an additional several hundred years
- A hand-made boat that saves animals and a family during a world-wide flood
- A son who is cursed for seeing that his drunken father was naked
- God disrupts a community building project by confusing their use of language
- A smoking fire pot and a blazing torch float between cut-up animal carcasses
Can We Admit How Strange the Bible Is?
The Cambridge Dictionary of the English language defines “strange” as, “not familiar, unusual, unexpected, or difficult to understand.” [http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/strange]
That certainly seems to describe many stories found in MY Bible!
Additionally, one of the ways children (and others) gain confidence in those of us who are older is by the way we are open and honest about the “strange” things in life.
- Why do baby boys and girls look different at diaper changing time?
- Why is life almost never “fair?”
- Why does mom need “that” package one week every month?
Let’s face it; teaching our kids and grandkids about the “strange” things in life might be difficult, but they are also some of the most important things we do!
But a child who doesn’t learn how to navigate life’s strange things will be at a great disadvantage. That can especially be true when it comes to bizarre, baffling Bible stories.
Natasha Crain recently posted an article [“Parents, Please Don’t Forget How Strange the Bible Is” http://christianmomthoughts.com/parents-please-dont-forget-how-strange-the-bible-is/] where she says:
“In the normal course of our lives, when we make a strange claim, we naturally connect that claim to an explanation of why someone else should believe what we’re saying.
“For example, imagine for a moment that you’re sitting in your office one morning when a colleague walks in and says to you, “Good morning! There’s a flying hippo in the parking lot. Really cool! Anyway, have a good one…” then casually walks on to his cubicle.
“You would be baffled by that person’s behavior. He just claimed something that you assume isn’t possible or likely, yet he didn’t feel the need to elaborate. That’s not normal. You would have expected him to tell you in great detail about the crazy thing he saw, then offer some kind of explanation as to why he believes something so strange to be true.
“Clearly, we normally assume that the what and the why of strange claims go hand-in-hand. But if you don’t realize that your claims are strange, you won’t realize just how much explaining you need to do. Like the guy from the office, you’ll end up making those claims without offering the corresponding explanation that should naturally follow.
“That’s exactly what many Christian parents are doing . . .”
Natasha then lists 2 problems that can be caused by teaching kids what we believe without teaching them why we believe it:
We can dull our kids’ critical thinking skills.
“Kids might learn to believe stories in the Bible that they wouldn’t believe in any other context, but have no idea why. That’s dangerous territory and none of us should want our kids to believe for the sake of believing, just because the word Bible is on the front of the book.”
Kids can become overly skeptical and reject the Bible just because it IS strange.
“At the other end of the spectrum, older kids may end up rejecting the Bible simply because it IS strange. For example, atheists like to comment on my posts that they don’t believe in the resurrection because they know dead people don’t come back to life. What they don’t realize is that I know that too (surprise)! No one naturally comes back to life. Christians believe Jesus supernaturally came back to life.
“The problem with this kind of thinking is that many things are strange but true. We live on a rock that jets around the sun at about 18.5 miles per second. Just because something sounds bizarre on the surface doesn’t mean there isn’t good evidence to support it.”
Yes, I believe all those bizarre, baffling Bible stories are true. But my belief doesn’t exist in a mental or cultural vacuum.
I began my faith-walk as a trusting, open-eyed child. Today, my beliefs have been tested, tried, examined and found to be solidly based on historical and experiential evidence — at least to MY satisfaction.
In my next post, titled, “Discussing Our Bizarre, Baffling Bible,” I plan to write about how to discuss biblical strangeness with your kids.