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Adam Didn't Happen

The story of Adam and Eve is a tripping stone for me in following God’s purpose. I have spent time trying to understand this creation story. Does this story bring me closer to God? As a parable, I understand God as the source of everything. As a historical account, I am led more to misunderstanding than understanding. 

The most powerful words in a speech are “Let me tell you a story.” The moment a story begins, the audience leans forward, attention raises and the room becomes just a bit quieter. 

Jesus told stories all of the time- some were immediately provocative and indicting, others confusing, many didactic. He spoke in stories - memorable and important stories. His authority came to the people from the mouth of someone who clearly knew rather than was faking it or legalistic. (Matthew 7:28-29) 

He was speaking to common people in a common language. We have Thomas Aquinas or C.S. Lewis to provide a more educated interpretation of the Bible. From Jesus’ mouth to his first disciples’ ears, he spoke simply because that is how they could hear him.

Did we forget about stories?

How would you explain DNA, space travel, antibiotics or even movement with cars and planes to the “Old Testament” audience in the year 4,000 b.c.? How about creation, original sin and the spreading of mankind across the entire earth? You wouldn’t. People would not understand any of these things. They did not need to. Instead, you would tell a story about the most important questions of your audience. Answers to the questions of “How did we get here?” “Why is life hard?” “Is there a God?” “What does God want from me?”  There are more questions like these that the people from millennia ago asked and wanted answers to. We, generations later, want to know the answers to these as well.

What do we lose when we change our belief from absolutism and we believe  that God often tells us stories to help us understand his spiritual truths?  

I believe we lose very little understanding of God’s love, grace and mercy by considering that parts of the Old Testament are in themselves parables. The scripture I refer to help me is:

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

God, through Jesus, did all of these things. He was not legalistic. He told parables instead. Some of the parables confused people (Isaiah 6:9-10).  Sometimes he had to tell the 12 the parables’ meaning. (Mark 4:13-20) Some he left hanging in the minds of his people for them to reflect upon. Many we reflect upon even today.

What is missing as you look at the verbs in this scripture?  Legalism and absolutism. The Old Testament is not a perfect history text book. Some of the Old Testament stories have have been written for people to understand God’s purpose and promises. The stories also show our weaknesses and brokenness. 

This way of thinking is a very dangerous and slippery slope. I’m scared that if I choose to see parts of the Old Testament as parables and other parts of the Old Testament as accurate historical accounts, how will I as a human being follow God’s purpose? What will it mean about my New Testament beliefs? What will happen if I choose pridefully what to see as parable versus historical accounts? Jesus taught in stories as a way to make the inaccessible truths of God’s purpose known to people who had slipped into legalism rather than love in their worship of God. Is this same approach taken in the Old Testament?

I’m stuck. The mysteries of the Old Testeament are often distracting when I take them as absolute truths. When I think of the stories in the Old Testament as parables I ask myself the question, “What is God teaching in this story?” When I think of the stories as historical accounts, I am left with the thought, “Well, I guess I just accept this on faith and move on.” 

I believe that many stories in the Old Testament are parables. My belief of this does not negate the scripture:

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

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