Editorials debate the value of a sanitized Bible.
High school teacher Calvin Wolf, commenting on Yahoo.com this week, said a little sugarcoated Christianity is better than none at all. Wolf was responding to a CNN.com blog by Steven James. James was critical of the fact that “it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.”1
Wolf writes, “As a relative outsider to the Bible, I think that a sugary glaze to the words of God isn't necessarily a bad thing.” People put off by scary messages, he asserts, will miss out on the “positive messages” the Bible has to offer. Extolling the value of having some good news on Sunday in a world full of negative headlines, he adds, “God-fearing is less helpful to society than optimism.”
Wolf claims, “It's difficult to have well-adjusted children without sugarcoating Biblical lessons” and fears talking about what the Bible really says will confuse kids and fill “their young minds with violent imagery.”
Author Steven James explains in his CNN blog, “The Bible is a gritty book. . . . It deals with people just like us . . . encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.” That is the good news we need to hear on Sunday. He reminds us of Bible characters who struggled with doubt, depression, bitterness, and sins. James warns that making biblical people “bigger than life, immune from the temptations that everyone faces” robs the Bible of its relevance.
James adds, “Only when the Bible seems relevant to us (which it is), only when the characters seem real to us (which they were), only then will the message of redemption become personal for us (which it was always meant to be). We don’t need to edit God. We need to let him be the author of our new lives.”
Though this writer has not yet read James’s books, his blog echoes our message here at Answers in Genesis. Watered down Bible stories stripped of historical context rob many children of an understanding of the Bible’s relevance in their lives. When children—and adults—see God’s Word has answers they need for life’s greatest problems and questions, they can better see why they need Jesus Christ.
When children—and adults—see God’s Word has answers they need for life’s greatest problems and questions, they can better see why they need Jesus Christ.
While Wolf is concerned about putting “violent imagery” into young minds, a look at television or the newspaper shows young minds are already surrounded by violence. Furthermore, correctly taught in the context of the violent pagan world in which it was set and with attention to God’s purposes and ultimate solution to evil, the Old Testament makes sense. Ken Ham’s recent blog elaborated on some aspects of this important question. And Doesn’t the Bible Condone the Killing of One’s Rebellious Child? and Elisha, Little Children, and the Bears explain more about “stoning” and other topics to which Wolf refers.
The Bible does show us the dreadful dark evil of this world, and it is very clear in providing the explanation for evil and suffering and death. Children and adults frequently ask why the world is so messed up. The Bible has the answer. Evil and suffering and death entered the world when Adam chose to sin about 6,000 years ago. Mankind ever since has rebelled against our Maker. The Bible explains the devil is a thief who entered our perfect world “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10), but Christ came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Christ died so we could “have life” and “have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus Christ paid the price for man’s rebellion to show us all how much He loves us and to free us from our bondage to sin and Satan and death.
We at Answers in Genesis are dedicated to helping people understand they can trust the Bible’s answers from the very first verse. A sugarcoated Pollyanna version of the Bible can offer only an ostrich-eyed view of the world and makes the solutions the Bible offers for the world’s problems seem ludicrously senseless. Only by understanding the cause of the world’s evil does the solution God provides in Christ make sense. We don’t need to “tidy up God.” And He doesn’t merely offer to “tidy up us”; He offers us a brand new life of hope and love and peace.
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