Are All Biblical Stories Appropriate for Children?


Now you are committing an Ad Hominem (attacking the person rather than the position) against Kent Hovind. That doesn’t prove anything. A bum on the street can give good advice my friend. See this thing on worldview is key, regardless if a scientist changes an idea they once held only if it doesn’t affect their ultimate worldview of no God. Scientist do not want to be guilty of backsliding from their religion. I believe whole heartedly that science and God agrees. The thing about atheistic scientists understandings is that as they continue to change and they will continue to change, what are you going to do when their changes brings everyone back to the Bible as being truth? Science, according to how you stated the consensus of a beginning could very well bring them to the truth of the Bible. And the Bible has NOT changed. How can you trust something or someone who continues to change? And it’s interesting that scientists try to say that this type of “self-autocorrecting” of understanding is good! That’s a shaky foundation to build upon. You can’t be absolutely certain that tomorrow there will be some correction to what was thought to be truth for decades. And this has happened over and over, so how can you have faith in it? No matter how you investigate God, dig in deep if you like, because the Truth loves investigation, there’s no fear, it will still be the same. That’s a solid foundation, a rock to build upon!

You didn’t lose your faith, you just replaced the object of your faith from God to man. We all have faith, we operate it daily whether you are aware of it or not. I hope and pray that you through His Spirit find your way back to God. He still loves you even though you have gone astray, He is the Good Shepherd!

(jeremy) #22

it’s a question of working assumptions and premises, like uniformitarianism and the discrediting of the divine from the outset…

you might also look into the growing work of creation scientists, who hold the same degrees from the same universities as evolutionists, but are coming to vastly different conclusions…

(Elmer Cupino) #24

An infant is one who is younger than one year. A child is one who is between 1-10 years old and an adolescent is one who is between 10-18 years old. During these times, the brain is busy developing and not stagnant. When dealing with children’s story, there is no “trick” involved with fact and truth as much as where in the developmental stage the child is and they will interpret the story according to their developmental stage. A story of a dead man rising from the dead is easier for a child to accept when told by his mother than someone who 65 years, be it told by his mother or not.

(Frank Peacham) #25

It is strange how we quote EGW so often in church literature, yet we disregard it her in regard to fiction. The ABC has many books of fiction, even Biblical fictions build from a line or so from Scriptures. It is time to tell the truth. About 98% of all SDA’s watch fictional movies, even documentaries are often mixed with fictional facts. Lets be honest, large portions of EGW we silently ignore.

(Harry Allen) #26

Thanks, @thenerdwithin.

You said:

In response:

So, let’s talk about those incidents.

First, I’d argue that the word “genocide,” while frequently used by those who deem these stories abhorrent, does not apply here.

In the context of the biblical narrative, God was pronouncing judgment on these people groups, and Israel was His tool to effect the judgment.

Had Israel, of its own, decided to eliminate Canaanite ethnicities, these would be acts of genocide. God doing so was no more an act of genocide than His decision, at the end of the world, to kill those who have rejected salvation, is an act of genocide, or specicide.

God did not owe the Amalekites life. Their existences were borrowed from Him; His property. For Him to claim their lives was no more genocide than taking back the rake you lent your neighbor would be an act of stealing.

The same is true in the case of Abraham and Isaac: Had Abraham, on his own, decided to bind and slay Isaac, this would have been a case of child abuse and murder; akin to the horror stories we hear on the news today.

Because God commanded it—because Abraham and Isaac had no claim of ownership on their existences, since they had not derived their own lives from anything, but had been granted them, and this was especially clear in the case of Isaac—Abraham was bound to obey.

Indeed, if God had held to His command that Abraham kill Isaac, this, too, would have been just, because, again, Isaac’s life was God’s property. In His mercy, God told Abraham not to harm Isaac. He did this, because His objective was not to take Isaac’s life. His objective was to stretch the boundaries of Abraham’s faith and commitment to God. It was a test.

You said:

In response:

These instances are different from Samuel’s claim because we no longer live in an age where God claims to work His will on Earth through a national group of which He is head, as was the case with Israel. That system is defunct, and has been for thousands of years. It dies out in the period covered by the Old Testament, in the age of Israel’s kings.

The nail was put in its coffin with the enslavement of Israel by Babylon; an act of judgment upon them, much like that upon the Canaanite groups, albeit not one that called for their extermination.

With the arrival of Christ, a wholly new, more active order of engagement with the world is instigated and installed. Its highest prototype is Christ, in His actions, and in the commission that He gives Christians (Matthew 28:18-20).

As for the idea that Muslims, on 9/11, were acting out God’s commands, first of all, most Muslims would not agree with such an analysis.

Second, a Christian would have to assume that Christ’s commission has been upended, that the ministry of the Holy Spirit has been derailed, and in its place has been installed a new, Godly age of terrorism. They would need to reach all three of these conclusions, simultaneously, in order to hold that what you’ve illustrated out is true.

Further, they would need to also hold that the Koran is now God’s written dispensation, and not the Bible. Some Christians are that relativistic. However, not all are.

You said:

In response:

We would use the metric of the narrative, in the context of the Word. Both are coherent.

Israel is commanded to wage war, but of a limited nature, and of a limited kind. (Read the brief essay, “The Conquest and the Ethical Question of War.”) These commands cease after a period. They take place primarily during the adult life of Joshua.

After this, the dominant directive is for the nation to live holy lives; per the Ten Commandments and the Law. Indeed, this is the content of Joshua’s closing charge to Israel. He doesn’t say, “There’s even more land to take!” He says, “Obey the law of God.”

The time period during which God says, “Wage war on the Canaanites” is far, far shorter than the many hundreds of years during which God’s chief issue with Israel is their disobedience; their disobedience to the law, and their amalgamation with the nations whose Canaanite practices—like child sacrifice—God found offensive.

You said:

In response:

The absolute part is that we absolutely obey what God tells us to do.

Many people nitpick about this. However, most who do are not obeying what God says, already, to do.

In other words, the commands that God makes, which are written in stone, which are the only part of the biblical text He did not leave for inspiration to set forth—the Ten Commandments—which are very clear and short, are the ones many people flip-flop over.

Such people should not wonder if God is telling them to kill their children. God only did this once, and it was only as a test; i.e., the child was spared. Also, he was talking to a person who was a paragon of faith and obedience already.

You said:

In response:

I would agree with the last part of what you say here: “What is right is always what God commands.”

I would need you to prove your claim that “morality for many Biblical authors is completely divorced from what harms.”

Given that almost the entire canon—both Old and New Testaments—is a discussion of what harms, and how this fits into God’s ideas of appropriate human conduct, I’d call that you’d really have your work cut out for you, demonstrating your claim. In other words, yours is an immense overstatement.

You said:

In response:

I’d say what I already have: The difference between God, the Nazis, and the Hutu is, of the three, God is the only one who can give life; for Whom doing so is trivial.

I won’t even include, here, that God is the only One who formed the laws of spacetime, matter and energy, atomic theory, biology, mechanics, and every other process upon which all genocidal acts depend.

Nor will I point out that God is the only Being with an infinite purview; one from which to watch the comings and goings of all people, in infinite detail, and from all possible perspectives.; temporal, spatial, moral, conceivable, combinatorial, etc.

To apply the term of “genocide,” thus, to God, is to cheapen it. It is to put God in the same class as crude, human flesh.

The Nazis had no unique or elevated perspective from which to order that the “Juden” be utterly desecrated. They just didn’t like them. In other words, they were a group of conceited, 12-year-old schoolgirls; a bunch of “Beckys.”

God was working through time and space, to accomplish goals ineffable. He told Abraham that more than half a millennium would have to pass before the Canaanites would become utterly reprobate. We don’t yet work on such timescales, despite our knowledge and advanced tools. We certainly don’t when it comes to computing moral issues and facts.

Our ethics, then, should be the Word that God has given us. Those who practice what it says, in its entirety—who make it their food and drink—can then move up to the question, “Why did God kill the Canaanites?” or, “Should I sacrifice my son?”

You said:

In response:

To a degree, yes, more or less.

There is all kinds of work, writing, and thinking on these issues. But, overall, yes: Our access to God’s Mind is best achieved when we do what he says.

You said:

In response:

Here’s what I would suggest:

In short, we would look at the life of said mother. We’d ask her about her conversations with God, and their content. We’d ask how old she was when she had her child, and did she receive any kind of visitation when she got the news she was going to have a baby. We’d ask her how long it was, between the news she was going to have a child, and actually having one. We’d ask her about the specific command to kill her child, and about why she did not get a command to abate that sacrifice.

We’d listen to her answers, the story of her life, and compare it to the testimony of Abraham. On that basis, were we to decide that this woman is deranged, we could lock her up, confident that, if God, in fact, gave this order, and we are mistaken, His will cannot be thwarted, and that He will miraculously release her, much as He did Peter, Paul, and Silas.

You said:

In response:

My response, above, re: the testing of the homicidal mother, is an output of such a fact.

You said:

In response:

See above.

You said:

In response:

Your responses are quite thoughtful, and it’s clear they are based on deeply held beliefs. (Possibly, you’ll agree mine have some of these qualities also.)

It appears that, at a young age, you, and perhaps your dad, but certainly you, were traumatized by a piece of theater that was able to deliver certain mechanics of an event it sought to emulate.

However, it was unable to deliver the point; the Kick; the supernatural moment where God breaks in, and not only releases Abraham from his duty, but also supplies an alternative sacrifice, and explains the reason for the test; a reason whose implications become plain and profound, subsequently, over ensuing millennia.

Perhaps you were too young, or immature, to have participated in such a play. Perhaps your father was too good, or too bad, an actor for the role. And, again, almost certainly—because I’ve seen a lot of church plays—the denouement was insufficiently rendered as the totally transformative moment it was.

You are correct to have had your moral instrument awakened by such an experience, but not to have it subsumed by it. God’s moral universe cannot be rendered by such a dramatic exercise. Indeed, its depiction in the Word is, at best, partial.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #27

Did anyone consider the spin Uncle Arther placed on those Bible stories.?


I’m fascinated by this. Thanks for sharing it.

(Julie ) #29

I honestly think that many of the Old Testament stories are valuable as examples of What NOT to do! The biographies of Lot, David, the Levite, and even Abraham bear this out. Just because a story or biography is included doesn’t mean that it is meant to be emulated except as a negative example.


Someday, I trust, neuroscience will be able to specify the effects such beliefs have on children, and adults, and we will be compelled to face the hard facts that we have, for thousands of years, been abusing our children in the name of God, and despoiling our culture.

Then perhaps we will break free of our habitual category error of equating the God portrayed in the Bible with the Creator of the universe, making social healing possible.

May God hasten the day.


Children go through developmental stages. Before they mature enough to grasp grey areas, ambiguity, allegory, and so forth, the message in many Bible stories is out of their reach. I was a quiet kid who thought a lot. Many times the Sabbath School teacher would put the little felt people on the board and tell a story that left me confused. God was leading His people in battle, but Adventists didn’t go to war. God played a game with Isaac’s life in which He ordered his dad to break one of the Ten Commandments. Lot’s wife, who didn’t even deserve to be named, got snuffed out because she broke one Rule too many, no grace for her. I could go on. Then we would sing an insipid song, perhaps “God is Love, we’re His little children, God is Love, we would be like Him…” Honestly, it created a lot of dissonance in my childish mind. How was I supposed to want to be like God, when He did stuff like that? Now I wouldn’t say anything snapped in my mind, because I’m a normally functioning adult for many years now. I just hope that the corporate approach to educating children at church has changed for the better.


Can you elaborate on this?

(John Hughes) #35

Exposure to Scripture can be equally troubling for adults, if not more so. Take the Deluge narrative mentioned by the author, as one isolated example. Beyond the graphic details of destruction wrought by the Creator, adults have long been profoundly troubled by the illusory promise He makes in connection with His covenant (Gen. 9:8-17).

It does not seem completely unreasonable to conclude that understanding God’s words and deeds, to any meaningful degree, is beyond the grasp of at least some of us most of the time. As to those that purport to be “in the know”, the rest of us not blessed with such understanding should be forgiven for declining to accept such representations at face value.


Brother Mathew, I still remember the story and song about Noah’s flood from my infancy yet grew up to become a pastor. I’m not alone, all my childhood friends from the Sabbath School continue to remain in the church. Do you want me to believe what you’re saying at my age when I did enjoyed those stories in my infancy? The stories were told with moral interpretation in addition. As an African, I think this resonates well. My fear is not the stories of the Bible, but the West. They’ve missed the moral lessons, now questions and suspects everything of Bible. Are not children witnessing worst things more this in the homes? Divorce, lack of family worship and prayer, cinema, etc. These are the things that “snap and give way” in children. And yes having been in Europe I’ve seen their children quitting church when they have come of age. It is written, “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3: 15). I rest my case.

(Carolyn Wesner) #38

I have in my hands a book called Sabbath Readings for the Home Circle, "a collection of stories designed to build character, to lead young and old to choose the good way of life; to help them be kind, honest, truthful, and obedient, and above all to love God with all their hearts. Ellen G. White, author of much material on child training recommended this book calling it “precious” '. It’s a fun read from 1905, and also PURE FICTION.

(Herold Weiss) #39

Thank you very much Matthew for your very wise consideration of the biblical stories

(Lincoln Dunstan) #40

Qoting: When children are exposed to such devastation, something can snap and give way.
That is foolishness. If that were true, then most children since Moses would have snapped long ago and none of us would have been here. But I suspect that the devil has sent out his emissaries among Christians to tie up the loose ends of the leaves atheists are selling for a covering. Instead “humble thyself” and listen to the word of the LORD.

It grieves me to have to write this as the person involved just happens to be my beautiful 14 year old granddaughter. Her best friend, along with her family were cruelly shot out of the sky over Ukraine. Might well you may ask then, why is this beautiful innocent child now suffering from depression? I’m afraid I can’t include tears in my poxy little response here…so God help us all!!

(Website Editor) closed #43