Re: Apologists and other salesmen

Geoffrey Horton (
Sat, 02 Nov 1996 08:53:20 -0600

Glenn Morton wrote:
> Geoffrey Horton wrote:
> >I think what this says is that, in worldly terms, the Bible does not make
> >sense. And I'm afraid this is true. Insisting on a hard and fast rule of
> >interpretation is not going to make things any easier.
> >
> >The argument seems to be the "slippery slope" problem: If I give up the
> >factuality of early Genesis, what happens to the Resurrection, or some
> >other such item? I'm generally susceptible to such arguments, but I have
> >to opt out of this one.
> >
> >
> First, in response to your other note, I didn't find this particulalry harsh.
> I would call it direct.

> In reply to the above, I don't think I am applying a hard and fast rule.

In addition to being (at best) direct, my missent note really didn't do a good job of
saying what I was trying to say. What I was getting at was that I don't think there is
any objective rule, based only on textual analysis, by which we can differentiate that
"mythical" material which contains little "historical" truth from that portion of the
same "mythical" material dealing with the patriarchs, which I think you and I both agree
is largely historical fare. (The quoted "mythical" is designed to remind the interested
reader that "mythical" does not have to mean false, nor did I intend it to in this

> Looking at the style of Genesis 2-11, it sounds much like the style of Genesis
> 12-50. We believe that Genesis 12-50 is largely historical and we do not
> suggest it is an allegory.

I agree with your second statement. I am not sure that I do with the first.

> Since there is no clear context with which the
> author states that it is an allegory, or it is defined that way be being a
> quotation from someone, I see no clear break demarcating the allegory part
> from the historical part. I simply beleive that style wise, and strategically
> Christians would be better off treating Genesis 2-11 historically. I am not
> saying anything about how other parts of the scripture are best to be
> interpreted.

I think we're getting back to the core problem here. I will pass for now on the
stylistic criterion--you may be right, and I will have to study the portions in question
before I attempt to reply. But strategically--that's the problem.

The truth does not mold itself to fit our strategic needs. That's what St. Paul was
talking about with the stumbling block and folly bit; it would have been much easier for
him to preach something else. If Genesis 2-11 is allegorical, it doesn't matter that it
makes evangelism harder by being so.

> I sat down with a friend of mine today who is an atheist. This man is
> actively engaged in fighting young-earth creationism. I asked him a question.
> "Would you be more likely to accept Christianity if we christians all
> admitted that Genesis 1-11 was not historical?" He laughed.

I don't see the point. Again, Genesis 1-11 is either historical or it isn't (or some is
and some isn't, as the case may be). Your friend's opinion on the matter, or even your
opinion or mine, is not going to change that.

> I disagree that it is the "slippery slope" problem entirely. Why do I reject
> the events contained in the Book of Mormon? Because they didn't happen!!!

The slippery slope problem is that, having decided that early Genesis isn't historical,
some people go on to decide that the Gospels are too, so that they can pick and choose
only those teachings and events that don't offend their sensibilities. Some people will
tell you that they couldn't accept Christianity if they had to believe in a physical
Resurrection. They have accepted Christianity, or think they have. Should we therefore
conclude that they're right about the Resurrection? That's the slippery slope.

> No one can tell me why it is logical to
> reject the Mormon account because it is not historically true and then accept
> the Biblical account in spite of the fact that it is not historically true.

Because the truth of the Old Testament in general flows back from the truth of the Risen
Christ. I am not a Christian because I believe in any of the Old Testament (or new). I
am a Christian because of my relationship with the Crucified and Risen Christ. Because
he testified to the worth and truth of the Old Testament, I will look there for truth
too. But Jesus proves the truth of the Old Testament for me, and not the other way

I think this is a much better presentation of the argument I was trying to make the
first time around. Thank you, Glenn, for asking some very good clarifying questions.
Though we may never agree, I hope you're finding this discussion as useful as I am.