In a message dated Tue, 14 Aug 2001 2:06:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time, John W Burgeson <email@example.com> writes:
> "Is their any harm in simply believing Jonah to be historical narrative?"
> Yes. Suppose you teach it as such to a young person, who later realizes
> that it is simply a story. Because of this, that person may decide to
> reject Christ, thinking that to accept him necessarily means one has to
> accept Jonah as history also.
Seems like the harm here is not so much in taking it as historical narrative, it is in believing and/or teaching others that such a view is a *necessary* part of Christianity.
It's the same issue as with Genesis 1; I don't object strongly if people want to believe in a 144-hour creation (even though I think they are mistaken), but if they tell others in the church (especially young people) or potential Christians outside that theirs is the only acceptable Christian viewpoint, that is where it becomes really harmful.
I suppose there is some (lesser) harm if Christians are seen as believing something silly, even if they make clear that the belief is not essential. Just as we should be willing to suffer for Christ but not suffer as wrongdoers, we should embrace the "foolishness of the gospel" but eschew other, unrelated foolishness as a poor witness. Geocentrism and 144-hour creationism would be in that category; from some perspectives some other things under discussion here (like not seeing Jonah as a story, opposition to the theory of evolution, Biblical numerology) might also qualify.
Allan Harvey, firstname.lastname@example.org
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