Re: [asa] YEC sub-group & fiction

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Tue Jan 27 2009 - 18:27:41 EST

Thanks, Murray. Revealing the progression between the stark extremes
should reveal the untenability of pretending that only the extremes
exist. I appreciate the heavily Scripture-referenced response.


Murray Hogg wrote:
> Hi Merv,
> I've come across the point of view described below only once in the
> last 20 years that I can recall. Specifically, the chap concerned
> argued that the parable of the prodigal son must have had a historical
> foundation because "God doesn't lie". This encounter was on the
> internet and not in person. My guess is that it's pretty rare even
> amongst the most conservative of Christians.
> By way of response, I don't think one can disprove the claim that
> fiction is "a lie" but what I think one can try to do is demonstrate
> that there are different "modes" of literary communication each of
> which should be evaluated on their own terms (note that fiction is
> most likely to be seen as false if one evaluates it on the same terms
> that one would measure literary forms such as history).
> I think I might proceed in the following manner:
> (1) Appeal to the rather trivial point that Scripture has a huge
> number of passages which are not simple propositional statements and
> which therefore cannot even be evaluated as "true" or "false" -
> questions and commandments, for instance, are two such. So, too,
> blessings: "The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good
> of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your
> children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!" (Ps 128:5,6).
> (2) Extend this by appeal to the Psalms to show that poetry can be
> "true" whilst not consisting of propositional statements which can be
> evaluated as "true" or "false" without some "translation" (e.g. "man
> would swallow me up" Ps 56:1; or "pride serves as their necklace;
> violence covers them like a garment" Ps 73:6).
> (3) Point out that fiction is (like poetry) simply another "mode" of
> literature which needs to be "translated" before one can assess it's
> truth value. Fiction uses literary constructs which may be "true" at
> one level whilst being "false" at another. And this principle is
> OBVIOUSLY (I hope!) at work in the Psalms - to what extent, for
> instance, is the following "true"; "smoke went up from His nostrils,
> and devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it" (Psalm 18:8)
> Even the most rank Biblical literalist will, I think, agree that there
> is more to Scripture than simply a series of "true" propositions -
> that even Scripture uses literary forms which require some unpacking
> before one can identify the point being made and assess its validity.
> Even Scripture, in other words, can be "true" at one level, but
> "false" at another. And this most certainly does not make God a liar.
> Hopefully this will be enough to make the point that the "truth" or
> otherwise of fiction should be assessed on its own terms. It might
> even be helpful to describe fictional writings as a form of extended
> metaphor of the sort seen in the Psalms. Suggesting that fiction
> merely takes such literary devices to the extreme MIGHT help your
> acquaintance grasp the point that there are a great many modes of
> literature and that fiction (like poetry) ought to be assessed on its
> own terms. Certainly it can't be dismissed as "a lie" simply because
> it's statements do not accord directly with observed fact.
> Hope it helps somewhat,
> Blessings,
> Murray
> Merv Bitikofer wrote:
>> I've recently become aware, within my school setting, of somebody who
>> pretty much rejects all fiction writings as lies. And come to think
>> of it, I have a very conservative home-schooling relative who, at the
>> moment, I can't remember her daughters reading any fiction works
>> either --and now I wonder if she feels the same way. (Maybe they
>> read Pilgrim's Progress --I'll have to check.) They read lots of
>> history and biographies & such. Is there a large community within
>> YEC that feels this way? When my colleague asked the first person
>> about parables in the Bible, she immediately was inflamed with the
>> suggestion that any parable wouldn't be historical. "My God does not
>> lie!" My friend wasn't sure what she would do with Nathan telling
>> David fiction a story about a rich man, poor man, and his sheep --or
>> probably other places where fiction was used to make a point as
>> well. How would you respond? (I didn't speak with her directly
>> about it --and don't intend to, but just want to know how widespread
>> this sentiment is.)
>> --Merv
>> (realizing, if I hadn't before, that the YEC camp is hardly a unified
>> monolith either.)

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Jan 27 18:23:02 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Jan 27 2009 - 18:23:02 EST