In comments left on Does It Really Mean Helpmate? Mary and Seeker wanted to know why women kept insisting on interpreting this phrase to mean that they were subordiante and submissive, and why some wouldn’t even entertain the idea that there could be another option. It’s part of a whole fundamentalist mindset. I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church, so I know the fundamentalist mindset very well, and I am very glad I no longer have it. They have built a house of cards around the Bible as literal truth (actually they see the Bible as literal “fact”). Part of this literalism is that a passage or text can have only one meaning. Both literalism and a passage having one meaning are totally foreign to Hebrew thought. The Israelites used symbolism, similes, and metaphors to picture truths that could not be contained in language. They never meant for certain passages and genres of Scripture to be taken literally. They also loved paradox. The Hebrew people had no problem juxtaposing two opposites and then leaving it up to the reader to work out the paradox for themselves. They believed that faith was lived out in the nitty-gritty day-to-day living, and therefore, there were no pat answers for every situation. This is really seen in the first five books of the Bible where Leviticus and Numbers basically tries to figure out how to live out the Ten Commandments in the Isrealite’s daily lives. They also had no problem admitting when they didn’t know the details and facts of something God did, and this is seen in the first two chapters of Genesis. There are two different creation accounts in Genesis 1:1–2:4 and Genesis 2:5-25. In these two accounts God creates the heavens and earth in different ways and in a different order. The Isrealites did not know exactly how God created the heavens and earth, and they had two traditions that told the “how” and included them in their Scriptures. Their statement of faith is: Yahweh created everything (not Molech, not Baal, not Marduk). Inspired writers of Scripture did not agree on the how only that God–Yahweh–created everything, and therefore no other god or idol was to be worshiped.
Back to the fundamentalist mindset–they interpret the Bible literally. And they have spent so much time and effort to “prove” that the Bible is “true” (i. e. fact) that they cannot admit to the figurative genres and methods that Biblical writers used. Because they’ve reduced the truth to mere fact and data, that means that each Biblical passage can only mean one thing and that thing only. That is why these women won’t listen to alternative readings: if there is an alternative reading then their house of cards falls down. In their minds if that happens, then somehow the Bible is not God’s word and this somehow means that God isn’t God. This also is why they refuse to see anything but creation in six actual days as the way God created the world. If God created the world in any other way than how Genesis 1 says he created the world, then everything else in the Bible is undermined. They have very convulated arguments that harmonize the two different creation accounts. This is also why Revelation is interpreted literally with no room that the whole thing is one big symbolic writing and had meaning for the people living in the first century–all of it applied to them, period.
I feel sorry for them. Their view of God is so small, and they don’t even realize it. For me God is God, period. Every word in the Bible could be a lie, and God would still be God, period. That’s what “sovereign” means. But when you have raised the Bible to be part of the Trinity, then you have to prove everything it says, or God’s sovereignty is somehow undermined, which is just crazy. The Bible is not God, in fact, it’s not even the word of God. The Word of God is Jesus Christ, and the Bible is our faith confession of how God and Christ (and the Holy Spirit) come to us, and want to have an intimate relationship with us. The Bible is God’s people working out their salvation and trying to make sense of this God who dies for us and wants us after so much rejection and heartache. And the Bible is culturally influenced. God does not force us or coerce us, and he did not force or coerce the writers of the Bible: they wrote from a certain culture and way of life that they understood, which is why patriarchy is in the Bible (polygamy and slavery as well). It’s not in the Bible because God ordained it: it’s in the Bible because that is the broken, sinful culture that God had to work with. When you see inspiration as God working with us in relationship and not zapping us into robots and dictating everything, that gives us a little more leeway. That also means that not eveyrthing in the Bible as to be fact or data. The Bible says the sun revolves around the earth because that’s how ancient people saw it–not how God created it. But that wasn’t an integral part of God’s plan to reconcile creation to himself, so he didn’t “correct” the writers. Anything that does not pertain to salvation may not be “fact.” There does not have to be a big war between science and faith. When you view the Bible as a theological statement of faith in Yahweh, and not a document of facts and datum, then it’s okay if there’s scientific inaccuracies due to the culture at the time. Everything we need to know about God and how to have a relationship with God is there. Everything we need to know to enter the Kingdom of God and build the Kingdom of God in the here and now is there. And that’s the important stuff: not the periphals of creation in six days or what revolves around what in space.
5 thoughts on “Truth vs. Fact”
Thank you Elisabeth.
This is just brilliant! Seriously opened my eyes to the fact that we have reduced God to a few experiences, when he is so much more than that!
God bless you!
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THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!! I am going to re-read it several times over, as you worded some of my budding convictions beyond perfectly. I especially loved it when you wrote, “Every word in the Bible could be a lie, and God would still be God, period.” Amen, sister!