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Dealing with the hard texts


July 14, 2012
- Amy Dueckman

Vancouver, B.C. — If the Bible is for everyone, how do we explain some of those difficult Old Testament texts to our children?

Rodney Wiebe, adjunct instructor at Columbia Bible College, former pastor and father of young children himself, addressed this topic in the workshop, “What about the hard texts? Is the Bible a children’s book?”

The Bible instructs us to teach our children scripture and scripture is inspired by God, but admittedly some passages in the Bible also contain heavy theological concepts and some “downright ugly” stories such as the Israelites destroying entire cities, or Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar.

Traditionally, said Wiebe, the church has dealt with these in three ways. The first is to ignore the problem as a problem and just teach the passages as they are.

The second way is to be selective and avoid those passages. By doing so we don’t have to wrestle with what to do with difficult passages, but on the other hand we don’t give our children the tools to deal with challenges they may face later in life.

The third way is to selectively edit those passages and not tell children the scary or unpleasant parts of the story in order not to disturb them. The problem with this is that our children will only get a sanitized version of the biblical story.

Wiebe proposed a fourth way, a combination of the other methods. He suggested that parents and Sunday school teachers consider the end goal of scriptural literacy. If the goal is to make sure our children are grounded in the Bible, then keep in mind the age appropriateness of the child and his/her ability to understand the concepts in the story being taught, and give only what the young mind is capable of processing at the time.

“The Bible is brutally honest,” said Wiebe. “What does it mean to be honest in our teaching? “

In conclusion, Wiebe said it’s okay if adults admit they don’t have all the answers. “We’ll never have it all together, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” he said.

See complete coverage of Assembly 2012