Sunday, 24 May 2009

Yes or no?

One of the best things about young kids is their amazing ability to ask unanswerable questions. For example, here’s a question my daughter asked me yesterday – should I have answered Yes, or No?

“So dad, is the Bible the most important book in the world, even though it’s not very interesting?”

21 Comments:

Mark Stevens said...

Yes, however, within my Yes there is a no ;) It is the most important book for Christians. No, because technically it is a collection of books.

And she is was right about her other observation.

Joshua Blanchard said...

I would partially evade the question and ask her a question. What is a book important for?

I think there is no general index of importance. The Bible would not be the most important book according to many indexes, e.g. the fly fishing technique index. Or the I need to know how to land on the moon index. There are other indexes according to which it is the most important, such as ancient Israelite religion. Or, knowledge of the person of Jesus.

So my answer is that the Bible is sometimes the most important book.

And I see no reason to address the "interesting" statement, since it wasn't a question. I expect that the Bible interestingness will be rather subjective.

LaBrock said...

“So dad, is the Bible the most important book in the world, even though it’s not very interesting?”

Yes sweetheart, it is the most important book becuase it covers the most interesting subjects. As one gets older they learn how to better understand (use) it (in some cases) which makes it even more interesting!

Hey even if that was to much to ponder I think that gives the right responce:)

Nate said...

"Go to your bookshelf and bring me two books that are interesting. Maybe we're just not looking in the right parts."

Ed Gentry said...

I recognize this question, from the students my first year bible classes - especially those from christian homes. They are taught that the Bible but don't think it is very interesting or relevant.

steph said...

Perhaps you might have said "it's the most important book to me because..." Isn't it up to her to decide :-) I don't think there is "the right response".

So what DID you say to her????

kim fabricius said...

"No, sweetheart, that'd be The Sydney Good Pub Guide.

Michael said...

Surely it makes no sense to read Leviticus or Numbers or Revelation as if you're reading Dickens or Shakespeare or Chaucer. The Bible is the book of Israel and the Church. It needs to be read from within a living community which is striving to hear the living Word of God in these (dead and foreign) words. Only in this context is it either important or interesting.

How to communicate such a notion to the postmodern young seems to me one of the greatest challenges for religions today.

Michael said...

Surely it makes no sense to read Leviticus or Numbers or Revelation as if you're reading Dickens or Shakespeare or Chaucer. The Bible is the book of Israel and the Church. It needs to be read from within a living community which is striving to hear the living Word of God in these (dead and foreign) words. Only in this context is it either important or interesting.

How to communicate such a notion to the postmodern young seems to me one of the greatest challenges for religions today.

Christopher said...

Do not suppose that I believe in Jesus because it is said so-and-so in a book. I believe in him because he is himself the vision of him in that book, and I trust, his own living power in me, has enabled me to understand him, to look him in the face, as it were, and accept him as my Master and Saviour, in following whom I shall come to the rest of the Father's peace. The Bible is to me the most precious thing in the world, because it tells me his story; and what good men thought about him who knew him and accepted him. But the common theory of the inspiration of the words, instead of the breathing of God's truth into the hearts and souls of those who wrote it, and who then did their best with it, is degrading and evil; and they who hold it are in danger of worshipping the letter instead of living in the Spirit, of being idolaters of the Bible instead of disciples of Jesus...It is Jesus who is the Revelation of God, not the Bible; that is but a means to a mighty eternal end. The book is indeed sent us by God, but it nowhere claims to be his very word. If it were--and it would be no irreverence to say it--it would have been a good deal better written. Yet even its errors and blunders do not touch the truth, and are the merest trifles---dear as the little spot of earth on the whiteness of a snowdrop. Jesus alone is the Word of God"

-----George MacDonald, "Letter to an Unknown Lady" circa 1866

Ben Myers said...

"So what DID you say to her?" Oh, I think we just ended up talking about the kinds of novels she finds most interesting (she's especially into E. B. White and Kate DiCamillo: seriously, how can the Bible compete with talking animals?).

And although I wasn't trying to police her opinions about the Bible, we both agreed that it's "the most important book" since it's the book that shows us what God is like. (My younger daughter piped up at this point, and sagely observed that it's also the only book that tells us about Daniel in the Lion's Den: I guess that makes it both interesting and important!)

mark Stevens said...

And that is what I love about kids!

tortoise said...

If Scripture is not just something that we interpret but something that interprets us, is it then too much of a stretch to suggest that the Bible's importance is to be measured not by the interest it holds for us, but by the interest it has in us?

Anonymous said...

I think your daughter is far more sensible than many of the commentators. Either it is the most important book in the world or it isn't. If it's the most comprehensive account of God's self disclosure to humanity then yes it is.
For many, 'US' or 'People' Magazine with stories about Britany Spears and Lidsney Lohan is the most important, but if the Bible, or, say, the Qu'Ran is what they claim to be then those people are wrong. Yes, different, yes 'entitled to their opinion and yes, wrong.
The Child wants honest conversation and so surely a Muslim or a Christian should say "no, People magazine isn't the most important" and Muslims should answer her with "neither is the Bible, the Qu'Ran is" rather than the implicitly nihilistic "it is the most important...for Christians".
The "it is for us" or "for Christians" or whatever is a silliness that Children have yet to learn from professors who haven't read enough Alasdair MacIntyre.
For God's sake man, if you think it's the most important (which is not decided by a show of hands but, rather, its inherent meaningfulness, where meaning is the correlation between that which it says and that which is the case in reality (that is, in God)) then say "yes" and if you don't think it's the most important say "no".
She'll soon enough enter the intellectual inertia that liberal eduction forces and will know that knowing who says it is and who doesn't will save her from ever having to decide for herself and act and change the world on the basis of that decision.

Anonymous said...

The only part of the Bible that children might find interesting are the parables of Jesus. I know a priest who read the parable about the old and new wine and wineskins to a groups of 1st graders (6 year-olds) and at the end of the parable they all broke out laughing. He said they got it and most adults don't. Why aren't we supposed to find scripture funny when sometimes it is? I'd be curious to know what makes a book important according to your daughter....
-Ann

Andy Wilkes said...

Ben, after reading her Bible I remember my young daughter once asking 'Dad, it says all the people brought their sick to Jesus. Did they use a paper bag?'
Bless her, we laughed for hours!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad about that. Personally I think that Winnie the Pooh is the most important book in the world as I carry it's happy memories with me always (and I still have various copies)...

Does the Bible really describe what God is like? I always hoped it didn't when I was little. Your daughter is obviously cleverer than me. I always found Daniel in the Lion's Den quite gruesome! :-)

steph said...

that cheeky commenter above was steph

Anthony Douglas said...

How can the Bible compete with talking animals?!

Surely the story of Balaam is pertinent at this point...if that's not enough then there's the fable of the talking trees in Judges...

jason said...

Very interesting question.

My 7 year old son often poses some good questions, too (usually at bedtime, of course). Recently, he asked, "If Christians are supposed to love our enemies and pray for them, then why don't we all pray for the devil? It seems like he's the world's biggest enemy. Maybe if all the Christians in the world prayed for him, we could fix him and everything would be better."

I was surprised not only because it was such a good question, but also because it had never occurred to me.

roger flyer said...

@ Jason
Out of the mouths of babes comes 'true' theology. Now we see why Barth wanted to hang with kids!
and maybe why he began to mellow with age...?

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