This is great advice from the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.
Their headline asks a question: What’s Wrong with the Word Story? It was written by Bodie Hodge, Hambo’s son-in-law. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
I grew up with Bible “stories.” I heard them in Sunday School and youth programs. I read books about Bible “stories.” I was taught about Bible “stories” for years and years. People have compared Bible stories with other stories and fictional movies like the Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Aesop’s Fables, or Star Wars. I even talked about Bible “stories” when teaching in the past. But all that changed.
Changed? How? Bodie explains:
One day I made a comment about the evolutionary “story.” I had a man come up to me, and he was clearly not happy. He was very upset that I had called evolution a “story,” because to him, it wasn’t a “story” but the “truth.” [Obviously a fool!] He was okay with me calling biblical accounts “stories,” because, as he put it, ”the Bible was full of myths and fictional accounts so they could rightly be called stories.” But how dare I call evolution “a story” in his view.
That must have been a ghastly encounter. Bodie tells us:
At that moment, I realized that the word story no longer means what story used to mean. Ken Ham, apologist and founder of Answers in Genesis often points out that story now means fairy tale or fiction. A story, to the common person on the street, means movies like Shrek, Cinderella, Lord of the Rings, or your own personal account of what happened with your own “not-so-true” embellishments! That type of story doesn’t necessarily recount what actually happened in the past. So, story no longer means history.
Then there’s a long — far too long — discussion of dictionary definitions now, and how the definitions of “story” were sequenced differently a century ago. When he’s done with that, Bodie tells us:
The point is that the word story no longer means a true historical account, a true narrative, or a record/statement of actual events of the past. If you want to use story to mean an actual historical event, then you need to explain it each time you do, which defeats the purpose of even using the word!
Okay, Bodie — we get what you’re saying. Now what? He continues:
The relevance of this discussion should be obvious. The Bible records actual events as true history [Scripture references]. If we continue using the word story regarding biblical accounts, then many listeners or readers will automatically think the Bible is nothing but a collection of fictional events.
We certainly don’t want that! Let’s read on:
As Christians who stand on the authority of God’s Word as the absolute truth, we need to make sure we are conveying the proper message clearly. We want the truth of God’s Word to be taught and preached to listeners and readers so that they can better grasp the meaning of the text of Scriptures.
Finally, he tells us how to handle this newly-discovered problem:
Many have shifted how to talk and write about biblical accounts. For example, I just used the word account. Did you notice that? I also use words and phrases like biblical history, true history, narrative, events of the past, record of events, chronological account, biblical records, past events, chronicle, history, and so on. If or when I do use story (yep, sometimes it slips out!), I caveat it and make sure the reader or audience knows what I mean each and every time.
For the droolers who probably comprise most of AIG’s readership, Bodie gives yet another explanation of the problem:
[D]efinitions sometimes change over time (e.g., consider the meaning of the word “gay” – meaning happy and carefree just 50-60 years ago – with its meaning now). We need to be able to recognize these definitional changes and adjust if necessary.
He finishes his article — finally! — with some advice:
Although this may seem trivial to some, the importance of this cannot be overstated. The last thing we want to do is be a stumbling block to someone who says, “Why should I believe the Bible when you Christians just think it is stories (i.e., “fiction,” “untruths”)?” Such a problem is easy to deal with using better terminology. … As Christians in unity, we want people to understand that the historical accounts in the Bible are true, and therefore, the message of the Gospel, founded in that same history, is also true.
That’s really useful. If you’re a creationist and you want droolers to know that your tales of Oogity Boogity are The Truth™, don’t worry about things like evidence. Just don’t use the word “story.” Really, that’s all there is to it.
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