Are They Really Bible “Stories”?

A few weeks ago, I helped my sister decorate her public school classroom. Each year, her school picks a fun theme that the teachers use to decorate their rooms, doors, and hallways. It is so much fun walking the hallways just before school starts to see what each teacher has done.

As part of this year’s theme, each grade chose their own storybook to feature. I can’t remember all of the books they chose, but I’m pretty sure I saw If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Charlotte’s Web, and Peter Pan (for music). Other books I didn’t know as well. One was something messy. I don’t even remember the title, but you can be sure I will look for it next time I sub.

I love the idea of encouraging kids to read. Still, I wonder if we make a mistake in homes, churches, and Christian classrooms when we read from the Bible and call it a “Bible story.” The Bible is not on the same level as the “Give a Mouse a Cookie” books, Dr. Seuss, or even Newbery Medal Winners like The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.

Modern Genres

Grade school kids are taught beginning in kindergarten or first grade to sort books into categories. The main division is “fiction” or “non-fiction.” (Here’s a link to more specifics.)

Merriam-Webster defines “fact” as:

  • something that truly exists or happens : something that has actual existence
  • a true piece of information

Literature genres that fall into the “fact” category include:

  • Informational Literature (maps, brochures, dictionaries, encyclopedias, travel books, etc.)
  • Biographies
  • Autobiographies

Fictional literature include (click here for a complete list with examples):

  • Fairy Tales
  • Fantasy
  • Folk Tales
  • Tall Tales
  • Fables
  • Adventure
  • Mystery
  • Historical Fiction
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Science Fiction

Now think for a minute. Where does the Bible fit? Where might kids fit the Bible “stories” we tell them? Fiction or non-fiction? Fact or fable? Truth or tall tale?

Biblical Genres

The Bible includes history, poetry, wisdom literature, prophecy, and letters. Each part is written according to it’s genre, but none of those fall in the “fiction” category for several reasons:

1. The whole Bible is God’s biography/autobiography. There is a reason it is called God’s Word. The Word of God is spoken, written in the Bible, and lived in the person of Jesus Christ who completes all of Scripture.

In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him. Nothing that has been made was made without him. Life was in him, and that life was the light for all people…

The Word became a human being. He made his home with us. We have seen his glory. It is the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father. And the Word was full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-3, 14 (NIRV. See also Exodus 24:4;

2. The test of whether a prophecy is true or not is if what it says comes to pass. God always keeps His promises and fulfills His prophecies.

TEST A: Does the prophecy come true?

TEST B: Does the prophet proclaim Jesus as Lord? (Or, before Jesus was born on earth, does the prophet proclaim Yahweh, the Lord, as the one true God?)

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3 (NIV)

If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:1-4 (NIV)

For more, see “How do we know the Bible is True?” by ChristianAnswers.net and “How Do You Know The Bible Is True?” by Clarifying Christianity.

3. Much of it, especially the parts about Jesus, can be verified by more than one witness.

What I received I passed on to you. And it is the most important of all. Here is what it is. Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the 12 apostles. After that, he appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. Last of all, he also appeared to me. I was like someone who wasn’t born at the right time.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (NIRV. Read more in 1 Corinthians 15:1-19.)

I’ll ask again. Does your family, your class, know for sure whether the Bible is a fun “story” or a trustworthy report of God’s Word?

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