The Bible vs Fairy Tales
There's a big difference between myth and reality.
There are some pretty amazing and “out-there” events that are recounted for us in the Bible. Here are a few that come to mind:
- Moses parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14)
- David the shepherd boy defeating the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
- Jonah being inside and then spat out of a big fish (Jonah 1-3)
- Jesus’ immaculate conception (Luke 1)
- Jesus' miracles, such as turning water into wine (John 2) and even stopping the raging storm with only a few words (Mark 4).
There are many people in the world who will claim these events we read of in the Bible are nothing more than myth, even fairy tale-esque, but as Christians we can have good reason to trust that everything written in the Bible is true, even these amazing accounts!
Fairy tales and Bible truths
Fairy tales, by very definition are “tales” or “stories” that are told, about mythical creatures such as fairies and goblins and people that never existed. These tales may have a teaching point or a moral lesson about something in reality, such as 'don’t talk to strangers' (Snow White), or 'don't judge on first appearances' (The Frog Prince). But regardless of these often valid teaching points, fairy tales are clearly not true stories - and no one ever claimed they were.
This is not the same for the events we read of in the Bible. We aren’t supposed to read the Bible like a fairy tale and only take a moral lesson from it. Rather we are to read the Bible much more like a history book that recounts true events. Of course, we can and should gain lessons from the Bible about how to live as Christians in this world, but there is so much more to be learned, such as the character of God, the big picture of how He has worked since the beginning of creation to save His people, and even little glimpses into what heaven will be like, just to name a few.
Can we trust the Bible?
How can we be confident what we read in the Bible is reliable? There are a few reasons such as:
- External evidence that corresponds to events in the Bible (this includes archaeological evidence and also evidence in literature, such as references in other ancient texts that refer to characters or events). All these ideas are talked about in this video and this video if you’d like to have a bit more of a look.
- Jesus himself refers to other parts of the Bible as fact (specifically the Old Testament). If we trust Jesus, then this is a great witness to the truth and validity of the Bible and how we should respond to it.
Fairy tales change over time
Thinking more about the truth of the Bible in comparison to the mythical nature of fairy tales means we can also notice some differences about how we approach these texts.
Take the remaking of fairy tales as an example. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has just come out this year, and Jack the Giant Slayer is due out on DVD soon. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was re-released last year as Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and there are even rumours of a new Cinderella being in pre-production in 2014.
This is not a new phenomenon - fairy tales have been going through cycles of being written, told, re-written, and re-told for generations. Originally fairy tales were dark stories with a warning, like those told by the Brothers Grimm. There were full of blood, gore and evil such as in Cinderella, when the ugly-step-sisters cut off their feet to try to fit into the glass slipper; or in Little Red Riding Hood she doesn’t escape from the wolf and no one comes to save her. Even in the Three Little Pigs, when the wolf eats the first two pigs but ends up falling into the third pig’s pot, at which point the third pig cooks the wolf and eats him, and consequently his two brothers, for dinner.
200 years later, we have grown up on the “Disney-fied” versions of these stories, with many-a-happy finales where the characters end up singing and dancing merrily because the prince has ridden in to save the distressed princesses. But change is happening and now the blood, guts and gore are coming back and doing so in stunning cinematic fashion.
Why are all these fairytales being re-told again, with special effects and new graphics and a dramatically changed storyline? Is it that audiences are bored with the happy-clappy “Dinsney-fied” story? Have producers decided that the film won’t sell unless the story is changed? Is the original story not seen as relevant enough for audiences anymore?
The pressure to change a story
In history and in our lives the pressure to tweak and change a story is not new. We want things to sound better, to be more relevant and to strike people in a way that it hasn’t before.
But we have to be careful of this pressure – especially when it comes to the Bible. Like we’ve discussed, unlike the stories we read in fairy tales, the accounts that are given in the Bible are true. The Bible is no fairy tale and it will never be “too old” or irrelevant because it is the truth. Therefore the stories we read in it should never be tweaked or 'updated'. Despite the events in these accounts occurring thousands of years ago they are just as relevant to us now as they were back then.
Truth never goes stale
Why will the Bible and what is written in it never be ‘out-of-date’? Why will it never be in need of special effects or tweaking? It is because what is written in this book is a revelation from God. A revelation throughout all time of His plan for salvation for His people. This story will never get old, nor will it ever be irrelevant for any audience.
In fact we are warned in Revelation never to alter the truths that we read in the Bible:
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. If anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him is share in the tree of life in the holy city...” (Revelation 22:18-19)
Be encouraged about the truths in the Bible that you have been taught. You do don’t need to change them or tell them with ‘special-effects’ because of what the story contains. It is the news of salvation and therefore it will be relevant for all audiences and for all time!