Parents, Please Don’t Forget How Strange the Bible Is

by Natasha Crain

With the start of the new school year, we’ve begun reading through the Bible together as a family again (see this post if you want to know more about what we’re doing).

One reason I love the children’s Bible we’re using is that it includes far more stories and much more detail than most children’s Bibles I’ve seen. That means we’ve had the opportunity to dig deeper into Genesis than our young kids have ever dug before. And there’s a running theme to what they’re noticing about these new stories:

There’s a lot of really strange stuff in the Bible.

For example, we’ve been reading stories like Abraham entertaining angels, angels striking a crowd with blindness, Lot’s wife turning into salt, God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and Jacob wrestling with God.

I hope you don’t think it’s irreverent to label these and many other Bible stories as strange. The definition of strange is “unusual or surprising in a way that is hard to understand; not previously visited, seen, or encountered; unfamiliar or alien.”

To acknowledge and discuss with our kids that the Bible is strange is not irreverent…it’s actually extremely important when preparing them to engage with a secular world. In this post, we’ll take a look at why that’s the case, and how to discuss biblical strangeness with your kids.

Have You Forgotten How Strange the Bible Is?

In the normal course of our lives, when we make a strange claim, we naturally connect that claim to an explanation of why someone else should believe what we’re saying.

For example, imagine for a moment that you’re sitting in your office one morning when a colleague walks in and says to you, “Good morning! There’s a flying hippo in the parking lot. Really cool! Anyway, have a good one…” then casually walks on to his cubicle.

You would be baffled by that person’s behavior. He just claimed something that you assume isn’t possible or likely, yet he didn’t feel the need to elaborate. That’s not normal. You would have expected him to tell you in great detail about the crazy thing he saw, then offer some kind of explanation as to why he believes something so strange to be true.

Clearly, we normally assume that the what and the why of strange claims go hand-in-hand. But if you don’t realize that your claims are strange, you won’t realize just how much explaining you need to do. Like the guy from the office, you’ll end up making those claims without offering the corresponding explanation that should naturally follow.

That’s exactly what many Christian parents are doing.

Many of us grew up in Christian homes and have been hearing “strange” biblical accounts like the Garden of Eden, the burning bush, the Egyptian plagues, Jonah being swallowed by a whale, the virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles, and the resurrection our whole lives. It’s easy to become immune to just how strange these events really are. We end up recounting them to our children as if we told them there’s a flying hippo outside, then casually tuck them into bed for the night.

But when the Bible’s strange claims are unnaturally divorced from the rationale for believing them, it can lead to two kinds of problems…

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Parents, Please Don’t Forget How Strange the Bible Is