Flannelgraph frailties


Those of us raised on flannelgraph Christian education recall the essence of most Bible lessons we learned as kids: The Bible character — unless a bad-guy pagan like Goliath or Herod — was good and faithful, and received God’s blessing. Therefore, we should do the same.
Turns out that, after some honest reading of the fuller texts, a lot of these biblical heroes were of less sterling character than we were led to believe.
Last Sunday, I had the privilege of being guest teacher for a delightful Sunday school class of adults at Vineville Baptist Church in Macon, Ga. Like so many others around the world using the Uniform Series, we examined the conflicting, deceit-based relationship between Jacob and his uncle/father-in-law Laban, as well as Jacob’s marriages to Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel.
I mentioned that Jacob was a scoundrel, before realizing that no flannelgraph teacher of mine ever used that term for a Patriarch. This need to defend the character of Bible characters has apparently ended with my generation, however.
Last week I overheard my teenage daughter discussing Jesus and his Disciples with a friend.
“John was the conceited one,” my daughter said. “He referred to himself as ‘the one whom Jesus loved.'”
Well, I loved her honesty. There was no sense of being an image-protecting media handler for the disciple. What sounded like conceit, she called conceit.
Now why would I celebrate such honesty? Might such references to biblical personalities lessen faith?
No, such honesty teaches us the greater lesson that, throughout history, the hand of God has been at work through frail, faulty people, not superheroes.
The Bible is full of characters who were brave and fearful, courageous and cowardly, honest and deceiving, bold and weak, believing and unbelieving, firm and failing … you know, characters like us.

5 Comments

  1. Are you adopting the view of the Third Testament; or as some others call it the Old, the New and the Now Testaments?
    Is there a sense in which Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Marilyn Robinson, Emily Dickinson, and Ron Rash should be canonized.

    And on another note what about Huckabee in current Time mag:
    All good preachers know to give their congregations some breathing space before heading into the main point of their sermon. Huckabee used that rhythm as well with a story about the early 20th century evangelist Billy Sunday. And then he got down to business. Zinging his opponents, Huckabee said that social conservatives need a candidate who speaks “the language of Zion as a mother tongue.” And challenging the Christian Right leaders who are lining up behind Romney and, to a lesser extent, candidates like Fred Thompson, he urged: “Let us not sacrifice our principles for anybody’s politics.”

    Wasn’t there some tension between him and Ronnie Floyd and the Pressler camp in the 80’s and what does that mean for Richard Land’s legacy.

    I think it could all be a matter of context, even so I have recently concluded the First Chapter of the Book of James is True, in my time and that
    And I have found the opening lines of Leigh Herryman’s Southern Cross, her scripture passage continues to haunt.
    and I Paraphrase
    There are five cities in Egypt which speak the Language of Caanan and ONe of them is called the City of the Sun.
    If you say “Huh?” then maybe you don’t get it.

    Fox

  2. No, Fox,I’m just saying many of the characters in the two testaments are a lot more like us (or we like them) than we sometimes think.
    JP

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more. The elevation of the Patriarchs and Saints misses a main point of the Bible. God uses the weak and foolish things of this world, to confound those who are wise and mighty. As for foxofbama I don’t see how his question was at all related to your post.

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. The elevation of the Patriarchs and Saints misses a main point of the Bible. God uses the weak and foolish things of this world, to confound those who are wise and mighty. As for foxofbama I don’t see how his question was at all related to your post.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. The elevation of the Patriarchs and Saints misses a main point of the Bible. God uses the weak and foolish things of this world, to confound those who are wise and mighty. As for foxofbama I don’t see how his question was at all related to your post.

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