Unfortunately, I have been in conversations and have overheard conversations much like the fictitious one rendered below. Of course, in writing this parable, I’m chosing a certain type of example to make a subtle, common problem more obvious.
Two men are walking along a path in a city park during the late morning hours. It is a sunny, cool autumn day, and the moon is still visible in the blue sky.
Ordinary man: Wow. I think the moon becomes more beautiful when the seasons change.
Biblical literalist: The moon is beautiful. The Bible says God made “the lesser light to govern the night.” I enjoy taking nighttime walks, too!
Ordinary man: Yes, me too. And look at it right now. Isn’t that great?
Biblical literalist: You can’t see the moon right now.
Ordinary man: Yes, you can. Look!
Biblical literalist: No, you can’t see the moon right now. The Scriptures say God made “the lesser light to govern the night.” Now, is it nighttime right now?
Ordinary man: Well, no, but —
Biblical literalist: The Scriptures also say God made “the greater light to govern the day.” Is it daytime right now, buddy?
Ordinary man: Of course, but —
Biblical literalist: Is the greater light shining this fine morning?
Ordinary man: Obviously, but I —
Biblical literalist: Well, then, the moon can’t be visible now.
Ordinary man: Oh my. Have a good morning. I gotta go.
Biblical literalist: Some people just don’t trust the plain teaching of the Scriptures.
Everything about our witness to the watching world is compromised if we treat the Scriptures as a darkened room into which we must walk.