The following is not persuasive writing. It is an effort to craft a tool for explaining my position. Hopefully, this tool could help explain my position to those who claim to believe that the words in the Bible are “literally true.” It would be nice if it could also allow a discussion of the multiple meanings of that term.
The Parable of the Parable of the Sower
There was a public meeting of the Joint Policy Council on Agriculture and Higher Education. They discussed factors that threatened the traditional excellence of higher education agriculture programs and the competitiveness of the agriculture industry. A preacher came to the microphone and asked if the organization would support exposing students to the biblical point of view on agriculture–namely that seeds should be scatter everywhere, and in the places that God intended them to grow, they would grow. The preacher admitted that he could not say for sure whether the models designed by agricultural science were right or wrong, he just wanted to ensure that students were exposed to the Biblical alternative.
Explaining the Parable of the Parable of the Sower
I honestly don’t know what a modern farmer would have to say about this. I am not a modern farmer. I suspect, it is poor guidance on how to plant seeds. But what I know, and what everyone knows, is that one should not read the Parable of the Sower this way. Does that mean I don’t think the Parable of the Sower is literally true? I guess. Does it mean that I don’t think the Parable of the Sower is true? No. The Parable of the Sower is very true; it describes phenomena that anyone who has been in a church for a while has seen.
The most tragic thing about reading the Parable of the Sower as a guide on planting crops is NOT that it is bad guidance on planting crops. The most tragic things about reading the Parable of the Sower as a guide on planting crops is that it misses the actual truth of the parable.
This is equally true of reading Christian mythology as history or science.