Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 9, 1964

Bible Answers

Gene Frost, 1900 Jenny Lind, Fort Smith, Arkansas

QUESTION: I'm confused and thought you might could help me. My Pastor recently said that Jonah was not swallowed by a whale and that Moses did not part the Red Sea. He said these were parables and were used to illustrate the power of God. I've always believed that these things did actually happen just as I believe Jesus Christ arose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Did these above acts actually happen, or is my pastor correct in labeling them as parables?

ANSWER: The inclination to consign all miracles of the Bible to the realm of fables and myths demonstrates the influence that modernism enjoys in the religious realm. Modernism, or neo-orthodoxy, states as a basic tenet that "nature is the standard, and reason the guide." Everything that cannot be explained according to the laws that are witnessed in nature or which appear unreasonable by reason of man's experiences must be rejected as "non-historic," and must be explained as mythical, figurative, or to accommodate the superstitious concepts of the times. Consequently, human judgment becomes the criterion of truth and error. The idea of plenary inspiration in the revelation of God's will is rejected because it suggests a knowledge supernatural, i.e.; and man's natural ability of comprehension. Also all miracles are denied for the reason that such demonstrations of power are not natural experiences.

Neo-orthodoxy is the product of philosophy (Col. 2:8) which supposes that all truth may be elicited within man's mind exclusive of any divine revelation. This exaltation of man's wisdom is a basic failure of man. Early in human history, those who prided themselves in their acumen "became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools," and as a result they introduced all manner of uncleanness. (Rom. 1:21-25) The greatest of crimes (e. g. infanticide, theft, and sensuality) have been countenanced by the natural moralists and philosophers.

But God has not left man without revelation of truth (embracing right and wrong in human conduct) and this fact man would be wise to acknowledge. Man in his own wisdom does not know God — the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. (Job. 37:23; 1 Tim. 6:16) It is foolish therefore for men to assume that the height of all knowledge and wisdom is the product of the human mind. God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Psa. 55:8-9) Man is subject to God's will — God's revelation is not subject to man's ability to understand God's power and wisdom, Did miracles actually occur? Yes. The many accounts of miraculous events are not fables. ("Parable" as used in the sense of the question is incorrect: a parable is always true, and is used of actual events (though not specific) to illustrate spiritual matters.) Israel did cross the Red Sea. God did prepare a fish to swallow Jonah. Many historical miracles are acknowledged in the records of nations unsympathetic to the religion of Jehovah, e.g. the flood and Noah, the long day of Joshua, etc. Space does not permit a listing of the events and historical records in proof of their validity; volumes have been written on the subject. (A suggestive list of publications will be sent to those requesting: enclose a self-addressed envelope.)

However, the immediate concern is the attitude that prompts one, who claims to believe and teach the Bible, to deny it. If the accounts of miracles are false, then we have no assurance that any of the Bible is true. If it cannot be trusted in total, then it is unreliable. What assurance then do we have that Jesus arose from the dead? This, too, is a miracle. For the same reason that one would deny the miracles in the cases of Jonah and Moses, one would he compelled to deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The denial of this fact makes any pretense of faith in Christ hypocritical! (1 Cor. 15:12-19) The result of neo-orthodoxy is to make the Bible just another product of man, a collection of myths and human evaluations. It destroys respect for the Bible and produces infidelity.