This is what really started it all for me. I can’t remember how young I was, probably in junior high, when I read the story of Noah for myself. I remember being…upset. I remember wanting to know where the rest of the story was.
See, I was told that a) Noah tried to convince his neighbors to join him, and b) he was ridiculed for his faith and actions. Neither of these elements of the story are present in the Biblical account.
Noah was never given the directive to preach, to save his neighbors. Let’s be clear about this: they were already condemned. God had made his decision, and Noah and his family were going to be the only survivors. He told Noah to build a boat and collect the animals. Noah obeyed. That’s it.
There is no indication his neighbors even knew what he was doing. Is it possible they knew he was building a giant boat in his backyard? Sure. Is it possible they mocked him for it? Sure. Is it possible they mocked him for believing a giant flood was coming because they had no concept of rain? … probably not.
This is the wildest part of the expanded story to me. We have no reason to believe it had never rained. We know they used artesian wells and were somewhere in the general Middle Eastern region. The only passage I found that said it hadn’t rained yet was during creation. We literally have no idea how long it was between creation and the flood. And we’re saying it still hadn’t rained? Why? To support…some far reaching theories about a drastic change in climate and…everything necessary to “prove” young Earth creation? To make the flood more DRAMATIC?
I’m sorry. The flood is pretty dramatic. Even if you want to argue that it was only regional and that “the whole world” refers to “the whole known world.” (Please, I’m not taking a position on that. If you want to share some sources that argue for or against, feel free, but don’t come at me for acknowledging the debate exists.) God is wiping the slate clean, starting over with the family of the only faithful man left. And this guy steps up to do the job. It rains for forty days. They’re stuck in a boat with a bunch of animals and what must have been a lot of anxiety until they get to see dry land again.
Why did we need to ‘punch it up?’ Why did we need to embellish? To speculate so very much and then present it as fact?
It was here that I realized I couldn’t just trust the lessons I was being taught. It was here that I learned I needed to study, to think critically, to analyze, to consult other sources, and to trust the leading the Spirit in my own life. I wasn’t just allowed to question the authorities in my life; I needed to question them.
And you know what? We are instructed over and over not to blindly follow, but to test what we are taught against the Word of God. Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” See that? Human tradition is included in that list…
Series Disclaimer: throughout this particular series, it is always possible that I simply missed something, or honestly forgot it. I am, however, operating on the assumption that my experience is actually fairly typical despite coming from a comparatively small denomination. I feel justified in this assumption because I have put effort into interacting with and listening to as wide a variety of people as I can, and I put effort into paying attention. My entire life I’ve put effort into paying attention, into understanding. So perhaps I’ve missed something, or forgotten a single lesson, but I am speaking of broad impressions of a large culture. Should your experience differ, I am glad. Should I be wrong, I would be relieved.