Don’t Pay Attention To Stories
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
“Neither give heed to fables…” (1 Timothy 1:4)
As the present-day English reader comes upon the word “fables” in the Authorized Version, he is apt to think of Aesop’s Fables, but these were illustrations, while the original word muthois means simply stories, including stories of imagined incidents or events.
There are two types of stories that have exerted an amazing influence upon twentieth century Christendom. One is the novel, the other the promotional story. In considering the above passage, this writer examined the contents of the popular Christian periodicals coming to his desk and was astonished to find how many of them were largely filled with fiction and with stories written to promote projects or viewpoints. The Apostle says about such stories that they raise questions but do not answer them, for stories really prove nothing. This is also true of many Christian films.
Many Christian novels have indeed exerted a savory influence upon their readers — when they have been founded upon Scriptural truths and principles. Obviously, however, an author can make his novel “prove” exactly what he wishes to prove, for the novel involves us in a world of make-believe. Thus a novel can be dangerous to Christian faith and practice.
The promotional story holds, perhaps, an even more prominent place in our popular Christian magazines. No one can object to factual reports of what God has wrought, but too many of these stories are nothing more than promotional efforts. Many of these “success stories” are so successful that thoughtful readers question their validity and are apt to lay them aside without even finishing them. Less discerning readers, however, are often deeply moved by them.
We are well aware that our objections are not popular, but we are not trying to be popular; we are trying to help sincere Christians find their way back, step by step, to renewed spiritual power. This power has been too long frittered away by substituting the will of man for the Word of God.