File this under “What Not To Do When Lady Doubt Comes Knocking”: Treat every question as if it’s of equal importance and start to cultivate an all-or-nothing mindset about every issue. What am I talking about? Let me explain.
It happens every time I read judges. I get to that bit about the fox tails and I just can’t do it. I can’t accomplish the herculean mental leap that would enable me to believe that it really, in actual historical fact, happened. What happened? This:
“So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards.” (Judges 15:4-5). That. Can you imagine the logistical nightmare of catching 300 foxes? Where would you find them? How would you catch them? Where would you keep the ones you caught while you were out catching the others? But that’s not even the half of it. HOW IN THE WORLD would you tie a torch between the tails of two foxes and not get your face scratched off in the process? And then once you’ve got 150 pairs of foxes with torches tied between their tails, what do you do? Light the torches one by one and send them out? How do you know which direction they’d run?
Granted, I’m no Samson nor http://bengkelbola.org member. Not by a long, long shot. I get it. But still, I had a hard enough time getting rid of one raccoon in my garage…I simply can’t imagine catching a fleet of foxes and turning them into roving wild torches aimed at my enemy’s crops. I just can’t get myself to believe that it happened that way.
Now here’s where the panic and fear-driven faith starts to set in. There is no shortage of people who would tell me (trust me, I’ve talked to them) “If you can’t believe in the flaming foxes, then you can’t believe in the resurrection.” The implication? If I think that Joshua 15 is anything other than literal, historical fact, then I may be putting myself outside of the household of faith and beyond the bounds of salvation.
And so then I’ll ask that person, “Do you believe about the 300 foxes?”
“Yes, of course I do, it’s in the Bible.”
“You don’t find it a little hard to believe?”
And here’s where the ultimate stopper line comes: “Listen, if you believe that God spoke the world into existence and raised Jesus from the dead then you should be able to believe that God could enable Samson to catch 300 foxes and tie torches between their tails and direct them to particular fields.”
Touché. I suppose. But that argument misses my point. Yes, I believe that God can do whatever He wants and therefore, yes, I believe that God could have empowered Samson to do that fox stuff. My question is not whether or not He could have. My question is whether or not He did. And my answer is: I DON’T KNOW!
Ah, that felt good. I don’t know. Those three words have proven to be three of the most faith-affirming words in my walk with the Lord. I don’t know.
And not knowing how God intends for us to understand the flaming foxes episode does not, in any way, cause me to doubt the fact that Jesus Christ the Son of God died for my sins and rose again on the third day. See? It’s not all or nothing. And not every question is of equal importance. And there is no slippery slope from fox denial to denying the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So just relax and breath and be honest about all of your biblical fox-related questions. It’s okay. God, and the Bible, can take it. Incidentally, I used the foxes as an example because it’s personally relevant (that story really does cause a minor faith criss every time I read it) and because it’s kind of funny (to me anyways). But you and I both know that the main place this happens for many people is in Genesis 1-3. More on that and whole faith-science thing later.