Q: “The problem happens when this kind of personification that worked for people thousands of years ago, no longer works for people in our days.”
I think the trick is to make it work. The prime reason NOT to make it work is to give in to the feeling that we are above such “primitive” narrative, that we are more sophisticated, that our predecessors may have been stupid but not us, that we are not to be talked down to as though we were children.
But we are children. Certainly we are in the eyes of God, but even in the eyes of those not completely drunk on the Kool-Aid of human independence from God’s direction, we are children. Look at how people snipe at each other on social media. Look at how they do it on TV. Look at how they do it on “the news.” They are adults when they do that? No, they are children. Look at the mess of a world they have collectively built and the relatively petty matters they elevate to monumental importance. They are children.
So a bit of humility is in order. You don’t puff yourself up as though you are the smartest people who have ever lived, when you may well be the dumbest. “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but has not been cleansed from its filth,” reads Proverbs 30:12. You don’t let the fact that you can make iPads and Teslas blind you to the “alternative fact” that you still can’t answer any of the deep questions of life—as Vermont Royster put it “In the contemplation of man himself, of his dilemmas, of his place in the universe, we are little further along than when time began. We are still left with questions of who we are and why we are and where we are going.”
Some of the best lines, to my mind, are still to be found in the Truth book of the late 60s: “True, there has been progress in a materialistic way. But is it really progress when men send rockets to the moon, and yet cannot live together in peace on earth?”
Some people think it is. Let them be separated out if they will be so spiritually dense.
I think the language of the Bible simply serves to separate people—to cause them to reveal what is in their heart. Yesterday our Zoom group discussed the daily text: “Whoever trusts in his own heart is stupid”—(Proverbs 28:26), and the focus was on weighing in on matters when we don’t have all the facts. Why would anyone do that?—and yet we do it all the time. These days the TV positively encourages us to do that, presenting a single scene or a single line repeatedly and without context, causing viewers to form instant verdicts.
I can recall Watchtower articles to the effect that when you hear a bad report about a trusted friend, you are inclined to say: “Well, I wasn’t there. Maybe there are things I don’t know.” How that plays out in the morass of current world news I haven’t a clue—apply it however you like—but it certainly is apropos when considering Bible accounts thousands of years old.