It started innocently enough. Caleb Kaltenbach went to a local Costco store. His wife had taken a picture of a jacket she liked there and he wanted to get it for her. On his way out of the store he stopped to look at books in the book section of the store. He noticed a Bible that was for sale and was labeled “Fiction.” All the Bibles were labeled that way.
Caleb is a pastor and thought it was a little amusing, and then thought this might be a great illustration to highlight what people think about the Bible. So Caleb snapped a picture of the Bible labeled “Fiction” and posted it on his Facebook and Twitter pages. Those pictures created more than some dialogue on the authenticity of the Bible; it created a media maelstrom that drew the national spotlight on what could more aptly be described as a clerical error, but some claimed was an attack on the validity of the Bible.
The fundamentalists Christians called for boycotts of Costco, others asked how Christ would respond, some wondered what the hoopla was all about, and the atheists were having a wonderful time of making fun of the reaction by various Christian groups and organizations. Some conservative politicians used this to blast Costco’s supposed liberal policies. Caleb never meant for this to happen.
“To me, most of the groups missed the main point of the issue; is the Bible fiction or is it true?” Caleb said. He went on to say, “it was never my intention to crusade against Costco or their CEO.” Costco’s CEO is actually a devout Catholic. “I am not on the cultural warfare path by any means” explained Caleb. When reporters and members of the press began asking for interviews Caleb tried to answer their questions honestly and repeatedly said, “I do not think Costco did this intentionally. I don’t believe there’s an evil mastermind genius working at Costco to undermine the authority of Scripture.”
Caleb may not believe that, but those who think there is a demon under every rock trying to destroy us would disagree. For Christians, who are supposed to exhibit the kind of love that “does not take into account a wrong suffered (1 Corinthians 13:5),” there were many who seemed to be wearing a chip on their shoulder and were too quick to whine and start criticizing. But the issue is real regardless of a clerical mislabel or what people think about Costco. Caleb was right to pose the question, “is the Bible fiction or is it true?”
There are some who say the Bible is nothing more than a collection of stories meant to suggest certain moral perspectives, like Aesop’s Fables or Greek mythology. They dismiss the historical authenticity of the Bible, and that does undermine the authority of the Scriptures. If the Bible is just a collection of moral allegories it is just one view among many, and is no better than any other moral claim.
But the historicity of the Bible is not so easily dismissed. It records places and peoples many of which can be independently corroborated as being undeniably part of the human story. The Bible talks about Egypt and Pharaoh, and the Babylonian empire. These are not fabled lands imagined by some ancient poet, and their inhabitants are not mythological apparitions. They existed in the time and space continuum we know as human history.
But again, the Bible claims to be more than an account of human events. It also claims to be a revelation of God’s divine nature and holy will. And there’s the rub. It is more than a fable, more than just a collection of historical events, it claims to reveal a righteous God who expects and demands moral purity, a purity we are incapable of apart from the regeneration of the Spirit of God.
All Caleb was attempting to do was to take an insignificant mistake and use it as a springboard to discuss an issue of greater significance. So, the question is not what do you think about Costco? It is, what do you think about the Bible? What do you think about Jesus? Are the Scriptures fact or fiction? The answers to these questions have eternal significance.