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The Six Blind Men and a Talking Elephant

Do you remember the famous story about the six blind men and the elephant? One blind man touches the belly of the animal and thinks it's a wall. Another grabs the elephant's ear and thinks he's touching a fan. A third blind man touches the tail and thinks he's holding a rope. On they go, each grabbing a part of the elephant without any one of them knowing what it is they really feel.

What's the point of the story? We are all blind men when it comes to God. We know part of him, but we don't know really know who he is, we are all just grasping in the dark, thinking we know more than we do.

But there are two major problems with this analogy. First, the whole story is told from the vantage point of someone who clearly knows that the elephant is an elephant. For the story to make its point, the narrator has to have clear and accurate knowledge of the elephant. The second flaw with this story is even more serious. The story is a perfectly good description of human inability to know God by our own devices. But the story never considers this paradigm-shattering question: What if the elephant talks? What if he tells the blind men: "That wall-like structure is my side. That fan is really my ear. And that's not a rope; it's a tail." If the elephant were to say all this, would the six blind me be considered humble for ignoring his word?

Possible Preaching Angles: This story can illustrate the truth of the Bible as God's revelation to us or the truth of Christ as the Word of God. In both cases, God (the elephant in this story) has chosen to speak to us, to reveal himself to us, so we don't have to act like the blind men.

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