how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

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It doesn’t sound like you think they were really interested in the truth–only an answer that worked at the moment.

Don’t know if that is what Andrew was saying or not, but is it not plausible? I see theologians/apologist do that very thing today? Many, when confronted with a “problem” (something that contradicts there current theology) in the Scriptures, will come up with the worest argument, which in their mind sounds great because they need it, just to satisfy their theology. Just look at some of the “answers” that various scholars/theologians have come up with to dance around Matthew 16:28 or 24:34.