Sep 12, 2011

That's NOT in the Bible? Nope.

Recent surveys have shown Biblical illiteracy at an all-time high. And, no, Gallup wasn't just polling Episcopalians. What's most disturbing to me isn't that people have no idea who or what Moses did. It's the number of quotes they think are Biblical but actually are not.

To clear up any confusion, the staff here at Clergy Family Confidential has compiled a list of the most common non-Biblical clich├ęs. If you can think of any others, by all means add them to the list. Together, in the name of God and country, we can root out these insidious Scriptural mis-quotes. And then everyone can live happily ever after and return to their previously scheduled programming.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Perhaps not. Although in extreme cases you may end up as a vegetable.

"God never gives us more than we can handle." Talk to Job. Or anyone else who has ever been overwhelmed by the circumstances of life. That's not to say that God isn't in the midst of it all but God isn't intentionally heaping weights upon our shoulders to help us identify our own breaking points.

"To thine own self be true." Just because it's written in Elizabethan English doesn't mean it's Scriptural. It is, however, a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet.

"The lion shall lay down with the lamb." In Isaiah, the wolf lives with the lamb and the leopard lies down with the kid but the lion and the lamb? Never the twain shall meet. "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together" (11:6) and "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox" (65:25).

"Cleanliness is next to godliness." Slobs of the world rejoice! While the saying may have its roots in an ancient, non-Biblical Hebrew proverb, the earliest example in English comes from Francis Bacon in 1605.

"God works in mysterious ways." Duh. And U2 sings "God moves in mysterious ways." But as true as this may be, it's not in the Bible.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Psych! The Golden Rule actually does come from the Bible if not in this precise wording. See Matthew 7:12. In fact, this call to ethical reciprocity pre-dates the Bible and can be found in nearly every world religion.

"God helps those who help themselves." Perhaps, but God also helps those who cannot help themselves. This phrase seems to have originated in one of Aesop's Fables -- the Waggoner. It shouldn't be surprising that since Aesop lived in the 6th century BC the original phrase was "The gods help those who help themselves."

"Money is the root of all evil." There's a similar saying in 1 Timothy: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." But that's completely different -- money itself is not evil! Remember that distinction come stewardship season.

"It's a long way to the top, if you want to rock 'n roll." What? This isn't in the Book of Revelation? Nope, it's AC/DC.

So there you have it. A little Biblical literacy to get your blood flowing. And if you didn't like anything about this blog post? "This too shall pass" (again, not Biblical).


Elizabeth said...

Thanks for setting us straight!

Scott Gunn said...

You forgot my favorite "Bible" quote: When God closes a door, he opens a window.

Father Tim said...

Oooh. That's a good one, Scott. Maybe I can work "defenestration" into my next sermon.

shields said...

Actually, U2 sang, "she moves in mysterious ways"..

Here's hoping that misquoting U2 doesn't invoke the criticism misquoting God does! ;)