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People prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs

Posted by on Jun 5, 2011 in blog links, scripture | 4 comments

People prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs

The title of this post is a quote from a Bible professor in a CNN article called “Actually, that’s not in the Bible.”

In the article, the author quotes several “passages” that are quoted as Scripture, but that are not actually found in the Bible.

Some of the passages are obviously not Scripture, though they may sound biblish:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

Others are contractions or modifications of actual passages of Scripture:

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

“Pride goes before a fall.”

“This, too, shall pass.”

Others are based on popular or traditional stories related to Scripture:

“Three wise men (or kings) visited baby Jesus.”

“Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life.”

They left out my personal favorite, which someone once quoted to me (and the entire church) as their “life verse”:

“The family that prays together stays together.”

The interesting thing about this article, besides the false quotations and misunderstandings, is the reasons that the author and those interviewed give for people accepting non-Scripture as Scripture. Here is one example:

Few catch on [that the passages are not in Scripture] because they don’t want to – people prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, a Bible professor says. “Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book.”

However, there is one “reason” that I disagree with:

“It is a great Protestant tradition for anyone – milkmaid, cobbler, or innkeeper – to be able to pick up the Bible and read for herself. No need for a highly trained scholar or cleric to walk a lay person through the text,” says Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California.

But often the milkmaid, the cobbler – and the NFL coach – start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says.

The lack of “guidance of biblical experts” is not the problem. Several people in Scripture were able to interpret Scripture without the benefit of biblical experts (at least, the way “biblical expert” is defined today).

Instead, I think a big problem actually arises from those biblical experts, especially those who teach week in and week out. Their teaching (and sermon titles, and quotes, and points) are often seen as just as important (if not more important) than the Scripture they are attempting to interpret.

Those biblical experts would help the church more by teaching the church (as a whole) to turn to Scripture (not to the experts), and then to read and study it for themselves.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-5-2011


    It’s rather interesting to see that these supposed verses are common, regardless of in what country the quotes come from.

    Your disagreement with that “reason” gains an affirmative from me also. That “reason” has behind it the desire to maintain an “expert” class for understanding the Scriptures, and a dismissal of the Holy Spirit as the active and efficient cause of understanding.

  2. 6-5-2011

    I agree with your disagreement… especially since I’ve heard many “experts” preach phantom scriptures from the Bible.


  3. 6-5-2011

    Add the educational requirements for Pastors seeking professional positions. For that matter, add the hiring of professional Pastors who do the work of ministry on behalf of the church.

    I suppose if you create two extra-biblical roles (the clergy AND the laity), it hardly matters that you create extra-biblical requirements for one of the roles and an extra-biblical lack of responsibilities for the other.

  4. 6-5-2011

    Aussie John, Lew, and Art,

    In the article, the author determines that at least one of those fake Scriptures was actually started by a Bible expert… inadvertently, I’m sure.