Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is that in the Bible?

The Bible is a source of many wise sayings. Some of them have become part of our everyday lexicon, and we might use them without even know that we are quoting Bible verses.

And then there are phrases that get quoted like Bible verses, and we might be surprised to learn that they actually come from somewhere else. One source of confusion is that the language of the King James Version sounds a bit like Shakespeare. This is not surprising, since Shakespeare lived from 1564-1616, and the translation of the KJV was completed in 1611.

Here are 20 phrases and quotable quotes. See if you can tell which ones are Bible verses, and which come from other sources?

1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. 

2. I must be cruel, only to be kind.  

3. The truth will set you free. 

4.   … whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 

5. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again. 

6. Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

7. To thine own self be true. 

8. Am I my brother’s keeper? 

9. … a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof. 

10. God’s gonna get you for that!

11. God helps those who help themselves. 
 

12. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

13.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

14. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

 
15. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done,     on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,  but deliver us from the evil one. )
 
16. Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;  may the name of the Lord be praised.
 
 17. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  
 

18. … ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

 

19. When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken. 
 
20.  Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. 
 
21. God moves in mysterious ways. 
 
22. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
 
23.  “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. 
24.  Love the sinner, hate the sin.
 
25  Thou shalt not run with scissors.

Answers:

  1. Nope. While cleanliness may indeed be next to godliness, it doesn’t say so anywhere in the Bible. This phrase is credited to John Wesley.
  2. Shakespeare. Hamlet. And more recently, in 1979 Nick Lowe penned the lyrics “You gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure.”
  3. Bible. John 8:32. What is the truth that will set you free? Actually, the question should be, “Who is the truth?” because the truth is a person: Jesus. And what will Jesus set you free from? Sin.Verse 34: “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
  4. Bible. Galatians 6:7
  5. Good advice again, but not from the Bible. According to the free dictionary.com, this bit of  wisdom was first found in ‘Teacher’s Manual’ by American educator Thomas H. Palmer and ‘The Children of the New Forest’ by English novelist Frederick Maryat (1792-1848).
  6. Trick question! As quoted, it is a phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but there is a similar phrase in the Bible. Proverbs 22:7 says that “the borrower is slave to the lender.” Prov 22:7)
  7. Hamlet again.
  8. This one comes from the Bible. In Genesis 4:9, Cain had just killed his brother Abel, and God calls out to Cain to ask where Abel was. Cain’s infamous response: “I don’t know! Am I my brother’s keeper?”
  9. It might surprise you to know that this is in the Bible – Proverbs 19:13.
  10. I don’t know where this one comes from. It is certainly not in the Bible.
  11. Attributed to Ben Franklin, not in the Bible.
  12. The Serenity Prayer, as it is commonly referred, was made popular with its use in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).
  13.  This is a verse from the “love chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:13.
  14. The “Hail Mary” prayer is not found in the Bible. It is a liturgical prayer used by Catholics.
  15. The Lord’s Prayer is Biblical. You can find it in Mt 6:9-13.
  16. The prayer of Job is from Job 1:21.
  17. Bible. Psalm 14:1.
  18. The verses right before this one are quoted more often:   Ephesians 6:1 reads “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  The one  I quoted for #18 is Ephesians 6:4.
  19. This is one of my favourite Bible verses, found in Deuteronomy 24:5.
  20. Honest, this one is also in the Bible, Song of Solomon 4:5. They obviously had different descriptive metaphors for beauty back then. Here is a literal .artist’s rendering. (A roe is a fawn or a gazelle)
  21. He certainly does, but this line comes from a William Cowper poem. The actual quote is just a little different: ” God moves in a mysterious way”.
  22. Bible, Matthew 19:16-26.  Jesus said this as a response to the rich young ruler who wanted to know what good thing he must do to merit eternal life.
    This passage is often quoted incorrectly or out of context. Jesus was actually telling him that one cannot earn eternal life. It was a bit arrogant of the young man to insist that he had kept all of the commandments since he was a child. Jesus looked at his heart and saw that the love of money was hindering him from accepting salvation, which is a gift that cannot be earned. The disciples are a bit flabbergasted at Jesus’ analogy of the camel going through the eye of a needle, and they ask Him, “Who then can be saved?” They were only looking at the outer appearances.
    The rich  young ruler looked very religious, but no one, not even this fellow is able to keep all of God’s commandments. In fact, the Ten Commandments are given as evidence that we are incapable of earning our way into heaven. Jesus added further proof of our complete inability to keep the law by explaining the standards- it is not enough to not murder anyone, but if you hate someone it is like committing murder in our hearts. Likewise, to lust in your mind is the same as adultery. Basically, there is no hierarchy of sins  – no one sinful behaviour is  worse than any other. All sin is evidence of our separation from God our creator.
    Why would God give us rules that He knows we cannot keep? Isn’t that unfair? It would be if there was no other way to be saved. God provided a way by sacrificing His son. The blood that Jesus shed is payment for our sins, and the only way to reconnect with God.
  23. Bible, Matthew 19:21.  This is part of the story in #22, and is another frequently misquoted passage. We cannot earn salvation – not even by selling all that we have and giving it all to the poor. The rich young ruler went away sad, because he loved his money.
  24. This phrase is actually attributed to Ghandi, not Jesus.
  25. Just kidding!
 
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Did Constantine have anything to do with ‘assembling’ the Bible?

 

Was the Christian Bible put together by a pagan emperor in the fourth century?

No! I don’t know why this myth is continually repeated when there is no historical basis for it. Yes, Constantine made Christianity the ‘official’ religion of the Roman Empire. And yes, he hosted the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. But as far as his having anything to do with selecting which books ‘made the cut’ to be included in the Bible, that is pure fiction.

The Council of Nicaea was convened to discuss how to choose the day to celebrate Easter and to resolve a disagreement which arose from within the Church of Alexandria over the nature of Jesus in relationship to the Father. A fellow known as Arius was teaching that Jesus was not the literal son of God, but rather a figurative son. The council voted overwhelmingly against Arius. They decided to celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the paschal full moon. The canon (the official list of books of the Bible) was not on the agenda. Even if it had been, Constantine was not a voting member of the council.

The canon is not an authoritative list of books. It is a list of authoritative books. There is a distinct difference. The books are authoritative. Their authority comes from God, not any group of church leaders at council, and definitely not from Constantine or King James, or any other human leader. The books that make up the Scriptures were recognized as Scripture by the church when they were written, and they were being copied and passed around to the churches who read and studied them as Scripture long before they were ‘assembled’ as one book.

Why are myths about the origin of the Bible perpetuated when the true history is well documented? It can only be to discredit the Scriptures.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:11-13)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

Anyone who discredits the Scriptures is doing so to keep you from life. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Bible: What’s With All the Versions?

 

I have received many comments from people who believe that the Bible may have been originally inspired by God, but now, several thousand years later, much of the original meaning has been lost in translation. Is this true?

 

 

The Bible is no ordinary book. The words were “God breathed”, divinely inspired. In John 14, Jesus told His disciples: “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

So God inspired the authors to write His words, but they wrote in Greek and Hebrew. Can we trust the English translations?

This is an excellent question. Perhaps a brief history of Bible translation can provide some answers.

The Old Testament:

The OT was originally written in Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people.  The first translation was the Septuagint, a Greek version used by Greek-speaking Jews at the beginning of the Christian era, and by the early Christians. Its origins are uncertain, but tradition traces the Septuagint back to the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt (285-246BC).

As the Christian church spread to parts of the world where Greek was not spoken, translations were made into Latin, Syriac, and Egyptian.

The New Testament:

The books of the New Testament were written in Greek. It is significant to note that the dialect used was not the classical Greek that most literary pieces were written in, but the simple, everyday language that the common man would understand.

Unfortunately, language is always changing, so in order for the people to have a Bible in a language they understand, the language of the Bible must be frequently revised to match the changes. Note that it is the language of the Bible which needs revision, not the message.  God’s Word is for all ages. He has protected His Word by inspiring secular as well as church leaders over the ages to sponsor “authorized” translations by qualified scholars.

The Latin Vulgate:

During the second century AD Latin began to replace Greek as the dominant language of the Roman Empire.

There were several “unauthorized” Latin translations made, but they were considered unreliable, since they were actually translations of a translation. These translators used the Septuagint, which was a Greek translation from the original Hebrew.

Damasus, bishop of Rome (366-384) assigned the task of producing one standard Latin Bible to his secretary Jerome, who was reputed to be the leading Bible scholar of the time. Jerome knew Latin and Greek, but not very much Hebrew. So he moved to a monastery in Bethlehem and learned the Hebrew language from Jewish scholars. He spent 20 years on this project, completing it in AD 405.  I would say that this demonstrated Jerome’s integrity and dedication. This version became known as the Vulgate, which means “common”, since he wrote it in the common language of the day.

The Vulgate was the official church version until the Reformation in the fifteenth century. By this time, Latin was no longer spoken or understood by the common man, but church leaders resisted the notion of translating God’s Word into everyday language. The prevailing opinion was that people should get their teaching from ministers, not the Bible – because it was thought most people were not capable of traveling through God’s Word without a spiritual guide. (Miller, Stephen M.; Gross, Paul: How to Get into the Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1998, S. 5).

Unfortunately, even some members of the clergy had little knowledge of Latin, and corruption of the church became common. Instead of proclaiming the Good News of salvation and God’s gifts of mercy and grace, some church leaders were profiting from the sale of indulgences (like wooden slivers claimed to be from the cross, hay from the manger of Bethlehem, bones of saints, feathers from the wing of the archangel Michael, as well as “Get out of Purgatory” certificates for self or loved ones).  The leaders of the Reformation were determined to give the people a Bible they could read for themselves. In Germany, Martin Luther’s version was officially adopted by the German Lutheran church. England took a little longer to make the change.

English Translations:

Oxford scholar John Wycliffe was deemed a heretic for creating the first English Bible – which was banned in England. He had the audacity to die before he could be executed, but 43 years later church leaders dug up his remains, burned them, and threw the ashes into a river. William Tyndale produced an improved English translation in the early sixteenth century. For this, he was publicly strangled with a rope and his body was burned. His dying words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes. Within two years the king ordered English Bibles placed in every church. (Miller, ibid)

Once the English church leaders finally stopped burning the translators, many English translations were produced, but not all of them were accurate translations. King James commissioned a committee of about 50 of England’s foremost scholars to produce an accurate translation. Working at Oxford, Cambridge, and Westminster, they completed the task in about seven years. It was presented to King James in 1611.

The King James Version remained the authorized version for about three hundred years, despite the fact that the English language is constantly changing, and with each new generation the 17th century language became more difficult to understand. But people are creatures of habit, and church leaders tend to be especially resistant to change.

The Revised Version was produced in 1881. The goal of its translation team was to make a word for word rendering of the original texts. This made for a good study Bible for scholars, but the text was awkward for the average reader.

In the last two centuries, many more English translations have been produced. This has led to the widespread idea that people are editing the Bible, and adding or omitting parts to suit their own agenda. It is true that some have taken liberties with the text. It is significant to note here the difference between a translation and a paraphrase.

Translation vs Paraphrase:

A translation, by the accepted Christian definition, must be a scholarly work undertaken by people who have mastered the original languages. Translations are generally commissioned by a Bible society and are usually done by a research team. The New International Version, for example, is a completely new rendering of the original languages done by an international group of more than a hundred scholars. These scholars worked many years and in several committees to produce an excellent thought-for-thought translation in contemporary English for private and public use. (International Bible Society website, http://www.ibsstl.org/bibles/translations/)

A paraphrase is not held to the same standards of accuracy as a translation. Paraphrases generally use a more colloquial language and are meant to be easier for the average person to read and understand. The Message Bible is an example of a paraphrase. The introduction says, “This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message current and fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners. The goal is not to render a word-for-word conversion of Greek into English, but rather to convert the tone, the rhythm, the events, the ideas, into the way we actually think and speak”.

To say that the Bible is continually edited would be inaccurate. There are checks and balances set in place by organizations such as the International Bible Society to ensure that new versions stay true to the original text. I personally use the New International Version for most of my reading and study, but I find that comparing it to other English versions broadens my understanding of the text.

The following chart, from Miller’s “How to Get into the Bible” compares the text of Psalm 23 from several versions.

Wycliffe Bible, 1380s

(first English Bible)

The Lord gouerneth [governs] me, and no thing shal faile to me;

in the place of pasture there he hath set me.

King James Version, 1611 The Lord is my shepheard, I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in greene pastures.

New International Version, 1973 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

New King James Version, 1982 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

Contemporary English Version, 1995 You, Lord, are my shepherd. I will never be

in need.

You let me rest in fields of green grass.

New Living Translation, 1996 The Lord is my shepherd;

I have everything I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows.

 

I hope that this report has been helpful for those who are seeking an answer to the question of why, despite the fact that many versions of the Bible exist, I stand by my belief that the Bible is God’s Divinely Inspired Word, and that it has maintained its value and authority for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why are Christians so Intolerant?

Q: Why do Christians think that their beliefs are right and everyone else is wrong? Isn’t that intolerant?

Answer: Our western mindset is very much focused on the rights and freedoms of every individual. Most of our values reflect this mindset. Truth is relative, everyone’s beliefs are true for that person, and everyone’s values and morals are equally valid. In this culture, Christians are seen as arrogant and intolerant for our insistence that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and the Bible is the authoritative word of God.

An atheist cyber-friend of mine challenges me with this question frequently. He sees the Christian worldview as narrow-minded, and our proselytizing as rude and insensitive. He and other atheists in a forum we used to frequent were of the opinion that everyone needs to make up their own set of values, beliefs, morals, and ethics.

It is difficult to convince people in our culture that the spiritual world is like the physical world with constants and fundamentals. We accept the facts of math and science as factual. No one challenges the belief that 2+2=4 and objects made of wood burn. But it is perfectly logical that God exists for me but not for you. In my religion, there is an afterlife, in yours there is not. The only way that you and I could both be right is if there are divergent realities in the spiritual world.

For a Christian, tolerance in the sense of validating all belief systems is irreconcilable with the spiritual realities contained in the scriptures. My whole worldview is not black and white, but there are far fewer than fifty shades of gray.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Worship Me or Burn in Hell: Are those my only options?

Q: Christians say that we all have free will. Then they say that the only options are to worship God or burn in hell for all eternity. What does this say about God’s character? He sounds like a tyrant.

A: The question of free will: why would God give us the freedom to choose if our only options are to follow Him or go to hell? It seems like  ano brainer – God wants us to choose Him! At the end of Moses’ life, he gives the children of Israel a summary of all that he had taught them as they wandered through the desert for forty years. He said,”This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”  (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20)

Your view of God’s character depends on whose side you are on. You see Him as a tyrant, I see Him as a loving Father. But Christianity is not a democracy where you get to vote on the attributes of our God.

The person who asked this question added this very important statement  “All I am saying is that those who feel their mission in life is to win my soul will be held accountable for rational answers to these questions.”

He is correct in saying this. If the person assigned to the watch tower sees the enemy or the disaster coming but fails to warn everyone, then their blood will be on his hands. If he warns everyone, but some choose not to believe, then their blood is on their own hands. Thus the obnoxious proselytizing that we Christians are so famous for.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Q: How does someone become a Christian?

I choose this to be the first question in my answers blog. I think that it is the most significant question, one that every Christian should be prepared to answer.

1. God created a perfect world, and then made two humans (Adam and Eve) to have dominion over the world and to begin the “be fruitful and multiply” process.(Genesis 1,2)

2. Satan was granted permission to tempt Adam and Eve, and his victory won him the right to have dominion and principalities over all of the kingdoms of the earth. (Genesis 3) This part of the message is often skipped over when Christians tell the story of Christ, but is important to explain why we are separated from God, and why we needed Christ’s blood. This world has become a fallen and renegade place because of Satan’s dominion and power over it.

All of the humans born into this fallen world are born with a sinful nature, and this nature causes us to sin, which makes us guilty. The only payment for cleansing us from sin is innocent blood. Yes, that is another part of the story that Christians often leave out, but it explains why God required His people in the Old Testament to sacrifice animals. The blood of animals was only a temporary solution. The whole Old Testament points to God’s plan to send a perfect sacrifice – His own blood.

3. Jesus Christ was the combination of God (one third of the Triune God) and innocent human flesh (why the virgin birth was required). Satan was again permitted a chance to tempt a perfect human. Luke 4:5 -8 tells us that the devil led Jesus to a high place and showed him all of the kingdoms of the world. He offered to give back all of the authority and splendour that he had been given way back in Genesis 3, on the condition that Jesus would bow down and worship him.

4. Satan was unsuccessful in getting Jesus to sin, so when Jesus died, his blood was innocent – and so can be used by humans as the currency to pay for all of our sins, and redeem our souls from the original sin that polluted our blood. At the end of Jesus’ time on earth, he told his disciples that all authority on earth had been restored to Him. According to Matthew, who was there, Jesus’ last words to the eleven were:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. ( Matthew 28: 19-20)

5. The way to become a Christian is to confess that we are sinners, believe that Jesus gave His blood as payment for our sins, and accept the gift of Christ’s blood. That is it! All of our sins – past, present, and future are forgiven, and we are set free from the bondage of sin.

Some will say that just saying a prayer is too easy. What would keep someone from living his life for himself and then saying this prayer just before we die? What if someone says the prayer but doesn’t really mean it? And doesn’t the Bible say that faith without works is dead?

Ah, but that is where the third part of the Triune God comes into the picture. In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul tells us what happens when we accept Christ’s blood:

He (Christ) anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.(2 Corinthians 2:21,22)

Works done for God do not earn our salvation, they are an effect of the presence of the Spirit in us. As we allow the Spirit to influence us, we learn how to listen to Him, and we become more like him. The ‘fruit of the Spirit’ is evidence of the Holy Spirit in us: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”

It’s a process. None of us are there yet.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized