"A lie is an abomination unto the Lord, but a very present help in time of trouble?"
- Not in Hezekiah 3:16
With the entire human race suffering from information overload, it's no wonder we confuse a half-remembered phrase from Shakespeare or other source with Holy Writ. So we shouldn't be surprised that a teacher in a Christian elementary school has gathered fractured facts about the Bible from her students, including:
Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree... Noah built an ark and the animals came on in pears.
Samson slayed the Philistines with the Axe of the Apostles.
The Egyptians all drowned in the dessert, and after that Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments.
St. John the Blacksmith dumped water on peoples' heads.
One of the Opossums was St. Matthew who also was a taximan.
St. Paul cavorted to Christianity and preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage.
With all the wrangling about the role of religion in government, politics and even the church, it seems there's as much disinformation about what's in the Bible among out-of-schoolers as among those we assume will improve their sacred knowledge with time. Incorrect answers among adults, however, are usually most numerous among those who have done the least "study(ing) to show yourself approved to God (and) rightly explain the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15).
Many examples come to mind of the contrast between what is in the Bible, and what a poll of the misinformed believe is there - or should be. Here is one of the most common:
"If you do the best you can and are kind and tolerant of your fellow man, then God will be pleased with you and welcome you into Heaven." Their chapter(s) and verse include: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you... Judge not that you be not judged..." and "love one another."
Indeed, all those verses are in the Bible, but they represent only part of the truth. For "the rest of the story," consider: "God saved you by his special favor... you can't take credit for this... Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." (Ephesians 2:8-9, New Living Translation) The flaws in the first argument are that no one has ever lived up to such lofty goals, and the judgment we are told not to use on other people is just as faulty when we apply it to ourselves.
In contrast, I compliment the College of Cardinals for their choice of Benedict the XVI as the new Roman Catholic Pope, and then the Pope himself for choosing to follow the Biblical line in his papacy. His declaration reminds me of the Apostle Paul's description of his role in the Corinthian Church: "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified... My message... was not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power." (I Corinthians 2:2-4)
No matter how much the new Pope was polled and cajoled into existence, his initial statement means: no politics, no keeping up with the modern, liberal times, and no departure from a strict interpretation of the New Testament Church. Naturally, not everyone is happy with this news, and I suspect there's a fair amount of hope out there that the Holy Father will still "undo unto others" what he has announced.
tudying the Bible to learn what is there is an exciting venture, which I highly recommend both for information and inspiration. But if your time is short, consider this synopsis, which one of my friends has called The Bible In 50 Words:
God made, Adam bit.
Noah arked, Abraham split.
Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled.
Bush talked, Moses balked.
Pharaoh plagued, People walked.
Sea divided, Tablets guided.
Promise landed, Saul freaked,
Prophets warned, Jesus born.
God walked, Love talked.
Anger crucified, Hope died.
Love rose, Spirit flamed.
Word spread, God remained."
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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