why learning what the bible actually says is important

Whether you are religious or not, it is important for all educated people to know what the best selling book in the world, not to mention the most influential piece of English literature in history (the KJV), actually says.

Not only does one learn the source of beautiful expressions like, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and “swords into ploughshares,” and “how the mighty have fallen,” and “cast the first stone,” but one who knows the Bible well also tends not to make ignorant mistakes like the one Obama administration Press Secretary, Jay Carney, made yesterday.

Defending President Obama against criticism for divining the will of God during a political budget matter by saying, “God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work,” Carney explained:

“I believe that the phrase from the Bible is ‘the Lord helps those who help themselves.'”

The fact that this particular verse does not appear in the Bible was apparently lost to Mr. Carney.

The concept of God (or the gods) helping those who work to attain their own goals is first found in Classical Greek literature like the proverb, “Along with Athena, move also your hand” (σὺν Ἀθηνᾷ καὶ χεῖρα κίνει). The first English version of the exact saying is attributed to English political theorist Algernon Sidney (1623-1683), and was made popular (perhaps ironically) by famed Deist and American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.

Just remember: the only thing worse than divining “what God wants” during a political budget battle is quoting a nonexistent verse to back it up.

6 Responses

  1. Bob,
    I disagree with your statement, “the only thing worse than divining ‘what God wants’ during a political budget battle is quoting a nonexistent verse to back it up.”

    The only worse thing is extrapolating nonexistent archaeological data to sell your show airing right before Easter…

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Ben Franklin paraphrase version from a Poor Richard’s Almanac, and gave the advice: “The Lord helps those that help themselves”?

    That saying might be glib, but it also flies in the face of a God that told a young King David to march to the edge of the mulberry trees and then WAIT. By being obedient — going against all classic military strategy — David waited until he heard the signal (the sound of footsteps in the leaves of the trees), and then marched his army onto the battlefield. There, he found that the entire enemy army was already dead. THAT is the level of success that can await those who listen to that “still, small voice” (another beautiful expression).

  3. tom, yes, 2sam 5:22ff talks about david interpreting the wind in the trees as the army of the lord and fighting a battle based upon the timing of the wind in the trees. not much detail given, but that’s the story.
    and yes, ben franklin’s quote was in his poor richard’s almanac.

  4. lol. agreed.

  5. Bob,
    no mention of Stephen Colbert’s mis-quoting of Jesus two days ago?
    He said:
    “Jesus said, ‘money talks, bulls**t walks.” -Stephen Colbert

  6. lol. that’s his satire of matt 22:21.

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