“That’s Not In the Bible!”

There’s an interesting post over on CNN’s Religion blog concerning sayings many people assume are in the Bible but actually are not.

Most of these phantom quotations have been debunked repeatedly, e.g. “God helps those who help themselves.” However, the author of the piece doesn’t discriminate between phony quotations and ideas that may be good inferences from Scripture that are not explicitly stated in the Biblical text.

For example, we’re asked by this author to dismiss the statement that “Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.” In fact, it’s supposedly dangerous to believe this! This is despite a couple thousand years of exegesis in the church identifying the serpent as, at minimum, a covenantal agent of the devil. But no, this author assures that Satan wasn’t invented until 500 years after the invention of the story of the Garden of Eden. I guess next we’ll be told that the doctrine of the Trinity is un-Biblical and should therefore be discarded.

Of course all this sort of commentary is question-begging on the issue of inspiration. Certainly, let’s correct those who mistakenly attribute a quotation to the Bible. But aren’t these the same people who are always warning about narrow literalism in Scriptural interpretation? Make up your minds, people!

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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8 Responses to “That’s Not In the Bible!”

  1. Actually, the Trinity isn’t mentioned in the Bible by name either. It is a concenpt that was not invented unil long after Jesus left this earth. In fact, Jesus himself taught that “The Lord our God is one Lord” Deut. 6:4

    • Dr. J says:

      My point was that although it’s true that the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, it does not follow that the Trinity is not a Biblical concept. Deuteronomy 6:4 does not affirm or deny the Trinity; the doctrine does not affirm that there is more than one God, but that there is one God in three persons.

    • For those who might be afraid that the Trinity is not a Scriptural concept, I recommend B. B. Warfield’s article “The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity.” His thesis, that he defends exhaustively from Scripture, is as follows:

      “[T]he doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in formulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assembled the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine.”

      You can read the whole article here: http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/the-biblical-doctrine-of-the-trinity-by-dr-benjamin-b-warfield/

      • Shawn,
        Why would God make a concept central to the modern day church so obsolete that we have to piece it together? Wouldn’t it be spelled out more clearly? Where do we draw the line between accepting what is there and apparent and twisting scripture into saying what we want it to say?

        • Dr. J says:

          I assume you mean “obscure” rather than “obsolete.” Your questions involve some assumptions that may or may not be valid. One could just as easily ask, “Why doesn’t the Bible read like a textbook on systematic theology?”

        • We don’t have to twist Scripture at all in order to understand that the Trinity is what God reveals in Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity underlies and is presupposed by the New Testament. As Warfield notes, we see this as early as Luke 1:35 and Matt. 1:18ff. Jesus’ own teaching is trinitarian throughout. He claims Sonship to God and this sonship involves a unity between himself and the Father, and he also sees the mission of the Holy Spirit from Himself as the one who comes in His name (See John 14:16-26). It does not seem obscure to me.

  2. One of my favorite misquotes, which the author of the article recognizes but also fails to provide the correct verse is “He who spares the rod, spoils the child.” That is a misquote of Proverbs 13:24 which is much stronger and better (as we would expect from Scripture). It reads, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” It is not that we merely spoil our children if we fail to discipline them. We actually behave hatefully toward them.

  3. Dr. T says:

    I saw almost this story a couple months ago on Patheos.com. The wording wasn’t the same, but the idea was. I am somewhat disturbed that the CNN blogger makes it appear as if this is their own work. I think this borders on journalistic laziness, unless it was the blogger who originally posted on Patheos.

    As far as this being the “scandal” that they make this out to be, some of the items cited in the story are close approximations to the actual quotes. “Pride goes before a fall” versus “pride goeth before destruction.” To cite a popular ESPN segment, “C’mon man!” And to say that only a professor could right this hideous bastardization of translation… C’mon man! Cut Ditka some slack.

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