Actually, that's not in the Bible
Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden right? Nope. That's one of many phantom passages that people think are in the Bible.
June 5th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Actually, that's not in the Bible

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season.  “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people  - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.

None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.

But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.

“Only a few catch on.”

Few catch on 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,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.

“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text."

Phantom biblical passages work in mysterious ways

Ignorance isn’t the only cause for phantom Bible verses. Confusion is another.

Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.

Consider these two:

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).

The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism,  says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying - if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,” Kidd says.

Our fondness for the short and tweet-worthy may also explain our fondness for phantom biblical phrases. The pseudo-verses function like theological tweets: They’re pithy summarizations of biblical concepts.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” falls into that category. It’s a popular verse - and painful for many kids. Could some enterprising kid avoid the rod by pointing out to his mother that it's not in the Bible?

It’s doubtful. Her possible retort: The popular saying is a distillation of Proverbs 13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”

Another saying that sounds Bible-worthy: “Pride goes before a fall.” But its approximation, Proverbs 16:18, is actually written: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

There are some phantom biblical verses for which no excuse can be offered. The speaker goofed.

That’s what Bruce Wells, a theology professor, thinks happened to Ditka, the former NFL coach, when he strayed from the gridiron to biblical commentary during his 1993 press conference in Chicago.

Wells watched Ditka’s biblical blunder on local television when he lived in Chicago. After Ditka cited the mysterious passage, reporters scrambled unsuccessfully the next day to find the biblical source.

They should have consulted Wells, who is now director of the ancient studies program at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Wells says Ditka’s error probably came from a peculiar feature of the King James Bible.

“My hunch on the Ditka quote is that it comes from a quirk of the King James translation,” Wells says. “Ancient Hebrew had a particular way of saying things like, ‘and the next thing that happened was…’ The King James translators of the Old Testament consistently rendered this as ‘and it came to pass.’ ’’

When phantom Bible passages turn dangerous

People may get verses wrong, but they also mangle plenty of well-known biblical stories as well.

Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.

Those details may seem minor, but scholars say one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.

Most people know the popular version - Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.

But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

Getting biblical scriptures and stories wrong may not seem significant, but it can become dangerous, one scholar says.

Most people have heard this one: “God helps those that help themselves.” It’s another phantom scripture that appears nowhere in the Bible, but many people think it does. It's actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation's founding fathers.

The passage is popular in part because it is a reflection of cherished American values: individual liberty and self-reliance, says Sidnie White Crawford, a religious studies scholar at the University of Nebraska.

Yet that passage contradicts the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast, Crawford says.

Crawford cites a scripture from Leviticus that tells people that when they harvest the land, they should leave some “for the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:9-10), and another passage from Deuteronomy that declares that people should not be “tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.”

“We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says.

Where do these phantom passages come from?

It’s easy to blame the spread of phantom biblical passages on pervasive biblical illiteracy. But the causes are varied and go back centuries.

Some of the guilty parties are anonymous, lost to history. They are artists and storytellers who over the years embellished biblical stories and passages with their own twists.

If, say, you were an anonymous artist painting the Garden of Eden during the Renaissance, why not portray the serpent as the devil to give some punch to your creation? And if you’re a preacher telling a story about Jonah, doesn’t it just sound better to say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not a “great fish”?

Others blame the spread of phantom Bible passages on King James, or more specifically the declining popularity of the King James translation of the Bible.

That translation, which marks 400 years of existence this year, had a near monopoly on the Bible market as recently as 50 years ago, says Douglas Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then, people were more likely to notice because there was only one text,” he says. “Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not.”

Others blame the spread of phantom biblical verses on Martin Luther, the German monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation, the massive “protest” against the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestant church denominations.

“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.

“You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says.

“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (8,604 Responses)
  1. John O'Grady

    Here's a story from the bible. These kids made fun of this guy because he was bald and they threw rocks at him and stuff, so he goes up into a mountain, turns into a bear and comes back down the mountain and murders all of the children. I've never met anyone that's read this story in the bible, not one.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Joe Davis

      That story is in the Bible, but he does not turn in to the bear himself. The Bible says that two "she-bears" come out and devour the younger ones. Still a great story.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Emily

      John, When I was fifteen my grandmother was visiting our house and my younger brother and I often–and I'm really ashamed of this– made fun of her strange ways, which included sprinkling sugar on just about everything she ate. One day my mother hauled us in the kitchen and read that very passage to us, and laid the guilt on heavily in her translation/lecture. I vividly remember one phrase of the King James wording: "Thou bald!" I lived in fear of punishment for my meanness for many weeks. Thought you'd like to know it's been alive and well in at least one Christian household for a long, long time.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Joshua

      Good story about honoring your elders. Quick correction, Elisha the prophet is not actually turned into a bear, but God summons the bear while Elisha looks on. So now you can say you met someone who read the story and knows it well.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • empiric

      And, this decreased the likelihood of the propagation of the bear's DNA... how exactly? Being pro-science, I must object to your apparent baseless criticism of evolution on personal criteria you're apparently pulling out of nowhere.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Derrick

      2nd Kings 2:23-24. Though he did not turn into a bear, he cursed the children in the name of God, and two female bears came out of the woods and killed 42 of them.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  2. Hook

    The bible is nothing but a fictional book containing trite, babyish philosophy that was itself easily bested by the REAL philosophers of the time, none of whom, by the way, ever heard of your funny little Jesus dude – funny that?. The bible is a comic book with crappy characters, wooden bad guys and lame wannabe superheroes. Pick up an edition of Batman or something... way better, and better written... and with pictures!

    June 9, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Derrick

      I have a feeling that I already know the answer to this, but will ask anyway: have you ever actually read the book you are criticizing in its entirety? how much do you know about the philosophers of "his time"? How many of the historians of the time have you read? Did you notice that many of them did know who Jesus was? It may be that you have actually investigated this matter and come to your own conclusions, However your words indicate someone who speaks out of ignorance.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • empiric

      If you think the bible is "the same as" a comic book, why even mention it? If it is the same, you should be able to just say "the bible" and automatically expect the same negative response as your unbacked characterizations seek to create. If you don't think it's the same, why claim it is? In fact, the very reason you are making this analogy is that -you yourself- don't see them as equally plausible, which is the very reason you think to seek other denigrating terms to try to suggest they are equally plausible. Your intellectual dishonesty is pretty deep and automatic here, but you probably know that already. I'm not so much objecting to that, but that you are repeatedly spamming essentially the same unbacked argument, with variations in the terms you hope will be insulting, over and over in this forum. The "real philosophers" you reference would know what a Bare Assertion Fallacy is, which, you clearly do not. Learning a little about philosophy -or- religion would serve you better than repeatedly parroting the same forum spam. I do not "Report abuse" for differences in position, but be aware at this point you are not debating here, you are merely trolling.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jeff M

      "The bible is nothing but a fictional book containing trite, babyish philosophy that was itself easily bested by the REAL philosophers of the time, none of whom, by the way, ever heard of your funny little Jesus dude – funny that?"
      Philosophers? They were a dime a dozen...how about historians that we use to prove the existence of notable figures such as Nero or Julius Caesar...surely you wouldn't disagree that they existed, right? Let's talk for a moment about the historians that we use to verify the existence of these individuals:
      1) Cornelius Tacitus
      2) Pliny the Younger
      3) Flavius Josephus

      The overwhelming majority of records used to confirm the life and activities of Nero and Caesar are recorded by Tacitus and Pliny the Younger. Accepting either of them implicitly accepts the life of Jesus of Nazareth, as these historians also recorded events in the life of "the Nazarene" or "Jesus of Nazareth" multiple times each.

      How about this: there is more secular historical records that Jesus of Nazareth existed than Socrates. Surely you don't think Socrates was a figment of imagination...right?

      June 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Jeff

      Derrick said, "How many of the historians of the time have you read? Did you notice that many of them did know who Jesus was?" Just curious, Derrick, which historians of that time did know who Jesus was? Were there any at the time he was alive who wrote about him? If you are referring to Josephus mentioning that Jesus was the messiah, then you probably know that most scholars believe that was a later forgery that was most likely inserted by Christians hundreds of years after the fact. It seems to me that secular history, outside of the New Testament, is strangely silent considering how momentous Jesus and his activities would have been at the time.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • I_get _it

      Jeff M: "Surely you don't think Socrates was a figment of imagination...right?"

      It doesn't really matter if Socrates existed. If he shared ideas which prove valid and useful, or facts which can be verified, great. The same goes for Julius Caesar or any other historical figure.

      No-one is declaring that any of those characters is "God"... and that one must live their lives according to their sayings - or else!

      June 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Sabrina

      Wow...more semiliterates trying to sound as though they know what they're talking about. Please re-read your idiotic comments and then you'll know who is truly 'baby-ish.'

      June 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Jeff M

      @I_get _it
      "No-one is declaring that any of those characters is "God"... and that one must live their lives according to their sayings – or else!"
      You are correct, I was simply verifying his existence. Hook's allegations that the Bible is fictional also implies that Jesus was as well, which has been refuted. If I take the implication out, then what is he really trying to say? Obviously not all of the words contained in the Bible are false...as many of them point to historical events that were recorded in secular historical works that we openly accept as factual. So what then are we to believe? Do I have any historical proof of God, or that Jesus is/was God that is not biased? Is that the question here? If so, the answer is absolutely *no*. I do not have that evidence, and if I did, then it would no longer take *faith* to believe in what is mentioned in the Bible.

      As for the contributions of Socrates, I agree that they were great from a philosophical standpoint. At the same time, I would not believe they were any more significant (nor factual) than those made by Jesus of Nazareth. However, that simply takes us down the "opinions" road...rather than fact.

      So, where are we going with this? Hook claimed the Bible was fictional – which Hook cannot prove. I was supplying evidence of a few factual events recorded in both the Bible and secular historical works. The Bible claims the deism of Jesus of Nazareth. You don't agree with the Bible. Got it. You don't like the idea of those that try to shove their beliefs down you throat. Got it. I feel the same way. I do not approve of someone taking the Bible, and thrashing it with a malignant and ignorant comment such as "fictional book containing trite, babyish philosophy". If Christians are just simply expected to stay on the sidelines and watch as the rest of society commits heretical acts against our faith, then I will be the one "throwing the temple tables".

      June 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Roo

      While the Bible may not be the level of garbage you seem to think it is, I will have to say that it is very difficult not to be skeptical of it. I myself have read it, all the way through, though since this was years ago, I cannot pretend to be any sort of expert. I find it to be full of interesting stories, but I cannot consider these to all be the truth. It is simply too fantastical, too fictional-seeming to me. Snakes lack the physical capability of speaking, humans cannot come back from the dead after days, humans cannot turn into bears, and hearing "the voice of God" is akin to the diagnosis of several mental illnesses. There are many good morals in the Bible to follow, great ideas on how people should treat one another, but I simply find it hard to connect these with a "God". Science has proven, again and again, that common religious beliefs are virtually IMPOSSIBLE. So while I encourage everyone to research all options before deciding your beliefs, I cannot believe in a mythical, invisible being that people ask to grant wishes (prayers).

      June 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Jeff M

      "While the Bible may not be the level of garbage you seem to think it is, I will have to say that it is very difficult not to be skeptical of it."
      First off, let me say I appreciate that you responded to the comment in a well formed response that was not filled with insults or degrading comments. I enjoy thought-provoking debate. Personally, I cannot say that I believe there is any "garbage" in the Bible...but that is my opinion. I can't blame anyone for being skeptical of it, at least not any more than the theory of Evolution. Can we be frank about something for just a minute? Secular science scoffs and writes-off any Christians that claim to have any scientific expertise and still hold to the idea of Creation as opposed to Evolution. It also works vise-versa, right? So without resorting any such thoughts let's, just for a minute, make the as-sumption that we are an intelligent and informed individuals. Fair? Can you expound on common religious beliefs that you have stated are implausible/virtually impossible? Are we talking specifically about forming all of Creation in 6 days vs. millions/billions/etc of years? What exactly has secular science defined as implausible that allow you to accept it more readily than God? The ability for a "mythical, invisible being that people ask to grant wishes (prayers)" is beyond science's ability to prove in any capacity...as it has no use for the theory of "God".

      June 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  3. Name*clarence larry

    Without the holyspirt the text has no life

    June 9, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  4. Hook

    Yeah, talking snakes... isn't that Harry Potter? On wait, Harry Potter's evil... if you want to read talking snakes, read the one in the bible who wants to rip you and listen to you scream in agony for all eternity. Great reading for kids, if you excuse the child abuse part (you).

    June 9, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • empiric

      Speak for yourself. I'm a Chinese geneticist and have already spliced human and snake DNA, and produced a talking snake. Stop being such an anti-science bigot.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  5. lorenzorichards

    50% of Bible contains either manipulated text or mis-translations. The worst ones are 'virgin' birth and 'body vanishing from the cave". BUT there are lot of good things in Bible and the reader should use discretion in reading the Bible. Unfortunately preachers twist the words in Bible to suit their agenda! Read the Bible regularly, but occasionally read Gita and Quran and Budda teaching also for a balanced belief.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Jeff M

      "The worst ones are 'virgin' birth and 'body vanishing from the cave"."
      I'll check about body vanishing from the cave...but as for virgin birth, the prophecies in regarding the messiah/Christ state that the child would be born from a maiden, which meant "innocent young women". The Hebrew understanding at that time of "innocent" would be our current understanding of the word "virgin".

      June 9, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • empiric

      And 49% of people just pick percentages out of thin air to make some unsubstantiated claim. As for "virgin birth", this shouldn't pose too much of dilemma for you even if you do not believe miracles can occur–scientifically, this is called "parthenogenesis" and has been induced in mammals.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  6. John

    Is it just me that realises he wasnt trying to quote the bible by saying "this too shall pass" ?
    the way i read it, he's saying "and just like in the bible where "all things shall pass".. well this too shall pass"

    June 9, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  7. Jeff M

    "And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden."
    What part of this is incorrect? The "apple" part? The Bible clearly states that *serpent* tempted Eve to eat the *fruit* from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. This *serpent* is later clarified in Revelation 20:2 "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan" (also noted in Revelation 12:9).

    While the majority of your article is correct – that many *people* (not just restricted to Christians) mis-quote Biblical verses, or paraphrase them in such a way that the originating verse is indistinguishable. Another example: "Money is the root of all evil." This quote would make it appear that money is actually evil. However, the actual verse is this: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." – 1 Timothy 6:10a. There is a world of difference between money (noun) and the "love" of money (verb).

    June 9, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • FS

      I disagree. You're reading too much into the text.

      Genesis never claims that the serpent was Satan. Even the New Testament writers didn't claim it was Satan.

      Consider the point about man crushing the serpent's head and the serpent bruising man's heel. Many people interpret this as a prophecy of Christ. But, this point is NEVER referenced in the New Testament. The apostles and other writers pointed to any number of verses as being prophetic, but not this one. It seems clear, at least to me, that there was nothing special about this particular serpent.

      Besides, if the serpent really had been Satan, then he would have been a dragon instead, as stated in Revelation. There's no indication in Genesis that this serpent was a dragon.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Jessica

      Revelations and Genesis were not written at the same time or by the same people.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Jeff M

      "Besides, if the serpent really had been Satan, then he would have been a dragon instead, as stated in Revelation. There's no indication in Genesis that this serpent was a dragon."
      The previous points I will have to concede, simply due to lack of clear evidence one way or another. It is completely possible that the serpent was indeed *not* Satan. However, in Revelation it clearly states that Satan is known as both a dragon and "the ancient serpent".

      Too many names for Satan, IMO. Here is a fairly comprehensive list:

      June 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Jeff M

      "Revelations and Genesis were not written at the same time or by the same people."
      It's called cross-referencing.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  8. Hook

    It's a fact that religious belief is declining, and it's a fatal decline – meaning it won't bounce back. This is the beginning of the end of sky gods. Ironic, really, that an all powerful gods permits a book to written about his life and beliefs, yet the book itself is an absolute mess in every way... no half brained editor would permit such a book on the market, so one comes to the conclusion that god is half wit, or at the very least a most poor publicist. His book has been steadily loosing influence for centuries now. If it contained any half decent wisdom for the past, present or future, you'd expect the opposite. Only in America and third world nations does Jesus still get taken seriously. To the rest of us, his a personification of YOUR fear of death. Poor booboos, mummy kiss it better?

    June 9, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Artist

      Be careful, when one religion falls, another tends to rise. While Jesus is on the decline, take note of the ignorant people of Islam and the ME. Nukes in the right hands are nothing to fear. Nukes in the hand of religious nuts, is quite scary. Boundries are changing and there are shifts going on in the world. Lets say in a couple hundred years, christians and religion is a minority here. Where will the ME be? Islam is still in the dark ages....they have to walk the path the christians did and evolve. Now lets throw nukes in the mix. I have a feeling Islam will finally get its wish for a World Jihad for the World to deal with once and for all. In the end, religion will be the downfall of man. Interesting thing is religion served its purpose int he dawn of man. Shame man failed to see it for what it was before it is too late.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  9. Pete

    My favourite bible error is the woman taken in adultery, the great line "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone". Its a wonderful tale and such a cool line, but was added to the bible probably around the 900AD period. All the older bibles, or commentaries thereon, do not contain it at all.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jeff M

      John 8:7. Check the Syriac Sinaiticus – it contains John 8:7, which you are referencing.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Jeff

      I agree. The fact that this story remains in modern bibles, even though virtually all scholars (even conservative evangelical ones) agree it is a fraudulent insertion, really bothers me. The last verses of Mark are the same way. How can we treat those as inspired and inerrant verses if we know for a fact that they are not in the original manuscripts? Seems a bit fraudulent. What other mistakes are there that we don't know about?

      June 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Scott

    Proverbs 13:24....Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him

    June 9, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  11. William

    "God helps those who help themselves" doesn't mean instead of helping others, it means help themselves instead of idly waiting for others – or God – to do things for them. Thus the saying "If you pray for potatoes you better have a hoe in your hand." Take responsibility for the way your life is.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  12. Betty B.

    Actually most of those ARE in the bible... the principles at least ... if not in the exact words.

    Spare the rod spoil the child corresponds to advice in Proverbs 23:14 ... "Physical discipline may well save them from death.*

    June 9, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  13. Damnedgentlemen

    I'm pretty sure the original Biblical verse was, "God helps those who don't act like supreme toolbags."

    I have always thought that if Heaven was as these so-called "Christians" imagine it, then when they get to their Pearly Gates, they will be shocked to find Saint Peter slamming the entrance to Heaven shut in their faces. Then Jesus strolls out and through the gate berates them for their stupid stupid prejudices and intolerance towards the "poor and alien".

    Jesus:"Didn't you read that book I sent down? I don't know how much clearer I could've made it. You say you didn't get the whole "love thy neighbor" message? My father, God, must've stuck a rock in where your brain should be, because a three year old child would have no problem getting the message. How you could possibly think I wanted you to ridicule and hate My children because I made them different from you I'll never understand. Now get on that elevator going down, sinner. Say hi to Ronald Reagan when you get there."

    June 9, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Jeff M

      Isaiah 25:4 – "For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat..." – Basically, God helps the helpless/needy.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Naverly

      I am sad you feel this way. I will say you're correct about something. There will be judgement even for "so-called Christians". They will have to give an account for how they acted towards all people. They will have to account for if they loved as Christ loved. If they served as He served. However because of Christ's death and resurrection there is forgiveness for those things. I'm sorry that you've had the misfortune of not being around someone who was not truly changed by that forgiveness and compelled to love as Christ loved.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  14. DangerousDave

    While the meat of the story may hold some interest, the trigger for it is complete journalistic nonsense: the man clearly intended that "All things shall pass" was the bible quote, while "This too shall pass" was his adaptation of that bible quote to the current situation. I cannot believe that such a prominent news organisation would have such a scant grasp of English as to be unable to understand this simple idea, let alone use it to headline a published article deriding somebody! Shameful.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Jordan

      Exactly! I realized that as soon as I read the quote. To think he was implying the 2nd part was in the Bible it would have to be referring to a dialogue referencing a specific happening. "This, too, will pass" If you realize that much you should be able to realize he is referencing what is happening to him.

      June 9, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • SafetyGuy

      Just like the article says, "All things shall pass" is also another made up biblical passage. Here we have it seconded by another toolio that didn't bother to look it up either.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  15. Bob

    Protestant tradition? All this sort of thing (three wise men–Satan is the serpent) have more to do with the Roman Catholic idea of tradition than anything.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  16. Bob

    As the Deist Thomas Paine wrote in the important book on God, religion, the Bible, Deism, etc. The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition, "The Bible decides nothing, because it decides any way, and every way, one chooses to make it." This was made clear by the American Civil War which had the North using to Bible to show slavery was wrong and the South which used the Bible to show slavery was right.

    Progress! Bob Johnson

    June 9, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  17. Osojsj

    Actually Article Poster, Jonah WAS swallowed by a whale. Translators of The Bible just called it a fish. You yourself have misquoted from The Bible, how ironic.

    Also, Satan was the snake in the garden. The Book of Revelation says that "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years." - Revelaton 20:2

    Revelation 12:9 "The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."

    Read The Bible next time Article Poster. It seems you and others here know nothing about it.

    God Bless and Farewell.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  18. Steven

    The passage of God helps those who helps themselves actually originated from a passage found in Beowulf, but the word he in the orginal was replaced with God. I guess it somehowfound its way into Ben Franklin's mind and was then adapted. He most likely read Beowulf though since it's known he was an avid reader.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Bob

      Ben Franklin read Beowulf? Hahaha–oh man. That's a good one.

      June 9, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Jeff M

      Not Ben Franklin, Algernon Sydney in 1698 in an article t-itled "Discourses Concerning Government", which is where the quote actually comes from.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  19. Janet Brooks

    The Bible does say that ALL things will pass away, heaven and earth and will pass away, but the Word of God will stand forever.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  20. ryan

    christians have been cherry picking the bible for hundreds if not at least a thousand years. people making up scripture is no surprise either, Christians have been doing that since day once when they plagiarized the torah. no matter, religion is dieing. atheism is on the rise, and will be the dominate viewpoint in 200 years. only in the USA will religion keep its foothold for longer.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Osojsj

      Actually, the world has around 6.92 billion humans living on it. 6 billion are religious. Atheism is already dead compared to religion. Know your facts kido.


      June 9, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Ben

      You must have a strong belief to prognosticate like that Ryan...

      June 9, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • empiric

      Since every single atheist will be dead in that 200 years, along with all their opinions, what, exactly, are you referencing from a materialism standpoint that will still exist for atheism at that point in time? Can you point to the material form that demonstrates it's existence at all? Because I'm sure you aren't pinning all your hopes (and that's all those are), on some kind of non-material "spirit of atheism". Yeah, I know Hitchens couldn't help himself either now that he has cancer–assuring his followers he'd be "with them in spirit" (er, what?)... but this kind of self-contradiction on your metaphysics is really getting to be a persistent problem for you guys.

      June 9, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Grammargoebbels

      Your argument will carry more weight if you take the care to write it properly::

      "that since day once" => "since day one"

      "religion is dieing" => "religion is dying"

      "will be the dominate viewpoint" => "will be the dominant viewpoint"

      Simple mistakes like these subtract from your apparent intelligence. This adversely affects the reader's impression of you and poisons the well. If you want your arguments to remain strong, be sure you present them in a way that does not allow for logical shortcuts. If you don't care about convincing any readers and only wish to preach to a choir, however, this is just fine.

      You're welcome.

      June 9, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Jeff M

      Not just Christians.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • At Least Try to Understand


      Please go back to your English class teach where your self impotance is allowed to get in the way of real communication. It's because you are wrong about such things and words and usage change over time without necessarily following frozen proper syntax and grammar....its that truth, not your everything stays the same ideas....that are the cause of these discussions. One is real usage and the other is unreal idealistic expectations. Sometimes the meaning or heart of the law, is more important than the letter of the law.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Wordy Woodpicker

      At Least Try to Understand:

      I am extremely understanding about typos and flubs on these boards, especially since we have no edit feature, and a casual presentation is just fine; but continual sloppiness and muddled spelling and grammar is a sign of sloppy, muddled thought processes.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Self Centered

      Nerdi Wouldpicker

      Its easy to have clear unmuddled thoughts, the more empty your head is. Not everyone's focus is on the same priority as yours. Get over yourself and learn. Requiring excelent literary precision is nothing more than cultural snobbery to make yourself feel good; and yet our differences only illustrate some of the reasons for the subject of the article in question.

      If that was too wordy try: Stay on topic.

      Unless of course you were just trying subliminally to make a point, that many wouldn't get.

      June 9, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Tech Guru

      All hail Spell Checker and other editors. Keep your faith in these products, developed under unreasonable schedules; until you find they often allow you to correct one word, while messing up another word on the same line, as it shifts the letters over incorrectly; and sometimes makes the wrong guesses and respells a word differently than you intended, or purposefully mispelling another word; rather than having to drop down to the next line and shift characters, due to lazy programming. It is tech science though, so place your faith there...or double, triple and quadruple check your editing to make sure the editor didn't change something you never intended (what a waste of useful time)....or expect others reading your message to not be lazy and use their brain, to either understand what you meant or respectfully ask.

      In other words, lighten up, cause after you do all that, the random bad word checker will most likely zap you for something totally irrelevant to a bad word intent. This all works based on your guess afterwards that you made the mistake, not the infallible holy editor.

      This will all be corrected though, by more faith in every day science...... or........ maybe its an example of such unpredictabilities that will always leave humans with some other additional need of comfort and motivation; not necessarily in the proven science realm, but just a bit beyond in the realm of reasonable possibilities, the outer edge of faith in suspected truth – of course these limits have also changed and reduced over time as science advances, but they're still there, and always will be..

      June 10, 2011 at 1:09 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.