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. Rich M.

    "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"..... 1 Corinthians 1:20

    "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe"..... 1 Corinthians 1:21.

    These above quotes are examples of biblical scripture. Mr. Blake, listen and learn next time to save yourself from embarrassment.

    " God works in mysterious ways" ..... Unknown Christian
    " Spare the rod, spoil the child".... Unknown Christian (disciplining their naughty children)

    Notice that none of these quotes Mr. Blake used contain a book, chapter, or verse. Please stop attempting to discredit the good book. You are doing a horrible job.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • Bob B

      Save YOURSELF some embarassment and read the article... I see exactly NO statement where the author attempts to discredit the Bible. And his WHOLE POINT is that those sayings DO NOT appear in the Bible. Drinking a little too much "holy water" tonight?

      June 5, 2011 at 5:17 am |
    • Tijjani

      The one I catch myself asniyg some times is when God provides the means for me to do what He wants, then I'll do it. I think somehow, miraculously I'm going to win the lottery even though I never buy a ticket, so I can go do ministry and not have to worry about things like earning a living, paying bills, etc.Then I'm reminded that Paul just got a job wherever God sent him to earn his keep while he did God's work. Sigh! No lottery then God?'Fraid not.

      March 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  2. Trewth

    Bible says 3 times that earth is round. Read this:
    Job 22:14 Thick clouds cover Him, so that He cannot see, And He walks above the circle of heaven.'
    Prov 8:27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
    Isa 40:22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • Horus

      Find me the verse talking about the uncertainty principle or relativistic time dilation. Then maybe the Bible would have some scientific credibility.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • Trewth

      In 1492 when Columbus sailed across the ocean men still thought they were gonna sail off the edge. Guess when the book of Job was written.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:58 am |
    • Callmeishmael

      I already know the frigging earth is round and don't need the damn bible to tell me...a little late there, sorry. Only Christians need the bible to tell them this...and you wonder why the rest of us think you're a bunch of idiots.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:59 am |
    • Horus

      That's a historical inaccuracy. People knew the Earth was round long before Columbus. Feel free to look it up if you don't believe. The Earth being round was not a revolutionary idea even in Biblical times.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:00 am |
    • Stopthemadness


      actually you are an idiot, The person starting this said that man should have known before 1492 but didn't read, Guess what you are just like them don't know how to read and comprehend like everyone else. Welcome to the moron club!!!!!!!

      June 5, 2011 at 5:05 am |
    • Shane

      Tweth, it was known for the longest that the earth was round. The issue with Columbus was the size of the Earth.

      Any society with the slightest knowledge of geometry could figure out the earth was round by seeing the Horizon.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • Trewth

      Man has been rejecting God's istruction up to current date and will reject it until the end of time. During the civil war, the doctors were opperating on soldiers without proper cleaning of thier hands and medical instruments. The bible covers this topic in levitcus. The handling of blood, dead bodies, etc.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • AlongTheWay

      LOL Now this is funny. "He walks above the circle of heaven" now means the earth is round??

      If it's not misquotes, it's goof-ball interpretations.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:20 am |
    • talldarkandcynical

      @Trewth – Columbus attempt a passage to India was a result of his belief that the world was round, not flat. And he was financed because others believed it too. In fact, the flat-earth theory hasn't been the predominant theory since before Pythagoras. Your interpretation of history, as I suspect is your interpretation of scripture, is specious.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  3. shannon

    Well, the serpent was cursed by God, because of what he did. The Devil (which means deciever) through the Serpent, beguilded Eve according to the scripture. The Bible never says anything,all scripture is written therein. The Spirit speaks, hence the living word of God. In the Book of Revelation, it mentions that Satan is that o'l Serpent, a Red (Fiery) Dragon with 7 heads, and a Deciever. Other names that are mentioned to indentify Satan are, Lucifer (which means light bearer), The Son of the Morning, The Anointed Cherub that covered, The Prince of the Devils (Demons/Fallen Angels), Beelzbub, according to the Gospel. Satan means Adversary. Another term that could be used to identify the Devil is the Angel of the Bottomless Pit, as some suggest, which is translated as Apollon, and Abbadon. Other names given to identfy the Devil are, The Antichrist, The Spirit of the Air, The lawless One, The Tempter, and The Wicked One. Jesus Christ said that the Devil has nothing in him ( that means with Jesus Christ ). Jesus Christ is to return to confront The Beast ( The Antichrist ) at The Valley of Megiddo ( Armageddon, which is a place, not a battle ) , because the Devil in the person of the Antichrist will exalt himself against The God of Heaven, and Jesus Christ, and wage war against God, and his Christ, and it will lead to the place The Valley of Megiddo in Israel, called Armageddon, and Christ will return on the clouds of Heaven, clothed in the Glory of God, with the Armies of Heaven, and will destroy the Antichrist with the Brightness of his Return, and the Sword that proceeds out of his mouth. The Beast ( Antichrist ) will have a False Prophet working with him, that will be able to cause fire come down out of Heaven in the site of Men, and decieve them with this miracle, that he will be able to do, in the site of The Beast ( The Antichrist ). The Beast ( The Antichrist ), and the False Prophet, will be cast into the Lake of Fire the second death HELL !

    June 5, 2011 at 4:53 am |
    • Stopthemadness

      You are the exact kind of person the article was written about, 19 times the bible has been re translated through out history and each time man has transcribed and defined it to fit their own needs wants and desires for power. Most people don't realize the bible is like an owners manual, it just gives us advice on clean living it isn't a law book. You want people to fear your knowledge of the book and obey your every command and be scared of the consequences when they don't.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:02 am |
  4. Horus

    People really still consider the Bible an inerrant authority on morality and life? Stupefying and depressing at the same time.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:52 am |
    • AlongTheWay

      Well, it could be a "this is what *not* to do" kind of book.

      Incest, lying, adultery, murder, and so much more are in it! lol

      June 5, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • Ellis Dee

      This is all being staged by masons trying to deceive you that Christians are starting to be real KOOKS about this. This is to drive people away from Christianity. The may 21 doomsday crap was staged by a mason also. It was a pre run to 2012 the masons want to see how people react when they are told the world is going to end. With a name like Horus you probably think he is your god, huh?

      June 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Cori

      When your little philosophy is the basis for billions of peoples way of life 2000 years from now you will have room for to talk so boldly.

      July 18, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  5. Stormy

    Actually no, most of these are not directly from the text of the Bible, but are taken from actual verses. For example; "Spare the rod and spoil the child" comes from "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14). Or; "God works in mysterious ways" is actually paraphrased from many verses such as; "Ecclesiastes 1:5 – As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything." and; "1 Timothy 3:16a – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:" "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is taken to literally. Clean should translate to good. Like in Acts 9:32–10:23.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:51 am |
  6. Jason

    I'm okay with articles like this individually. But as a frequent CNN reader, I am getting tired of the consistently one-sided take on Christianity. Would it be so bad to - just once in a while - talk about some of the good things associated with Christianity in America? Would some slight diversity of opinion on the issue really kill you, CNN?

    June 5, 2011 at 4:51 am |
    • Horus

      For the life of me I can't see how this is a negative article on Christianity. Persecution complex much? It's not like they're talking about phony rapture dates, molesting priests, or crazies protesting soldier funerals.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • Stormy

      I agree with you here. Most of these people here are bashing and saying really mean things. The comment section is not made to tell us what pieces of crap we are for believing. I don't judge them for their lack of belief although I do feel for them.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • Stopthemadness


      That because people have no clue. The thing most of them and most Christians don't understand at all, One rule was placed in the bible that rules overrides any and all other rules, yet the TEN COMMANDMENTS is all they can think about in the Christian world. The only rule in that book a man should follow is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." if all of us follow this rule the rest of the book is almost wasted paper.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • AlongTheWay

      No more tired than the rest of us of hearing that everything Christian is good and everything else is not.
      The worst sorts I know are 'holy roller' Christians.
      They have the worst tempers, bigetry, and racist too.

      Odd that they'll say things down here in the south like "that was so White of me" and then turn around on the same day and say "We should pray before this function... or lunch".

      Not made up. And not just one person.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:24 am |
    • Concerned reader

      Thanks Jason for your sincerety. You're not alone, am tired of it too.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:24 am |

    I was enjoying this article until....

    “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.”

    They are calling us all ignorant here. How dare you, me, or anyone that isn't closely tied to the Pope read the Bible and let it move us in a way that feels right. How dare we be so independent that we need someone to tell us what a verse or scripture means. Next they will tell us that we can't be trusted to read our car owner's manual without having a GM engineer tell you what all those complicated words mean.

    Earlier in the article, they state that the King James version interpreted things differently and that now there are MANY interpretations. Yet when it comes to laying blame for these mistakes, they go straight to the reader. How are we to know what translation most closely matches what the original text read and intended?

    They also mention all the different denominations of Christianity. Do you think that could possibly have something to do with all the various translations rather than just blaming it all on the misguided interpretations of some supposed whack-o? With many interpretations and the fact that many scriptures have been excluded from the Bible by mortal men, how can we even trust what the so-called "scholars" tell us we should draw from the text?

    Growing up I was told that when it all comes down to it, having a relationship with God and living reverently was the basic keys to saving your soul. Somewhere in all these years, man has become so arrogant that he feels the need to tell us what we should believe and change what the Bible says to fit their agenda. It is sickening. They presume to speak for God and put words in His mouth.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • Mike V

      This illustrates the problem with both dogmatic *and* arbitrary religion. When religion is dogmatic, it purports to hold objective truths on matters in which such objectivity doesn't exist and is often blatantly, verifiably false.

      When religion is arbitrary, it allows people to interpret it in whatever random way they prefer, making it all but useless. Any interpretation becomes just as valuable as any other.

      This is why objective methods of identification and knowledge-gathering exist. This is why we have science, skepticism, logic and critical thinking.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:50 am |
    • clintonius

      Relax Jackal, you probably are biblically ignorant in comparison to a theologian. In light of that ignorance, you are more likely not to understand the historical context and Greek or Aramaic origin. Yes, you are more prone to misinterpreting the text.....which is why these people that sit around and "guess" at the meaning often get it way wrong. It's not an insult, it's just the fact of the matter.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:04 am |
    • JACKAL

      clintonius – I also don't sit around drinking decaf and eating brownies pretending to know more than anyone. It's the arrogance of the statement that sets me off. I'm an IT specialist. If you knew very little about computers, and I told you that you were an ignoramus because you aren't savvy on the topic like I am, would you find that acceptable?

      June 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • JACKAL

      Mike V – It's a dilemma to be sure. To say that there is only one true translation hits us right in our free will. However, to leave it open to interpretation opens up a can of worms. Use the Qur'an for example... you get people applying their spin on that, and you get radical Islam....

      I don't think the Bible could ever get to that level of misinterpretation, but it does show that there are pros and cons to either approach.

      June 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  8. Sam

    I am a Apostolic tongue talking holy roller in faith believing person. I DO NOT believe that Christians who have the true gospel will ever commit suicide. The bible said if the gospel be hid, it is hid to those that are lost. That tells me one thing and one thing only, if you are lost confusion will set in! Study the word.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • evensteven

      Our minds are like parachutes. They function best when they're open . . .

      June 5, 2011 at 5:01 am |
    • Sam

      I'm not sure what parts of the world you all our from. But I live near the town of Joplin Mo.. the city that was hit by the ef5 tornado. Our leader of America Obama came to the memorial service which was at a church. Where he set and gracefully listened to 3 preachers. Then getting up himself he then quoted scripture from the KING JAMES VERSION Bible. Someone some where has a hold of the word! Even our president won't let it go..

      June 5, 2011 at 5:06 am |
    • clintonius

      "The true value of a man is not determined by his possession, supposed or real, of Truth, but rather by his sincere exertion to get to the Truth."

      Bold certainty of the unknown is dangerous.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:07 am |
  9. evensteven

    The Bible has many good things to offer, but it must also be put in perspective. The Bible is basically the cosmology and history of but ONE tribe of people—the tribe of Judas, or the Jews. But there have been thousands and hundreds of thousands of tribes which have lived upon the Earth. They each had their wise men, their own cosmology and belief systems, their own prophets and sacred teachings. They each had their experience with the sacred and super-natural.

    Yet most of their histories and teachings do not remain. They have either been destroyed as one tribe destroyed another or their teachings were orally passed down and now have been forgotten. Yet because the history of the tribe of Judah remains, in the minds of many the others never existed—but they did.

    So is it really valid to look upon the Bible as the one and only truth? I don't think so. I think is extremely narrow minded to accept the Bible as the only way to look at life and explain the Universe and what we call "God."

    June 5, 2011 at 4:43 am |
    • Sam

      Sir, be careful.. the bible was not written just by tribes. The bible was written by men of GOD who wrote as God the holy ghost gave it to them. The bible is a great tool that God himself made available to his people. We are not to question it. Read the bible it has passages in it where it those same men of God report that God is showing them as they right. And the world, America was a better place when it put God first! I couldn't imagine a life of emptiness by not believing in God! This I can promise if our drug dealers murders back bitters would come to Christ they would be changed. So please because you don't like to be narrow minded leave those who do alone! I would rather be narrow minded for God then to be narrow minded for the Devil...

      June 5, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  10. Forgiven

    Interestingly, I have been committed on this particular issue recently. I was asking myself, what did Jesus really say about this or that? I did some reading (in the Bible), and Jesus only had one sermon in His three years with us.

    You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more room for God.
    You're blessed when you feel you mourn. Only then can you be embraced by the One who holds you most dear.
    You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
    You're blessed when you hunger for God. He's the food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
    You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
    You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
    You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
    You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
    Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit God. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, God does! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. The prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
    You are the representative of God in the world; when you impugn your message with sin you lose your effectiveness and are cast aside. God’s love shines through you; you can’t know God and his love and then not show it to the rest of the world. Instead, go out and display it for all to see, like a city on a hill.
    Jesus did not come to abolish the laws in the Old Testament, but rather to complete them. What does that mean? It means that God’s laws are more than physical actions; they involve your thoughts, actions, desires, and will.
    The Old Testament says “Do not murder.” But being angry with someone is just as bad. When you murder someone’s reputation or spirit with words, that is the same as physical murder. Therefore, if you are enemies with anyone, make things right with them, before you lose your temper.
    The Old Testament also says “Do not commit adultery.” But even thinking about that other person in a lustful way is the same as physically doing the sin. This is not an easy thing to do: take every precaution to avoid this sin, so that you may not be thrown into hell for a wandering mind.
    God created you man and woman; when the two are joined together, they can not be separated. Therefore, when you divorce your spouse, except in the case of adultery by the other, and you marry another, you have committed adultery.
    Say what you mean and mean what you say. Speak plainly and make no empty promises.
    Avoid violence at all costs. If someone accosts you, and you do not resist, have they won anything? Violence just begets more violence, and no one wins. If you love your friend and hate your enemy, how are you better? Instead, let those who accost you with violent words or actions bring out the best in you. Be like God: he gives his best to both those who believe in Him and those who don’t.
    Live generously and graciously toward all.
    When you do good things, avoid announcing to anyone and everyone. When your good deeds are recognized and rewarded on Earth, then you have received your prize. When you do good deeds in secret, then god will see you and reward you in heaven.
    When you pray, do not turn it into a theatrical production. Find a quiet place where you can be yourself and focus on God. There are no formulas or magic tricks for dealing with God. Pray simply, be honest, be straight-forward; God already knows what you REALLY need before you ask for what you want.
    Pray like this:
    Our Father in heaven;
    Reveal Your plan in the world;
    Make things right;
    Let Your plan be for Earth as You have made it in heaven;
    Give us the things we need to live;
    Teach us to forgive others so that we may be forgiven by You;
    Do not let us be tempted by evil, for we are weak;
    You are in control of all creation!
    Your strength is endless!
    All glory goes to You!
    Prayer is a connection between God and you. If you do not resolve sin in your life, then you block your ability to communicate with God. If you have anything against anybody, do not pray, but go and make things right with them. Then God will make things right with you.
    When you deny your desires for God, do not make a big deal about it. Again, when you receive praise from others on Earth for your actions, you have received your reward. When you do this in secret, then God will reward you in heaven.
    Do not gather treasures on Earth that can be lost or destroyed. Instead, gather your things in heaven. When you have lost everything else, you will always have your relationship with God. That where your heart is, there you shall also be.
    Look at the world with wonder and innocence, not with greed and cynicism. Your eyes are the window to your soul; how you see the world is how your soul will be.
    You have to choose what is most important to you. God or (insert your driving desire here). You can not have two masters; adoration of one feeds contempt for the other.
    If you decide for God, do not expect the best to eat or wear; there is more to life than these. But don’t worry: the birds of the field still eat, the flowers of the field, most of which are never seen, still are more beautiful than the ten-best-dressed people in the world. If God does this for them, how much more will he do for you, that which he cares about more than the birds and flowers.
    Relax, quit worrying. Concentrate more on giving and less on getting. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
    Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
    Don’t criticize others for their failings or jump on them when they do something wrong. You are not here to enforce the rules; you have a hard enough time following them. Let God be the parent, you just do what you’re told.
    God is not the punch-line to your joke or the precursor to your swear word. Treat His name, and therefore Him, with respect.
    Don’t bargain, make deals, or be coy and cute with God; be direct. Ask Him for what you need. Will he give you a hard time with what you ask for? If you, who is SOMETIMES good, try to do good things for your children, then why wouldn’t God, who is ALWAYS good, not do good things for you?
    Do for others what you would have them do for you. Set the example of how you what to be treated.
    There is no easy, part-time way to God; it is a full-time endeavor that requires constant attention and discipline. Don’t fall for people that say they have a sure-fire plan to God; they are lying.
    Judge people who come in the name of God by their actions, not their words. A person who genuinely comes in the name of God will not try to exploit your emotions or bank account.
    Calling yourself a Christian means nothing; it is the strict obedience to the word of God that is important. In the end, many will come and claim to have done stuff for God, but He will reject them. Again, when you receive praise from other men for the things you have done, then you have already received your reward. When you do things in secret for God, then he will reward you in secret for eternity.
    These commands must not be added to your life; they must become your life. A person who applies only certain things to his life will not receive comfort during hard times. A person who lives the words of God will be comforted when the hard times come.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  11. Apeman

    There are actually people stupid enough to believe it is the word of God and they rationalize the fact that some nobody added different verse as being inspired by the Lord. So if Snooky is inspired, why doesn't that go in the bible too? What's the criteria?

    June 5, 2011 at 4:41 am |
    • remorse2

      You are making a basic mistake. You assume an all powerful God cannot put together information in a book for all to read. If that is true than he is not very powerful. Evidence the bible is true is through Predictions, Archeology and unity of voice. Predictions; Only God can predict the future. He does and He did and He did not get it wrong.
      Archeology: Only God knows of cities and countries that have dissapeared in the pages of time yet confirmed
      Singular voice: Seperate authors seperated by years and miles write in unity of voice. Compare Isaiah with Daniel.
      I argue that God is all powerful. For Him writing a book is easy.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:25 am |
  12. Too Eric

    Being raised by a very atheistic, God and religion hating man, I find that everything Christian is under attack. I had to hide my Bible and was not allowed to attend Church. This nation was founded by people who believed in freedom. Hey, God gave everyone free will, believe what you believe. Just find tolerance for each other's beliefs. Hey, you can believe what you will, but realize God calls Christians to still care about you. And to just to say I'm a molecular Biologist and a biochemist. Your argument basically decimates evolution.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:41 am |
    • Apeman

      So God calls on Christians to care about you, oh really? Is that why caring Christian GOP wants to deny 30,000,000 people the right to basic health care because they love them?

      June 5, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • Gedwards

      Apeman, who's being "denied." Ohhh....I'm sorry, you mean given healthcare using someone else's money. Yup, just like I'm not selfish enough to make you pay for others housing, food, etc. Apparently you are.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  13. tf

    Sober up and try again.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  14. mark

    who cares?! Who reads the bible anymore? Not just the illiterate, but a lot more who realize it to be nonsense.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:39 am |
    • Cori

      Over 6 Billion copies sold...nuff said. The next best selling may be closer to your cup of tea Mao's "little book" but it is still just under a billion in distribution.

      July 18, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  15. Rich M.

    John Blake is an idiot. Who even said those quotes were EVER part of the bible?

    For those of you who don't understand the ways of Christianity, take heed. Unless the book, chapter, and verse are present with quotes regarding the word of God , they aren't part of the bible. And no Christian quotes any of these metaphorical phrases as actual scripture, because we already know this. It's idiot atheists who are constantly trying to downgrade religion as a whole, coming up with these preposterous accusations. Christianity is all about gaining a relationship with God. And we as Christians come up with our own quotes based on our relationship and understanding of him. These quotes are just metaphors that describe God's nature and how he thinks.

    Just because it's a quote, doesn't make it scripture, numb skull Blake. We have all created quotes based on our life experiences one time or another and have passed them along through the generations. You need to wake up and learn something before making absurd assumptions like this article. NEXT!!!!!!

    June 5, 2011 at 4:39 am |
    • Jay

      Considering the opening of this article gives the example of Ditka giving the Bible credit for "This too shall pass," I'd say you're wrong.

      Personally, I've heard people use "God helps those who help themselves," claiming, "Look it up, it's in the Bible."

      And I'm sure I'm not the only person in the entire country.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  16. jasonda

    Typical CNN hit piece on Christianity. When people say things like "spare the rod, spoil the child," they are usually not thinking they are directly quoting from the Bible. They are using EXPRESSIONS– and yes, these themes are taught in the Bible.

    I'd love to see CNN do a piece like this debunking the beliefs of Islam. They could do us a favor and show us how that the notion of the Koran being a peaceful book is a load of b.s. The Koran commands left and right Muslims to kill all nonbelievers. Yet, CNN ironically defends Islam at every chance.

    14 trillion dollar deficit. 9.1 percent unemployment. Country is falling apart, and all this is what CNN wants to talk about. It's nothing but a coverup for Obama.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:38 am |
    • Joe

      The Bible commands Christians many times to kill non-believers.
      It says in Exodus to not let a sorceress live, and to put to death those that don't seek the lord.
      In Leviticus "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives."
      In Deuteronomy: "you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock" if you find them worshiping another god.
      The fact of the matter is Christianity has been the cause of more murder and bloodshed than any other reason in the history of man. Doesn't seem like Christianity is very peaceful either.

      June 5, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  17. TY

    Such an odd article about the literal meaning of Bible passages. Scripture doesn't work that way. It is about connecting the reader to the spirit. Serpents literally don't have the ability to speak so obviously the scripture is touching something deeper. There are many passages in the Bible that make no sense to the rational mind like a description of a talking donkey. It is my belief such peculiar passages are present to turn away those who need scripture to make sense. Scripture, on its own, is incomplete; it requires a human connection to be complete. It is a catalyst that can open up understanding and wisdom in the reader that exists in the spirit. When I read the Bible passage, a mysterious comprehension manifests within me as the direct result from the union of my current life context with the word.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:38 am |
    • jasonda

      I'm not a Christian, but obviously CNN is so biased. When it says in Genesis "serpent," it is talking about Satan. Because in Revelation, it says "that old serpent, called the devil and satan, which deceiveth the whole world."

      9.1% unemployment. Half all the jobs added in May were for McDonalds, 14 trillion dollar deficit, and this is what CNN wants to talk about? Ironic. They are just diverting away from the real issues to protect their invested one.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  18. Eric

    The first page of the Bible states the Earth was created (by the end of day three) before the stars (day four). This is incorrect by multiple billions of years. That is a huge error on the very first page of an "error free" book.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • remorse2

      You are asserting that God is incapable of speaking and having it come into existance. You sir have limited the power of God. Be careful that is called idolotry. You have made God in your own image.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:32 am |
  19. John

    This is great. Obviously people are mis-quoting the BIBLE, its a complete fabrication. Language evolves just like everything else and people will start to blend jesus w luke skywalker, because they are basically the same thing. Its a nice story but religion needs to stfu.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Sam

      We will see what you say when God comes back to call his children home. You will wished you had religion then. I have felt God, spoke to God and he to me. Religion is a must! Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. The bible plainly says so. He walked and talked breathed and lived on this earth. Ask historians they have proof Jesus was here! When he was nailed to the cross. He could have called ten thousand angels to come and delivere him. But he chose to die so people like u and I would have to sacrifice animals any more for our sins. He made the ultimate sacrifice. Giving himself for us! Once they took him to the grave three days later he rose, from the dead. In the Jewish history they would put u in the grave and cover you face with a napkin like cloth. Also In Jewish history when you was setting at the dinner table and you accused your self, you would leave your napkin setting over your plate this was to state that you was not through. You was coming back for more. When Jesus rose three days later he left the napkin that was on his face folded neatly in the tomb. Thus Jesus made the statement by the small jester... "listen children I'm coming back." How can that not excite people that the King above all other kings is coming back to take his children out of this sin sick world. The old song says "this world is not my home I'm just a passing though my treasure are laid up some where beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heavens open door and I can't feel at home in this world anymore." Our God is greater our God is stronger God you are higher then any other. Our God is a healer awesome in power. Our God! That's a newer song. :))

      June 5, 2011 at 5:25 am |
    • Stupid non-believer

      Word up, homie! Bible = Most popular piece of fiction ever written.

      June 5, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Angie

      THANK YOU for visiting my blog and for your very kind oemmcnt. And, THANK YOU for inviting me to read this! Your words have most assuredly blessed me. ~Theresa

      March 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  20. Shame

    I'm pretty sure.. too lazy to look it up.. Jesus explained the "serpent" was Satan.. might not say it in Genesis, but it would be the journalistic thing to do.. is to mention it is referenced from the person that brought the bible into existence. He is the word, after all.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • Trewth

      Bible does not claim about flat earth as you said. Bible says 3 times that earth is round. Read this:
      Job 22:14 Thick clouds cover Him, so that He cannot see, And He walks above the circle of heaven.'
      Prov 8:27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
      Isa 40:22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

      in 1492 men still thought they could sail off the edge of the flat earth >.<

      June 5, 2011 at 4:50 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.