After reading an article (on CNN’s “Belief Blog”) entitled “Actually, that’s not in the Bible,” I thought it would be fun to put together a little quiz. How much do we know about what the Bible really says? The answers are at the end, but no peeking until you’ve finished the test.
True or False
According to the Bible…
- “God helps those who help themselves.”
- “Iron sharpens iron”
- Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
- “The word of God will not return void.”
- “Money is the root of all evil.”
- Crab, lobster, and shrimp are unclean, but eating grasshoppers and locusts is permitted.
- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- “To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.”
- “If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.”
- It is an abomination to consult a palm reader, and mediums should be executed by stoning.
- “Thou shalt not lie” is one of the Ten Commandments.
- God told the Israelites not to get tattoos.
- “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
- “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I expect that my readers did very well on this quiz, but you are a select few! The CNN article I mentioned above linked to a survey done several years ago by the Pew Research Center. This research showed that we, as a nation, are profoundly ignorant as to what the Bible actually says. (You can try some of the the Pew survey questions here.)
A Gallup poll found that over 90% of Americans believe in God, and almost 80% believe the Bible is either “the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word” or “… the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally.” If a majority of people believe God wrote a book, why don’t we know what it says?
So, what other familiar quotes are mistakenly attributed to the Bible? We expect those outside the church to get confused; what are some “Biblical” misconceptions common in the church?
- OK, I started off with what’s hopefully an easy one. This is false. In fact it’s pretty much the opposite of what God wants. Consider Proverbs 3:5—“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
- Proverbs 27:17—“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
- Jonah describes the animal as a “big fish,” not a whale. See Jonah 1:17-2:1, 2:10
- This is a summary of Isaiah 55:11—“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
- It’s greed, not money, that’s the problem: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
- True. Leviticus 11:9-12; Leviticus 11:20-23.
- Yes. Philippians 4:13
- No, that’s actually by the Dalai Lama.
- Yes, Proverbs 27:14
- Yes, Leviticus 20:27 and Deuteronomy 18:10-11 make this plain.
- No. The actually commandment is, ““You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Deuteronomy 5:20 and Exodus 20:16) Note, however, that Leviticus 19:11 clearly states “Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”
- Yes, Leviticus 19:28
- That’s not quite what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8. “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. … We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
- Yes, Luke 6:31
So, how did you do? I’m certainly no expert—can you stump me?