OFTEN, the Bible doesn’t say what many people think it does. God works in mysterious ways.
Yes, it seems He does, but it’s not a phrase found in the Bible. It comes from an 18th-century hymn by William Cowper.
How many wise men visited the infant Jesus? Three? Possibly not. No number is given in the Bible, but three specific gifts are detailed. There’s no mention of Adam and Eve specifically eating an apple, or of Jonah being swallowed by a whale, of Mary Magdalene being a prostitute, or of Noah leading the animals on to the Ark two by two.
Jesus did not feed only 5000 with the loaves and fish. The Bible says that besides the 5000 men, there were women and children who also ate.
There is no mention anywhere in the Bible of the Seven Deadly Sins, that being good will get you into Heaven, that praying to saints will get us anywhere, that we should practise moderation in all things, that a fool and his money are soon parted, that charity begins at home or that cleanliness is next to godliness.
The words pope, Catholic, Anglican, Pentacostal and atheist appear nowhere in the Bible. Neither does the word Bible. The word Christian appears only three times.
A US survey found that 75 per cent of Americans were convinced that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is from the Bible. It isn’t. It is commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who possibly pinched it from one of Aesop’s Fables from the 6th century BC.
Another version of the phrase, “Trust in God but tie your camel”, is attributed to Mohammed.
As a concept, it is bad theology. For one thing, it reflects a lack of compassion that can lead us to believe that those who are less fortunate have done something wrong in order to deserve a lack of compassion.