Thursday, August 9, 2012
Who Said That?
MOUNT HERMON, CA (ANS) -- 'Who said, 'Neither a borrower nor a lender be'?" asked Chris Matthews on his MSNBC-TV program Hardball.
Matthews had been discussing evangelical Christians' economic views with CBN News correspondent David Brody. In response, Brody did not name the quote's source, but playfully protested being asked a "church history" question.
Shakespeare may or may not have been flattered. In Hamlet, Polonius offers the famous advice to his son Laertes.
Given Hardball's rapid-fire nature, Brody's misattribution of the quote to church history is understandable. Matthews, with his heartfelt and penetrating style, speaks 200 words per minute – with gusts up to 400 – and interrupts often. The crossfire could momentarily confuse anyone.
But famous sayings often get misattributed. Materials at an annual national student leadership conference in
When I noted the problem, the conference moderator readily agreed to edit their materials. But I had erred, too.
"Cleanliness is next to godliness"
Even experts goof. In
In fact, many popular sayings get misattributed to the Bible. How about, "This above all – to thine own self be true"? The Bard again, Polonius to Laertes, a few lines after "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."
What about "No man is an island"? English poet John Donne.
"Money is the root of all evil." That must be biblical, right? Close, but the actual biblical text contains significant qualifications: "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…." [Emphasis mine, again.]
"God helps those…?"
Here's a common one. A university administrator once told me his life philosophy was summed up "by that famous statement, found so many times in the Bible: 'God helps those who help themselves.'" White House press secretary Jay Carney also once attributed this statement to the Bible. Forms of it exist among Aesop's Fables and in Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac, but it's not in the Bible. I was surprised to learn it actually contradicts a core biblical teaching.
Certainly biblical authors advocate acting responsibly. But on the crucial issue of how humans can connect with God and gain strength for responsible living, it's not human effort that counts, I discovered to my chagrin. It's a free "gift."
Now, this violated my sense of justice. It seemed only fair that my good deeds should earn me a place in heaven. Then I learned that trying to earn eternal life was something like trying to swim from
That's why, the biblical documents indicate, "When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us," bridging the infinite chasm that we humans never could.
I guess the common saying might better read, "God offers to help those who recognize their need…and ask."
What a difference. I realized that it's important to learn not only "who said that," but also what the speaker/writer actually said and meant.
Copyright © 2012 Rusty Wright
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.