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Things We Know, Yet Aren’t So

We can all think of things that we are sure are true, have been convinced of their veracity since we were knee high to grasshoppers, only to discover…the TRUTH….

Pro wrestling is real

Santa Claus

The Tooth Fairy

The Easter Bunny

The world is flat

I’m from the government and I’m here to help

Recently I learned that Ben Franklin never said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” He really said, “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” At least that one isn’t too far off.

Today another cherished quote bit the dust.

This one hurts more than Ben’s misquote, because it has for years been very close to a personal motto. It has generally been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, the same St. Francis of Franciscan monk fame and known for talking with the animals. (He must have been a teacher. J/K)

Turns out, St. Frank never said, “Always share your faith. When necessary, use words.” Apparently the closest he came was from chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221, where he “told the friars not to preach unless they had received the proper permission to do so. Then he added, ‘Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.’”

The corrupted proverb generally catches the spirit of Francis, but it also has its dangers, in that it implies we can just live good lives and that will turn people to the faith. This is in contradiction to what Paul says in Romans 10:17 that it is in hearing the word of God that salvation is found.

I confess that when I first adopted it as a kind of personal motto, I fell into this trap. As I matured in my faith and understanding of Scripture, I still saw the wisdom in its advice to let my actions pre-validate my words. Nonetheless, it is a disappointment to find that it is yet another orphan quote.

How many things that we teach our students will one day be revealed to be ‘not so?’ In chemistry, much of what we initially teach students about the atom is about as accurate as the stork being an explanation of where babies come from. However, we do it because it is an easy picture to convey, and we can modify it later to teach them what’s really going on. But how many things that we teach and believe ourselves to be right will be overturned as sophomoric misunderstanding by future generations?

Let us also have similar humility in our interpretations of Biblical prophecy, as Peter warned us, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21

It is such a reminder that our words are sweeter when spoken than eaten.


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