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Meditation 1050
Dishonesty to promote the faith (II)

by: John Tyrrell

Your thoughts on this Meditation are welcome. Please use the contact page to provide your comments for publication or use the comments feature below.

Continuing on the theme of using dishonesty to promote religion in images posted on Facebook, we have this gem which illustrates that it is not just the bible literalists, but also the warm-and-fuzzy Christians* who are susceptible.

Do not be afraid is in the bible 365 times

I note that some organization called MyBible.com has copyrighted the image, which suggests they created the graphic design and these "highly informed biblical scholars"** fully support the words.***

But surely anyone who has spent any time reading the bible will right away see that 365 times is a gross exaggeration, and perhaps be unhappy about such a claim. Well, quickly scanning the more than a thousand comments in response to this image on the warm-and-fuzzy Christian page on which it was posted, I noted that over half of the comments were "Amen" or something similar. That indicates whole-hearted unquestioning approval and agreement.

But quite a few people felt compelled to expand. For example:

Thank you Heavenly Father for taking care of us on a daily basis,thank you for your daily grace !!!

This is so true.... I have to keep reminding myself this as I have anxiety/panic disorder.... but this helps.....

That's true, you can read one everyday for a whole year. Fear comes straight from hell, not God.

And this lovely one which reminds me of one of last month's meditations:

I need to have this tatooed on my forehead

I could post another hundred of these, but why bore you.

But there was some criticism:

It's actually there 366 times. The Lord even back then took leap year's into account. He is so awesome!

I thot do not be afraid was in the Bible 366 times because of the extra day in leap year

Seriously? They thought (or thot) 365 was an understatement? Yes, seriously!

So I had to consider the possibility I was wrong. Perhaps the phrase is indeed in the bible 365 +/-1 times. So I went to my favourite bible resource, Bible Gateway, and searched for the phrase "do not be afraid" in several different bible translations. Results as follows:

There is no question the phrase appears with some frequency, but still a long way short of 365. And one would think that Christians who know their bible would recognize this instead of falling over each other to say "Amen" as a response.

And out of the thousand plus comments, a pitiful handful did question and criticize. And one of them even identified a Christian blog which had researched the issue in more detail than I have by adding to the search criteria a number of variations of the phrase "do not be afraid." And the best the writer could come up with for all variations was 131 in the Contemporary English Bible. That's still well short of 365.

One more point I'll make here is that regardless of how often the phrase appears in the bible, that does not make it a generalized instruction to every reader or indeed every Christian not to be afraid. The phrase has been lifted out of context.

For example, each of the first four times it appears in Genesis (New International Version) "do not be afraid" is directed at a specific individual in specific circumstances. That means it does not apply to everyone in every circumstance.

The fifth time it appears, it is directed specifically at the fleeing Israelites telling them not to be afraid of the Egyptians. Again - not everyone, and not in every circumstance.

And the sixth time it appears in Genesis, we see Moses talking to the Israelites:

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

Makes sense doesn't it - don't be afraid so you can be afraid of God.

So whoever first came up with "do not be afraid" appears in the bible once for every day of the year (and it's apparently been around for a number of years - pre-internet even) invented it and presented it as fact. That's dishonest. And while I understand it being circulated amongst the ill-informed, any web site such as mybible.com which promotes bible study should verify this sort of nonsense before copyrighting it and circulating it. They give credibility to the lie amongst the credulous. And they abandon any claim to credibility themselves.

It's just more dishonesty to promote the faith.


* There is, of course a lot of overlap between these two groups.

** sarcasm

*** I'm taking them up on their invitation to share - the image does not state "don't share if you manage to identify it as a blatant lie."


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