preach-itThose of us who are entrusted with the task of expositing the Scriptures in a local church must take care to verify our sources, illustrations, and stories. No matter how helpful an illustration may be, it is dishonoring to God if it is untrue.

Here are a number of urban legends that get repeated in sermons. Some are more pervasive than others, even appearing in commentaries and scholarly works.

1. The “eye of the needle” refers to a gate outside Jerusalem.

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God,” says Jesus in Mark 10:25. Maybe you’ve heard of the gate in Jerusalem called the “eye of the needle.” The camel could pass through it only after stooping down and having all its baggage taken off.

The illustration is used in many sermons as an example of coming to God on our knees and without our baggage. The only problem is… there is no evidence for such a gate. The story has been around since the 15th century, but there isn’t a shred of evidence to support it.

2. The high priest tied a rope around his ankle so that others could drag him out of the Holy of Holies in case God struck him dead.

Various versions of this claim have been repeated by pastors, but it is a legend. It started in the Middle Ages and keeps getting repeated. There is no evidence for the claim in the Bible, the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud, Mishna or any other source. Furthermore, the thickness of the veil (three feet) would have precluded the possibility of a priest being dragged out anyway.

3. Scribes took baths, discarded their pens, washed their hands, etc. every time they wrote the name of God.

As a way of getting across the reverence of the Jewish and Christian scribes toward God, preachers like to describe the honor given to God’s name. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that scribes did these sorts of rituals every time they came across the name of God.

4. There was this saying among the sages: “May you be covered in your rabbi’s dust.”

This is one of the most pervasive and fast-spreading stories to flood the church in recent years. The idea is that as you walked behind your rabbi, he would kick up dust and you would become caked in it and so following your rabbi closely came to symbolize your commitment and zeal. Joel Willitts explains:

This is powerful stuff isn’t it? Well the only problem is that it just isn’t true… The context in which it is given in Mishnah Aboth 1:4 is expressly not what is assumed by those who promulgate this idea.

5. Voltaire’s house is now owned by a Bible-printing publisher.

Voltaire was famous for saying, “One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker.” There is a myth out there that within 50 years of Voltaire’s death, his house was owned by a Bible society that used his own printing press to make Bibles. Sounds like a great story, but it’s not true. Regardless, Voltaire’s prediction of the demise of the Bible was vastly overstated.

6. Gehenna was a burning trash dump outside Jerusalem.

I’ve used this illustration many times. But there isn’t evidence to support this idea. Still, because it seems like a reasonable explanation for the origin of the Hinnom Valley as “hell,” commentators and preachers have accepted it. It’s possible that the verdict may still be out on this one, but not if Todd Bolen is right:

“The explanation for the ‘fire of Gehenna’ lies not in a burning trash dump, but in the burning of sacrificed children. Already in Old Testament times, the Valley of Hinnom was associated with the destiny of the wicked.  That the valley was just outside the city of Jerusalem made it an appropriate symbol for those excluded from divine blessing.”

7. NASA scientists have discovered a “missing day” which corresponds to the Joshua account of the sun standing still.

Please don’t repeat this myth. There has been no “missing day” discovered, and the legend has been circulating longer than NASA has been in existence, with different scientists playing the part.

What are some other urban legends we should avoid as pastors?

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245 thoughts on “Urban Legends: The Preacher’s Edition”

  1. Drewe says:

    I remember when I heard the first of those – and my first though was ‘no way’. It just sounded like it removed the whole concept of ‘God HAS to do it’ to ‘you can do it, but it will be hard.’

    But a good reminder none the less. Oddly, I’ve only heard 1 and 2. Maybe I don’t attend enough conferences…. ;)

  2. Brent Hobbs says:

    I’ve heard all of them, or some close variation, except #5.

  3. Stephen says:

    I’ve always thought we should have a Christian version of Snopes. My contribution to the list would be the one saying that Jesus spoke more on hell than he did about heaven.

  4. Phil says:

    There’s a word origin story I understand is popular and untrue. “Sincere” doesn’t come from the latin phrase “without wax.” From an online etymology dictionary, sincerity is from the 1540s, from M.Fr. sincérité (early 16c.), from L. sinceritatem (nom. sinceritas), from sincerus “sound, pure, whole,” perhaps originally “of one growth” (i.e. “not hybrid, unmixed”), from sem-, sin- “one” + root of crescere “to grow” (see crescent). Ground sense is of “that which is not falsified.”

    That story about Roman statues, cracks, and wax used to make them look better is not true.

  5. Allenbeme says:

    What about the sermons revolving around the parenting skills of the eagle? The eagle teaching the maturing eaglet to fly by carrying it on its back, dropping it, catching it, dropping it, etc until the baby gets it.

    Or the teaching that shepherds break the legs of wandering sheep and carry them on their shoulders and the sheep love them for it?

  6. Alex Costa says:

    1. “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words” Assisi never said that.

    2. The frog in boiling water analogy. From everything that I have heard, that isn’t true.

  7. Brian Small says:

    There are lots of them unfortunately:

    1. Atheists are petitioning the FCC to get religious broadcasting off the air. I’ve heard this one since the early 1980s – then it was the atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, but since she is presumably dead, the rumor has transmogrified into something else.

    2. Scientists drilling in Siberia lowered a microphone into a deep hole and heard the screams of the damned in Hell.

    3. The stars on the Proctor & Gamble logo make the shape of 666.

  8. Chris says:

    1. Men have one less rib than women because Eve was made from Adam’s rib

    2. The five stones that David took from the brook were for Goliath and his 4 brothers

  9. Caleb Land says:

    Ugh…I have used #2. Although, in my defense, It wasn’t planned, it was one of those mid-sermon additions of something I’d heard some other preacher say…sounded good, but I have to say, even at the time, I remember thinking that I had never read that in the Bible.

    I have heard all the others and logically doubted all but #6…I have heard that one for so long and so many times I was sure there must have been something to it.

    I heard the Dust of the Rabbi thing from Rob Bell in one of his Nooma videos in a college Bible Study. Sounded legit at the time, but can’t say this surprises me now.

    Thanks for helping me avoid some common mistakes.

    1. I recently wrote a historical analysis of the saying about “being covered in the dust of your rabbi.”

      It’s not an urban legend. The idea actually comes from a well-known scholar of first-century Judaism, Shmuel Safrai. It’s mentioned in the Soncino Talmud too.

      1. Ryan E. Nelson says:

        I have read this article by Lois Tverberg, she knows her stuff. Everyone struggling with #6: “Be covered in the Dust of your Rabbi” should read her article. Trevin, with all due respect, after seeing this rebuttal by Lois, it makes me question your research on the other supposed preaching urban legends. One thing I have learned is that I need to fact check any illustration. Probably the best advice I can give is 1. do not reley on sermon illustrations; let the word of GOD speak for itself; 2) when needing a sermon illustration, use illustration from your own life, that way you know it is true.

        1. Ryan E. Nelson says:

          Sorry, #4 Be Covered in the Dust of your rabbi”

  10. I am not a pastor Trevin but I have heard just about every one of these urban legends and I appreciate your exposition on these. It is so important whether pastor or layman that we search out the Scriptures in whatever we hear so we can discern rightly. Thanks for being true to that call! I appreciate it!

  11. freedbyjc says:

    #1’s transliteration back into Aramaic {Llamsa bible} reads ” ‘rope’ through the eye of the needle” makes sense in light of Paul’s day job…

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      But Paul didn’t write that saying

  12. Matt says:

    I heard a pastor once share something called the Paradox Of Our Time and say that George Carlin (of all people!) wrote it.

    I knew as soon as I heard that it probably wasn’t true. And sure enough it was on is a pastor’s best friend.

  13. Miguel says:

    Dear God! I’ve heard all of these and had no idea they were a farce! Glad you brought it up. I wonder how many others…
    And now everyone else is adding to a list. Is it even safe to listen to a sermon anymore without fact checking everything said? I suppose the bigger problem is not that pastors use made up illustrations so much as it is the lack of integrity that thinks it’s ok to lie to make a point.

  14. Hey Trevin,
    thanks for these. It just shows you that Pastors need to read good commentaries!

  15. Paul Brandes says:

    Ahh! I used #2 on Saturday night, in a message to some of the high school students in my youth group. It just preaches so well when attempting to convey the seriousness of the Holy of Holies! Oh well, accuracy is infinitely more important. Thank you, Trevin, for posting these!

  16. pduggie says:

    Hostile tribe is going to attack missionaries, and 30 soldiers surrounding them dissuade the tribe.

    Later, the tribe converts and asks about the 30 soldiers. There were no soldiers, but 30 people were praying back in base camp/ USA, etc.

    Also: Muslims having visions of Jesus (maybe true, but I only hear it secondhand.)

    Also: Haiti made pact with devil at start of country and that’s why its so bad

    1. jasone says:

      i have several friends who serve as missionaries among muslim people groups. many muslims whom they know and have evangelized point to a dream containing Jesus as a catalyst to their conversion. this is very real and happening all the time.

  17. Steve Caruso says:

    Don’t forget:

    #) “Abba” in Aramaic means “daddy.”

    Although it was popularized by the late Joachim Jeremias and his following that the word was child-babble, “abba” is simply the Aramaic word for “father” used by children abd adults alike. If the New Testament authors thought it meant “daddy” they would have translated it “pappas” rather than “pater.”


    1. Gary Shogren says:

      Jeremias often went out on a limb. In fact he later retracted the Abba theory.

  18. Reed Hamil says:

    “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” A (well meaning) lady at my youth ministry internship tried to tell me this phrase was in the Bible.

    1. Tim Wilson says:

      “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline.”

      Proverbs 13:24 (NIV)

      1. Ryan E. Nelson says:


  19. The story about breaking the sheep or goats leg is true.

    1. Ryan E. Nelson says:

      What is your source? Why is it true?

  20. @Reed, the verse Spare the rod, spoil the child” is in Proverbs.

    @Alex – Assisi did say “preach the gospel always and if necessary use words” however as a short pithy statement it is taken out of context and needs to be used within the context of his greater sermon.

  21. EMBG says:

    I’ve heard all but 3 & 4.

    And the Adam’s rib thing that a previous commenter mentioned. A lot of these myths just make us look dumb.

  22. Pro 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (ESV)
    Pro 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (KJV)

    It’s in there.

    @Craig Can you give the sermon that is in? I know Ray Comfort wrote an article a few years ago saying that he didn’t actually say that.

  23. Daniel says:

    There’s a strong temptation when preaching to throw around material that backs up your point, makes you sound smart, and that no one will ever look up to verify. Usually that narrows it down to historical background and details of the original languages.

    Here are two Greek language myths that drive me nuts every time I hear them:

    -The Great Commission of Matthew 28 means “as you go” and not “go”. This is a misunderstanding of a particular way that Matthew pairs participles with imperatives. If it meant “as you go”, then it would be easy for modern translations to say so. They don’t.

    -Agape and phileo are distinctly different kinds of love. If you look up the usages in the NT and LXX, it’s pretty clear that this just isn’t true.

    1. Ryan E. Nelson says:

      You are correct, I took a lot of Greek in College and in Seminary and I remember these discussions in our classes about these falacies.

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have tried unsuccessfully to find a primary source for #2. Now I know why…

  25. Les says:

    It is no urban legend that scribes immerse themselves in a ritual bath (mikvah) each time before writing the Divine name in a mezuzah, tefillin (phylacteries) or Torah scroll. It may not be the norm, but it is not at all uncommon until today – especially in the Hasidic community – for scribes to do so.

  26. Les says:

    There is certainly a source for a rope tied around the waist of the High Priest who administered in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, but the reference is still somewhat problematic. The Zohar, a commentary on the more mystical aspects of the Pentateuch – first published in Spain in the 13th century, but attributed to the 2nd century sage Shimon Bar Yochai – refers in one place to a golden chain, and in another place to a rope, affixed to the High Priest.

  27. joel says:

    Once, when I was a kid, my mom accidently “boiled” a frog that my brother had caught by just putting the frog in warm cup of water (not even hot).

    I don’t know if that proves the whole slow boiling aspect of it. I just know the frog was stiff as a board after 10 minutes. We gave it a proper burial.

  28. Timothy Stewart says:

    Don’t forget the one about Darwin recanting the theory of Evolutuion on his death bed. I’m ashamed that as a youth minister I told the one about NASA…just crazy.

  29. Bobby says:

    I appreciate the insight and follow-up comments from everyone. I desire to offer much clarity and sharpening to my teaching of God’s word. Soli Deo Gloria!

  30. Peter G. says:

    Thanks for sharing, Trevin. I have heard #6 a lot lately and have, sadly, been guilty of using #2 before. The last time I used it I even caught myself thinking, “Is this in Leviticus somewhere?” Nope. I’ll be sure not to use it again.

    Okay, so my one additional urban Christian legend that I’ve heard too many times is that the Secret Service doesn’t train it’s agents to recognize forged money, it only trains them on what the real thing looks like. The moral of the story is usually something like, “Don’t worry about false teaching; just focus on the truth.”

    Turns out it’s not true. Roger Olson says he once asked a Secret Service agent in charged of training bank tellers and the guy laughed at the thought (see Olson, The Story of Christian Theology, pp. 20-21).

    1. Jerry says:

      My wife keeps telling people the one about the Secret Service and money. I keep telling her I can’t verify it and will never use it from the pulpit until I have a letter from the SS documenting it. Plus, I think it is stupid, since a good apologist reads primary sources in order to address cults and cultists.

  31. MatthewS says:

    1) The human body does not hold 40 pounds of fecal matter. (Laying a 40 pound egg would be some kind of spiritual experience, though…)

    2) It is my understanding that Bedouin shepherds look at you like you are crazy when you ask if they break the legs of runaway sheep. They simply don’t do it.

    Until earlier this year, I thought the rope around the ankle story was true.

  32. Donovan says:

    I’ve heard this false claim a few times: Police specializing in identifying counterfeit money only study the real thing, not counterfeits… We don’t need to learn about heresy, we just need to know the truth so well we’ll spot anything false.

  33. Aaron says:

    anyone care to respond to Les? #2 may not need to be thrown out.

    And with #6, did they not dispose of child sacrifices (shudder) in some sort of “trash dump”? I’ve heard the whole thing lumped together. . .trash dump where child sacrifices were performed.

  34. Olivia K says:

    This is great! I will be passing it on to my husband . . . the pastor.

  35. Casey says:

    Dr. Will Varner of The Master’s College wrote a good post about where #2 came from:

  36. I must run in different circles than you. I’ve read #1 and knew it was bad info, #2 I’ve heard used once, the rest are new to me.

  37. And regarding counterfeit money – I worked with the man who oversees all counterfeit investigations for one of the federal banks a number of years ago and he explained their processes to me. Dude knew money like Piper knows the Bible. And he said they always study the good counterfeits – so much so they often can recognize where it came from (country or region) at just a glance due to types of paper and inks available. Needless to say I was impressed.

  38. Justin Keller says:

    I’m afraid Francis did not say “preach the gospel always and if necessary use words.” Even modern Franciscans admit it. We have much of his writing and his earliest biographies, and the saying appears in none of them.

    It would have been a strange thing for Francis to say or write since the order he founded was a preaching order. That was Francis’ explicit calling, and it was what he called his followers to dedicate themselves to.

    In one of his Rules, Francis did write, “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.” For Francis, the gospel included a life of poverty. The brothers were to display deeds in accordance with the message they preached.

  39. Joseph says:

    My wife heard (4), regarding the dust of the rabbi, from Ray Vander Laan. Can you please provide me with more information on why this is incorrect???

    Also, do you know of Ray Vander Laan’s relationship with Rob Bell?

    1. Ryan E. Nelson says:

      Read the article: Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi: An Urban Legend?
      January 27, 2012
      By Lois Tverberg

      She researched and wrote the article in responce to Trevin’s article. She give a lot of sources to support it as true.

  40. Marcia J says:

    I don’t understand the objection to #4. Avot 1:4 says:
    Yosei ben Yoezer of Tzreida and Yosef ben Yochanan of Yerushalayim received from him.

    Yosei ben Yoezer of Tzreida says,
    Make your house a meeting house for the sages;
    and get sooty in the dust of their feet, and drink with thirst their words.

    It seems consistent with what I’ve been taught on this, that they “sat at the feet” of their rabbi/sage (which = discipleship) and getting dusty here is a reference to sitting at their feet or following them around. The passage is encouraging inviting the sages in so one could study under them, drinking in their teaching. One could literally get covered with their dust in that dusty land.

    This is taught by some scholars who have studied the Talmud, including David Bivin of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research (see pg 14 in his book New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus)and he also refers to Professor Shmuel Safrai’s teaching of “being covered in the dust” as walking behind a traveling rabbi.

    I’d heard #3 was done at Qumran, when they transcribed scripture. They were known for their washing rituals.

  41. Derrick says:

    Aw man, that one’s not true?

  42. Nate Archer says:

    I once heard a pastor say that the Romans would punish murderers by tying the dead corpse to the back of the murderer and making him go around with the dead body on his back. This was supposed to be the background for the “body of death” in Romans 7.

  43. Joe T says:

    Rapture theory is very modern. 1800s. And very western.

    Ironically When Jesus said, “just in the days of Noah, one will be taken, one will be ‘left behind'”, if you read the text in Genesis, you WANT to be left behind. Interesting how they even blew the title of the book.

  44. Nate Archer says:

    So was the curtain three feet thick or three inches thick? I’ve seen claims of both. Three feet seems like… dun dun dun… another urban legend.

  45. Trevin,

    Joe Willitts is quoting another blogger who quotes another blogger who himself is a novice at reading rabbinic texts.

    If you want to see a scholarly source for the covering yourself in the “dust” of a rabbinic sage, check this link: It’s from “The Jewish People of the First Century,” by Stern and Safrai, p 965.

    Lois Tverberg

  46. Bob Jensen says:

    Steve, this one is not so illogical in my mind. There would be no reason to doubt that “abba” could mean daddy or papa in any language, considering that crosslinguisticly these are some of the first sounds that babies begin to mimic (along with mama), and subsequently have come to mean mother and father. Whether or not this was the specific babble induced rendering of “father” or not is somewhat irrelevant, because at any rate it has come to signify an important Christian truth, that God is our father. Hope this has been a help. Blessings to you! Jesus saves!

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      Yes, but there is zero evidence for it in Aramaic. In rabbinic literature, adult children use it of their father. Paul translated into Pater, “father”, not Daddy.

  47. Dennis says:

    Agape and phileo – and Jesus spoke Aramaic not Greek so he didn’t use either word in his teaching.

    1. Ryan E. Nelson says:

      Actually, according to most scholars; durning the time of the new testament, most jews would have spoken 3 languages. Aramic, a Hebrew language, and greek. Most New Testament Survey books will testify to this. Greek was likely the most common language at this time, which is why the new testament was written in Greek; including the book of Hebrews which was written to an audience of Jews. Jesus could have taught in Aramic, and he may have at some point, I know he used aramaic words at times. However, in an audience of mixed people groups including the Romans, it is likely that he would have spoke Greek (the common language and the language of trade) in these settings. And everything he taught is written down in Greek text. I am not sure, but I do not think we have any Aramaic copies of the New Testament gospels or letters. If I am wrong, please correct me. I hope this was helpful.

  48. Jake Meador says:

    The biggie for me, as a former history major, is the “Nero used Christians for torches,” line. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no evidence to support this. If I’m wrong I’d be happy to be corrected, but I’ve never come across a trustworthy primary source that describes Nero doing that…

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.

      Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

      Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, **** or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. **** Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.” (2nd century historian Tacitus, Annals, Book 15, Chapter 44)

  49. Andrew Faris says:

    I hear this one all the time, and it bugs me like no other: the Greek word that we translate as “power” is “dynamis” (pronounced DOO-na-mees) , which is where we get our English “dynamite”. So when Bible refers to the “power of the Holy Spirit” (or anything like that), what we learn is that the Holy Spirit is really the dynamite of God.

    The problem is obvious: they didn’t have dynamite in the first century. It’s just blatantly anachronistic.

    We should just go ahead and throw all of the “improper uses of Greek etymology” in there. Pastors just need to know that if they don’t know Greek, they shouldn’t use it in sermons unless they’ve checked it with someone who does.

    Also, why isn’t it good enough to just say that the power of the Holy Spirit is the power of God? Do we really need dynamite there???

    Andrew Faris
    Someone Tell Me the Story

  50. Richard Worden Wilson says:

    How about the common assertion that Jesus claimed he was God by forgiving sins? Ben Witherington even dismissed this one recently when reviewing The Pope’s book on Jesus.

    “On p. 331,the Pope stresses that only God has the power to forgive sins, ergo Jesus stands in the position of God in Mk. 2.5.  But the problem with this is that Jesus himself later bequeaths the power to forgive sins to mere mortals like Peter.”

    Always consider counter evidence.

  51. Richard Worden Wilson says:

    A parallel to the former, but closer to the nitty gritty of theologistic arguments of a classic, orthodox nature is that Jesus claimed to be God when he stated that he and the Father were “one.” (Jn. 10:30) Since Jesus uses the same language of oneness in his “high priestly prayer” regarding his desire that we all be one with the Father and with Himself the conclusion doesn’t seem to follow the evidence. Oh, there is also the “God doesn’t share his glory with anyone” quote that maps in here also.

    Jn. 17:22 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;
    23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

  52. Thanks for the helpful post! I did research on the oft-repeated assertion that the temple veil was as thick as a man’s hand and show that it is an example of rabbinic hyperbole here:

  53. Stephen Newell says:

    @Brian Small:

    Are you sure that microphone wasn’t just a Gulag? ;-)

  54. Jeffrey Brannen says:


    In Mark, where Jesus forgives sins, the Jewish leaders respond with the charge of blasphemy. While it may not be that Jesus was claiming to be God in that passage, the people around him certainly thought that’s what he’s doing.

  55. James says:

    Counterfeit Money: I don’t know about Secret Service or the police, but having worked at banks for about 10 years we were never trained with fake money, and I’m pretty sure we handled more bills in a day than the police did in a year. But while rapidly counting, we could always tell when a bill we’d just counted was different for some reason. We hated it b/c we’d have to stop counting and examine it more closely to see if it was fake or just old and had gone through the washing machine too much.

    Christian Torches: I want to say the source for this was a non-Christian Roman historian. I’ll have to look that back up myself.

  56. James says:

    Christian Torches, update:

    Tacitus, Annals 15.44.2-8 (taken from Everett Ferguson’s Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 3d ed)

    “Nero fastened the guilt [for the fire in Rome] and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. . . . Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to flames. These served to illuminate the night when daylight failed.”

  57. Jacob Young says:

    I’ve heard “hypocrite” was first coined by Jesus to refer to actors in the Greek theater. True? Strikes me as apocryphal.

  58. Werner says:

    The one I hear every Easter is the folded napkin story..

  59. Andrew Wencl says:

    If anyone’s looking for a Christian Snopes, has some of these debunked.

    There’s a problem with saying it was a rope through the eye of a needle too:

  60. Andrew Wencl says:


    One thing we need to remember is that even though Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, the New Testament was written in Greek, and if we believe the Bible is inerrant, it is important to remember there is a reason why the NT authors used specific words.

    That said, it can certainly help us in thinking through some passages. (BTW, I agree that there is no essential difference between agape and phileo in John’s gospel).

  61. Tony says:

    Jesus dined with prostitutes. That’s probubly the one urban legend that I notice most often. The gospels never say this.

  62. Tom Gilson says:

    Since I first heard about <a href=""Muslims having visions of Jesus I have asked many people with first-hand knowledge about it. In every case my question has unleashed a flood of stories. The story is true. Here is a first-hand testimony, reported by a friend of mine (also here on video.)

  63. Tom Gilson says:

    Since I first heard about Muslims having visions of Jesus I have asked many people with first-hand knowledge about it. In every case my question has unleashed a flood of stories. The story is true. Here is a first-hand testimony, reported by a friend of mine (also here on video.)

  64. Dean P says:

    My favorites are the anti- rock music anecdotes. IE: Lucifer was in charge of music before he was kicked out of heaven. Or the missionary family who came to a recently converted remote third world village where the son plays his rock records and the new Christian villagers tell his dad that they sacrificed to Demons to that exact same “beat” or music.

  65. Brian says:

    I thought it was interesting that there is so little citation to backup your “legends.” In the end it’s just another blog that seems to be your opinion about these things. I’m not questioning the veracity of your statements, but it just seems to promote the very thing you think is wrong.

  66. Jamey says:

    How about pastors who claim that earthquakes and natural disasters are increasing without any substantial evidence? I know I’ve heard that one a bunch during messages on Matt. 24, etc.

  67. Kyle says:

    I almost used #2 a few weeks ago but as I thought about it it would be carrying a unapproved garment into the holy of holies. It would be breaking the command of God so I chose not to say it and wondered.

  68. Has anyone ever heard of the “Hat Rack” legend? This tale claims that a church split over an argument about whether or not there should be a hat rack in the lobby of a particular church. Anyone have any info on the veracity of that legend?

  69. Jeff Polk says:

    There’s one about a Japanese fisherman being found in the belly of a whale.

  70. Dave says:

    @Andrew on ” dynamite” – correct in that it preceeds dynamite however it is where we get our English word dynamo from which we now call an engine. Engines from a physics standpoint is anything that does “work”. Thus the example of power in the gospel as accomplishing the work is still an ok one. I usually mention this in contrast to the common dynamite explosive idea.

    Also I think any good student of languages knows our use of words now in no way influences the authors intent of the word then.

  71. Josh M says:

    1. Preachers and teachers need to love their Bibles more than their killer illustrations.
    2. Youth pastors and Sunday school teachers need fact-checkers.
    3. A lot of stories about missionaries are made up.

  72. Daniel says:

    @Jeff Polk

    Jack Sasson has some really good material about that in his Jonah commentary. There are several legends that preachers use to back up the idea that people in modern history have had Jonah-like belly-of-the-fish experiences, but none of them seem to be true upon close examination.

    In my opinion, we don’t need any kind of modern parallel to Jonah’s experience in order for it to be true. It was a miracle. Trying to back it up with modern legends only serves to undercut the miraculous nature of God’s use of a sea creature to save Jonah’s life.

  73. One I really question is the, “The divorce rate is the same among Christians as in the world.” I find that hard to believe, unless researchers significantly water down the definition of a Christian.

  74. Stephen Shead says:

    Actually, I’d be very interested to look into #6 more. I’ve heard most of them before, but #6 I have read several times in pretty reputable sources – The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, and Alan Millard’s excellent “Discoveries from Bible Times”, for example. The Tyndale Bible Dictionary says “the valley appears to have been used for the burning of the city’s refuse and the dead bodies of criminals” – which I guess suggests evidence might be thin on the ground.

    Still, I’d be interested to know what is behind that one. It seems to be more than a mischievous invented story, at least.

  75. Stephen says:

    I know this is still secondhand for you (though not for me), but I talked to an Egyptian convert to Christ who told me that she had dreams about Jesus, and that her mom did, too (her mother hadn’t come to Christ at that point, and I never met the girl again…but I pray for her).

  76. Scott says:

    Heard this one the other day: “God will take care of America because “USA” is in the middle of Jer-USA-lem.” The sad part is that this was coming from a serious parishioner who found great hope in this because it came from a pastor she respected.

  77. Robin Shifflett says:

    Another one is that Jesus talked more about money than anything else. This isn’t true, as a careful study of the gospels will show. Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God more than anything else. Sometimes He used money/treasures/etc. as an illustration. But His subject was the Kingdom, not money.

  78. jamie says:


    Nero did use Christians for torches. That’s in Tacitus, Annals 15, 44, 2-8: “[Christians] were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames. These served to illuminate the night when daylight failed.”

  79. Dan says:

    I was going to mention the slow-boil frog illustration, but that was covered.

    There’s also the one about how Federal Government workers who spot counterfeit money NEVER study counterfeits in preparation for their work. I know this has been mentioned, too, but what they actually do is study they real thing AND counterfeits and learn to contrast the two.

    How about this one, though? “Church” in Greek means “the called out ones”? Yes I know that’s the entymology, but “ekklesia” simply means “assembly”. The church is the assembly of God. Do we mean “far-seeing” whenever we use the word “television”?

    I didn’t know about the Ben Himmom one, though. I thought it *was* a burning trash dump, and hence that’s why Jesus’ statement that “the fire is not quenched” made sense. Anyone?

  80. Chris Land says:

    If you were the only one on earth Jesus would die for you.
    While Jesus was on the cross, I was on his mind.
    God stops the angels singing so he can hear the prayer of a sinner who repents.
    God helps those who help themselves.

  81. Dave says:


    There is a variation of the fisherman in the belly of the whale story in JM Boyce’s commentary on Jonah, with references. I don’t remember it off the top of my head, but I remember him backing it up pretty well with newspaper articles.

  82. Terri says:

    The Pope is the head of a major cult, and cannot be relied upon to know the Truth. All other groups outside of Eastern Orthodoxy were founded in rebellion against us. Rebellion=witchcraft (1Sam.15:23). Witches are not allowed to live (Ex. 20). The Orthodox are the originals and the Truth can’t change and still be truth. Changes create cults, and prove arrogance, not unlike Lucifer trying to exalt himself above God. You cannot have a Christian witch, even if you wash your clothes with oxymoron.

    Also, it’s amazing how many people of these offshoot groups can get involved with the whole “Harry Potter” thing and act as if it is all fiction, fun and games. The author studied witchcraft and interviewed practicing witches in order to be accurate in her abuse of innocent kids. These are real spells and techniques of those who practice witchcraft daily.

  83. Andy says:

    I’ve recently seen a persuasive argument that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal, as is traditionally suggested. The basic gist is that although the disciples were indeed told to prepare for a Passover meal in the upper room, the Last Supper was the night before, and they did not know that Jesus would be their Passover lamb, crucified the following afternoon (at the same time as the lambs were being slaughtered on the temple mount to be ready for the Passover meal that night) and was already in the tomb when the Jews began to observe passover.

    Although the synoptics have Jesus telling the disciples to prepare for the Passover meal (perhaps so that all things might be fulfilled), John’s gospel emphasizes repeatedly that Jesus died the afternoon BEFORE the Passover meal was to take place. (Indeed, the priests seem to have been in a hurry because they wanted everything to be resolved by sundown.)

    In Luke 22:15-16 Jesus says, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it [again] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” The word “again” is the key word, indicating that the meal Jesus is currently eating is the Passover meal, not a precursor meal of some sort. But the word “again” doesn’t show up in all the manuscripts, which basically makes a bit of an impasse.

  84. Dawn says:

    That phrase is a summation of many verses in Proverbs including Proverbs 13:24 “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

  85. Dawn says:

    Good point. Barna’s research shows that, sadly, most people who call themselves “Christians” do not believe the bible to be inerrant, do not attend church regularly, and do not believe Jesus is the the only way to God. Whereas, for example, men who are regular church attenders and read their bible at least once a week are happier in their marriages and do have lower divorce rates.

  86. Daniel says:


    Check some more scholarly commentaries on Jonah. Just from those I have on hand, I can tell you that Jack Sasson (AB), Frank S. Page (NAC), and Desmond Alexander (TOTC) all cite some good evidence that these “news” stories about men being swallowed by fish and whales are false. Sasson summarizes his findings, “Such stories simply make the news in the same way as to reports of travel in an alien flying saucer” (p 151).

  87. Rich Starnes says:


    The problem with the Last Supper not being on Passover is a conflict with Mark 14:12, which says the finding of the upper room and thus the Last Supper occurred “on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb[.]” The exact timing of the Last Supper and Passover is a debatable issue of interpretation; one or the other is not an “urban legend.”

  88. Gregory says:

    Here is a false statement that lots of preachers use these days…”There are 365 verses in the Bible that say FEAR NOT. That is one for each day of the year”. It’s not even close to being true. Of course it could vary some by translation, but at most you are going to find about 100 or so. Not 200 not 300 and not 365.

    Another one I know has to be false, is that Jesus talked about money more than he talked about heaven (and sometime they say more than he talked about anything else).

  89. Rich Starnes says:

    The “Jesus talked about money more than heaven” seems to be a distortion of the late Larry Burkett’s teaching that the entire Bible mentions money more than heaven, which, based on the lack of many explicit heaven references but numerous money references in the OT seems reasonable.

  90. Andy Chance says:

    I’ve read that people who were crucified did not really died of asphyxiation, but I’ve heard that many, many times.

    Any light to shed on that one?

  91. Creig M. says:

    One I have heard dozens of time is the illustration about the East Coast. How back in the day a group of people started rescuing shipwreck victims, as more rescues happened they built rescue centers. As time passed they rescue centers became nicer with good furnishings and the club became more social and they no longer wanted to dirty their club with ship wreck victims. So a group would leave the club to carry on the original mission and move up the coast a little bit. As time passed, they too would morph into a social club; a group would leave to estabish another one, etc. “therefore to this day you can find along the east coast dozens of these clubs that no longer serve victims, but only exist as social clubs” This was used to illustrate keeping the church open to all comers and to remember our original mission. I never found any factual basis; nice story, but seemed very contrived.

  92. Wow, I had no idea that so many of these were false. It’s good though; some of them were a little ridiculous. Thanks for sharing!

  93. "lee n. field" says:

    “Also: Muslims having visions of Jesus (maybe true, but I only hear it secondhand.)”

    I’m suspicious of that one too.

    I once asked a native Turkish pastor about it (in a blog that’s no longer up, alas, or I’d link to it). His response was, that the “old man in a dream” theme was from folk Islamic and shamanistic beliefs in the area. Ask people about it, and yeah, they’ll tell you stories.

  94. Judy K. Warner says:

    For what it’s worth, in current Hebrew “abba” is what people call their father, and the word for father when speaking about him is “av.” The two words come from the same root. No one calls his father “av” the way some English speakers might call their father “father.” “Abba” is what you call your father, however you want to translate it.

  95. Davis Russo says:

    ‎”The word ‘hell’ has a checkered career. In the New Testament, ‘Gehenna'[the term translated as ‘hell’] is the smoldering rubbish dump outside
    the southwest corner of Jerusalem.” – N.T. Wright


    “Gehenna is the valley of Hinnom, at the southwest corner of Jerusalem. It is where Jerusalem’s main garbage dump was, where trash smoldered with a steady fire. It became, for some Jews prior to Jesus, metaphorical for some kind of postmortem punishment.” – N.T. Wright

  96. Davis Russo says:

    N.T. Wright is a scholar of history. I doubt he would send out the idea if it weren’t valid.

  97. Matt Childers says:

    The story given to prove the book of Jonah. The story goes “an 1800’s fisherman was eaten by a whale, and then was cut out alive a few days later.”(or all the other various versions of this)

  98. Alan Kurschner says:

    “The aorist tense indicates past time.”

    “The aorist tense indicates once-for-all action.”

    Contrary to popular thought the aorist tense is the least significant tense in Greek. Strangely one will hear pastors often preaching and making a big deal about this or that word in the “aorist.” I think this misunderstanding is due to the fact that it is not found in the English grammatical system so it seems mysterious to those who do not know Greek.

  99. joe v says:

    Where do I start….a few too many years at Fundie Summer Camps

    The Titanic had “Not Even God can Sink This Ship” painted on her bow.

    There’s a computer in Belgium, Switzerland [insert other European nation] called “The Beast”.

    [xxxx] corporation is owned by the Satanic Church (usually proctor and gamble, but I’ve heard variations).

    If you play music backward, you hear satanic messages. (Or, even better, as one book claimed, when you play old hymns backward you hear Christian messages.)

    UPC codes have 666 in them.

    Astronomers found heaven behind the north star and either disbelieve it (as all scientists are part of the atheist establishment) or cover it up (probably for the same reason.

    The word “Lucky” is derived from “Lucifer”

    Then, if you want to get really nutty, there’s always the reptilian, trilaterist, and Illuminati silliness (I think every church has at least one). But, I won’t go there.

  100. Lewis says:

    I have heard the dream story from a friend who has spent his career working in Islamic countries as a missionaries. He’s one of the more credible people I know. I also read a web site led by a Moslem man who was interested in conversation between Christians and Moslems. He was not a Christian or becoming one but had experience those dreams….that one is probably true

  101. Bar says:

    Does anyone know of the veracity of the claim that Corrie Ten Boom lamented the pre-trib Rapture theory?

    This is the only place I could find the “letter”, and if anyone asked me, I think it is hodge-podged together out of a story she told in one of her books. This doesn’t sound like something she would say: “…for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God…”

    The blog I found it on disses the rapture. It’s just too neat for my taste.

  102. Gene Veith says:

    I would add: Medieval theologians once debated how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Although I think this is an excellent question, this was rather a later joke at the scholastics’ expense, rather than something the scholastics actually considered. See

  103. Alan Kurschner says:


    Yes, it is a fact that she lamented the kookie pretrib theory:

  104. Jim says:

    I get tired of hearing preachers say “Jesus spoke more on —– put your pet topic here —than any other topic.”

  105. Jim says:

    Another good list of these kind of things is on “Arguments that Christians should not use” regarding creation and evolution.

  106. Garrett says:

    Andy Chance… in response to whether those who were crucified died of asphyxiation or not, I recently saw a documentary that came out in 2008 that featured prominent historians, scientists and doctors. I seem to remember them concluding that it probably would not have been just asphyxiation, but a combination of things. Here’s a link if you want to check it out ( ). There are also some clips from it on youtube (

  107. Vern says:

    The “eye of the needle” couldn’t be a place name, since Luke uses a different greek word for needle (the surgical one) in the passage in his gospel. If it was a place name, he couldn’t freely change the name could he?

  108. Lisa says:

    You are a nutjob!

  109. Kathryn says:

    Why is there so much doubt about some Muslims having dreams or visions about Jesus? Is someone claiming that they ALL do? In which case, they’re certainly wrong. But given that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to support SOME Muslims having dreams, wouldn’t it make sense to conclude that Muslims are more likely to experience a dream or vision that leads them to repentance and faith?

    I have a copy of a DVD called “More Than Dreams” that went through the stories of 5 Muslims who turned to Jesus. While I’m not saying it happens all the time, or even half the time, it DOES happen.

    Saying it does or doesn’t could only ever be because someone has told you, or hasn’t told you. It’ll always be anecdotal and cannot be scientifically conclusive.

  110. Andy says:

    Francis of Assisi never said “preach the gospel, if necessary use words”. It is attributed to Francis but the first citation wasn’t until mid 19 century. A Franciscan scholar is the likely source rather than Francis himself.

    Of course the other myth is that quoting someone from history makes what they said true.

  111. Stuart says:

    Reading good commentaries is not exactly a sure-fire way to avoid these things. I’ve read probably all of these in various commentaries.

  112. This one is a common one for Catholics training to be priests…to tell them how easy it is to break the seal of confession, and now careful you have to be.

    a young man is ordained a priest. After his ordination, he goes into the confessional. Later his pastor finds him in the chapel, in tears. “Why are you crying?”. “I just can’t believe it, my first confession, and it was an abortion.” Words of solace are given. Later that evening, at a reception in honor of the new priest a woman (usually the housekeeper, a prominent member of society, the sister of the pastor, or some such) runs up to the new priest (who is in the company of the pastor)and says “Father, I was your first confession!” The things wrong with that story hardly bear counting…

    Another one, and I think this comes from Fulton Sheen, is the priest at a retreat who complains about the “great wealth of the Church” and how the Vatican should be ashamed of itself. The retreat-master comes up to him and says, “how much did you steal”? And the complaining priest breaks down and admits he has been taking from the collection basket. Again, never happened, and since the story is similar to the one of Judas in the New Testament, its not necessary to make up a different story.

  113. Mark Oshman says:

    How about the one about God changing Saul’s name to Paul when he becomes a Christian… That didn’t happen. For several chapters after his conversion he’s referred to as Saul… it isn’t until he leaves Palestine and goes into the hellenistic world that he takes on his Greek name; Paul.

  114. I cover this in the preaching myths section of my blog, but one would be the myth of the disruptive women in corinth, whereas the reason paul said women should stay silent in church was because they were shouting out questions in public services.

  115. Ken Anwari says:

    “Also: Muslims having visions of Jesus (maybe true, but I only hear it secondhand.)” is definitely NOT a myth. Anyone who has worked with MBBs (Mslm background believers) can relate many of their own stories of Christ summoning them to faith in Him.

    It’s interesting that He is almost invariably wearing a white robe. When Adi told me of his dream, I asked him the color of the robe of the figure whom he recognized as Christ since He was standing on a stormy lake surface. His answer to my surprise, “tan”. =]

  116. DaveM says:

    When God saw you, it was love at first sight.

  117. daproofer says:

    He who withholds his rod hates his son,
    But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
    Prov. 13:24 (NASB)

  118. daproofer says:

    He who withholds his rod hates his son,
    But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
    Prov. 13:24 NASB

  119. lee n. field says:

    Why is there so much doubt about some Muslims having dreams or visions about Jesus?

    Why? These are my reasons:

    Because we’ve been misled in the past, and this very much has the feel of a tale that has been much retold and grown in the telling.

    Because this is not how the Bible tells us the gospel is normally to spread.

    Because we’re never (at least not that I’ve seen) told of the actual content of these people’s’ belief. Are they even trinitarian?

  120. Mathew says:

    This is absolutely untrue. Being a farm kid and hearing this illustration, I tried it out. I threw a frog into some boiling water and it didn’t jump out rather is sat there and cooked.

  121. Vern says:

    How about believers going to heaven when they die? Kind of obviates the need for resurrection doesn’t it. Paul said to comfort each other with the hope of resurrection, not heaven. Add to it all the ridiculous comments people make about what people are doing in heaven, singing country ballads for God (Johnny Cash), playing golf, swimming, volleyball. Any competitive sport makes no sense in heaven. If everything is perfect, how could there be any conclusions. Your perfect pitch, my perfect swing. What’s the result?

  122. Tim says:

    I keep hearing preachers talk about how God knocked Saul off his horse in Acts 9, but it reads that he fell to the ground, nothing about off of a horse.

  123. Joe Delahunt says:

    When I took a graduate course in Medieval philosophy, the final exam was one question, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” How do you think this question would be answered by Aquinas, Duns Scotus and Ockham?

  124. boatbums says:

    The Bible speaks about that eagle and their young that way. The verses are:

    Deuteronomy 32:11-12 (King James Version)

    11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

    12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

  125. Heather says:

    Someone already mentioned this one… but I spent TONS of time researching it – That in the Bible it says 365 times “Do not fear”. (This was stated as fact by preachers, in books, & even in the movie “Facing the Giants”)

    Well, my husband & I thought that would make a GREAT devotional, so we went to & looked up EVERY translation & EVERY variation of the phrase “Do not fear” (including afraid, frightened, anxious, etc) and came to just over 200 verses. VERY far from the original number.

    We did the devotional anyway, but our had to be a little more creative than just one verse a day. :)

  126. Vern says:

    I Imagine the boiling water would stun the frog enough upon impact that it couldn’t jump out.

  127. The issue about the frog is that you don’t throw it straight into boiling water. You place it in room temp water and slowly bring it to the boil. The frogs internal mechanism will allow its body to match the heat until it is too late….

  128. Michael Snow says:

    Let’s not forget the unfounded equating of the ‘crowds’ [of disciples] outside Jerusalem accompaning Jesus with the crowd before Pilate, crying, “Crucify.”

  129. Luke T says:

    Dear Friend
    I can tell you from first hand accounts I have heard a number of times and countless second hand accounts heard by firends of mine that the visions and dreams are very widespread – however many choose to reject or misinterpret them.
    Keep praying

  130. William Ross says:

    Great post.

    * that Jesus died on a *cross*;
    * that Jews killed Jesus;
    * that Romas forged the nails;
    * that Christians used the fish symbol as a secret code;
    * that the Bible is a secret code;
    * that the Passover was a lamb and crackers;
    * that the lamb was an important animal in the sacrificial system;
    * that the Universe was made ex-nihilo;
    * that there is an original Bible out there;
    * that the NT was written in Hebrew;
    * that the NT writers spoke Aramaic;
    * Essenes?;
    * that TETELESTAI means “Paid in full!”;
    * that Jewish Christians memorized the NT and passed it on by rote, accurately, for decades and longer;
    * that God is carpenter, his father and a friendly ghost;
    * that Paul wrote Hebrews;
    * that Jesus “declared all foods clean”;
    * that there was a Jerusalem “Council”;

  131. Cosmo says:

    Sometimes when hearing dubious information I respond with, “That’s about as true as a preacher’s anecdote.”

    In secular Greek texts, there is a clear distinction between “phileos” and “agape.” To say there is no essential difference between them in the NT is to say the NT writers use the words with critical abandon. It’s interesting that NT writers eschew the other two amatory words in classical Greek: eros and storge. We’ve probably all heard sermons on Eph 5:25, “Husbands love your wives,” where the preacher mentions (among other things) that husbands can, by keeping the flame of romance alive, avoid making their wives feel neglected: bring her flowers, etc. Fine, but the verb in this scripture is from agape, not eros. Romantic love was not invented yet!

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      You need to take a class on semantics, with all due respect.

      Classical (NOT secular texts) sometimes distinguished between the two, but Greek had changed in the koine period, and that’s the dialect we have to study to understand the Septuagint and the NT.

      In NT Greek phile (not phileos) and agape ARE used interchangeably, especially in the Johannine literaure. If a Bible writer uses synonyms that is no more wreckless than when you and I do the same every day.

      Romantic love had not been invented prior to the first century? Please!

  132. J. Paul says:

    Another Christian urban legend is that a team was oil drilling in Siberia (or some place in Russia), in which they broke through the crust of the earth. Scientists supposedly discovered temperatures beyond their instrument’s capacity to register and when they dropped a mic down the whole, they could hear screams. Legend has it, they found hell.

  133. William Ross says:

    I almost forgot!

    “Jesus sweated great drops of blood”!!!

    (The scriptures say “his sweat was *like* great drops of blood)! But any number of derelict doctors swear that it is possible to sweat great drops of blood!

  134. J. Paul says:

    @Timothy Stewart, about Darwin recanting the theory of Evolutuion on his death bed; although I would never use this in an argument, this has not been proven to be a legend. If you study the story in its entirety, he may very well have changed his mind. This certainly does not disprove evolution, as it would be appealing to the genetic fallacy.

  135. Steve says:

    There is in fact a Christian version of Snopes.

  136. blessedredeemer says:

    The actual phrase *Spare the rod and spoil the child* is from a kinky poem by Samuel Butler, entitled, “Hudibras”. If only pastors knew what they were referencing when they use it.

  137. Dan says:

    Anything that is sent to you by an email forward should be fact-checked. Almost every time someone Christian sends me an email that starts with something like “FWD: Amazing True Story” I get really suspicious.

  138. Richard Worden Wilson says:

    @ Jeffrey Brannen’s response:
    While “the Jewish leaders respond with the charge of blasphemy,” and “the people around him certainly thought that’s what he’s doing,” it seems odd to me that Christians would take as valid the arguments and false charges of those who wanted to kill Jesus, those whom he says in G Jn that they are of their father the Devil, the father of lies. I suspect that these charges were never brought against Jesus in his trial before the Sanhedrin because they weren’t credible. Still, we trot out the arguments as if they were somehow obviously true; rather un-reflective and superficial as far as arguments go, IMO.
    All the best to all in Christ.

  139. Justin Griffith says:

    Though not on your list, I caught myself saying “The lamb lays down with the lion.” recently. I appreciate it when my web searches turn up helpful articles like this.

    FYI: I’m an atheist. Got here from Unreasonable Faith’s vorjack. He shared his own Mea Culpa there.

    Good article! Thanks.

  140. casey says:

    @Willima Ross,

    * that Jesus died on a *cross*; – he didn’t?

    * that Jews killed Jesus; – Peter declares Jesus’ blood was on the Jews’ hands. Maybe the Romans actually did it, but the Jewish leadership instigated the whole thing

    * that Christians used the fish symbol as a secret code; – what’s the real storya on this one, then?

    that the lamb was an important animal in the sacrificial system; – well, it defintiely was for Passover, itself an important part of the sacrificial system once a year

    * that the Universe was made ex-nihilo; – what? you think the universe itself is co-eternal with God?

    * that there is an original Bible out there; – who thinks that?

    * that the NT writers spoke Aramaic; – I think the scholarly consensus on this is pretty convincing. Do you think they spoke Greek (likely) or Hebrew (not so likely) or something else?

    * that there was a Jerusalem “Council”; – maybe you can nitpick on the word “council” but there was a big meeting in Jerualem with the church leaders on the question of the Gentiles…call it what you wantI think “council” is a pretty good word for it.

  141. William Ross says:

    >>>that Jesus died on a *cross*; – he didn’t?

    The Greek word is “STAUROS” and just suggests a pole, the common instrument or Roman execution.

    >>>that Jews killed Jesus; – Peter declares Jesus’ blood was on the Jews’ hands. Maybe the Romans actually did it, but the Jewish leadership instigated the whole thing

    Did Calvin, then, murder Servetus?

    >>>that Christians used the fish symbol as a secret code; – what’s the real storya on this one, then?

    It was a popular christian symbol, placed on ancient chariot bumper stickers.

    >>>that the lamb was an important animal in the sacrificial system; – well, it defintiely was for Passover, itself an important part of the sacrificial system once a year

    No, it wasn’t. The passover would have been an adult animal, usually a goat.

    >>>that the Universe was made ex-nihilo; – what? you think the universe itself is co-eternal with God?

    Genesis 1 credits YHVH with making:

    * light
    * a sky structure that separated the waters below from the waters above it
    * causing the dry land to emerge from the bottomless sea;
    * flora and fauna

    The sea and the wind were already there in a chaotic state.

    >>>that there is an original Bible out there; – who thinks that?

    You’d be surprised! Actually, though, the original “Bible” was the Vulgate, though the original has been lost, and the copies have degraded over time.

    >>>that the NT writers spoke Aramaic; – I think the scholarly consensus on this is pretty convincing. Do you think they spoke Greek (likely) or Hebrew (not so likely) or something else?

    The NT writers clearly “thought” in LXX.

    >>>that there was a Jerusalem “Council”; – maybe you can nitpick on the word “council” but there was a big meeting in Jerualem with the church leaders on the question of the Gentiles…call it what you wantI think “council” is a pretty good word for it.

    I call it a “counsel”… James was an apostle, for sure, and when “certain came from James” (or claimed to) it created a stir. A meeting was called to ascertain if this was true, and how James really saw things. It was an *ad hoc* meeting. If that incident had not come up, there would have likely been on communication between Jerusalem and Asia.

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      You are mistaken about stauros. In some contexts it could mean a pole, but plenty of evidence shows they crucified on traditional or on t-shape crosses. Look up some of the more recent data, especially the remains of the 1st century Jew Yehohanan son of Hagakol, who was crucified on a T-shaped cross and still has the nails in his ankle.

      The NT writers quote from the LXX because they wrote to Greek audiences. For some it was their first language, for others their second.

      As I point out elsewhere, there are fish symbols in ancient Christian carvings, just google it. I fail to understand your objection to its antiquity.

  142. Tall Tim says:

    Wow, I’ve taught number 3 before. Thanks for the information!

  143. Tall Tim says:

    Wow, I’ve taught number 3 before. Thanks for the information. Great stuff!!!

  144. William Ross says:

    I also like:

    “In Africa, people get super miracles all the time, by the thousands, because they have such an innocent faith!”

    I’ve been to Africa. Same as here… lots of hoopla, big meetings, everybody dying of AIDS…

  145. Ethan Rogati says:

    My father heard first hand of a dream about Jesus appearing to one of his Muslim students during his time as a missionary in Beirut.

  146. Ralph Mayhew says:

    You say that there isn’t proof but there are people who have been to some of the places you say don’t exist… and they have seen and touched these things.
    Men have devoted their lives to study of the ancient Scrolls and culture, and have concluded many things, some contradictory, fair enough. It seems a little presumptuous for you to come out say they are wrong, unless of course you have devoted more time and effort to the ancient scrolls and original language, cultural customs and landscapes, historical corroborating evidence, etc.
    I have no problem with anyone differing in opinion, It does urk me however when people come out and say, everyone else is wrong! It’s kind of disappointing really. Still I look forward to your response to this. Cheers.

  147. Brian says:

    # 6 is regularly found in some form in scholarly reference works (at least that Jerusalem’s waste was burned there). I think it is unreasonable to call it a legend. It seems to be a respectable scholarly position. Wax may want to challenge that view, but it is not on the level of an urban legend.

  148. Alex says:

    I think he’s wrong about #6. If NT Wright said it then it must be true.

  149. Todd says:

    the rescue stations along the coast story is from Hot Illustrations or More Hot Illustrations for youth. it was published nearly 20 years ago and never claimed to be factual.

  150. Kristen says:

    I would like to see the author repost with some clarifications– First, that he has not found historical evidence of these stories to be true. That is the aim of this post, NOT as many of the commenters believe, to clear up interpretational disputes. Second, to challenge preachers and speakers to make clear differentiation between telling parables of their own (the shipwreck rescue stations), a historical account, scientific fact, statistical fact…
    Thanks to everyone who posted references and links to add to the conversation.

  151. Kathy says:

    This is not an urban myth. Many, many Muslim background believers have had dreams of Jesus that were significant in their conversions. God is gracious.

  152. Wow, I’ve heard this one too!

  153. Josh says:

    Scientifically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly!

    Most stories about Christian women walking through bad neighborhoods being guarded by angels.

    Three Wise Men.

    Connected to that last one, the song “The First Noel” has SO MANY statements that just aren’t true!


    Satanic cults, black masses, and human sacrifice in the 1980s.

    The Curse of Ham caused the black race.

    I heard a teenage Christian the other day claim that atheists believed the Big Bang was “two pieces of space junk hitting each other”.

  154. Josh says:

    Oh, and the atheist professor with the chalk!

  155. Lyn says:

    Respectfully – The Pastor may simply be misinformed and/or didn’t do the research.This is not to be an excuse for error; but let’s not assume a lack of integrity or that the Pastor is lying.

  156. William Ross says:

    This is an urban legend, not about religion, but started by a preacher that you will all be familiar with:

  157. William Ross says:

    The irony with Weems’ story is that his tale about honesty was a lie, perpetrated to sell books!

  158. DaveM says:

    ALL sins are equal to God. If you lie, it is the same as if you committed murder.

  159. Patrick Bestall says:

    Darwin did say “I find it impossible to conceive of a partially evolved eye” before he died. Now what does it mean that we should be like sheep? Those Palestinian sheep do not follow dumbly or blindly but obediently with full understanding. They’re smart enough to dance to music, to go where instructed on their own. And how do we come to the father as a child? Not like today’s kids. Jesus wasn’t talking about blindly accepting, but about intelligently obeying. Kids then did not step out of line or they were stoned.

  160. OUCH… I have propogated a few of these… thanks for the discernment and for clearing this up!

  161. Tim says:

    Daniel I hat to say it, but your Greek understanding is horrible and simply not true.

    The Great Commission is an aorist participle. That means it is a past action that has nothing to do with “as you go.” The proper translation is “Having gone, make disciples.” The commitment is already made before one goes, not one that is made while going. The difference is huge. Christ is the reason we go, and not an addition as we go.

    There certainly is a difference between philos and agape. They are not necessarily synonyms. The end of John 21 is an easy proof text for that. It makes no sense for John to use two different words though the whole text if he simply meant the same thing with each word. There is no reason to go bananas over the difference as they are forms of love, but to say they are the same is irresponsible and poor exegesis.

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      With all due respect, Tim, and especially since you corrected Daniel’s “horrible” exegesis…I am a Greek professor, and would give you several red x’s on a quiz on Matt 28:18.

      1. Aorist participles do not in themselves convey past or prior action
      2. Only indicative past tense verbs convey past time, and even then not consistently
      3. An adverbial participle (“poreutheis”) usually has the sense of the verb it modifies. Hence, “Go…make disciples…baptize…and teach…” are four commands.
      4. From a different angle, we should ask the question, why do thousands of Bible translators and commentators all fall into the “error” of making “go” an imperative in English? Do we think they somehow missed the fact that it is a participle? Or is it more likely tjat they know what they are doing?

    2. Gary Shogren says:

      Irresponsible and poor exegesis. Wow!

      There is a great deal of evidence that John 21 uses the verbs as synonyms. D. A. Carson’s commentary has a good overview.

      And as I mention concerning Matt 28:

      1. Gary Shogren says:

        Got cut off – how come thousands of world class Bible translator render both words as “love” in John 21? Did they simply fail to notice the change of verbs?

        In fact, it’s part of Johannine literary style to use more synonyms than the other NT writers. Turner wrote on his style: On the other hand, John will occasionally use a needless synonym; there are two words each for ‘love, send, heal, ask, speak, do, feed sheep, know’ (references in Howard Fourth Gospel, 278f). There is no apparent point in these synonyms beyond avoiding of monotony, however hard one looks for a subtle distinction. Very occasionally, doubtless, he can be subtle in his distinctions; e.g. ‘hear a voice’ (gen) seems to mean obey 5:25,28 10:3,16 whereas ‘hear a voice (accus) is confined to perception 3:8 5:37. But on the whole the distinctions are pointless.

  162. TL says:

    Guilty as charged on #2. Though I think I read it in What’s so Amazing about Grace by Phillip Yancey

  163. WhiteStone says:

    Stories of missionaries seeing angels. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but I’m saying it cannot be verified, other than their word, and usually that is heresay.

    Or experiencing a stranger appearing at the right moment and verifying afterward, “It must have been an angel.”

    That the excruciating pain of death on the cross should cause my sympathy to overflow and “accept” Christ.

    A little bit different than “urban legends” but…. Singing “When We All Get to Heaven” at the funeral of an atheist.

    That a loved one who has died is now “my angel”. I’ve heard this one from those who profess being a Christian.

    And, hey, how about all those frilly, feminine versions of angels down at the Christian book store. Someone needs to call them out on that one.

    Oops. One more. That version of the nativity scene produced by the makers of Veggie Tales. Yah, I love that one. Glad my kids are grown and gone.

  164. WhiteStone says:

    In my first sentence I meant “hearsay”, not “heresay”, and not to be confused with “heresy”.

  165. jdb1776 says:

    Funny, I was just re-watching Mark Driscoll’s Trial series and he used the story of Voltaire’s house.

  166. Brendan says:

    EVERYTHING a PASTOR SAYS should be FACT checked. My pastor always says…dont take my word for it…read it for yourself and if its not true call me out on it

  167. No, Francis actually said “WHEN necessary use words.” I think that’s an important distinction. Lifestyle evangelism isn’t enough. There has to be a verbal witness.

  168. Pastor Tom says:

    phileo — recriproical kind of love, as between brothers

    agape– is God’s unconditional love

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      Not according to the evidence. How come people agapao the world, or God have phile for us? Both are found in the NT

  169. William Ross says:

    >>>agape– is God’s unconditional love

    Sorry, but not in Koine. And certainly not in the scriptures, where God’s love is completely conditional.

  170. suzy says:

    thank you – I’ve heard it, believed it, repeated it but never checked it – will do now.

  171. Ed Goodman says:

    I’ve always heard that Jesus preached more about hell than about heaven, but it seems that He preached more about the Kingdom of God/Heaven than about hell. That urban legend seems to be very pervasive.

  172. Scott Warren says:

    I don’t know if this makes any difference with #6 but Josiah did desecrate the valley of Hinnom. Turning a place of worship into a dump would definitely desecrate it. Doesn’t prove anything, just curious.
    (2 Kings 23:10)And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech

  173. Gavin says:

    The one about Muslims seeing Jesus in a vision is true. I’ve heard missionaries relate this. I have seen reports and surveys were up to 1 in 4 Muslim converts to Christianity have seen Jesus in dream. And then there is this documentary video called “More Than Dreams”.

    Bear in mind though that these Muslims did not come to Christ because of the vision. Each one of them still needed to hear the gospel and the word of God preached to them. Each one of them read scripture before they believed. But it seems that while we struggle to bring them the good news, God himself is acting to bring them closer through dreams and visions. But it is still the word of God itself that saves, not the dreams or visions.

  174. Joe Blackmon says:

    Laying a 40 pound egg would be some kind of spiritual experience, though…

    Nast-ology!!!! I mean, I’m sitting here eating breatfast and err-thang. LOL

  175. Brett says:

    Proverbs 13:24
    He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

    That one is true.

  176. Lisa says:

    A previous pastor we had gave a message on “spare the rod, spoil the child,” but went on to explain that it was in biblical times and the rod refers to the staff a sheperd used when taking care of his sheep. The rod/staff was used to guide his sheep and urge them in the right direction as well as protect them, but was not used to hit the sheep; therefore, negating the argument some use that God is in favor of spanking. (He went on to say that he had no problem with it, personally, if used judiciously, but that many christians incorrectly quote that verse as proof that the Bible says to spank.) Is that correct, do any of you know?

  177. William Ross says:

    Lisa, it certainly is true that it is never necessary to beat a sheep. Certainly not a lamb! Good point!

    There are other verses that do speak of chastening blows, though I hope they don’t apply to the children:

    Psa 2:9 Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel.

    This is interesting:

    Psa 32:8 I will instruct thee and guide thee in this way wherein thou shalt go: I will fix mine eyes upon thee.
    Psa 32:9 Be ye not as horse and mule, which have no understanding; but thou must constrain their jaws with bit and curb, lest they should come nigh to thee.
    Psa 32:10 Many are the scourges of the sinner: but him that hopes in the Lord mercy shall compass about.

  178. Bill Spence says:

    Agape and phileo – and Jesus spoke Aramaic not Greek so he didn’t use either word in his teaching.

    Dennis | Apr 29, 2011

    Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and Omega”. Alpha and omega are Greek letters that were spoken in the Greek language to the Greek speaking apostle john who wrote down what he heard in Greek.
    Jesus spoke Greek. After all, he is God, and is not limited by language in His ability to communicate His eternal truths.

  179. Very interesting post. But I would have appreciated sources to convince me that it is just an urban legend.

    For exemple, I’ve been hearing for several years now that the “eye of the needle” thing was a legend. But where do you find the definitive answer?

  180. Banxi says:

    Luke uses a different word for needle than the other gospels. Wouldn’t make much sense if “eye of the needle” was a place name. Check the Greek NT. It is your friend.

  181. @Banxi, thanks I’ll have a look.

    Again a reminder that I need to learn Greek!

    But I would still like sources to all the debunkings.

  182. Cyndi says:

    There are only two honest ways to deal with the Greek term “ekklesia.” When it is being used as a word it must be translated “called-out assembly,” or “out-calling.” When it is being used as a title it must be transliterated “ekklesia.” There are no other valid or rational options. The word/title “church” is erroneous as it is neither a translation nor transliteration of the Greek ekklesia/called-out assembly. Worse, the only linguistic basis for “church” is the name of the Anglo-Saxon sungoddess Circe, the daughter of Helios. Her name was pronounced “Chirch,” and it gave rise to the English words “circle” and “circus.” Circles are symbols for the sun and circuses were known for acts of magic. Also, keep in mind that when determining the legacy of ancient words, it’s the consonants which count, not the vowels. “Circe” and “church” are based upon “crc” with the “h” being silent and thus optional.

    Circe is a goddess with an illustrious past. In Greek mythology, Circe was “the daughter of the Sun.” She wore a nimbus or disc of light around her head, identical to the ones you see in paintings of the saints. Homer speaks of the sungoddess in the tenth book of the Odyssey. Circe tells Homer that he must descend into the house of Hades and seek the ghost of the blind Theban prophet Teiresias whose reason, she claimed, was unshaken. Thebes was the religious center of Egyptian sungod worship and considered to be the city of the dead.
    Ekklesia communicates an important truth which the church hides. We are called “out” not “in”. Speaking of the Whore of Babylon, Revelation says: “Come out of her My people.” The called-out assembly has been summoned by Yahowah for the purpose of deliberating – that is to think rationally and discuss carefully His Word so as to provide life-giving advice to mankind. That’s hard to do when we replace His Word with words of our own.

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      With all due respect, you’re wrong on both counts.

      I’ve seen this internet article by Gary Amirault that seeks to prove the Circe theory, but he doesn ‘t have the linguistic qualifications and ends up playing a game of sound-alike. ” Church” does not come from Circe, but like many words, from the German, kirk, which in term comes from the Greek kuriakon, “belonging to the Lord”, since the Greeks called a church “the Lord’s house” or kuriakon dōma.

      And it’s not just the consonants that count, not sure where you get that.

      Ekklesia does not mean “called out” of the world, but simply a convoked assembly, see the Greek dictionary LSJ. The assembly in Acts 19:32, 39, 41 (ekklesia) was not called out of the city, it met in their main theater.

  183. Hodge says:

    Actually, the imperative with a subsequent participle takes on the force of the imperative, but a participle preceding the imperative does not. Hence, the Great Commission actually does say, “As you go . . . ”

    In the context of Matthew, Jesus forgiving sins is a witness to His deity. It just isn’t in the context of John, but I would point more to the claim that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and earth (not just earth, but heaven also, i.e., everything which is the domain of God). It is also clear that, in context, “I and the Father are one” is meant to show Jesus’ relationship with the Father as Son of God (which is says in the context). The term “Son of God” in the context of John refers to His deity (cf. 5:18). Context is king here. You cannot assume that Matthew means the same things that John does. They are different contexts with different authors emphasizing different aspects and uses of words.

  184. John Kennah says:

    Re: #2. Was the temple veil really 3 feet thick?

  185. John Kennah says:

    Interesting. I guess we’ll never know for sure. Perhaps this one should be on TW’s list! Thanks.

  186. Robert says:

    Although, you might want to read Proverbs 22:15; and Proberbs 23:13 & 14; The idea is there.Also Proverbs 29:15;

  187. Robert says:

    I was referring to the “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” comment.

  188. Rob Koshy says:


    Someone sent me this about Voltaire:

    This article says it is true regarding his Geneva house housing bibles. Don’t know what to believe now =).

  189. laura says:

    Please reply about the death of john, It has been preached a LOT that he was tossed in a big container full of burning hot oil and he was disfigured but wouldnt die. that is when they exiled him to patmos island

  190. Amos says:

    What about Mark Driscoll’s assertion that the stick and sponge with vinegar extended to Jesus on the cross had been used in public latrines to wipe fecal material from citizens who had relieved themselves there. Disgusting!

  191. 2Peace says:

    How about every single story I’ve heard in the last 15 years of some faith-healer raising somebody from the dead? Where’s CNN or Fox News when this stuff happened? I’ll wait………

  192. wayman29 says:

    This was very well done. I have herd many on here and at times wondered if anyone did a fact check. I stumbled on your site looking for the facts for the Shepard breaking a sheep’s leg when they ran off. I can’t imagine the Shepard carrying the sheep around his neck ” until the legs healed”. The amount of distances they had to migrate made this sound untrue. I would hate to be the poor guy that had five sheep make a run for it!

  193. @Banxi,

    Regarding the Needle passages: I can find you commentaries and Bible reference tools that give the “door” explanation. The Urban legend has crept in everywhere.

    @Trevin Wax

    This article would become super precious if it included references (more than just other blogs).
    Maybe that’s asking too much, but I know that I would find that useful. As it is, its just you against the “others”.

  194. @Amos

    Any news about the Driscoll thing? This is not a Driscoll bash, but I was surprised no one seemed to ask him for sources (other than his trip).

    Really curious!

  195. Chad Bresson says:

    Almost as popular in sermons as the faux Assisi quote is one Edmund Burke never said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” And like the Assisi quote, regardless of its origin, the theology contained in the quote is dubious.

  196. sowarrior says:

    If I hear “it’s not about religion it’s about relationship” one more time, I’m going to hurl.

    There’s also the one about the painting of the Last Supper by Da Vinci, that used as a model for Jesus a man in a choir and a few years later used as a model for Judas a man in prison only to find out it was the same man. Of course the truth is both were members of the Priory of Zion….LOL.

  197. Robert Gamboe says:

    “It is better to cast your seed into the belly of a whore, than to spill it onto the ground.”

    A few people have told me that the above quote is somewhere in the Bible. I looked up all the verses which include the word “whore” in the KJV (there are fifteen), and not one of them fit the above quote. I used the KJV because it’s the most commonly used version, plus the word “seed” is used instead of “semen.”

  198. David says:

    Voltaire’s home in France you are right was never used in bible distribution, BUT his home in Geneva Switzerland before he moved to France was used at least at one time.–TRUTH-or-MYTH.html

  199. Amanda Cross says:

    I’ve heard 1, 2, & 7 over and over again. I just wonder where do pastors find this information? Has it been printed in study Bibles or commentaries? I’m sure they mean well, but now, I wonder what does the eye of the needle really mean? I was thinking that back then needles may not have been around as we know them today. So how did the word get used in the English translations? Maybe the original word was something we wouldn’t have understood and needle was the most similar term? Idk, I’ll have to do some digging now.

  200. Amanda Cross says:

    Thank you…I get tired of that line too.

  201. Amanda Cross says:

    That some people will not read anything but the KJV. They believe that the KJV came out of the mouth of God. However, they don’t understand that the KJV was translated from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Those were the languages that the words of God were first written down. By the way, several words have fallen out of the English language since the King James was written. Dictionaries update their words, why is it wrong to update God’s word so that modern day readers will understand as well? When is the last time you heard someone on the street say, thou shalt be home by 5pm for dinner? We don’t speak like that anymore. Even people from England do not speak this way.

  202. Monergist says:

    One reader wrote: “Is it even safe to listen to a sermon anymore without fact checking everything said?”

    Nope. Check everything.

    as for the broken leg on the wayward lamb thing; I have been around livestock my whole life, including sheep and goats. I can’t imagine anyone deliberately breaking the leg of an animal that has to graze all day long to survive. It would be a slow, cruel, painful death sentence, and serves no purpose. Sheep have a very strong herd/flock instinct and won’t go more than a few feet from the other sheep unless they are pushed by some outside force (like a dog). Goats are a little more independent, but stay very close to each other, and if they sense danger, they run toward the herd. They just don’t go off on their own. It is not their nature.

    I have been to many, many business and self-help conferences in my life, and heard dozens of silly stories that are heard in many “sermons” these days. Once I hear one of these canned “true stories” I quit listening to the person spouting them. I figure that if they can’t do their research on these kind of obviously ridiculous stories, what kind of research have they done in the scriptures?

  203. I have written about most of these and have provided a fair amount of citations, elaborating on most of them here

  204. Myth says:

    Could any one previous on this site from any and all denominations check out the Know Your Enemy series on the Youtube. Its 77 part series from a guy in Ireland whose American supposedly talking about the New World Order and whose behind it. I’d like input as to whether any of you think its credible or a internet hoax. Oh and about the rfid chip being the mark of the beast, I’d like to know if that is real or a hoax. Thank you.

    1. Gary Shogren says:

      A hoax, or better a conspuracy theory. I have written on the rfid chip and “Obamacare”.

  205. Robin says:

    with regard to the comment on Voltaire … i was searching for validation before sharing it! i saw on one site that voltaire had 2 homes – one in Verney (sp?) France and another in Geneva Switzerland. It is the estate in Geneva that was used for the Bibles – but folks think it is speaking about the one in France which was not. I am going to try to do more research on this.

  206. Tammy Pruitt says:

    Just curious how you prove they are not true? Some of them, seem ridiculous just because; however, one of your claims has rather well documented facts (not just internet research) to back it up. In fact, check out .

    Truth matters and I am not supporting one view over the other. If the scholarship or research is there, I am good; however, I don’t really see it in your article. I am not trying to be antagonistic – just trying to see both sides to make a decision.

    1. Dave Kinsella says:

      I like your way of thinking Tammy, test all things (event that which is testing things!), hold fast that which is true.

  207. David Wayne says:

    One time I heard a preacher tell of George Whitfield walking down the street and he runs into a drunk. The drunk recognizes him and says “Mr. Whitfield, I’m one of your converts.” Whitfield replies, “you must be one of my converts because if you were one of the Lord’s converts you wouldn’t be drunk.”
    A few months later I hear the same story word for word from another preacher only its D. L. Moody in the preacher’s role.

  208. Dave Kinsella says:

    I’ve heard them all except #4. It’s interesting to see which ones people haven’t heard before.

    I’d add the myth that Psalm 118:8 is the center verse of the entire Bible.

    If the website I have provided doesn’t show up you can do a search for “Psalm 118:8 center verse false” or something similar and something should come up, but the Jaalits website seems to do an excellent job of debunking it.

  209. Steve Leigh says:

    Alexander Tytler did not write the “Sequence of Democracy” so often quoted, including by John MacArthur in the 1970’s.

  210. Gary Shogren says:

    Thanks for this!

    I would point out though that most of your examples are not urban legends, but myths. Urban legends – like about the woman who was protected by angels or the professor and the chalk- are “rootless”. They supposedly really happened to a friend of a friend, but in the end they are untraceable.

    Most of the other examples are just plain legendsor mistaken Bible interpretation. Still, it is wrong to pass them along as fact.

  211. Gary Shogren says:

    “Gog and Magog are the Sovirt union…uh, Russia”

    Hal Lindsey popularized the notion that Ezekiel 38-39 were talking about the USSR. Of course the Cold War was in full swing, so why not? But the “research” behind the idea was extraordinaily slipshod.

    Look at any older Bible map and Magig is placed in Western Asia Minor.

  212. Jim says:

    I wanted to use the illustration of counterfeit money being spotted by studying the real thing for a sermon I preached a while back and, wanting to do the right thing, looked it up. I found multiple sources verifying this as the preferred way to spot fake money. If my memory serves the main site was a federal site. I sited the websites and quoted them directly. It sounds like some people are “debunking” some myths with the same methods they are accusing others of using (stating non-fact as fact).

  213. Mike says:

    Wow…so let me get this straight. This guy writes an article about Christian urban legends that presumably sprung up because no one bothered to check the facts, provides little if any evidence for his assertions, and suddenly the comments section is filled with people lauding his conclusions and accepting them as fact. Way to be part of the problem folks.

    1. Gary says:

      I don’t know about the rest, Mike, but I had researched and debunked for myself most of these long ago.

      Besides which, legends such as the lost day and NASA require a level of proof for the person who is asserting a positive, higher than the level of proof to deny it.

  214. Stephen Williams says:

    Hi Trev
    Very interesting but really… surely the whole point of this kind of exercise is to state the sources so others can legitimately verify the truthfulness or otherwise for themselves …yet even here we aren’t doing this….come on

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​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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