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 Urban Myths (Lies) You've Probably Heard From The Pulpit

(This is from Trevin Wax's blog, but I've also read similar lists at other places. I have researched these for myself and found that what is posted here is true... or should I say "false")

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.

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.

 2011/6/6 5:43

Joined: 2006/5/22
Posts: 2674
Nottingham, England

 Re: Urban Myths (Lies) You've Probably Heard From The Pulpit

I think I've heard of most of those, especially the one concerning the camel going through the eye of the needle.

When Jesus said that, to compare with the rich getting into heaven, He meant it.

But people twisting scripture, or misunderstanding it, is nothing new.

There's nothing new under the sun...

 2011/6/6 7:43Profile

Joined: 2011/1/12
Posts: 1372
Lakeland FL

 Re: Urban Myths (Lies) You've Probably Heard From The Pulpit

HOw many more things would be considered urban myths preached from the pulpit? Stuff like this can be enough to disillusion some people to wondering if there is anything true in Christianity.


 2011/6/6 8:29Profile


In the modern "evangelical" fad church... quite a bit. Thats what happens when the man in the pulpit buys his sermons online, preaches to the goats and does silly and stupid things in order to supposedly "attract" the world into the church. Whats ironic is the world looks at such things and sees them for what they are... silly and stupid.


 2011/6/6 9:06

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4535


I have heard some of these, Krispy. I wanted to add the oft-repeated myth that someone "drilled" into Hell.

When I first heard this, I was amazed that anyone would actually have believed such a thing. Yet I have heard four different people (three who are ministers) repeat it.


 2011/6/6 11:27Profile

Joined: 2007/1/15
Posts: 365

 Re: Urban Myths (Lies) You've Probably Heard From The Pulpit

Wow, brother!
I had never heard of #3 and live and learn.

Thanks for posting this.


 2011/6/6 12:27Profile

Joined: 2009/5/15
Posts: 1042
Pacific Ocean


As Christians we should be the most willing to discover and prove that which is good. These are a great lesson on why it is important to Bereanize everything. Not just what the scriptures say, but certainly that above all. I read this blog a month or two ago and was glad to see those myths go. I hope more and more preachers get directed to that link.

Jeremiah Dusenberry

 2011/6/6 12:47Profile

 Re: Urban Myths (Lies) You've Probably Heard From The Pulpit

I must confess I fell for the Voltaire one. And even the NASA. Ok we want talk of my experiences with Area 51. But before I make a further fool of myself. Not that I haven't in this forum I need my betters to correct me on these possible urban myths. Is it true that Madeine Murray O'hare's son was converted to Christ and is a gospel minister? Is it true that Normal MaCorlvey is Roe in Roe vs Wade? Is it true she is converted? Is it true that the recent earthquake in Japan shifted the earth 10 degrees on its axis? Is it true that God has converted muslem terrorist in Saul of Tarsus like experiences? Your answers to these possible urban myths may spare me from possible embarrassment at a dinner fellowship. Though I will continue to embarrass myself in this forum.

 2011/6/6 17:11

Joined: 2009/2/20
Posts: 494
Celina, Texas

 Re: Urban Myths (Lies) You've Probably Heard From The Pulpit

I'll take #2 for $500.00 Can we reference the thickness of the veil? Three feet?

 2011/6/6 17:34Profile

 Re: Veil

I had heard it was 5 feet thick. Or was that cubits?

 2011/6/6 17:54

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