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Something to be happy about

January 16, 2012

What do you think is distinctive about the following paragraph?

Joe was at wits end over the delay by the powers that be in approving his project.  He feared the whole thing would bite the dust.  Frankly he felt that the old guys didn’t understand it.  After all, they were as old as the hills, some of them practically at death’s door, and in discussing such a new technology among themselves they were like the blind leading the blind.  He regretted not trying harder to butter them up but knew that, had they seen through his attempt, they would have his head on a platter.  His best hope was that the proposal would pass by the skin of its teeth. 

Give up?  The entire paragraph was designed to showcase phrases from the King James Version of the Bible.  There are nine separate phrases there that are either direct quotes from the KJV or slight adaptations of things from the KJV.  I will leave it to you to find them.  We may moan about the fact that our society is increasingly Biblically ignorant, and it is, but the truth is that our language, and indeed much of our culture, is still imbued with Biblical references and principles.

Why is this important?  Well, for one thing, it is cool when talking to non-Christians to point out the phrases they use are coming from the Bible.  Here are a few more – “the apple of his eye”, “the haves and the have-nots”, “casting the first stone”, and “thieves in the night.”  I am sure with a little effort you can find many others.

More importantly it illustrates that, while it is essential in talking to unbelievers to ascertain where they are at spiritually and not just launch into a prepared witness presentation, it is easier to find common ground than we might think. People may spout such nonsense as “truth is relative” or “right and wrong is just a personal judgment” but in the end they don’t believe it.  Somebody who has just had their car stolen is sure that it was absolutely wrong. 

All witness starts from a point of agreement.  Telling someone that Jesus died to take away their sins is not a point of agreement to someone who believes in neither Jesus nor sin.  You have to dig for that point of agreement.  But it is not as hard as you might think.  Centuries removed from old King James and decades removed from a time when Christianity was a common foundation for our society, the echoes of the language and remnant of the values are still with us.

So take heart in the fact that even the translators of the KJV still whisper into the ears of the most hardened atheist.

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