LEGENDS AT THE
would seem impossible that General Sheridan, Civil War hero, and his horse Rienzi
would have anything in common with Bible believers today, right?
read on, and you will plainly see that we and that horse may have much in common.
The main target of this article is pastors. Having pastored four churches, and
been a missionary speaking in churches all over the USA, I know all too well the
temptation to use stories that I could not prove were true if my life depended
worst horror is that there are thousands of pastors around the world who regularly
tell stories they KNOW are not true. If you do this, whether in the pulpit or
in the coffee shop, you need to examine yourself thoughtfully.
do people tell urban legends and false tales? Virtually all of the time it is
because we all want to seem to be amusing, exciting, and heroic. Urban legends,
especially if "it happened to me," give us maximum attention from the
listener. The Bible hits this sin right on target:
1:16 (KJV) These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and
their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration
because of advantage.|
a saint and editor mourns the passing of some famous preacher who was a great
story teller when he crosses over into the eternity. His friends assumed he joined
the celestial quorum, and that he is tearing up heaven with stories of his great
accomplishments. Some, hearing of his passing, sigh, and they wonder if God will
even let him tell all those stories when we all are raised eternally into the
is not the duty of the saints who remain behind to determine where a professing
Christian goes at death. If that alleged saint trusted for his soul's salvation
in Jesus, who is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, then his place at the
throne of God is secure. His folly in this life, twixt confession of faith and
death, has no bearing on his destiny. If it were not so, we would all be damned,
for in many ways we do all offend.
the blessed hope of the "security of the believer" is not a license
in this life to wander the earth telling lies and tales that never happened.
the legacy of the saints. Some seem obscure and leave a simple legacy of good
works and quiet faithfulness. Others leave a legacy of legend, and they are often
followed with white hot zeal by their former disciples. Some saints, especially
preachers and evangelists and politicians, know that your fame after your death
will be secure if you told loads of cool stories which people will quote. Teach
the Word Faithfully, and men soon forget you. This is as it should be, for the
Word of God is meant to give GOD the glory, not the teacher.
need to examine these urban legends at the church house and over the dinner table
at the church picnic. Pastors and church members by the thousands swoon and shout
"Glory" at the mere mention of the name of some recently deceased church
house story teller. It becomes urgent that we see if church house urban legend
tellers are as worthy of adulation as we assume.
NOTE ON EXALTING MEN
Job's friend with compassion, said this about exalting men:
32:21 (KJV) Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give
flattering titles unto man.
22 For I know not to give flattering titles; in
so doing my maker would soon take me away.
warned of the trap of flattery and praise of men.
6:26 (KJV) Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their
fathers to the false prophets.
are warned in strong language about flattery.
Thessalonians 2:4 (KJV) But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with
the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke
of covetousness; God is witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of
you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of
26:28 (KJV) A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering
mouth worketh ruin.
by any chance, the urban legends and suspect sermon illustrations are myths and
lies, then great ruin is being done to thousands of saints who trust these teachers
EVOLUTION OF A LEGEND
want to show you how legends evolve. I could send you to the Koran and the Hadith
of Mohammed (his sayings which are part of Islamic canon), but you would miss
the point since we Anglo Saxons learn nothing from other cultures. We are much
too arrogant. I assure you though that the Hadith of Mohammed are the most entertaining
nonsense of urban legend since The Arabian Nights.
we call on a classic Anglo Saxon humorist whom I particulary am fond of. [Rush
Limbaugh recently declared that dangling prepositions are perfectly OK, so I use
a few as you can see]
of us missed the passing of General Sheridan's horse, Rienzi. No doubt you were
not aware of the great horse's last days and untimely passing, and some of us
were not even able to join in the great fratricide called the Civil War, a very
UNcivil event. Had we been there, I have no doubt that most of us war like Baptists
would have climbed on our soap boxes and screamed for blood and mayhem. Then we
would have gladly held the coat of some "volunteer" while he went to
Gettysburg and filled the grass with gore. I say this because I hear so many Baptist
preachers today screaming for the massacre of half the Middle East, but I have
yet to meet one who has "joined up" to go to battle.
satirist is Bill Nye of Laramie, Wyoming. You will see exactly what I am talking
about in this discussion of the legend of General Sheridan's famous horse, Rienzi:
General Sheridan�s Horse
By Bill Nye -- C. 1885
I have always taken a great interest in (Civil) War incidents, and more so, perhaps,
because I wasn�t old enough to put down the rebellion myself. I have been very
eager to get hold of and hoard up in my memory all its gallant deeds of both sides,
and to know the history of those who figured prominently in that great conflict
has been one of my ambitions.
I have also watched with interest the steady advancement of Phil Sheridan, the
black-eyed warrior with the florid face and the Winchester record. I have also
taken some pains to investigate the later history of the old Winchester war horse.
died in our stable a few years after the war,� said a Chicago livery man to me,
a short time ago. �General Sheridan left him with us and instructed us to take
good care of him, which we did, but he got old at last, and his teeth failed upon
him, and that busted his digestion, and he kind of died of old age, I reckon.�
General Sheridan take it?�
well, Phil Sheridan is no school girl. He didn�t turn away when old Rienzi died
and weep the manger full of scalding regret. If you know Sheridan, you know that
he don�t rip the blue dome of heaven wide open with unavailing wails. He just
told us to take care of its remains, patted the old cuss on the head a little
and walked off. Phil Sheridan don�t go around weeping softly into a pink bordered
wipe when a horse dies. He likes a good horse, but Rienzi was no Jay-Eye-See for
swiftness, and he wasn�t the purtiest horse you ever see, by no means.�
�Did you read lately how
General Sheridan don�t ride on horseback since his old war horse died, and seems
to have lost all interest in horses?�
I never did. He no doubt would rather ride in a cable car or a carriage than to
jar himself up on a horse. That�s all likely enough, but, as I say, he�s a matter
of fact little fighter from Fighttown. He never stopped to snoot and paw up the
ground and sob himself into bronchitis over old Rienzi. He went right on about
his business, and, like old King What�s-His-name he hollered for another hoss,
and the War Department never slipped a cog.�
Later on I read that the old war horse was called Winchester and that he was still
alive in a blue grass pasture in Kentucky. The report said that old Winchester
wasn�t very coltish, and that he was evidently failing. I gathered the idea that
he was wearing store teeth, and that his memory was a little deficient, but that
he might live yet for years.
that I met a New York livery stable prince, at whose palace General Sheridan�s
well-known Winchester war horse died of botts in �71. He told me all about it
and how General Sheridan came on from Chicago at the time, and held the horse�s
head in his lap while the fleet limbs that flew from Winchester down and saved
the day, stiffened in the great, mysterious repose of death. He said Sheridan
wept like a child, and as he told the touching tale to me I wept also. I say I
wept. I wept about a quart, I would say. He said also that the horse�s name wasn�t
Winchester nor Rienzi; it was Jim.
I was sorry to know it. Jim is no name for a war horse who won a victory and a
marble bust and a poem. You can�t respect a horse much if his name was Jim.
After that I found out that General Sheridan�s celebrated Winchester horse was
raised in Kentucky, also in Pennsylvania and Michigan; that he went out as a volunteer
private; that he was in the regular service prior to the war, and that he was
drafted, and that he died on the field of battle, in a sorrel pasture, in �73,
in great pain on Governor�s Island; that he was buried with Masonic honors by
the Good Knight Templars and the Grand Army of the Republic; that he was resurrected
by a medical college and dissected; that he was cremated in New Orleans and taxidermed
for the Military Museum at New York. Every little while I run up against a new
fact relative to this noted beast. He has died in nine different States, and been
buried in thirteen different styles, while his soul goes marching on. Evidently
we live in an age of information. You can get more information nowadays, such
as it is, than you know what to do with.
a master of wit Bill Nye was.
TELLERS AT THE CHURCH HOUSE
In the above collection of legends, who was the guilty culprit? Answer: The men
who made up the tales of heroism to tailor fit their own lives so that they would
look good or seem to be authorities. The horse was not responsible for any of
the folly. With church house story tellers, the myths and legends are the responsibility
of both the story teller AND his disciples who remain behind to retell the stories
and expand the glory of a story teller.
have personally heard preachers and evangelists tell many such stories which I
know were lies, and I have heard the stories told by gullible disciples of these
SOULS A WEEK
is claimed that one well known preacher lead 300 people to confession of Christ
every week. We sat down and figured out how much time he would use doing various
tasks of life, and we included time for travel which he claims is much. We came
up with 20 to 30 minutes per soul won. That does not allow for any of them refusing
the Gospel. If he did not win every person he allegedly witnessed to, the 300
who believed would have to be won in as little as ten minutes each.
claim is then 100% a lie. It also means that the preacher does NOT intend to tell
the truth, for he heard people introduce him for years making this claim. He could
have corrected it anywhere along the way, but he needed the legend to look mightier
than other pastors and evangelists. This is not just naughty, it is devilish.
OF THE VULTURES IN ISRAEL
heard a number of years ago that the vultures in Israel were laying five eggs
a year instead of only one. This was then applied to give the listener another
proof that the Rapture of the Church was imminent, and the Battle of Armageddon
was just around the corner. The vultures were assumed to be getting ready to eat
the dead bodies on the plains of Armageddon.
is NOT in the Word of God so that we have a neat way to keep people paying attention.
Nowhere are we commanded to preach the prophecy to every creature. Prophecy is
in the Word of God so we can say, "Look here, this Bible prophecy, written
in the Bible three thousand years ago, was fulfilled by Jesus Christ." The
prophecies of the future are to either give hope to the Church, as with the Rapture
teaching, or to give a sign to the Jews during the last days AFTER the Rapture
of the Church, such as the prophecies about the Antichrist.
error of lusting to predict the day and the hour of Christ's coming for his Bride,
the Church, has hatched all these damnable urban legends and a lot of stupid charts
that can be stretched across the front of a church house for 30 feet during a
HOLE INTO HELL
years ago a story went around that Russian scientists have dug some super deep
research hole into the earth. The story was picked up by Art Bell and his radio
show and spread around he USA. The claim was that when the Russians reached a
certain depth, they dropped a microphone into the hole, and they heard human voices
screaming and wailing.
ministers loved to use this story with youth groups in churches, and a girl in
our church was told the story at a youth camp. She came home in horror because
her grandfather had never confessed faith in Jesus Christ, and her imagination
told her that the Russians may have heard her granddaddy screaming.
does not take long to see the utter insanity of this story, but the urban legend
was told over and over by wide eyed pastors and Sunday School teachers.
self-proclaimed archaeologist cum Christian zeal, some years back, claimed to
have found the city of Sodom, the Red Sea crossing, the Ark of the Covenant, and
other proofs of the Bible's truth. Never mind that real archaeologists have spent
whole life times looking for such things, only to end their days with a couple
clay bowls that might have belonged to Nebuchadnezzar's great uncle twice removed.
tale this inventor of urban legends told was that he and his two sons went swimming
one day in the sea in the Middle East, and they found a golden chariot wheel that
came off of Pharaoh's chariot. This man was touted by thousands of pastors as
a hero and a great boon to the Lord's Church. In the end, the man claimed that
Ellen G White of the Seventh Day Adventists was his original inspiration to go
digging in the Middle East.
Baptist pastors had egg on their gullible faces.
LORD JESUS CHRIST AND STORY TELLING
we were talking about Jesus and his teaching and story telling. We concluded the
told parables. The names, with the exception of the beggar Lazarus and Abraham,
were not given. They were real life examples of what Jesus was teaching at the
moment, and nothing more. They ONLY illustrated truth, and did not draw attention
preachers and teachers tell true stories. Some avoid this, but nearly all of us
have done this, and it seems to serve the purpose. True stories prove they are
true, they prove the story teller has credibility, and they usually teach a truth.
So, if Jesus did not add details to prove the parable happened, why do we not
tell more parables?
13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went
forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the
fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they
had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they
had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns
sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought
forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9 Who hath
ears to hear, let him hear.
parable did not tell of something in particular, an event in time. It was a story
simply organizing a scene the listeners had seen hundreds of times as they walked
the paths of Galilee. The object was not to be exciting or even give credibility
to Jesus. The whole point was to "throw along side" a story that would
illustrate a truth. Parable means "throw along side."
when we stand in the pulpit or teach in our homes, what is our objective? Do we
want to teach truth, or do we want to create and exciting moment? Do NOT get me
wrong-- story telling is very powerful stuff, and men in particular learn a lot
better if stories and illustrations are included. Ladies, the shrinks tell us,
can take in truth without illustrations better than men. That is why the girls
in sixth grade learn math by the rules, and the boys never catch it until you
tell them, "If I had six candy bars and ten friends etc etc."
Jesus told parables constantly:
13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without
a parable spake he not unto them:
Jesus did NOT tell stories in the model of modern preachers and teachers. We cannot
avoid the singular contrast in this fact. There is something here about WHY we
tell stories. We need to get it very clear and alter our method to come in line
with Jesus' method. There are thousands of parables available to us in every day
life if we would just think about it.
would be rather dull without legends, tales, and stories. I sure love them, and
I love to listen to men whom I trust tell about "the good old days"
and other places and other times. But , when we stand before the saints, or teach
our children about the Gospel and the truth of the Bible, we must learn to make
sure that our illustrations are not more exciting then the Gospel or the Lord
Jesus Christ himself. He is the true story, therefore, our parables, which we
throw along side the truth, better be true and better lift up our Lord.
is the height of hypocrisy to claim we are defenders and disseminators of the
truth once delivered to the saints, and then support it with urban legends that
we cannot prove are true, or worse, we KNOW are not true.
12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of
Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister,
let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be
glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.
saint! Are you the oracle of God when you teach the Word, or are you just another
talking head? Do you crave to be quoted, or do you crave to see saints edified
and, "... that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ"?
20:36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face
no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
Acts 20 from the first verse. Paul taught the people all night long. Paul loved
to teach. He used a handful of parables in his epistles, but that night with the
Ephesian saints, Paul did not tell one parable that we know of except that "that
after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."
you say that telling lies to prove the truth is somewhat like a wolf?
I hear the whisper of the Serpent, "... ye shall be like God."
Ride by Thomas Buchanan Read
SHERIDAN ABOUT HIS HORSE
OF BILL NYE'S HUMOR
TO MORAL ISSUES
TO THE WAR ROOM
TO OPENING PAGE OF THE JOURNAL