Tuesday, May 23, 2006

God helps those who help themselves...

...or so the saying goes. This bit of wisdom (?) rings like an Americanism to me. Certainly the Biblical testimony offers other possibilities: "I was helpless so he saved me [Ps. 114/116]" or, "those whose spirit is crushed he will save [another Psalm]." The first translation is perhaps a bit overstated (the Hebrew suggests "I was poor"), but then again, I wouldn't have made the connection without it. In any case, the popular phrase is not without a touch of Pelagianism, the heresy that we can save ourselves by just keeping the law, and that grace 'crowns' our achievements. More immediately, the phrase resonates with my sense of popular Calvinism, as suggested by The Protestant Work Ethic.


The Archer of the Forest said...

I ran into that all the time when I was a chaplain doing Clinical Pastoral Education in a hospital. I always wondered where that came from because as far as I can tell, it is not scriptural. That's ironic since it comes from the predestination, sola scriptura crowd.

Anonymous said...

I believe it originated with Ben Franklin (http://en.thinkexist.com/quotation/god_helps_those_who_help_themselves/154978.html.

Lots of Christians use this quote, and I've heard it used to actually counter Matthew 7:33.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant Matthew 6:33 ;-)


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