Why many marketing gurus should avoid quoting the Bible

From my teenage years on, I have noticed that many of the bible quotations in self-help, sales and marketing books are complete distortions of the original meaning of the passage. Thus the author's rapport with his reader is destroyed and the credibility of the author's message damaged.

At this point, some readers of this article are probably saying to themselves, religious people do not agree as to the meaning of the Bible. Actually, in my experience, in those religious groups where independent bible study is encouraged, the differences regarding the meanings of over 90% of Bible passages are minimal to non-existent. The differences which exist tend to be over theological issues and hermeneutical paradigms and not over the meaning of most Bible passages. ( Now it is true, that there are religious groups which discourage independent study and which emphasize the current edicts and dictates of the hierarchy, but that is usually because they are trying to manipulate the meaning of the Bible to suit an agenda rather than adjusting their agenda to be in conformity to the Bible. )

Sales gurus tend to start with an agenda or a concept which they wish to promote and then they try to find a bible passage which corroborates their agenda. The problem with this approach is that Mankind's capacity to convince himself of the legitimacy of what he DESIRES is limitless. If you desire that comething be true, it is difficult for many people to examine the facts without allowing their desire to corrupt their conclusions.

The sales guru who uses the bible to corroborate a predetermined message may create a short term success with the biblically illiterate but creates long-term dissonance with those who do read and study scripture. The guru's credibility is slowly eroded because he or she demonstrates a degree of unreliability each time that they misuse a bible passage.

Recently, I heard John Di Limme speak in Atlanta. He referenced the Bible several times and as he did I kept becoming more and more uncomfortable with his message. Not because he was making Bible references but because his references were so offbase. As an example, he referenced what is said in I Timothy 6:9,10 regarding money. The statements that he made about the passage were damaged by the fact that the passage is talking about a Desire or an Obsession or an Addiction or a Love - and not about the actual possession of money. He said that the Bible does not say that money is the root of every evil but that it says that money is a root of evil. Well the fact is that it does not say either one of these things. It says that the desire to become wealthy and the love of money is a root of evil. Poor people can be infected by this disease and it is possible for a wealthy person to be wealthy without having a love of money.

Another time he referenced a story which he said was from the Bible, well unless it is part of the Apochrypha which as a child, Mr. Di Lemme would have been taught was part of the Bible, I have no idea where he got the idea that such an event was in the Bible. However, not being very familiar with the stories contained in the Apochrypha, it is possible that the story may have come from there.

Today I ran across an article on the Fast Company website. I completely agreed with the article's message except for the author's use of "The Golden Rule." (Jesus was not suggesting that a christian should treat everyone else as if they had the same personality, the same interests and the same cultural backgrounds.) By referencing Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31, the author destroyed the rapport which he otherwise would have made with me as a reader.

NLP practicioners and coaches, such as Tony Robbins, talk a lot about patterning as a way of building rapport quickly. Let me point out that creating dissonance and introducing contextually abused quotations is a quick way to destroy rapport.


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