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One of the most amazing and perplexing features of mainstream Christianity is that seminarians who learn the historical-critical method in their Bible classes appear to forget all about it when it comes time for them to be pastors. They are taught critical approaches to Scripture, they learn about the discrepancies and contradictions, they discover all sorts of historical errors and mistakes, they come to realize that it is difficult to know whether Moses existed or what Jesus actually said and did, they find that there are other books that were at one time considered canonical but that ultimately did not become part of Scripture (for example, other Gospels and Apocalypses), they come to recognize that a good number of the books of the Bible are pseudonymous (for example, written in the name of an apostle by someone else), that in fact we don’t have the original copies of any of the biblical books but only copies made centuries later, all of which have been altered. They learn all this, and yet when they enter church ministry they appear to put it back on the shelf.

Bart Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman (b. 1955) American Biblical scholar, author
Jesus, Interrupted, ch. 1 “A Historical Assault on Faith” (2009)
Added on 6-Jun-24 | Last updated 6-Jun-24
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It is the speculations of crazy theologists which have made a Babel of a religion the most moral and sublime ever preached to man, and calculated to heal, and not to create differences. These religious animosities I impute to those who call themselves his ministers, and who engraft their casuistries on the stock of his simple precepts. I am sometimes more angry with them than is authorised by the blessed charities which he preached.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Ezra Styles Ely (25 Jun 1819)
Added on 10-Oct-22 | Last updated 10-Oct-22
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I don’t have anything against God. Far from it. But I don’t understand Him. And I don’t trust a lot of the people that go around claiming that they’re working in His best interests.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Grave Peril, ch. 24 (2008)
Added on 27-Jan-15 | Last updated 27-Jan-15
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An upright minister asks, what recommends a man; a corrupt minister, who.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer, aphorist
Lacon: Or, Many Things in Few Words, Vol. 1, § 9 (1820)

Referring to government ministers and office-holders.
Added on 20-Jul-12 | Last updated 1-May-24
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What I call a great minister is one who employs the Way in serving his sovereign. If he cannot do that, he resigns.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 11, verse 24, sec. 3 (11.24.3) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Hinton (1998)]

Numbered 11.23 by Legge and other early translators, as noted. More recent translators use 11.24, though some use 11.22. All are noted below.

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

What is called a great minister is one who serves his prince according to what is right; and when he finds he cannot do so, retires.
[tr. Legge (1861), 11.23]

Those whom we call 'great ministers' are such as serve their prince conscientiously, and who, when they cannot do so, retire.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 11.23]

Men I call statesmen are those who will serve their master according to their sense of duty; who, however, when they find they cannot do that, consistently, with their sense of duty, will resign.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

He who may be called a great minister is one who serves his Prince according to the right, and when that cannot be, resigns.
[tr. Soothill (1910) 11.23]

You call a man a great minister when be serves his prince honestly. and retires when he cannot.
[tr. Pound (1933), 11.23]

What I call a great minister is one who will only serve is prince while he can do so without infringement of the Way, and as soon as this is impossible, resigns.
[tr. Waley (1938), 11.23]

The so-called great minister serves his prince in keeping with The Right Way, and if that is impossible, he quits his post.
[tr. Ware (1950), 11.22]

The term "great minister" refers to those who serve their lord according to the Way and who, when this is no longer possible, relinquish office.
[tr. Lau (1979), 11.24]

What I call a great minister serves his ruler in accordance with the Way, and when it is impossible to do so he resigns.
[tr. Dawson (1993), 11.22]

A great minister is a minister who serves his lord by following the Way, and who resigns as soon as the two are no longer reconcilable.
[tr. Leys (1997), 11.24]

Those who are called great ministers use the Way to serve the sovereign. If thye cannot, they should then stop.
[tr. Huang (1997), 11.22]

The persons named as the Great Officials, should service the Lords with the benevolent way, and stop if the way does not work.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #284, 11.24]

What are called great ministers are those who serve their lord with the way [dao], and when they cannot, resign.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998), 11.24]

Those whom one calls great ministers serve their ruler according to the Way, and when they can no longer, they stop.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 11:22]

What we call "great ministers" are those who seek to serve their lord by means of the Way, and who resign if unable to do so.
[tr. Slingerland (2003), 11.24]

The term “great minister” applies to someone who serves the ruler according to the Way. If he cannot do that, he retires.
[tr. Watson (2007), 11.24]

The term "great ministers" applies to those who serve their lord in a moral way. If they simply cannot, then they stop.
[tr. Chin (2014), 11.24]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-May-23
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