Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 12 No. 12 December 2010
Page 6

Humbugged

Donald R. Fox

Donald R. FoxP.T. Barnum (1810-1891) has been credited with the following statement: “The public likes to be humbugged.” He was a showman of early circus fame here in America. He also is known as the “19th century American huckster.” Barnum created the “Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, and Caravan & Hippodrome.” This traveling circus was billed as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines “humbugged” in part as: “Something made or done to cheat or deceive; fraud; sham; hoax; misleading; dishonest; or empty talk. A dishonest person; person who does not live up to his claims; impostor. A spirit of trickery, deception, etc.” Further, Webster defines huckster in part as: “A hawker of wares; a mean, haggling tradesman; tricky, mercenary peddler; an advertising man, etc.”

P.T. Barnum was after folk’s money. Entertainment was his ways and means to get into the pockets of the public. For the most part, folks came away from his shows highly entertained. Did they know that the master of humbugger humbugged them? I would suggest they knew or they didn’t care. They enjoyed the show! In the late 1930’s, my father took my younger sister, Kathleen and me to Manhattan to see the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. I remember seeing “Gargantuan the Great” (1929-1949). He was a low land gorilla, but I understand he wasn’t that terrible. Another sideshow favorite was the giant of a man, very tall. He dressed like a cowboy and was selling cheap rings. He would take them off and sell them. They were quite large. My Dad bought one of his rings for us kids. I am not sure, but the tall man could have been Robert Pershing Wadlow (1918-1940), the tallest man in medical history. Mr. Wadlow was 8 feet 11.1 inches and weighed 490 pounds. He toured with Ringling Brothers about the timeframe when we saw the circus. You know P.T. Barnum may have been right, “The public likes to be humbugged.”

Beware of Religious Humbuggery

We must guard against those that desire to mislead in order to make gain and remove our hard earned money from us. However, it could be worse. There are those that will take our money and also plant seeds of religious quackery in our lives. Note what the apostle John wrote, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). There are many people who fit the definition of a humbugger and a huckster. This is done through false religious claims, and because of this trickery, they will deceive many that do not “try the spirits whether they are of God.” “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).


Am I Good Enough?

David A. Sargent

David A. SargentAn old story is told about three men who meet at the end of a dock on a Florida beach. One was an alcoholic and homeless. The second man was just an average guy. The third man was a fine, honorable man, well respected in the community. Suddenly the alcoholic ran and jumped off the edge of the dock, landing five feet out into the water. The other two men standing on the dock yelled, “What are you trying to do?” The man in the water yelled back, “I’m trying to jump across the Atlantic Ocean!” The second man, the average Joe, said, “Watch me. I can do better than that!” He quickly ran across the dock, jumped and landed 10 feet out into the water, twice as far as the alcoholic. The third man, the outstanding man, laughed and said, “That’s nothing. Watch this!” He backs up about 50 feet and made a mad dash across the dock out into the water and landed 20 feet out, twice as far as average Joe, and four times as far as the homeless alcoholic.

If we were to actually see such an attempt, we would think these three men were crazy for attempting to do the impossible – jump across the Atlantic Ocean! However, people trying to earn their own salvation are even more foolish. After sharing the story above, Howell Ferguson provided the following insights: “God can’t be approached by man on the basis of man’s own moral goodness. Sometimes people are heard to say, “I’m a good person! Won’t God accept me and bring me to heaven?” This question shows a woeful lack of understanding of the grave nature of an individual’s sin and the absolute holiness of God. If we were so good that we deserved heaven, salvation would be owed as a debt rather than something to be received as a gift of grace (cf. Romans 11:6).

One truth that is made absolutely clear in the Bible is this: ‘No, God will not accept me, because I am not a good person.’ Isaiah wrote, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins carry us away” (Isaiah 64:6). A person may look moral when compared with other people, but when compared with Christ, all people fall perilously short. This is why Paul states, “For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No matter how moral any person might be, he has fallen short of the perfect mark of God’s righteousness. The only way anyone can stand in the presence of a righteous God is to be forgiven and declared righteous by faith in God’s work in Christ (Philippians 3:9).

We are only accepted “in the beloved” because we believe and trust in the righteous work that He did (Ephesians 1:6).” To be found “in the beloved” (in Christ), we must place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27). None of us can be “good enough” to earn our way to heaven. Only through Christ can we enter the heavenly way (see John 14:6). Won’t you trust and obey Him today?


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