The theology of Deputy Barney Fife

Actor Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife
CRIME-BUSTER. Actor Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife from “The Andy Griffith Show,” 1960′s. Photo by Wikimedia.

IT STARTED with yesterday’s blog.

I had mentioned jokingly that I’d have trouble with the Sermon on the Mount if Jesus had the squeaky voice of Deputy Barney Fife.

Then an old friend of mine said Barney’s take on the Jesus line “Go and sin no more” might work just fine:

“Nip it. Nip it in the bud.”

That got me wondering how Barney might react to some of the other teachings in the Bible…or how he might paraphrase them…or what his comeback might be.

So I put him side-by-side with a few Bible verses, just to see what kind of theologian he might make.

I don’t think I’d hire him. But I find him fairly engaging, and sometimes dead-on.

Paul: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11, CEV).

Barney: All I’m saying is that there are some things beyond the ken of mortal man that shouldn’t be tampered with. We don’t know everything, Andy. There’s plenty going on right now in the Twilight Zone that we don’t know anything about and I think we ought to stay clear.

An ancient proverb: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV).

Barney: Well, today’s eight-year-olds are tomorrow’s teenagers. I say this calls for action and now. Nip it in the bud. First sign of youngsters going wrong, you’ve got to nip it in the bud.

Paul: “Be considerate of those who are sensitive” (Romans 15:1, NLT).

Barney: If there’s anything that upsets me, it’s having people say I’m sensitive.

Disciples to Jesus: “Finally! You’re giving it to us straight, in plain talk—no more figures of speech” (John 16:29, The Message).

Barney: I’ll say it right to your face, Otis, you’ve got a pickled liver!

Job: “When he puts someone in prison, there is no escape” (Job 12:14, NLT).

Barney: Boys, when that steel door slams shut, that’s the end of the happy days. No more fishin’, no more ball playin’, no more peanut butter sandwiches.

King of Moab to a seer named Balaam: “A nation has just come here from Egypt [Moses and the Exodus Jews]…. Please come and curse these people for me” (Numbers 22:5-6, NLT).

Barney: “Fly away buzzard, fly away crow, way down south where the winds don’t blow. Rub your nose and give two winks and save us from this awful jinx.”

Jephthah, a hero of the Jews: “‘Say the word shibboleth.’ If the fugitive would say sibboleth, because he couldn’t pronounce the word correctly, they would grab him and kill him at the shallow crossings of the Jordan River” (Judges 12:6, NLT).

Barney: [wearing a motorcycle helmet, leather jacket] If you ride with your mouth open in the wind and put your tongue against the roof of your mouth, it’s impossible to pronounce a word that begins with the letter ‘s.’

Jesus: “Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow” (Matthew
5:42, GWT).

Barney: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Can you let me have $5?

God: “Show respect to old people; stand up in their presence” (Leviticus 19:32, NCV).

Barney: Oh boy, you’re just full of fun today, aren’t ya? Why don’t we go up to the old people’s home and wax the steps?


P.S. See also the Theology of Sheriff Andy Taylor.


  1. Sherry Mosher says

    Oh, Steve, this is a riot! How in the world did you get or remember all those Barney quotes? Too much fun!
    By the way, as an answer back to Kenneth, I do know if Gomer had been at The Creation I can guarantee he would have said either “Shazam!” or “Well, Gooollleee!” ;-)

    • says

      Thanks, Sherry. Actually, I didn’t remember all of those Barney Fife quotes. I looked them up. Then I thought about Bible verses they might track with.

      So I started with Barney and ended with the Bible, and then reversed the order when I wrote it all up.

      I think preachers ought to give Barney a try. It could make their sermons more interesting.


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