Living in a world of lies and deception we all have come into contact with ridiculous superstitions, manipulative religious zealots, failed gossip games of telephone, and outright lies.
There are misunderstandings about everything in the world but perhaps one of the most misunderstood and twisted out-of-context in today’s postmodern world is Christianity.
Today we will be examining seven popular myths about Christianity in an effort to promote truth and sound Biblical teaching. In no particular order I hope to dispel these myths with both scripture and sound reasoning.
1. Being Good gets you to Heaven
No, no, no, and absolutely NOT! Over and over again, the Bible emphatically teaches that it is impossible for anyone to earn their way into Heaven (Ecc 7:20, Rom 3:10, 23, James 2:10). Jesus did not teach the world to live a good and moral life because that is how we earn God’s approval. Rather, He taught the opposite: Jesus came to redeem the world because of God’s love for us (John 3:16, Rom 5:8). Our acceptance of that free gift through belief and faith alone can save us from Hell (John 10:9, Gal 3:24).
Any goodness we exuberate comes only from God and God alone (James 1:17): we are born into sin and are unable to perform righteousness on our own power (Psa 51:5, 58:3, Eph 2:3). God did not create us to be “good people” but rather to be people who enjoy His goodness and allow it to flow through us. Therefore a good and moral life comes from God when we accept Him, not the other way around.
2. Claiming in Jesus’ Name
New Thought as both a philosophical and religious movement has given us many poisonous ideas about how the world works and how we interact with it. Particularly, the law of attraction is the idea that thinking and speaking positive ideas will bring us good things in life, essentially speaking your own reality into existence.
Some extremely twisted theologians have taken this idea and applied it to Christianity. Although the Bible does tell us that God will give us the desires of our heart if we only ask (Psa 37:4, John 11:22, 14:13, Mat 6:33, Luke 12:31), saying that you can “claim” whatever you want in the name of Jesus and receive it from Him is a massively perverted defamation of scripture and is simply not sound Christian doctrine (see Jer 23:30-32).
God gives us (both material and immaterial) blessings when we seek Him because He is a generous God; He is not a magical genie we can take out of a bottle and use for our own selfish gain (Gal 6:7, Mat 6:24).
Outside of psychological phenomena such as the placebo effect and the self-fulfilling prophecy (and perhaps a purely sociological idea of karma in the form of reputation), metaphysical ideas such as the aforementioned law of attraction hold no credence scientifically, theologically, or Biblically.
3. Drinking Alcohol is a Horrible Sin
Despite the fact that throughout the Bible (including the old testament) drinking alcohol is not condemned (Ecc 9:7, Deut 14:26), that Jesus turned water into wine, and that Paul recommended Timothy drink wine for his stomach (1 Tim 5:23), it remains to be a common misconception that Christianity is anti-alcohol and that total and extreme sobriety is required under all circumstances.
Although the Bible does clearly warn against alcoholism and drunkenness over and over (Prov 20:1, Eph 5:18, 1 Cor 6:10), scripture does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol. The Bible also warns against gluttony and greed, but how many pastors teach not to eat food or use money? The Bible encourages us to be sober, awake, and of sound mind, but taking this to the extreme would also mean it’s sinful to be sleepy, or drugged during surgery.
I am not taking an extreme antinomian stance here saying that our freedom in Christ allows us to do whatever we want (Rom 6:1-4). Indeed, we should be very cautious with substances like alcohol and not allow it to adversely affect our lives. Some people with alcoholic tendencies or addictive personalities should completely abstain from alcohol to protect themselves, and their friends should avoid drinking around them to avoid “making their brother stumble” (Rom 14:13). However, alcohol can be used as a tool for fellowship and to enjoy the goodness of God. All in all alcohol is not something we should worship, but it is not a grave sin to partake in it either.
4. Christianity is Restrictive
It’s common to hear people claim that Christianity is about suppressing desire and avoiding pleasure. While proper structure and discipline is important to effectively live a life acceptable to God (Prov 12:1, 1 Cor 9:27), the images of Catholic school from movies and television do not represent an accurate image of the way God treats us and expects us to be.
The “rules” given to us in the Bible do not exist to bully and constrict us. Rather they exist first to show us how flawed we are as humans and that we need a savior (Gal 3:19).
Second, they present a standard of morality for us to strive toward. Although we are unable to be fully moral beings (see myth #1) we can see God’s ideals for us and work toward that ideal by abiding in Him. This brings us closer to Him.
Third, they are in place to protect us. God doesn’t forbid us from murder because He is restrictive and wants to keep us from having fun. Instead, God’s message to us is that our lives will be better if we are not freely killing one another.
Being saved by and having a relationship with Christ is actually the most freeing experience one can ever have (Gal 5:1). Through obedience God lifts us up to “soar on wings like eagles” and makes us eternally free in Him (Isa 40:31). While there are certain guidelines and rules we should all follow, each man should live according to his own convictions given to him by God (Rom 14).
In other words, all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial (1 Cor 10:23). We should certainly run from sin, but we should also realize that we cannot be truly sinless until we pass from this life and are with God in His kingdom.
5. All Christians are Conservatives/Republicans
*Author’s Note: Since I am only familiar with the major political parties and ideologies in the United States and not other countries, this myth only refers to Christians in the US.*
The interesting thing about labels is that they make it so easy to separate and compartmentalize people. Although the “conservative Christian” is a popular social stigma that is admittedly applicable to many American Christians, the truth is that Christians across the US have a very wide range of sociopolitical belief systems.
Living in Oklahoma, the most conservative of the red states, I have met leftist, centrist, and right-winged Christians. Although I have not been able to find recent and detailed studies about the particular political beliefs of Christians, I can tell you from personal experience that for every five right-winged Christians there are at least three more who are not.
Next to conservative, I would say that the second most common political ideology of Christians is one that is non-existent: that is to say that the runner-up to a republican registration among Christians is not being registered at all. Many Christians are apolitical and do not participate in politics at all or have few if any political beliefs. It is also worth mentioning that there are many Christians who consider themselves to be conservatives or republicans out of convenience or social advantage, and I think it is questionable whether these people are truly conservative.
6. All Christian Music Sucks
It’s a running joke among Christians and non-Christians alike: Christian music is the worst. It is at best a whitewashed and religious version of regular pop music with trendy Christian terms thrown in. At worst, it’s a bunch of shallow prom songs to Jesus with bad dancing and a hint of homo-eroticism. Or is it?
Let’s take a deeper look: the most popular form of music is called pop… and for a reason! It’s popular! Similarly, the most popular style of Christian music is also pop. Christian music tends to both mirror and critique it’s irreligious peers. With Christian music, like many genres that send factory-made industry standard artists to the forefront, you have to push past the popular radio songs to find the majority of the excellent artistry.
Brushing off standard worship music or Christian pop radio as the best of Heaven’s Got Talent and assuming there isn’t anything better is barely scratching the surface of Christian music and art in general. Some lesser-appreciated Christian artists have made excellent contributions to various genres from pop to alternative to rap to metal and everything in between.
7. Christianity is Outdated
One of the more prevalent myths about Christianity is that a Biblical mindset and worldview is primitive and no longer relevant. Nevermind outdated garbage such as anti-semitism, animal worship, and infant sacrifice (all of which are very prevalent today); Christianity is allegedly the least credible and applicable of all modern philosophy and is detrimental to human “progress.”
Despite scientific advances and cultural revolutions, Christianity remains to be one of the only religions that is able to answer many questions about life and the world around us. And in contrast to many loud and angry arguments otherwise, Christianity and Bible are actually confirmed over and over again by science, history, prophecy, and the like.
A great irony of this age is that many/most of the same “rational” people screaming about the evils of religion also seem to religiously worship science, theory, intellectualism, and even humanity itself. To one who has not studied scripture or theology at all the culture may seem foolishly ludicrous. However, a close examination of the Bible and its ethos clearly shows that what it teaches is authoritative, practical, and timelessly relevant to humanity throughout the ages.
Thanks for reading! These are only a few myths about Christianity but I hope to have covered some interesting topics. If you learned something or were blessed by this article, please tell me about it in the comment section below!