Monthly Archives: August 2017

A Few More Things about Christianity that Just Aren’t So

Although no comments were posted about the first installment of this series, I’ll plunge on where angels fear to blog and share some more foolish misconceptions that have become attached to Christianity–in error.  Picking up where the last left off, let’s go on in the Scripture vein.

4. Christians believe that the Bible is the only–or supreme–source of theological truth.

This is the position called sola scriptura, a Latin phrase meaning “only by Scripture.”   It is also wrong.  Christian teaching (or doctrine, a word that means, surprisingly enough, teaching) arises from the Church, which existed before the Bible, which wrote the Bible, and is the only body entitled to interpret the Bible.  The Bible is the Church’s book, not something like Eddy’s or Hubbard’s scribblings.  The next time you hear someone from one of the multiple denominations, sects, cults, or franchises purporting to explain Scripture, take it with a large grain of salt.  While you’re at it, remind yourself what Saint Peter said: “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (2 Pt 1.20).

5. Baptism and Communion are just symbols.

I’d start looking around for lightning when I hear that kind of thinking.  Far from being just symbols, Sacraments are real, objective actions of spiritual importance.  Don’t think that Christianity downplays symbols and their importance, however.  Symbols are powerful aspects of the way the human intellect was created to function.  Nevertheless, Sacraments are a combination of two things: spiritual and physical, fused together.  It’s no accident that human beings are the same, spiritual and physical fused together.  We aren’t bodies that have souls, nor are we souls that have bodies–we are bodies-and-souls knit together by the Creator.  The Sacraments are intended by the Almighty to work with us, on us, and in us, because the physical and spiritual work together.

So Baptism isn’t a symbol of rebirth, it is rebirth.  Communion isn’t a symbol or sign of unity, it is the Body of Christ feeding the Body of Christ.  Calling any Sacrament “just a symbol” is sacrilege of a very high order and offensive to God.

6. The “end times” are coming soon….

I’ve seen just about every chart and timeline predicting the Second Coming–and they’re all a load of codswallop.  Jesus himself spoke of his return and said “no man knoweth” – even himself.  For us to play games with Scripture and try to predict is a misuse of Scripture and our time.  There hasn’t been a generation that didn’t think they knew when, and that’s simply not what Christians do with their time, intellect, and energy.  The very concept of “end times” is a non-Christian idea.  Feed the hungry, give to the poor, worship God–but don’t play guessing games by importing pagan ideas into Christianity.

Well, there are the second triplet of wrong ideas about Christianity.  Your comments are welcome.  In the meantime, if you find you’re hanging out with folks who hold these six errors—-well, isn’t it time you came to the Church and learned better?

Things Christians Think about Christianity That Aren’t True

This is the third part of an ongoing series about – well – mistakes that some Christians and some Christian groups make about what Christianity believes or teaches.  In other words, “what isn’t Christianity!”  In the first two installments, we looked at six wrong notions:

1.  Christianity is about keeping the rules.
2. Christians believe in the Bible.
3. There are different “ages” or “dispensations” in the Bible and in “God’s plan of history.”
4. Christians believe that the Bible is the only–or supreme–source of theological truth.
5. Baptism and Communion are just symbols.
6. The “end times” are coming soon….

If you missed any of these, you really ought to go back and read them before continuing, because the temperature here is about to get a little warm.  So without further eloquence:

7. Christianity teaches that good people go to heaven and bad people go to, er, the other place.

Oh my, no!  What Christianity actually teaches is that hell is for those who choose to go there, and they choose that by (a) rejecting God, or (b) dying in a state of unforgiven mortal sin.  What’s “mortal” sin?  Well, the word mortal means deadly, but just think of it as serious, grievous, and intentional.  Heaven, on the other hand, is where Christians go who die in a state of grace, are martyrs, or who lived a life of heroic virtue.  Heaven is also where every soul in Purgatory will finish.  For most of us Christians, that means we get to heaven, at least eventually.

There is no such thing as reincarnation, regardless how tempting it is to think of that bully from the eighth grade coming back as a cockroach.  There is also no such thing as being made god of your own little planet, or coming back to haunt places or people, all silly pagan concepts.

8. Christians become Christians when they say a prayer and ask God to save them.

Short answer: no.  This one is based on some odd misinterpretations of Scripture.  It came in not long ago, compared to the length of time Christianity has been around.  It has its roots in pietistic movements from the 18th century.  The real way Christians become Christians is in Baptism.  When we are baptized, we are joined with Christ in his death and born again in his resurrection.  So why do Christians baptize babies?  Because they need to be Christians!  Don’t they have to understand?  Really–do you understand?  Don’t they have to, well, do something?  Nope.  All the “doing” in Baptism is done by God.  It’s a Grace thing.

9.  Christians don’t smoke, drink, play cards, dance….

Please!  These are odd little proscriptions that were sneaked in by revivalists of the 19th century American frontiers.  Smoking isn’t a sin, drinking (alcohol) isn’t a sin–although getting drunk is a bad idea that was forbidden by St. Paul–you can figure out why, the very idea of losing control of one’s behavior should tell you that.  Playing cards isn’t a sin–of course gambling away your paycheck is.  Dancing isn’t a sin–at least, I’ve never seen anyone dance so badly that it was a sin, even though when I dance it may come close; I’m not the most graceful person in the world.  These activities are things that a frontier society wants to clamp down on, because they interfere with the serious business of taming the land and settling it, but in and of themselves they aren’t sinful, and Christians do all of these things.  God isn’t worried about it.

Now we’ve reached the end of our third set of three mistaken notions about Christianity.  Maybe this time we’ll see some comments.