November 13, 2013
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3, 4
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie… Romans 1:25
I read this opinion article, entitled “5 Myths About National Parks: Challenging Everything You Think You Know,” in The Washington Post shortly after the government shutdown was resolved. In it, Robert Earle Howells, who writes prolifically about the national parks, debunks a handful of fallacies:
1. The parks’ financial problems are over
Its reduced budget means fewer rangers and programs as well as less upkeep.
2. States should chip in to manage the national parks
States have their own fiscal problems.
3. National parks are all in remote places
Many of the 401 units of the Park Service are in or near urban areas.
4. Wildlife is managed in the park
Nope—“watch from a distance” is still the best advice.
5. The parks are timeless preserves
Not with vandalism, tourists, receding glaciers and lack of maintenance.
Likewise, there are many myths about Christianity, and I’ve come across a couple of articles about that, too. Susan Ott, a Yahoo contributor, lists three in her piece, “Myths and Misconceptions About Christianity:”
1. Christianity is a religion
“A religion is basically a set of rules and rituals, but true Christianity is based on a faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, the Bible contains right and wrong ways that we should live, but following these does not make one a Christian. The Bible tells us very clearly how to be a Christian: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’ (John 3:16-17).”
2. You will get into heaven by following a specific set of rules
Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The apostle Paul writes, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
3. Becoming a Christian will solve all of your problems
“We live in a fallen world full of sin, and therefore we must face the consequences of that sin. God doesn’t want us to love Him because He’s a magic genie who solves all of our problems. He gives us the freedom to choose life with Him or without Him. God ‘causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Matthew 5:45). But we don’t have to face it alone and hopeless. Christians can face adversity, knowing that God is there to carry their burdens and never leave them. Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . . I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’ (Matthew 11:28-30).”
4. Becoming a Christian means giving up all fun
King David acknowledged to God, “In Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).
Jesus said, “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
5. Christians are perfect people
“Well, it doesn’t take very long to discover that this is not true…Although Christians strive to be like Christ, we will never obtain complete sanctification until we stand before the Lord.”
Two more from Paul:
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
“Not that I have already…been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead… (Philippians 3:12, 13).
If you’re interested in reading more about the subject, I suggest two books: Exposing Myths About Christianity: A Guide to Answering 145 Viral Lies and Legends by University of California Santa Barbara Prof. Jeffrey Burton Russell, and Busted: Exposing Popular Myths About Christianity by Prof. Fred von Kamecke. You’ll find factual evidence to refute other claims, such as, “You can’t trust the Bible because it’s been translated too many times,” and “All religions basically teach the same thing.”
Meanwhile, let this nugget of advice from Paul be your guide: “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7, 8).