Most of us as Christians have things we believe, and tell others, and even count on, that we’ve not carefully examined. Some of the things we accept and repeat to others sound so true, and we’ve believed them for so long, that they become what some call “sacred cows”—things above question or criticism. When these beliefs are questioned we become defensive or irritated. We may even worry that if the beliefs aren’t true, the rest of our faith may crumble.
This week, my new book, Half Truths: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves and Other Things the Bible Doesn’t Say, publishes from Abingdon Press. Even though some of what I write in this book may unnerve or irritate you, I’d encourage you to keep reading.
The book examines these popular half truths that many Christians embrace:
- Everything happens for a reason
- God helps those who help themselves
- God won’t give you more than you can handle
- God said it, I believe it, that settles it
- Love the sinner, hate the sin
Here’s why it’s important to examine these particular half truths: I think they can sometimes hurt people. I think they can lead people to conclusions about God that not only are untrue but that may push some people away from God. Some of these half truths are used to avoid careful thinking about complex issues. Some are used to justify our own biases or prejudices. Some, when spoken to others, can bring pain.
Scriptures must be interpreted. Sometimes their meanings seem to conflict, or a particular message given in one context appears to be contradicted in another context. It is important to read any Scripture in the light of its context and the Bible’s broader message and themes. It is not enough to find a passage or two or six to support a particular view. We interpret all Scripture in the light of Jesus’ life and teachings, as well as with the help of the Spirit’s witness, the wisdom of scholars, and our intellect and life experience.
During the next few weeks, I’ll post excerpts from the book here on my blog. You can order the book, DVD, and leader guides here.
Watch the book trailer preview video above, and listen to the Ministry Matters podcast where I discuss the new book with host Matt Rawle.