8 Myths About Christianity

The Church in general and Christians in particular have made many mistakes. But if you are going to criticize Christianity, stick to the facts. Here are eight myths about Christianity that are common.

Peter and Simon Magus
Image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1. Religious wars have killed more people than any other cause.

This is simply not true. While many wars in the past had a religious element to it, the reason was that for most of that time, 99% of people were religious. However, secularism has quickly caught up. If you look at just Stalin, a seminary dropout and avowed atheist (anti-theist?), you have more deaths than any of the religious wars of the past.

2. Christianity is anti-science.

Critics, such as Richard Dawkins, have argued that religion must be stamped out if there is to be any scientific advancement. He fails to mention that many of the scientific breakthroughs of the past came from a Christian context. The whole mess with Galileo was not about religion vs. secular science. It was about a religious group that was wrong vs. a religious scientist that was correct. Even today, there are many well-respected scientists that are Christians. Tell Francis Collins that Christianity is anti-science.

3. Christianity is anti-reason.

This comes from a misunderstanding of faith. People think that faith means that we ignore anything we discover with our natural senses. It is not true. Most Christians are very reasonable and rational (I say most because it is only most people in general). We interpret the Bible and theology using our reason. Reason is one of the four parts of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

4. Christians interpret the Bible literally.

While there are differences of interpretation among Christians, I do not know anyone who really interprets the Bible literally (even though they may claim it). Just because Jesus described himself as a door does not mean he has a door knob in his belly button. The world does not really have four corners and pi is not really 3. Christians understand what a figure of speech is. We are not stupid

5. Christians hate all non-Christians.

I wouldn’t say that all Christians meet the ideal of love that Jesus has set for us, but I don’t know any Christians who hate people just for having a different (or no) faith. Don’t get me wrong, we do not believe that all religions are true. We believe that salvation is in Christ alone. But we can disagree with people without hating them.

6. Christians want to force everyone to live a Christian lifestyle.

I do believe that the world would be better if everyone lived a Christian lifestyle, but the Bible tells us not to place our standards on others. It is true that Christian politicians and lobbyists argue for Christian values. But they do that as any politician or lobbyist who is influenced by their own world view.

7. All Christians are hypocrites.

If you mean that Christians do not fully live out every value they believe, then every person on the planet is a hypocrite. Every person, of every world view, holds up a set of values and seeks to live up to them. Achieving that goal, however, is extremely difficult. If you are saying that Christians are worse hypocrites than any other group, I would ask for evidence. Try living up to your own values before condemning Christians.

8. Christians do good deeds because they are afraid of hell.

Whenever I have done a good deed, the question of hell has never popped into my head. The question I ask when I am about to do something is always, “Is the right thing to do?” Even to suggest a fear of hell as a motivation is a serious misunderstanding of Christianity. Christians believe that we are saved by grace and not by our works. We will never be able to work our way out of hell. We do what we believe God wants us to do, and that out of love rather than fear.

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10 thoughts on “8 Myths About Christianity”

  1. Rebuttal:

    1.) Religious wars have killed more people than any other cause. TRUE: If you take all the religious wars since the beginning of time and include the anti-christian/anti-heretical campaigns of Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian through the Crusades, the Witchcraft hysterias, the anti-pagan pogroms of Ireland and Europe, the Inquisition, and the Aztec conquest, the numbers far exceed Stalin and the Nazis put together. It is completely fair to include The Third Reich as a Christian-fueled mass genocide.( Hitler was an avowed Catholic who believed he was carrying on Jesus’s mission) The numbers totally refute your claim that this is myth.

    2. Christianity is anti-science. True! The tenets of a man god being sacrificed for the mitigation of sin is based on an ancient idea of human and animal sacrifice. A primitive practice with no scientific basis whatsoever. We can certainly say Fundamental Christianity is anti-science. The idea of a prime progenitor of creation is entirely unscientific. As for Francis Collins and those other Christians who were scientists in spite of their religion — This is more of a tribute to human reason prevailing in spite of their religion, rather than because of it.

    Christianity is anti-reason. (see the above). The basic tenets of The Nicene Creed are entirely irrational. Is it reasonable that the God of the Jews would break every principle of his Commandments and covenant and impregnate another man’s wife, or child bride and assign him a Greek name and inherently oriental philosophy ? Is it reasonable to believe in a dubious historical figure with a mythological name, birthdate, birth place, lineage, with no factual biography or contemporary confirmation or execution on a mythological date and holiday with no record? No. Christianity is in fact unreasonable if not anti-reason.

    As for the others. I’ll take your word for it. I’m not a Christian.

    1. 1) You are wrong. Count up the numbers. There have been wars connected with religion but by far there have been more people killed in non-religious wars.
      2) Explain how science had its birth within a scientific context? People who believe that nature is the result of a Creator do not flee from it, they seek to understand it better.

      1. There have been by far more people killed by non-religious tyrants. There’s no doubt about it.

        That’s a typical misrepresentation made by unbelievers who think they are much more intelligent than the Creator.

        Then they run away without explaining why we can’t be correct. It’s apparent that non-believers have a belief not provable but chose to pretend they don’t believe anything.

        Isn’t the belief in “nothingness” or that there is no Creator?

        It’s strange though that there is usually much more effort to disparage a believer rather than to explain why they think all the answers are theirs.

    2. Hitler certainly used Christianity as a tool for extending his power, as many politicians do today, but there are many quotations that have been preserved which indicate that Hitler looked down on people who were genuine Christians, and saw devotion to Christ and his teachings as weakness. Further, while part of the church in Germany did fall in line with the Nazis, and ought to be held accountable for that terrible choice, another part of the church in Germany (known as the Confessing Church) actively opposed Hitler and paid a heavy price. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Christian Pastor, returned from safety, studying in America, to Germany for the express purpose of opposing Hitler, eventually joining an attempt to assassinate Hitler. When that attempt failed, Bonhoeffer paid for it with his life. You are simplifying and distorting the historical facts, my friend. Christians have done much for which we ought to look back with regret and shame, but not every conflict can be laid at the feet of warmongering Christians who fail to follow Christ’s teachings.

  2. The 20h century–with the rise of secular humanism–was the bloodiest century in history, with atheistic communism accounting for 250 million deaths. No matter what he said, Hitler was never a Christian, nor did he ever display any ideology of Biblical agreement. His views on the sanctity of life, as demonstrated by killing 5 million Jews, plus 3.5 million of his own countrymen, and his views that people were no different than animals, are in line with atheist thinking, not Christian thinking.

    Christianity is pro-science. God has revealed Himself to every man through His creation. We are encouraged to study it. We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and MIND. We read in the Pauline epistles that we are to be ready to give a REASON for the hope within us. Science always confirms the Biblical account of creation, whereas athiests have to make up things like imaginary Oort clouds just to make sense of the universe without God.

    The Nicene Creed is not the basis for Christianity; the person and work of Jesus Christ is, and none of the worn-out attacks you gave on Jesus are true.

    I was an atheist when I believed what the schools, the liberals and the media told me without questioning it. Now, as a discerning thinker who knows WHY I believe what I believe, I am humbled before God, as one day we all will be. I will pray for you, brother. It’s never too late to turn from willful sin until you die. And then it is.

  3. I think it would be better to address number 4 as it actually is and not the straw man it’s made out to be here. No one is accusing Christians of interpreting Jesus to be a physical door, or of interpreting every word of the Bible literally. Several people *have* accused Christians of believing that the entire universe was created in 144 hours (6*24), that over 600,000 Jews fled Egypt, wandered around the Sinai peninsula for over a generation, and eventually settled in what is now Israel, that there was an actual Noahic flood wiping out all human life save for 8 individuals, or that Lot’s wife became a literal pile of salt, and so on.

  4. I would like to address Ryan’s comment: (Item 4)

    Most critical thinking Christians use the term” literally” pertaining to Biblical interpretation in it’s broadest sense. One cannot communicate effectively in writing or conversation without euphemisms, however, if you see the Bible as the inerrant, inspired word of God, you cannot ignore the clearly supernatural declarations and implications.

    There is no empirical proof for the age of the earth, in spite of what evolutionary scientists claim. There’s no reliable (secular) historical documents that date the beginning of civilizations. If you believe the earth is 4.6 b.yrs. old this is fine with most Christians, but no one has provided empirical scientific evidence, it is speculative, and a faith based belief, as is evolutionary theory.

    The six day creation is almost as supernatural as the Resurrection of Jesus or Lots wife’s supernatural judgment. When one picks and chooses which supernatural events described in the text are credible, the scripture in it’s entirety is called into question, but when one compares these events with the fantastic claims of the contemporary, literature the Bible becomes very believable.

    The Noahic flood is described as a cataclysmic destruction of the planet and the atmosphere that no land dwelling fauna or flora could survive. The evidence is available but subject to interpretation. Interpretations are always subject to ones worldview. Unless one has a better explanation for the origin of matter,energy, space and time (Einstein didn’t) the question becomes why did God even spend six days? Also when we see sedimentary deposition five to seven miles deep containing fossiliferous strata, the uniformitarianism theories don’t work.

  5. Having this page just brought to my attention through Facebook, and having read Stephen Bedard’s article, may I bring his eighth point into focus – the point of good deeds done out of fear of punishment.
    Before being converted by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, I was brought up as Roman Catholic. And fear of Hell is very central to Catholicism. If you consider how indulgences were sold throughout the Middle Ages (which sparked the Reformation in the sixteenth Century) meant to deliver the soul out of Purgatory (a temporal version of Hell to purge the soul from any remaining venial sins before entry into Heaven) – indeed, the Vatican became one of the world’s richest organisations in human history, borne out of people’s fears.
    Although Roman Catholicism no longer sells indulgences, this doctrine is still very much taught by the Vatican to this day, normally by praying with a Rosary, performing outstanding acts of mercy, and visiting specific holy sites e.g. Lourdes. And unless the Catholic attends mass regularly as well as on holy days such as Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, there is this real chance of eternal Hell after death, along with dying with unconfessed mortal sins.
    There are up two billion Catholics alive in the world at present, all believing that works – out of fear rather than motivated by love – is the essence of Christianity.
    The snag with this way of thinking and believing is that an unspecific, but quite a large percentage of nominative Catholics actually hate God, and is very disillusioned with the Church. I have spoken to one former Catholic who actually flew into a rage when I mentioned Jesus Christ, but still had it in him to tell me why he felt that way.
    Unfortunately, this kind of fearing of Hell is not confined to Catholics. Even in the Protestant faith, to which I now belong, there is a large proportion who believe that if you as a believer, not holding faithful can forfeit your salvation and still end up in Hell after death. There is one rather prominent itinerant preacher here in the UK who believes that because of such teachings, fear of eternal punishment is the proper motive for Christian living. This fellow holds a M.A. in Theology, which he had gotten in Cambridge, making him very popular, as well as a man of authority to many churches.
    Being a former Catholic myself, it has taken me many years to undo the teachings and doctrines of the Roman catechism. That is why I tend to have leanings towards Calvinism, and believe in Eternal Security of the Believer. This has helped me to serve God out of love rather than out of fear, but I wouldn’t be fully truthful if I was to say that I’m totally delivered from this fear. It still comes from time to time.
    I encourage you to read one of my blogs:
    “Once Saved Always Saved. How did this originate?”
    Which is #1 in the most popular blogging chart.

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