I am in my car a lot. I listen to the radio. Two of the 18 presets on my car belong to Christian radio stations, one of which is a talk/teaching format. So sometimes, I feel like listening in.
Since I stopped believing in fundamentalist evangelicalism, I’ve noticed that I listen to these messages with a far more critical ear and I hear more and more pithy, trite sayings and statements that are lies or distortions.
As I come across them, I’ll post them here in the hopes that we, as believers, can retire these lies and start dealing with the truth.
In reference to the bible, “Sin will keep you from this book, but this book will keep you from sin.” No, no it won’t. I’m willing to bet that I’m fairly typical of most church goers, and I can say honestly that studying the bible daily (or near daily) hasn’t made my internal struggle with my own moral failings any less of a struggle.
But aside from that, we can all point to news stories about pastors or priests who studied the bible for years and preached every weekend, all the while they were regularly committing sin.
It could also be phrased as “just read your bible and pray more and you’ll grow closer to God.” Also, not true. Who were the most religious folks in the gospels that we’ve been reading about? Pharisees. They knew their bibles pretty well. Per Jesus, it didn’t do them any good at all when it came to living a life that was pleasing to Him.
The bible is not a quick fix for a person struggling with temptation or moral/character flaws. Telling a struggling Christian to just go and read their bible more is about the coldest and most trite thing one can do. How long would you continue to visit a doctor who told you, “Well, nothing I can do. You just need to get your immune system to work harder, I guess.”
Right. Now how long do you suppose we should stay in a church that says the same?
This advice also shoves us away from the idea of community, back towards being self-reliant individuals. You don’t need help. If you fail, you’re just not doing it right. Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps, read that bible of yours, pray, and try harder. And if you still fail, well, you’re probably not a real Christian anyway.
Church is supposed to be a community. One that we can draw strength from and lend strength to others in their time of need. That’s how we should be responding to our doubts and struggles. By forming deep and abiding relationships and friendships with each other that can help see us through difficult times in our life.
Or we could just continue to tell people to go away and read their bible because, “It’s all good, I’m sure you’ll find some magic formula in there that’ll help.”