Three “Christian” Teachings That Jesus Didn’t Teach

“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine . . . and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

This week’s assault on Facebook is 2 Timothy 4:3-4, with assorted memes and photos (one is a shot of the verse, in situ, on a well-marked Bible page) proclaiming — as if it were breaking news today– a warning the apostle Paul issued 2,000 years ago.

When we don't read the Bible for ourselves, but allow others to interpret it for us, we can easily fall into false teachings that Jesus never taught. Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hoffmann, 1889.

When we don’t read the Bible for ourselves, but allow others to interpret it for us, we can easily fall into false teachings that Jesus never taught. Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hoffmann, 1889.

The comments are more interesting than the verse, not so much the innocuous “Trues,”  and “Amens,” but the, “Yes, it’s going on NOW. Just watch the news!”

Well, excrement happens, and horrible things have been reported in the news (and more frequently, not reported in the news) throughout history, but the general import seems to be that today’s horrible happenings are, finally, a fulfillment of this verse.

But the issue is, Paul isn’t talking about false teaching and doctrine in the world of men — he’s talking about it smack in the middle of the church.

As far as that goes, we in the Christian community have turned away from truth and wandered into myths for years. Here are three popular myths that many Christians, who anxiously re-post the Timothy verse, readily accept:

“Flex and Obey”

  1. “The Bible teaches us to obey authority.” Who wouldn’t believe this one, given that major evangelists, with political and corporate ties, keep repeating it? Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1, Hebrews 13:17, and 1 Peter 2:13-14 are the favorite birch whips, although some people manage to twist Ephesians 6:2 (“Honor your father and mother”) into a New Testament command to honor, follow, submit to, and pay obeisance to all authority.

Before genuflecting with our foreheads to the ground, it’s worth exploring the meaning of the word “authority.” Secondly, commonsense renders the interpretation that we avoid problems by not agitating the rulers that be. We submit, not because it is a joy to do so, but because we’re less likely to incur the attention and wrath of a system designed to subdue and subjugate the masses so that a few can prosper.

Into the Surf inspirational original oil painting of young woman and child at ocean beach with fabric by Steve Henderson licensed wall art home decor at icanvas, allposters.com, art.com, amazon.com, great big canvas, and framed canvas art

Life following Christ is one of freedom in which we follow the Master, not one of slavery and servitude. Into the Surf, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed wall art home decor at AllPosters.com, Amazon.com, Art.com, Framed Canvas Art, iCanvas, and Great Big Canvas

Thirdly — the central message of the Bible is not that we obey the authority of man. The central message of mankind, however, is that we obey the authority of (well-placed, dominating, powerful) men.

Name It, Claim It

2) If you pray it, then God’s gotta do it. Well-known prosperity preachers are not the only ones who latch onto this concept — finding, speaking, declaring, announcing, and claiming promises lifted from Scripture as if no one prior to this, including God, realized that they were there.

And because it’s a promise, we tell God, “You promised. You’ve got to come through.” God, who didn’t foresee this loophole, is thereby forced to comply. We treat God and His kingdom as if it were the human-controlled legal system, in which rulings are made not because of ethics, honor, rightness, or justice, but because of a clever twisting of terms.

Those who find and use that clever twisting of terms — this is referred to as “faith” — get what they want. Those who don’t, well, their lives look like yours, or mine.

But commonsense again tells us that if it were truly possible for anyone to speak a promise into existence, then this world would be chaos. And if the caveat is placed, “Well, the person speaking the promise needs to be holy, virtuous, and right with God,” then one asks, “Does this describe the average prosperity or celebrity preacher?”

God Pounces Like a Lion

3) If anything goes wrong in your life, it’s because you have sinned. The concept of suffering is too great and complex to be issued in point 3 of a short blog post, but suffice it to say that bad things happening in our lives are not an automatic sign that God is mad at us and is punishing us into submission.

Applying yet again commonsense, is this how we effectively raise children? (Sadly, thanks to assorted evangelical “child psychology experts” who have inserted their voices into a church community eager to eat up anything they dish out, this is how many Christians parent: they punish. And because they are inflexible, shortsighted, and harsh, they figure that God is, too.)

The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and indeed, much of what we suffer is not because God slapped our face, but because men, in the quest for unlimited power and money, hurt other men. Once we get done asking why this is happening to us (generally we stop asking because we can’t get a satisfactory answer), we turn to God, rely upon Him to walk us through it, and emerge a deeper, better, more compassionate person.

But we won’t do this if we’re constantly assuming that God is out to get us.

That’s just three myths. There are many, many more, and the place to look for them is not in politics, education, the entertainment world, mass media, corporate funded science, advertising, or modern business, because it’s a given that in these arenas, myths are created, fostered, fomented, and promulgated.

The place to seek them, identify them, call them out, and remove them is in the “community” where Paul said we would find them: those establishments that purport to teach Christianity.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I encourage individual Christians to realize that they are not part of “the masses,” to be manipulated and controlled into mindless submission, but members of the body of Christ — and our head, ruler, leader and king is the Son of God.

This post is linked to Tell It Tuesdays, My Joy Filled Life, Inspire Me Monday, What Joy Is Mine, Mom Moments, Hope in Every Season,

 

 

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, Family, home, Lifestyle, religion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Three “Christian” Teachings That Jesus Didn’t Teach

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Well written…and I agree Sister!!

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  7. Robbi says:

    I think there’s a difference between disrespecting authority and blindly obeying. We are told to submit, but not at the cost of teachings of the Word. I think when we disagree with a leader, instead of having respect for the office, we tend to bash. I do not agree with much, if anything our sitting president has done, but I should still be respectful….I don’t know how much sense that makes, and it’s hard to get the right words for the thoughts in my head, but….
    #2. Yes! I also get frustrated with the ‘repost/message this to 20 people in 30 seconds and you’ll have good luck’ type of posts. God is not our vending machine.
    #3 Yes. Or that if you do such and such God will bless you ad give you the desires of your heart. I have seen first hand people turned away from God by popular preachers who have promised them that if they just give and trust God, everything will fall into place.
    THanks for sharing!

    • Robbi — I know — it’s difficult to sort out all the thoughts racing in our heads and get them standing in a straight line! There are always caveats . . .

      Respect is a gift we all owe to one another as human beings, and I agree with you that it is very precious indeed. One can, however, respectfully disagree with a leader — we tend to forget that in a society that emphasizes conformity and, quite frankly, blind obedience. This comes up in the very question of, “Who are our leaders?” Rick Warren has been called the nation’s pastor; Billy Graham is pointed to as the quintessential Christian; even the Pope is being foisted on non-Catholics as a world leader — so all of us, as individual Christians, do need to come to grips with the issue of, who, exactly, are our leaders? Even within a church — if one attends one — there is the very real fact that a person is 1) there by choice and 2) a brother and sister of the believers (including the pastor and elders) there. The respect must be mutual, but I find that the top-down-leadership model imposes a set of obligations on the “lower laity” that is not always shared by the leaders. This is not good.

      As far as Obama, or any sitting president goes, yes — he’s the political leader of the country, and deserves respect for the office (as a human being, he deserves neither more nor less than any other human being) — but he does not speak for our spirituality, for the way we interact with our family, for our beliefs. There is a limitation to his power (for which we can be most grateful to God).

      That message you mention in #3 — the prosperity doctrine, essentially — is indeed insidiously bad, and it creeps into the thinking like a spider. Oh that we would simply stomp on it and squish it flat.

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