Brace yourselves. This topic has been on my mind and heart for awhile and I’ve noticed that misrepresentation of Evangelical Christianity in mainstream American circles today is a huge problem. By and large, Christians are treated like villains by the mainstream media, by progressives and left-wingers. Some of that misrepresentation is simply because leaders with Evangelical Christian circles have severely misbehaved. To put it lightly. Some of that, though, is the result of years of bias that has been propagated and perpetuated in this generation by secular leaders. Largely, mainstream culture is uneducated about a number of Christian issues. And in those post I wanted to talk about 5 of the biggest myths about Christians that are perpetuated by the bias of non-Christians.
In this post, I will passionately dispute these myths. Please don’t mistake my passion for anger or arrogance as that is not my intent or even my personality. 🙂 I just want to give all my secularist friends a glimpse into what I really believe and what we’re really like. After all, this generation is all about positive and accurate representation of diversity. Right? 😉
1. Christians just want to control people.
Okay, so I’ve noticed that a lot of secularists will point at Christians and what we believe and accuse us of just trying to dominate and control people. But I’m just like… are you serious? I can’t speak for everyone, but for all the Christians I know – which is hundreds, mind you – the foundations of their faith are built upon self and Christ. I’ve never know a Christian to claim they became a Christian to control their friend or co-worker. For most – if not, all – of us, we became Christians because we had a real, legitimate, life-changing encounter with the Living God. I’m sorry, but my faith has nothing to do with anyone else. My expressions of faith have nothing to do with anyone else. Even if I’m sharing my faith with you, it has nothing to do with you. I’m just passionate about all the ways Jesus has touched my life and I have to talk about it. It’s just who I am. It’s not because I’m lording something over you and it’s not because I have a superiority complex.
I’m faith is built on me + Christ. No one else is part of the equation. Sorry.
2. The Old Testament doesn’t matter anymore.
Many people claim that when Jesus came and introduced the reign of grace, this did away with all the traditions and values of the Old Testament. Not true. In fact, the apostle Paul addresses this issue in 2 Corinthians 3 where he discusses the Spirit of the Law versus the Letter of the Law.
The Letter of the Law = Religion. This concerned the need for blood sacrifices as atonement for sins, the banning of certain types of fabrics or foods, and the like.
The Spirit of the Law = Relationship. This is where grace and mercy came into play through Jesus’ once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross that tore the veil that separates man from God (which was also literally the veil that separate normal folks from entering into the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem). Grace didn’t come to do away with the need for repentance. Rather, grace came to empower us to live as Christ lived.
So the difference between the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law should be clear, but allow me to provide an example. According to the Letter of the Law (the way things were before Christ’s work on the cross) we need a blood sacrifice to atone for our sins. This was something that only the priests of the temple could perform. However, with Christ’s death and resurrection, a new order was established. A New Covenant followed by the release of His Holy Spirit, who is our Helper, into the world. (For the record, the Holy Spirit is the only current and active agent of the Godhead in the world today; and He still moves in supernatural ways.) The Spirit of the Law did away with the need for blood sacrifice, but not with the need for repentance. See, humans still fail. Even Christians. Shocker, I know, that we’re not perfect. Anyway, the Letter of the Law would say that if I lied or gossiped that I would have to get in line and wait for the priest to perform a sacrifice for me. But the Spirit of the Law says that I have direct access to the throne room of God. I don’t need to build a physical altar, but I can make room for an “altar moment” within my own spirit by confessing my sins before the Lord, reminding myself of who I am as His child and rejecting the ways of the flesh, and determining once again to walk in the Spirit.
Rebuilding the Altar by Pat and Karen Schatzline is a great study about the importance of re-establishing that altar place – that place of encounter, surrender, hunger, conviction, and repentance – in our lives, homes, and churches.
Other Old Testament matters – like Temple construction – still carry a lot of symbolic and/or prophetic application to the Church today. Tragically, many people within the church seem to miss out on the richness of the “Spirit” of the Old Testament.
3. Pentecostals only care about achieving an emotional high.
Okay. So. I’ve been Pentecostal all my life and I can tell that’s not how it is at all. Haha! We’re about living a life of encounter with the supernatural presence of Jesus in the highs and the lows, with goosebumps and without goosebumps. Learning how to hold steady regardless of your feelings isn’t just a part of maturing as a person, but also as a follower of Christ. Believe me, as a worship leader there have been plenty of services in worship where I didn’t feel anything per se. And there have been plenty more where I have. Regardless, my faith holds steady and my confidence that I met with the Lord in those moments is unshaken.
That being said, emotions are not a bad thing. I don’t know why traditional Christian denominations – like Lutheran or Baptist – treat emotions like they’re of the devil, or like having an emotional encounter with the Lord is somehow wrong. God created emotions. He created us to have healthy emotions and to express them in a healthy way. What better way to honor God with our emotions than to express them in His presence? If I’m overwhelmed with the joy of the Lord in worship, I’m gonna laugh! I’m gonna smile! If I’m overwhelmed with heartbreak and grief for the broken and the lost, I’m gonna weep and I’m gonna cry out!
Emotional expression in our spiritual lives is not just valid, it’s also important. People shouldn’t walk into our churches and feel like they’re walking into a mosaleum. The local church should be full of life and vibrancy! It should set the example for healthy emotional expression!
So, no. Pentecostals aren’t all about achieving some ethereal emotional high. We’re about expressing our emotions in a healthy, Godly, and extravagant way in worship, prayer, and intercession.
4. Christians are brainwashed.
First, if you genuinely believe this then you need to do some research on what it means to actually be brainwashed, the symptoms of it, and the devastation that it can bring upon victims of brainwashing. Because to claim that a Christian – who has likely endured some pretty tough things – is simply brainwashed is to 1) invalidate the horrendous experiences of actual brainwashing victims, and 2) invalidate the stories and testimonies of hundreds-of-thousands of Christians who, by the way, are human too.
If you’ve never sat down with a Christian and let them tell you their story, then of course you wouldn’t understand. But healthy and mature Christians go through years of doubt, confusion, and questioning that establishes their faith as their own. For myself who grew up in the church, I went through a season where my faith became my own and it transitioned from a place where my parents were responsible for teaching me to where I became responsible for learning on my own. See, victims of brainwashing can’t think for themselves. Their minds have been altered and they’ve become subservient to whatever people tell them. This is not the case with Christians. Christians walk through heartbreak, grief, depression, anger, etc… just like non-Christians do. Healthy and mature Christians, though, process these things within the presence of Jesus. Some do not. Thus, some choose to walk away from the faith and then start to point at Christians as if we’re all villains responsible for their pain and broken faith. Which is just wrong in so many ways.
The bottom line is that christians aren’t brainwashed because, if we were, our lives and personal stories would look exactly the same. But they don’t. Each of us has a unique story, has been through unique experiences, and has received unique miracles or encounters. Brainwashing is a very generalized thing. Christianity, however, is a deeply personal thing.
5. Christians are uneducated.
Ha. Hahaha. Whenever someone tries to tell me this, it just amuses me so much because of how untrue it is. Every Christian leader I know, myself included, has gone to accredited universities and received AT LEAST their Bachelor’s degree in some sort of Biblical Studies degree. Myself, I have Certificate of Ministry Leadership and am working toward my Minister’s License (as well as working toward a degree in Social Work). I’ve taken classes such as Old Testament History & Literature, New Testament History & Literature, Biblical Interpretation, Corinthian Correspondence, and Systematic Theology. My father has a Masters Degree in Pastoral Leadership. A friend of mine, who has a BA in Child Development and recently received the call to pastoral ministry, is going back to school to get her Minister’s License.
Sure, there are plenty of uneducated laypeople (non-leadership people) sitting in church pews. And I’ll be honest in saying that many churches have failed their members by not educating them in doctrine and theology. (Tragically, Biblical illiteracy as a massive problem; specifically in the modern American Church.)
My point is that it’s silly to accuse a Christian you don’t even know of being uneducated when the likely truth is that they’ve made more effort to study the Bible and its authenticity, accuracy, and importance than secularists have.
Have you ever believed any of these myths? What are some of your pre-conceptions or biases about Christianity or Pentecostalism? I’d love to discuss them with you in the comments below! 🙂