2 False Gospels Your Church Believes

Few churches today teach the gospel. That statement may ring hollow if you attend a church that teaches salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Indeed, most churches teach that, but that doesn't mean they teach the gospel.
The gospel is more than a thing to know, or intellectual assent as theologians call it. It is a thing to do. While every Christian affirms that the answer to "what must I do to be saved?" is believe in Jesus, they all define what that looks like a little differently. More to the point, they all have different qualifications for salvation.
Make no mistake: there is only one qualification for salvation, only one thing we need to do. And it is evident in all of Scripture--from the law, prophets, and writings to the gospels and epistles.
But there are two, common false gospels peddling a do-nothing spirituality complete with multiple qualifications that vary by denomination, political affiliation, even region. And your church likely believes at …

None of the Law Applies Today (and that's why you should read it)

American Christians get a D- in Bible reading. According to the Barna Group, only 61% of practicing Christians have read the whole thing.
It's not completely their fault. Few churches teach every book in the Bible, especially those from the Old Testament. Jeremiah is long, Leviticus is boring, Ezekiel is hard to understand, and Haggai is hard to pronounce (it's hag-GUY, if you're wondering). 
Many churches and even entire denominations treat the Old Testament as just that: old. It's the first draft, the demo, the beta release of Christianity. And now that we have the New Testament, everything that came before is obsolete and unnecessary for faith.
Unless it's useful in condemning the culture. Genesis 1 is used to condemn evolution, Exodus 21 is used to condemn abortion, and Leviticus 18 is used to condemn homosexuality. For people who don't like reading the Old Testament, they're quite adept at quoting it when it suits them.
But they don't quote all of …

Evangelicals Don't Love Gay People

Never tell an evangelical they're unloving, especially towards gay people. The bleeding heart pageantry that follows will make you think you accused them of punching a kitten. They're not mean or bigoted or judgmental. They just care about people in this life and the next.
Sure, you could love somebody today by giving them food, clothing, and comfort, or you could save their precious soul from an eternity of destruction. Jesus' miracles of healing the blind and the sick do seem a bit paltry in comparison. All that matters is helping people follow the one, true savior. And all his rules.
Unlike the original two-word invitation, "follow me", evangelicals invite you to follow Jesus so long as you're not gay or transgender or having sex before marriage or anything else they call "sin" but don't practice themselves (for the record, yes, they do recognize that gossip is also sinful, but they're a little fuzzy on the line between living in sin and da…

Is Hulu’s The Path Any Stranger Than Our Own Faith?

My latest for Think Christian:

Aaron Paul may have top billing in The Path, a Hulu original series, but the real star of the show is the cult known as the Meyerist Movement.

A combination of New Age conceits and 1960s drug culture, Meyerism is a fictional religious movement about how the “Light” will save people from their damage and grant them eternity in a “Garden.” Meyerists believe the path to salvation involves climbing a spiritual ladder, which manifests as literal rungs of maturity and leadership, from 1R up to 10R. Daily life is completely transparent and devoted to helping others unburden from their damage—with the help of hallucinogens and outdated, electro-stimulation devices.

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God Doesn't Damn Anyone to Hell

God is love. It's such warm and fuzzy, comforting thought. Even Christianity with its emphasis on forgiveness and loving our neighbors is undeniably beautiful. Until God goes and damns people to hell.
Christians try not to think about it, but the verses are there. We use our theology to anesthetize our fear by reducing our sovereign God to a passive figurehead who merely allows the things we don't understand. Yet Scripture says what it says, and it says that God predestined some people to destruction.
The passage in question is Romans 9. I don't blame you if you missed it in your daily devotions or weekly Bible studies. The preceding chapter and its whole "nothing can separate us from the love of Christ" schtick can be very distracting, especially to pastors and teachers who would rather cultivate ignorance than risk apostasy. Someone has to pay for their salaries.
By chapter 9, Paul had just finished encouraging the Christians in Rome that there was no condemna…

When Salvation is a Psychological Disorder

Christianity is like an email scam. You get a message that there's an unverifiable problem with your account and then you're given an unverifiable solution to that unverifiable problem. Similarly, salvation comes through faith in a God to prevent us from a fate we take on faith.
That's a lot of faith. When skeptics say that Christianity lacks evidence, they're not wrong. We can claim that Jesus' resurrection has over five hundred eye-witness reports, but we still need faith to trust the veracity of those reports.
Evidentialist apologetics are less popular today, probably because someone figured out that non-empirical evidence isn't really evidence. Instead, many Christians are utilizing a more experiential apologetic--one of personal, miraculous deliverance.
Stories abound in the church of broken addictions and supernatural rescues from abuse. We hear of alcoholics recovering suddenly after decades of enslavement and domestic violence victims finding justice w…

There's Nothing More to this Life

Going to church ruined my faith. From diapers to adulthood, church was all I knew about Christianity and it created a barrier between me and God. Especially the worship part of church services.

Half of my life was spent playing or leading music before a congregation of enthralled people. The enthusiasm and earnestness written on their faces evidenced an undeniable experience. Many spoke of being able to sense God's presence in a very real, almost tangible way.

While attending Moody Bible Institute, I was surrounded by hundreds of emotional worshippers during weekly chapels, and I often heard students describe how awesome it was to be singing God's praises together with so many fellow believers. They could really feel the Spirit moving.

I never did.

Skeptic that I was (and still am), worship was at best a meaningless experience to me. When I saw joy in the crowd, I assumed it was from a particularly sick drum fill or guitar lick, not God. When I saw tears, I assumed it was fro…