10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe
As I read through Osborne’s 10 Dumb Things, I was a bit surprised- I could think of people who believe every one of the urban legends or wrong teachings that he identifies. It was striking to me how common they are, not just in the world but in the church. And it was a bit scary how easily those ideas take root, even in Bible-believing people and churches.
There were three of the ten in particular that resonated with me. These three I have developed a passion about because I have seen, over and over, how destructive they can be. They have created as much confusion, discouragement, and struggle as anything I have seen.
The first says “Everything happens for a reason.” I know we say that to ourselves and to others to bring comfort and to try to deal with the seeming randomness of life, especially when bad things happen to good people. Sometimes the reason is that we live in a fallen world with imperfect people and an enemy that hates us. To go beyond that often causes people to have to do some kind of mental gymnastics and even justify evil to protect God—if there is a reason for it, it has to be from him. Tell the parent whose child has cancer it is happening for a reason. Although we don’t like it, there is far more randomness to life than most realize, and to try to find a reason for it all can cause even greater problems.
The second one is somewhat connected to that, and that is the idea that God has a blueprint for my life. I think God’s will has much more to do with what kind of people we are than the circumstances we are in. I have seen people paralyzed and unable to make decisions because they were so afraid of missing God’s will. That’s crazy. God gives us more freedom to make choices than we realize, often more than we are comfortable with. But the blueprint idea creates a fear of failure that is really unhealthy. Seek God, and when he gives direction, follow it. When he doesn’t, use wisdom and make a decision.
The third dumb thing was the idea that a godly home always produces godly kids. I know parents who seemed to do everything right and whose kids still turned away from God. The reality is that children and young adults all have free will and will make their own choices, and the quality of our parenting is only one variable that influences our kids. It’s an incredibly important one- I don’t want to minimize that in any way- but it isn’t the only one. And when we look at the proverbs as promises, we potentially set ourselves up for unnecessary guilt and pain. And it burns me when I see people judging parents for how their kids turned out, as if they didn’t do a good job, didn’t pray, didn’t agonize over what they could do. Almost all parents do their best, but children ultimately make their own choices. Let’s stop judging when we have no idea what’s really going on.
So those are the dumb ideas, the spiritual urban legends that especially resonated with me. What are yours? What stood out to you? Are there other dumb things you think should have made the list?
This is a very much needed book. Growing up in church I have heard 9 out of 10 of these wrong teachings straight from the pulpit. I loved the breakdown of the types of valley’s. This gave me a more precise wording to better teach. I have also seen the damage produced by these urban legends. This book has encouraged me to continue to teach and help people come out of these kinds of unbiblical teachings. Christ centered, exegetical, preaching and teaching; that is relevantly presented is so needed to undo much of the last 45-50 years.