Misconceptions

Posted: December 12, 2011 by rhjbrown in Beka

If you asked where most people get their information, the answer would probably be the public  media.  With television, blogs, websites, newspapers radio and all the rest it’s easy to find out information without looking too for.  However I believe that the media often creates misconceptions by only covering the basic details, which then leads to people not having a complete understanding.  I believe the first step towards understanding and accepting other people is to have a good understanding of where other people are coming from.  To that end in this post I would like to address several common misconceptions about Christians and Christianity specifically.  Being a Christian myself I often run into people who immediately jump to a conclusion about who I am, and what my purposes are.  While I cannot hope to address every point of contention, I hope to clear up several of the major questions or assumptions I, and people I know, run into.  I also cannot say that the answers I give will be shared by everyone who considers themselves a Christian, as each person’s faith is different.  Despite this, I hope you can come to a better understanding by reading this.

If there are so many denominations of Christianity how can it be true?

To answer this question, we should clarify what “Christian” means.  Christian is defined as, “a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.”(“Christian”), while Christianos, the Greek word that Christian originates from, translates to “Christ follower”(Thayer and Smith).  I would like to further define this for the purposes of relating clearer answers to these misconceptions.  Most people are aware that in common definition, Christianity embodies many denominations, or groups.  Each of these denominations has different specifications, but are in general considered to be under the same faith heading of Christianity.

I myself, consider myself am part of a Church that considers itself non-denominational.  We don’t connect ourselves with any particular denomination, though if we go by a definition, it would be considered Evangelist.  This means that we interpret the Bible as literal truth, for example we believe that the “Bible stories” that are detailed in the Old Testament are actual recordings of history as opposed to moral stories, and that God wants us to help other people know about Him.  That being said, I don’t believe that Evangelists are the only “true” Christians.  Even within the Church I attend people are convicted differently by different things.  God does not call people to be exactly the same.

There are however a few truths that a person must believe to be a Christian.  They include that a person must believe that they themselves are a sinner, and that Jesus Christ is the only way to be forgiven.  Because of this, there are several denominations that as institutions, not necessarily as individuals, should not be considered “Christian”.  These institutions believe that there are additional requirements that must be met to be forgiven; an example of this kind of institution would be the Church of Latter Day Saints, which is commonly considered a Christian denomination.

After spending two summers in Provo, UT and having many conversations with people of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), more commonly referred to as Mormons, it was explained to me that to be a forgiven member of the LDS faith you must follow the prophecies set forth by the prophets.  These prophets include people from ancient history, such as Moses, and people from recent history such as Joseph Smith, with the current prophet being Thomas S. Monson(Who is the Mormon prophet today?).

Christianity is following a set of rules, which many Christians often break

This idea that Christianity is about following a set of rules while seemingly true is misleading.  This comes about most likely because of the Ten Commandments, and many other commandments in the Old Testament.  These rules were put into place for the people who lived before Christ.  The rules and stipulations are there to help people recognize what sin, or going against God, looks like.  When Christ died a new covenant, or agreement, was put into place.  This covenant is what allows people to be forgiven, and it means that we don’t have to strictly follow every stipulation to go into heaven.  A new law was written in the New Testament which says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’…” (New International Version, Matthew 22:37-40).  As to the second part of this misconception, it isn’t really a misconception that people who are Christians routinely break the rules.  While it definitely is not the goal to break the laws of either the Bible or of the nation we belong to, Christians are just as imperfect as everyone else.  Being a Christian doesn’t make a person better than another, it just means that they have been forgiven for their mistakes, and therefor feel encouraged to do better.

Christians see all people who do not belong to Christianity as sinner, and therefore are horrible people

This misconception is very similar to the last.  If a person truly understands what it means to be a Christian, they will realize that they are just as much of a sinner as everyone else.  While it is true that we believe people are sinners, we include ourselves in this description.  If people didn’t sin against God there would be no reason for the grace and forgiveness given to us through Christ.  We also don’t think other people are horrible; there are a lot people who don’t belong to Christianity who are amazing people.  But we also know that according to the bible, there is only one way to get into heaven, and that does not mean being a good person, or going to Church, or doing good works for others.  The only way to get into heaven is to believe you are a sinner, and that only Jesus can forgive you and bridge the gap between you and God.

Christians do not think Science is legitimate or important

This misconception, I can unfortunately say is sometimes true.  There are Christians, good Christians, who choose to ignore science, and consider it to be destabilizing to their faith.  This however is not always the case.

There are many Christians who are scientists, even here at Colorado State University, I know three personally and have had them as professors.  In fact one of the pastors at our Church graduated from CSU with a biology degree.  Many of the people I attend Church have graduated with Chemistry degrees, Microbiology degrees and many others.

The most debated scientific study would obviously be how the earth was created, and how man came to be.  I believe the reason that scientists and Christians often clash about this topic is that we have all forgotten the Scientific Theory, is just that, theory.  When we are talking scientifically about something that happened thousands or millions of years ago, that is all we can have.  Also, to say that Christians are not interested in the science of how the earth came to be would be incorrect.  There are groups such as, TheInstituteforCreationResearch , CreationMinistriesInternational and Reasons to Believe who research and publish scientific articles that look into how the earth was created, and the world around us today.

 

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