Now, the title is a bit, how shall we say, debatable. First, I don’t know if these are the “top” 10, they were just the first 10 I thought of. Second, there are many Christian traditions that would still affirm some or all of these beliefs. But “A Random 10 Things I Used to Believe But Don’t Anymore Because I Have Decided They Aren’t Biblical” isn’t nearly as catchy, so just work with me here. Some may say it’s because I’m liberal, ignorant, or (paradoxically) because I drank the Kool-Aid of arrogant academia, but whatever the cause, I just no longer buy the arguments that the following are in the Bible.*
10. The Rapture // This is the easy one since most people will be surprised at how something that has become so important in the theology of so many comes from such little biblical support. Here is a quick look at a much simpler and actually-in-context way of reading the 2 (that’s right, only 2) verses used to back up the idea of a Rapture. Another great argument is the fact that basically no one in church history believed it and neither does anyone now, outside of America.
9. God doesn’t change (his mind) // You might say, but what about Mal 3:6, “I am the LORD, I do not change?” And I might say, you forgot about Num 23:19, 1 Sam 15:29 and Psalm 110:4. But then I would say, you forgot about all the verses that use the exact same word to say the exact opposite, that God does change his mind, like Jer 18:5-10, Joel 2:13, Jon. 4:2, Gen 6:6–7, Exod 32:14, Amos 7:3, 6, and Jon. 3:10.
8. The words “Word of God” always refers to the Bible you hold in your hands // Sometimes it might. But mostly it doesn’t. The Word of God mostly just means “this speech that this prophet is speaking in the name of God,” the person of Jesus, or “what God said in this specific context.”
7. Bodiless Souls Floating in Eternal Heaven // When we die, our body gets buried while our souls go to heaven for eternity. Correct me if I’m wrong but almost every part of that sounds extremely Greek philosophy-ish, not really Ezekiel 37ish, Paulish, or well, biblical. For an excellent corrective, see N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope.
6. Church refers to the local 501 (c) 3 you attend // Yes, I know sometimes Paul uses the word to describe a local congregation, for instance “the Church at Corinth.” But it still refers to people, not a non-profit, not an institution, not a model or system, and certainly not a building.
5. Almost everything about the Christmas story // Too much to mention. Read this.
4. A person who will appear called “The Anti-Christ” // Despite the fact that I am entirely against reading Revelation as a novel (or a series of novels, hint hint) describing what will happen at the end of time, here are also two good reasons to dismiss the notion. First, the title “antichrist” appears only 4 times in the entire New Testament, and never in Revelation. Second, all four occurrences are in John’s epistles (1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, 2 John 1:7) and they all either assume that there are many antichrists and/or that these antichrists were already alive and well in John’s day.
3. That Jesus knew everything // “Jesus grew in wisdom.” – Luke 2:52. How do you grow in wisdom if you already know everything? There are other examples where Jesus seems not to know what is happening. And besides, if Jesus is 100% human, I am not sure how he could be omniscient.
2. That Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible (Pentateuch) // Pete & I tackle it a little bit in our book and others have spent much time on it. Besides the important fact that Moses isn’t mentioned as the writer, the basic gist is this: the Pentateuch records Moses’ death (Deut 34), which would be creepy if he wrote it, it mentions that Moses was the humblest man to ever live (Num 12:3), which would be weird/oxymoronic if he wrote it, and it mentions things that would not have existed in Moses’ day (off the top of my head, Gen 36, Gen 14:14, and Gen 26:1), which would be, well, impossible, if he wrote it.
1. 3 Ways to Get out of Debt that all start with the same letter // Okay, maybe this last one was uncalled for.**
*Of course, I’d like to think it’s because I have studied my Bible properly. But so does everyone else. That’s the problem. Who gets to decide who is right?
**Please note that this post is mostly meant to be tongue-in-cheek. While I do think these are not in the Bible and also think that they point to a larger problem of biblical illiteracy and simple misunderstanding about what the Bible actually is or how we should read it, I am not trying to be dismissive or condescending. Granted, it might be dismissive or condescending, but just note that I am not trying.