Christianity as a religion is huge. Throughout the thousands of years, the history and theology of the religion has gotten miscommunicated from generation to generation. Translating the Bible incorrectly, for example, can affect how information is communicated. When we have misconceptions about the Bible, it effects how we view the religion and move forth on our faith journey.
Here are six of the biggest misconceptions about the Bible, which form a negative impression about God.
“The Old and New Testament don't agree.”
Many Christians will focus the entirety of their faith on one Testament or another. As you leave the Old Testament and begin to read the New, you see a dramatic shift of theology from violence towards enemies to treating everyone with love.
The clear expectation is that Jesus Christ was born. Genesis Chapter 3, the Bible talks about "The Seed" coming into the world. Jesus Christ fulfilled that role. The reason the two Testaments don't seem to agree is because the God's strategy had changed. The Old Testament strategy (Genesis 3:15) was to bring about this promised Seed, at all costs. The New Testament strategy was to have the Seed fulfill the mission of returning to heaven after sacrificing His life for the world.
“The Bible says wives are servants.”
Ephesians 5:22-33 is often summed up by the casual reader as, “Wives, obey/submit to your husbands”. Depending on the church you go to, your congregation may embrace this or reject it outright. When you cherry pick Bible verses without context, it usually doesn't give the true, full picture of what God was trying to say. The very next paragraph commands husbands to love their wives “as their own bodies, for he who loves his wife loves himself.” This passage also cites Genesis 2:24, which says that husband and wife “shall become one flesh.” The Bible does not declare wives to be servants, but outlines a structure for leadership based on love, respect, and harmony.
“Prophecies are only understood by Christian theologists.”
For many, the prophecies of the Bible are confusing, scary, and therefore they believe only Christian leadership and those that have studied Christian theology can read about them. The Bible, however, is meant to be for everyone. Deep dive studies are important, but can make us think we must completely understand every facet of every verse in order to enjoy God’s Word. You don't have to understand every little thing about Christianity in order to appreciate what God has said to us. Don't let that confusion stop you from trying. With time and study, Bible readers can learn more about these prophecies and what they mean long-term.
"God is portrayed at being violent."
A common objection to Christianity is that the God of the Old Testament seems so different than the God of the New. The Old Testament God is a vengeful deity devoted to his particular nation, whereas the New Testament God is more open toward other nations, happy, and loving. This speaks to the difference of why the New and Old Testament don't always seem to align in the same book.
However, there are actually many instances in the both the Old and New Testament that show God's mercy, love and kindness. Furthermore, there are instances of His stern warnings throughout the entire Bible. The God of the Bible is a righteous judge. God is a loving God who is patient and merciful and wants all people to know Him, but who also judges sin and finally makes things right. That is not the same as being violent, mean or rash.
"The Bible is full of contradictions."
Many apparent contradictions come from bad interpretations of the Bible. This leads to another bad misconception, that the Bible has been translated too many times to be understood correctly. That belief assumes that we don’t have enough manuscript evidence to support current translations of the Bible, and therefore undermines its overall credibility. However this simply isn't true and we have access to thousands of other texts that give us a reliable accounting of what the Bible is telling us.
Although it is true that there are some passages in the Bible that are difficult to understand, it is simply not true that the Bible contains actual contradictions. It's likelier due to cherry picking out specific passages without reading the context of the verse, or poor translation. Being written and brought about by the Lord, the Bible is a perfect text. He is all-powerful and all-knowing, and gave us the text so we could connect to Him.
"Christians are told not to judge."
Matthew 7:1 says "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." However as with other Bible misconceptions, this is taken out of context. Reading the proceeding verses, we understand that the passage is about hypocrisy, not a blanket restriction on judging others. As Paul points out in Corinthians, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?” In other words, it is the church’s duty to judge those within its body.
The idea that we cannot judge others promotes the idea that judgment cannot be made in love. This sort of thinking is a product of our popular culture, which preaches tolerance and acceptance above all else, no matter what destructive path our fellow human heads down. However there is a way we can use judgment to encourage others to make better choices, and help lead them on a better path to Christ.
In general, many Christians are biblically illiterate. They haven't taken the time to validate their belief system against the Word of God, and instead take everything they are told by leaders to heart. This has caused some huge cultural myths about the Bible. Taking the time to learn more about the misconceptions you will be able to grow in your faith.