In their annual Gates Foundation Letter, Bill and Melinda Gates listed three stubborn myths about global development that drive them crazy: 1) that poor countries are doomed to stay poor; 2) that foreign aid is a big waste; and 3) that saving lives leads to overpopulation.
It’s easy to understand how infuriating such myths are to the Gateses, who have pledged to spend their entire $72 billion fortune on their foundation’s save-the-world work.
In an interview about their work, they continued to circle back to the big gap between their proof that interventions work and the persistence of false ideas and wrong thinking.
This prompted an exploration by Susan Glasser, featured on Politico, of exaggerations and plain untruths about how the United States operates in the world. She went to diplomats and senators, economists and entrepreneurs, to ask, “What myth about America’s role in the world drives you the craziest?”
She gathered responses from 25 thinkers and ended up covering ground from the size of the U.S. foreign aid budget to the commander-in-chief’s power to change world events, from America’s isolationism to its secret hegemonic machinations.
I share the concerns of Bill and Melinda Gates but have my own area of passion. When you have pledged your life to Christ’s save-the-world work, it’s the myths about Christianity that drive me crazy.
So, in no particular order, here are 25 myths that came to mind pretty quickly:
1. Christianity is clearly anti-intellectual.
2. To be a Christian is to be judgmental and intolerant.
3. If you’re going to follow what the Bible says about sexual ethics, you have to apply everything it says about diet and dress and custom in the Old Testament, too.
4. Jesus never claimed to be God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, in human form.
5. A loving God could never send anyone to hell, so either He’s not loving or there’s no hell.
6. The apostle Paul was a misogynist.
7. The New Testament accounts of Jesus were written so long after His life that there’s no way of knowing what He really said or did.
8. Everybody knows you can interpret the Bible any way you want.
9. Any and every fellowship or association of Christians is “the church.”
10. David and Jonathan of the Old Testament were clearly gay lovers.
11. The Bible is so riddled with errors you can’t believe any of it.
12. The Genesis account forces you to believe that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old.
13. There is no way to reconcile a good God and a screwed-up world.
14. The early Christian movement was almost entirely political.
15. The God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and the God of the New Testament is a God of love.
16. There are lost books of the Bible that were suppressed by the early church because they contradict the Bible we have.
17. A hypocrite is evidence that Christianity in general, and Jesus in particular, are false.
18. The four gospels of the New Testament contradict each other.
19. The Bible and science are in direct conflict with each other.
20. You have to get your act together before coming to Christ.
21. You can’t harmonize history or archaeology with the Bible.
22. All that churches care about is your money.
23. There are so many translations of the Bible that there’s no way of knowing what it really says.
24. None of the four gospels in the New Testament were first-hand, eyewitness accounts.
25. Jesus never meant to start a church.
Now if only I could go on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, like Bill Gates, and try to set the record straight. But you can be on the lookout for Thursday’s blog called “25 Truths” for some deeper insights on this.
James Emery White
Susan B. Glasser, “Mythbusters,” Politico, January 21, 2014, read online.
This blog was originally published in 2013, and the Church & Culture Team thought you would enjoy reading it again.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.