Good God . Spiritual Practice

6 Bad But Common Christian Ideas. (Fate, Prayer, Power, Being Right, Get Saved, Sex). God IS better than that.

These errors are false teachings that we hold though they make little or no sense, are not Biblical, and are in fact blasphemous. These 6 bad but common Christian ideas slander the good and loving God.

6 Common Christian ErrorsOf course, there are more than 6 Bad But Common Christian Ideas.  But let’s deal with these few.

Here’s a list of some church-talk-confusions many repeatedly tell themselves, sorta from the Bible. These 6 bad but common Christian ideas are false teachings. The ways we practice them are false practices. The ways we believe them are false beliefs, though sometimes there is a Bible quotation or near-quotation attached, and often there is preacher-talk around them.
They make the Good News into Bad News. These are serious accusations but I come by them honestly, after much observation, study, thought and prayer over the decades. See if you agree about these 6 damaging, un-Christlike Christian ideas.

I. Everything is the way God wants it

A. That’s slander against God.

We can quickly make long nasty lists of things going on in our world that show – if God truly approves – we have a really nasty God. Some “christians” and some “theologians” do, sadly, have a really nasty, evil god. I don’t think Jesus does.

b. This idea is a handy tool of oppression

– a common way for wealthy powerful bastards to oppress the people they suck money out of. “Your situation is God’s will. Accept it. Just do your best.”

c. Actually, there are some clear and very hopeful teachings about how to relate to evil in our world:

i. “Everything works together for good” (a common translation of Romans 8:28)

However, do note that “Things will ultimately work out well” is NOT the same as “Everything is good now,” nor “Everything is the way God wants it,” nor “The process will always be pleasant.”

ii. On the one hand: There IS value in a certain stoic practice of acceptance of life situations,

of doing so in ongoing respect toward God and love for our actual neighbors.
The 1st Century pagan philosopher Epictetus says:

We are all like actors who have been cast in a play. Divine will has decided what your role is going to be … It doesn’t matter. It’s your job to accept the part without complaint and make the most of it. Give a great performance. [Of course, he was a slave, and physically handicapped. Perhaps he had no choice but to have this attitude. Not true. He did choose it.]

iii. But on the other hand, please, let’s be honest about this actual pricelessly valuable principle:

It can be very helpful in clarifying these spiritual actions in us if we pray about them. I strongly recommend that. You might want to try it.
God neither likes nor approves of evil, not for you, not for the human race, not for the Earth. Our situations have a lot of unpleasantness in and around them. They really do.

iv. But the Bible teaches us that God’s intentions, and plans, are all for good.

1. “God so loved the world …” (John 3:16-17)
2. “I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble” (Psalm 91:15-16)
3. The ultimate Divine intention is lovely. (Isaiah 58:10-12)

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
Isaiah 58 Gives us Much-Coveted Hopes – After Accusations. It’s Beautiful.

II. Pray in Jesus’ name.

Often we hear or say “In Jesus’ Name, Amen” or “we pray in Your Name” etc. (John 14:12-14)

a. God already said he’s not listening to your prayers! Adding a 3-word cop-out does not change that.

The REASON God’s not listening is that WE are not listening – and the proof is that we are not loving.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood! (Isaiah 1:15)

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
What Does the Book of Isaiah Teach Us? Things We Don’t Like! See Isaiah 1 For Example.

b. We must come to pray IN ASSOCIATION with Jesus

i. It was not given as a saying to repeat, it IS a deed, actually a lifestyle, to be done.

Here’s a case where talk is less than cheap, it’s destructive. We are supposed to BE in Jesus’ name. Thus our prayers are “in Jesus’ name” because WE are “in Jesus’ name.” But if we’re not living that way, then saying we are is actually dangerous – we’re misleading ourselves and any who hear us say it, and we’re lying to God.

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
6 Ways to Believe in Jesus Without Taking Him Seriously

ii. It’s not a badge or credit card to be used on occasion; it’s a lifestyle.

1. Which has to mean to live in respect, active cooperation, intelligent involvement in the purposes of the one in whose name you come.
2. Sort of like an ambassador from the USA to another country. “I come in the name of (the President, the people of the USA, etc).” If you’re just a wannabe ambassador or representative, you can get in trouble claiming to come in those names!


So here’s a difficult, valuable training exercise. I urge you to try it.

i. For at least a couple of weeks do not SAY (or think, or pray) the phrase “in Jesus’ name”

(or some rough equivalent) at the end of your prayers.
Isn’t that scary!? Yes, because we’ve trained ourselves to think that little phrase actually carries spiritual weight. It doesn’t.

ii. Instead, think to yourself “AM I honoring Jesus’s concerns”

in my own real life? In my inner life and my prayers, perhaps especially in practical day by day living? Is that my agenda? Am I bringing love into the world, as he said was the most important thing? If so, then there’s some real likelihood prayer can be made ‘In Jesus’ name.’ If not, not. So don’t pretend; God is the hardest person to fool. But God is safe to be honest with.  🙂

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
Prayer for All of Us! – 5 Helps to Realism and Comfort in Prayer

III. “I can do all things through Christ.”

a. No you can’t. Even Jesus couldn’t.

b. Paul meant that he could endure what he must endure.

So the idea is good news, but not always pleasant news. (Philippians 4:12-14)

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
Train Your Memory to Be a Blessing. Embrace These 2 Passages for Meditation.

IV. If you would just do stuff right!

a. For Example:

i. Think right,

“believe” right, teach right, just get things RIGHT! Don’t you want to “be right”, have the right ideas?

ii. All of this often comes to mean

have an answer for every question, every issue, every problem, every alternative position, anything anyone says.

iii. It also means to live right in every particular:

1. Pray right.
2. Confess right.
3. Apologize right.
4. Treat everybody right on every occasion.
5. Eat right.
6. Listen to the right radio stations.
5. Manage your own life right in every particular.

b. THAT is OPPRESSIVE nonsense! You ain’t gonna get it done.

c. Alternatively, God offers good-parent love:

grace, love, kindness, patience, hope (THE fruits of THE SPIRIT, see Galatians 5:19,20). God offers to bring the good-parent (Father in Heaven) training experience into our lives, not the tyrant, picayunish bully of much of “Christian” “theology.”

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
Two Types of Religion – Authority vs Love
Is God Evil or Good? Let’s Not Ignore Jesus and His Strong Opinion. Luke 11.
Beware the Petty God – Bad, But Worshiped Everywhere, in All Religions

d. God does ask a few things of us:

i. “Act justly … love mercy … walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

ii. Love, and work on loving better (Romans 12:9-14, for example).

iii. Live in the integrity and openness of on-going confession (1 John 1:8-10).

V. They say we must “get saved”, get “born again.”

a. How we teach, or practice it

i. Receive Jesus into your heart

ii. Baptism saves you

Peter makes clear it’s a MORAL action, a moral transaction with personality results. The point is not a dunking (or sprinkling). (1 Peter 3:21-22)

iii. The Bread and Wine save you

These are a VERY few verses, often misused, dwarfed in number by teachings about, for example, social justice. These were intended to emphasize faith and love, not religious ritual. (John 6:35,47-58; 1 Corinthians 11:22-34)

iv. Other made-up stuff, usually in churchly settings …

b. How it actually happens:

i. Believe

in God, Jesus, the Good Spirit — which means love God, it means welcome the Good Spirit, it means listen with great respect to Jesus, etc.

ii. Love

God AND Neighbors

iii. Here’s another EXERCISE:

It can be very helpful in clarifying these spiritual actions in us if we pray about them. I strongly recommend that. You might want to try it.

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
How To Learn How to Pray – Don’t Fret, Just Do It! – 11 Helps From Real Pray-ers.

VI. Teachings — or Attitudes —  About SEX-related issues are a Big Part of churchly life.

There is this conviction that THE REALLY BIG Sins are related to: Sexual Practices / Gender domination (resisting male domination) / Pregnancy (frequency, contraception, abortion). These are different areas of practice, yet they do have a common thread, and are often linked together in the thinking of so-called “conservative” Christians. They are not big issues to Jesus or to the rest of the Bible.

a. Sex is almost always nasty, dangerous, a really bad sin –

that’s the teaching we often get from pulpits and other religious teachers, from church environments, etc. Sex is a really bad sin – except for certain people, almost always men, who have certain positions of relative power and seem to be free to do whatever they want in these matters.

b. That teaching often shifts over, psychologically,

from “almost always … a really bad sin” to “ALWAYS REALLY BAD — for YOU!”. Therefore religious establishments choose to make it difficult and dangerous, constrained and controlled, and guilt-laden, with increasing extremism. The leaders pushing these agendas are, again, almost always men.

c. Those areas of human behavior ARE a big part of life!

That is important to acknowledge.

d. But those matters are NOT featured teachings — not “a big part” — of the Bible;

none of them are. They are generally of little significance in Bible teachings. In fact most of the few cases in which those issues are the central issues appear as some of the Bible’s more horrible stories. (And you have to admit, there are some horrible stories.)

e. Domination.

These are areas where religious people — especially but not only men — LOVE to exercise domination. But domination is not the Gospel, nor is it the strategy of Jesus.

f. Distraction, fog –

this cluster is a way to fog our minds and warp our agendas, in order to ignore or downplay or bypass the Bible’s true emphases:

i. We probably all know persons (or groups) who are deeply agitated and judgmental

about things Jesus never mentioned – in some cases things that are just not given attention in the Bible at all!
1. Those things often are items in this cluster
2. It often turns out to be projection.
3. It often turns out to be misuse of some small Bible selections.
4. It often turns out to have partisan political energies driving it.

See Also, Here on PublicChristian:
6 Anti-Gay Clobber Passages – Biblical Authority (Mis)Used Against People. Ouch!

5. It is perhaps always an explicit practice of avoiding the clear teaching of the Bible about very popular, very destructive human sins.

ii. Shift attention to OTHER PEOPLE.

If we have sexual hangups, guilt, or just confusion, it’s easier to avoid the discomfort of facing those things IF we focus on OTHER PEOPLE’S behaviors or ideas. That’s a very popular activity!

iii. There’s lots of pretending (hypocrisy, fraud, lying) in all of this


The fruit of the Spirit is not abstinence, not a despising of God’s gifts.

That would be contradictory. You have to sneak those ideas into the list of the fruits by some dishonest re-defining of terms.

Well, there is my current list of 6 common Christian errors.  And we know well that the REAL Christian errors are moral — often growing out of some of the above. BUT

“The fruit of the Spirit IS …” not like these 6 bad but common Christian ideas. It is:

i. Love
ii. Joy
iii. Peace
iv. Forbearance
v. Kindness
vi. Goodness
vii. Faithfulness
viii. Gentleness, and
ix. Self-Control”
(Galatians 5:22,23)

This is the GOOD GOD.

When we understand Bible teachings about the spiritual life more accurately, thinking and living Christianly become more possible, more pleasant, and more attractive to others.  Lets work on that, eh?
Questions for us:
1. Do you hear or have you heard these ideas? Have you believed – or at least repeated – some of them?
2. For each of these items, is there a way that belief in the profound GOODNESS of God helps clarify the issue for you?
3. What others would you add?

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