Common Misconceptions About Christianity

Though Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, there are many misconceptions about Christianity which are held by both Christians and non-Christians alike. The following article will clear up some of the most common ones.

christian chat There was no historical Jesus –
Though we have no way of knowing for certain, the majority of Biblical scholars and historians agree that there was a historical figure, a Jew from Galilee, who started the Christian movement. Given several Christian and non-Christian sources, it seems very safe to say that Christianity did in fact have a historical founder.

Jesus is mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus, by a Roman governor named Pliny the Younger, by a Roman senator and historian named Tacitus, by another historian named Suetonius, and of course by the authors of the four Gospels. Though the Gospel writers had a religious message, there is no compelling reason to assume that they lied about the historical person of Jesus.

You might enjoy reading Was There a Historical Jesus? to get more information on this topic.

The "Jesus myth" shares much in common with other hero myths around the world –
The idea of that Jesus is a myth has been popularized by the movie Zeitgeist; by the author Timothy Freke; and by contemporary comedians/commentators such as Bill Maher (especially in his movie Religulous). The Jesus myth hinges on the idea that before Jesus’ time there were many stories about a dying and rising "sun god" who was born of a virgin in a barn or cave on the 25th of December. Jesus is often compared to figures such as King Arthur, Krishna, Mithra, and Horus.

The problem is that it would be a stretch to say that any of these religious figures were said to have been born to virgins. Also, these other spiritual or mythological figures rarely have their birth dates recorded. And, even if they were, these birth dates would not be given according to the Gregorian calendar. In fact, the above mentioned figures have very few similarities with Jesus apart from the fact that they could work miracles and/or perform great feats, something not uncommon to religious figures all around the world.

All Christians read the same Bible –
There are many different versions of the Bible between Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, Coptic Christians, and the numerous denominations of Protestant Christians. These Biblical differences are not only due to differences in translation, but to the fact that sometimes entire books are added or removed. For example, Catholic tradition includes the Old Testament Book of Wisdom in its cannon, while Protestant tradition does not. What one group of Christians might consider as Apocrypha (non-canonical books), another considers to be part of the authorized Biblical cannon.

The Immaculate Conception refers to the birth of Jesus –
It is quite common for non-Christians and Christians alike to believe that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Jesus. In actuality, the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of his mother, Mary. It was crucial for Mary to be born without original sin so that she would be fit to bear the Son of God.

So not only was Mary the mother of God, but she was born truly spotless and blameless, with no sin having been passed on to her by her parents. This is why she has been such a venerated figure throughout Christianity, and why many Catholics retained their strong devotion to Mary despite Protestant forces that said only God should be an object of devotion.

Early Christians interpreted the Bible literally. It is only recently that "liberal" Christians try and interpret the Bible "symbolically." –
First, the earliest Christians, including the apostles, did not have a Bible. The general combination of sacred text that became today’s Bible was not put together until almost 400 years after Christ’s departure. The earliest Christians had a wide variety of scared text that included Jewish texts (think: Old Testament) and writing passed down regarding Jesus which themselves became sacred text. It wasn’t until Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (who had converted to Christianity) around 306 CE (or AD if you prefer) pushed the Christian Church elders into creating a finalized Church canon, or Bible, to represent Christianity and Christian religion. Before that time, the earliest Christians had a much larger collection of divinely inspired and spiritually historical texts to inspire them and from which to understand what it meant to be ‘Christian’.

For over a thousand years Christians had many different ways of interpreting the Bible and understanding Christian spirituality. Taking the Bible literally was only one of the many methods of interpretation. For many early Christians, literal interpretation of the Bible was the least popular method for understanding Christianity. For example, though some Christians did believe in the literal creation of the world in six days, it was not uncommon for Genesis to be taken as a metaphor for the creation of a structured and meaningful cosmos.

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Origen, an extremely influential early Christian theologian, is well-known for his method of "spiritual interpretation." He proposed that the Bible had many layers of meaning, and that the most important Biblical messages lay deep beyond the literal meaning of the words themselves. He considered it important for Christians to get at the "spirit" of the letter to truly understand what the Bible was saying in a metaphorical and symbolic sense.

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