The False-Danger of Misinformation: Why Reading and Studying Contradicting “Truths” Strengthen Our Walks With Christ.

   

Image by Rob Gallop

Like a rotting corpse, decaying from within, the wrong sort of information can destroy a person’s mind and soul. Or at least this is what many Christians have been told. Information can be evil, sprung for the vile imaginations of demons and devils alike. And since this information is demonically inspired, it corrupts and destroys the truth within our souls. Such information, than, should be avoided at all costs. Shun those texts which contain contradictions to the scripture. Burn those books that contain spurious lies—anything about evolution or the errors of those deviant heretics.

Such was the impression that I received as a young lad, raised in the church and taught to cling to the truth and the truth alone. I was taught to consume Christian products—Christian music, Bibleman, Jesus-loving cartoons, and Salty (whom even to this day I don’t exactly know what this character was supposed to be, a bible?).

Such views of course spilled over into the academic circle.  Once I was even asked why in the world I was going to a secular (non-Christian) school. If I were a really good Christian, I would have gone to a denominational-line college. Even the Methodist school was unacceptable, being populated by liberal, pseudo-christian, feminist harpies.

I thought those years and those sorts of Christians were behind me. I believed the Christians who held such beliefs were antiquated and, while well-meaning, had gone the way of the buffalo. Isolationist theology, as I would soon find out, is far more dominant than I once had thought.

This last semester I sat in on an upper-division religious studies course entitled “Christian Origins”—my need for graduate units having long been exhausted. The professor whom they hired was one of the pastors from the Crystal Cathedral. And unpleasant as it is to say, this professor made me totally embarrassed of the Church in our modern-day. He treated the course as a Sunday school bible study, offering little to nothing beyond the basic Christian “introduction to the New Testament.” Any Criticism was dismissed with little to not credence to the objection. And to my horror, when it came time to discuss gnosticism and read the gnostic literature (both the gospels and epistles), he gave the class a watered down, dismissive Christian pamphlet instead. This printout was more concerned with explaining why gnosticism was false than actually explaining what it was.

This professor, whom shall remain nameless, said “You all don’t need to read the chapter on Gnosticism. Marcion was a terrible heretic and we don’t need to get confused.” In short, if we read about this heresy, we run the risk of corrupting the truth which he had spent the entire semester instilling in us.

Information is to be feared. Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil.

Unfortunately, instead of protecting the gospel, the truth had been propped up. It was not allowed to stand on by its’ own merit and truthfulness tested by contradicting information.

If the truth is the truth, if the gospels are true, than they will stand the test of any contradicting information.

To study, read, and embrace other views is to ultimately strengthen the truth—something no Christian should ever fear or be prevented from.

Christians should read other religious texts, books that were rejected from the Bible, academic literature on evolution and atheism, or whatever else strikes the interest of a believer.

Our truth is not so weak that we need to shield the Bible, our God, or our minds from misinformation.

Our God and the truth we cling to is mighty. If He and the truth are such, let them loose on everything.

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  • beccafallon

    Too funny! I love when you talk about your childhood as a Christian because mine was so similar. I think one of Psalty's songs said he was a 'singing song book.' I think with the spelling it has to do with Psalms???

  • Eric

    Our truth is not so weak that we need to shield the Bible, our God, or our minds from misinformation.

    Amen!

  • Jonathandkeck

    haha. I found Psalty's web-page. Crazy. Blast from the Christian past. Here is the web page. http://www.psalty.com/

  • Alex S.

    Great post, Jon! "To study, read, and embrace other views is to ultimately strengthen the truth—something no Christian should ever fear or be prevented from." Amen!

    I came across this Bonhoeffer quote last night that I really dig and I think you'll like:

    "To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depths of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom." — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    A few months ago my boss gave me her copy of The Da Vinci Code. She knows I'm a Christian and wanted to know what I thought. I read through a few chapters and was blown away by some of the insights. I'd heard of Dan Brown before from evangelism tracts set to prove his book wrong (those are good, BTW. I think some people are sincerely confused.) I knew beforehand the book was a little bit of truth wrapped in fiction. But I wasn't concerned with attempting to argue against the book because a) I'd like to keep my job, and b) the book is interesting to me. I'm praying the conversations we'll be able to have as a result are mutually edifying.

    So it is with other subjects like psychology, science, culture; I like to read them because they interest me. I won't be holding in-depth conversation in either of those but I am aware, at least. Right now I'm thinking how much better my life would've been if I'd been introduced to Psalty. How did I ever miss that?

  • Jonathandkeck

    Alex, thanks so much for reading and commenting. Awesome. I have been meaning to read some Bonhoeffer. I hear great things. You are quite right that reading Da Vinci Code is a good thing. While even historians have found problems with the book (many of my colleges and professors held conferences discussing it's historical inaccuracies—none christians!). And your right, people are confused. But what an awesome tool and oportunity for the servents of the true Christ to use this cultural text!

    I imagine it is much like when Peter saw the man reading Isaiah and asked, "do you understand what you are reading?" Could we not do something similar? Great to hear from you, your comments are always a refreshing pleasure to read.

  • Alex S.

    Thanks! Great points, man. Always a pleasure to read your stuff. I've been curious about Bonhoeffer since the time I saw the documentary on PBS. He's a great, one of my favorite theologians.

    Here's a good book review by Challies.com of the extensive new Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas: http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/book-review-… This one is definitely on my radar.

  • Well, talk about misinformation…I felt I had to share this follow up post about the Bonhoeffer biography since I recommended it: Counterfeit Bonhoeffer http://t.co/Eksmk2p via @challies

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