Learn what Scripture really says about sex, hell, tithing, and much more
By Drew Costen (2024.01.30.20.50 edition — view one page version of eBook here)
I’ve made many updates since this was originally published as an article titled “Nearly everything we learned at church was wrong” on April 22, 2017, and even after it was expanded into a full eBook, and I continue to do so regularly, so if you notice that the dates in some of the supporting links postdate that time, this is why (it’s also a good reason to give the book a re-read every now and then as well).
Please note that I’m including many of my scriptural references in those links (the links are the underlined words throughout the book), and they also link to studies with extended details that I couldn’t fit into the book, so please be sure to click all the supporting links in order to get the full picture, as well as all the Scripture references. Please also keep in mind, however, that just because I link to specific articles or videos doesn’t mean I agree with everything their creators believe and/or teach. In fact, the resource I link to could theoretically be the only thing I agree with them on, theologically-speaking. Sometimes it’s just that they happen to have better supporting material on a specific point than anybody else does.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Doctrine
Part 2: Practice
No matter what doctrines you might hold to, based on the number of denominations there are in the Christian religion, if you happen to be a Christian yourself, it should go without saying that the majority of other Christians out there believe you’re interpreting the Bible incorrectly in one way or another, and some of them even consider you to be a heretic, based on some of your beliefs. Of course, it’s important to remember that the definition of “heresy” isn’t “false teaching,” and that “orthodox” doesn’t mean “true” either. In fact, the meaning of the Greek word αἵρεσις/“hah’-ee-res-is,” which is transliterated as “heresies” in certain less literal versions of the Bible, is simply “sects,” or “divisions,” and not “incorrect doctrine” at all. And just like that Greek word doesn’t mean “false teaching,” the English word “heresy” simply means “that which is not commonly accepted as true,” just like the word “orthodox” really just means “that which is commonly accepted as true,” and there’s always been plenty of commonly accepted error out there, just as there’s lots of commonly rejected truth. For example, Galileo was technically a heretic because he taught that the Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe, but he was still quite correct that it wasn’t. Meanwhile, the idea that our planet is the centre of the universe was the orthodox view at the time, as far as those in the Christian religion went, but they were entirely incorrect. So always keep in mind that just because something is “heretical” doesn’t mean it’s incorrect, and something being “orthodox” doesn’t make it true. In fact, both Jesus and Paul were considered to be heretics by the orthodoxy of their day, so consider yourself in good company when someone calls you a heretic.
With that in mind, if you do happen to be a Christian, I have one simple question for you: Have you ever considered the possibility that you might be interpreting parts of the Bible incorrectly yourself? I myself grew up as a conservative, Evangelical, “born-again” Christian, and I believed quite strongly in the traditional, “orthodox” ideas that nearly every member of the denomination I grew up in (the Bible Chapels of the Plymouth Brethren) assumes is taught in Scripture. At some point near the end of the 20th century, however, I was challenged to begin looking at some of the doctrines my religious leaders taught were true, eventually leading to an in-depth investigation of the doctrines we believed in order to confirm which ones were scriptural and which were really just tradition, and over time I came to recognize that many of the things we’d been taught didn’t line up with Scripture at all, ultimately leading me to write this book in order to share the scriptural interpretations and arguments that convinced me of the doctrines I now believe to be far more scriptural than many of those I grew up holding to.
And so, my challenge to you, particularly if you’re a Christian who holds to Sola scriptura over tradition, is to read this book with a mind open to the possibility that some of the things you yourself currently believe Scripture teaches could actually be based simply on traditions you’ve been taught rather than on what Scripture really says and means. I should say, after reading some of the responses from people who have attempted to critique earlier editions of this book, it’s become abundantly clear that most of them either weren’t able to maintain this mindset while reading it, or they just didn’t bother to read it very closely in the first place, likely just skimming through it quickly (and entirely ignoring the supporting links). Because of this, they sometimes tried to respond to my points by making arguments I’d already completely refuted, somehow missing those sections of the book altogether. So if you are going to read it, please do so carefully and prayerfully (and hold off on writing your refutations until you’ve read the whole thing, preferably in the order it was written rather than skipping ahead past important points, since the odds are high that I — or one of the creators of the articles, books, or videos I link to — have already responded to your point somewhere in the book or in one of the linked resources, which is why I generally won’t respond to attempted refutations or questions until one has read the whole thing), as well as with the humility to acknowledge that you could be wrong about something you currently believe. And if you find yourself immediately disagreeing with a point I make, thinking to yourself, “this can’t possibly be right because we know x is true instead,” stop to ask yourself why you’re so sure that x is the case, and then consider whether the reasons given in this book might actually prove that x isn’t really true after all.