Nearly everything we learned at church was wrong: What the Bible actually teaches about sex, hell, tithing, and much more
By Drew Costen (Published April 22, 2017)
[I’ve made many updates to this book since I originally wrote it, so if you notice that the dates in some of the supporting links postdate the time it was written, that’s why.
Please note that I’m including most of my scriptural references in the links throughout this book (the links are the underlined words throughout the book), and they also contain extended exegesis 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. Sometimes it’s just that they happen to have better supporting material on a specific point than anybody else does. And on that note, I should also point out that pretty much everything in this book is based on the studies of Scripture by others who came before me; I didn’t come up with any of the doctrines in this book on my own. The purpose of this book is simply to gather all the scriptural arguments for the theological positions I’ve come to agree with in one place.]
Every weekend (mostly on Sundays, although some prefer Saturdays), billions of followers of the Christian religion all around the world head over to a building to sing some songs, donate some money, and listen to a speech (and, in some cases, have a bite of bread and perhaps a sip of a grape-based beverage). What almost none of them are aware of is that the reason they do these things is not because Scripture tells them to, but rather because of tradition. In fact, nearly every doctrine and practice taught within Churchianity (as some of us call the Institutional Church and the ”orthodox” religion known as Christianity [as opposed to the religionless/”heretical” doctrines that I now believe the Scriptures teach are meant for the body of Christ]) is based on the traditions and creeds of man rather than the teachings of Scripture. Members of the body of Christ in the first century gathered as the ecclesia (or church) very differently from the way those in the Christian religion have been taught to, and their beliefs were quite different as well.
I’d always been taught by my religious leaders to interpret Scripture pretty literally (aside from the parts that were obviously figurative, such as the parables, of course), but I came to see that they weren’t really interpreting it quite as literally as they claimed to be themselves, at least not when it contradicted their traditions, and they certainly weren’t interpreting it particularly consistently. In fact, as I dug deeper and searched for an ecclesia that did, I learned that almost no pastor has taught the members of their congregations very much about what Scripture actually says at all. Instead, they were (even if unintentionally) preaching false doctrines based on pre-existing assumptions about what Scripture says thanks to traditions they themselves had been taught by their denominations and leaders. Because of this, the members of these assemblies are missing out on some extremely important truths, and are instead taught ideas that are directly contrary to what Scripture really says. Thankfully, I was able to find teachers outside of the Institutional Church who did teach properly translated and interpreted Scripture (you’ll find some of them in the many supporting links, which I use in place of footnotes, that I include throughout this book). As you read on, you’ll discover many of these truths for yourself that I and many others like me learned when we began to interpret Scripture a lot more literally and consistently than those of the denominations we left behind ever did.
My challenge to you, particularly if you’re a Christian who claims to hold to Sola scriptura over tradition, is to read this book with a mind open to the possibility that some of the things you currently believe Scripture teaches could actually be based simply on traditions you’ve been taught rather than on what Scripture really says (particularly in its original languages). After reading some of the responses from people who have attempted to critique what I’ve written here, 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 perhaps hold off on writing your refutations until you’ve read the whole thing, since the odds are high that I [or one of the articles or videos in the supporting links] have already responded to your point a little further on in the book), 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.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Doctrine
Part 2: Practice