Become a Theological Myth Buster

Become a Theological Myth Buster

‘Urban Legends of Theology’ is a profoundly useful book for a wide audience. Pastors and seasoned saints can, like I have, become overconfident that they wouldn’t fall prey to urban legends, especially if they’ve spent years in theological study. This book can also serve the church well as an early introduction to theological thinking. Newer believers and prospective teachers can observe the precision Wittmer uses in making arguments and thus learn to carefully approach challenging doctrinal questions.

“God will never give me more than I can handle.”

The grieving spouse sighed in resignation as we sat together preparing for a funeral.

The moment didn’t call for theological precision, so I turned the conversation to prayer; however, I left the room saddened by the reliance on a theological urban legend during a time of loss. God’s Word has so much more for us than these common misconceptions allow.

In Michael Wittmer’s book Urban Legends of Theology: 40 Common Misconceptions, he examines false beliefs in light of Scripture. As a pastor, professor, and author of many books, Wittmer brings a wealth of experience to the task.

The book covers an array of issues in four sections: (1) God and theological methods, (2) humanity and sin, (3) Jesus and salvation, (4) the church and last things. Wittmer’s consistent pastoral sensitivity guides his theological precision as he serves as both myth buster and caretaker of the soul.

Confronts Obvious Problems

According to Wittmer, an urban legend is “something popularly believed—in the church or culture or both—that is not true” (xi). Some of these legends rob us of peace and joy, while others have more damaging consequences for our souls.

Urban legends of theology range widely. Wittmer argues against heady assertions like “doctrine doesn’t matter” and more practical contentions like “God helps those who help themselves.” He undermines the culture’s rejection of shame and dismantles the myth that Jesus never addressed homosexuality.

Constructively, Wittmer weaves his robust theology of creation through the chapters. This positive work is necessary because many of the urban legends relate to the nature of this world and truths about death, heaven, and the new creation. Preachers and teachers will be helped to avoid errors common among evangelical believers.

Corrects Subtle Errors

As I read this book, my own theology didn’t escape correction. My heart experienced “oomph!” moments as I recognized urban legends that have accumulated in my theology.

For example, the book critiques the myth that Christians are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. As Wittmer writes, “Paul does not use the body metaphor to depict the church’s witness to the world (as the hands and feet of Jesus) but to describe our mutual belonging and interdependence” (226).

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