Exposing Myths about Christianity: A Guide to Answering 145 Viral Lies and Legends
by Jeffrey Burton Russell; 361 pp. paper $18.00
Reading through the chapter titles of this book is enough to make a person chuckle, maybe wince a few times, and certainly raise an eyebrow in wonder: “How does he answer that one?” Eminent historian Jeffrey Burton Russell, who has written several seminal works on the history of Christian thought (Dissent and Order in the Middle Ages, A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence), turns his expertise to answering popular misconceptions about Christianity. He addresses beliefs hostile to Christianity (“Christianity warps children,” “Christians need a crutch”) as well as beliefs Christians of different sorts assume about each other (“The Catholic Church discourages reading the Bible,” “Protestantism is puritanical”). Some misconceptions arise from a missing piece of information (“Christians persecuted Galileo for saying the earth revolves around the Sun”) or a missed step in reasoning (“Saying ‘I don’t know’ is the most defensible position”).
Without preaching or making daring forays into speculation, Russell simply sorts the seed of truth from the myth that has grown from it. Since he does not claim (or seek) to prove ultimate questions such as the existence of God but rather to explain why belief in God cannot properly be called “anti-scientific,” his work is a helpful tool for intellectually honest readers of all persuasions. Exposing Myths About Christianity clears away the weeds so that constructive conversation about Christianity can flourish.