Faith Lies (with Darrell Smith): What Are Faith Lies?

I was recently in San Antonio at the invitation of Lynn Anderson and some amazing people associated with Alamo Heights United Methodist Church, Haven for Hope, and the Pioneer Recovery Group led by Chris Estus.

A highlight of my time in San Antonio was getting to participate in a Bible study at Haven for Hope along with Dinah Shelly, lead by Chris, Darrell Smith, and Ryan Jacobson, who are all on the ministry team at Alamo Heights. It was an energizing time for me, to see how this group was sharing a generous vision of Christianity in a marginalized context. It's something I'm doing every Monday night out at the prison and Wednesday nights at Freedom Fellowship. I felt so at home with Chris, Darrell, and Ryan, sharing their theological vision along with their passion for sharing that vision in marginalized contexts.

During our time together, I learned of Darrell's recently published book Faith Lies: Seven Incomplete Ideas That Hijack Faith and How to See Beyond Them. I invited Darrell to share excerpts from his book here with us. Today is an introduction to the book, and for the next seven Thursdays you'll be introduced to one of the faith lies.


Faith Lies with Darrell Smith
Introduction: What are Faith Lies?

Faith lies are those seemingly required religious ideas or spiritual beliefs that are often confusing and rarely helpful.

Kent owns and manages a business in south Texas. He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Trisha. His two grown daughters have recently followed new careers and new marriages away from San Antonio. Nevertheless, the tight-knit, family-oriented community where Kent and Trisha raised their daughters is still home. Kent and Trisha have both been faithful and serving members of a mainline protestant church there for the last 25 years. They are both college-educated, upwardly mobile professionals, and devout Christians.

Last month, they quit their church.

These two dedicated, serving evangelicals determined that their church had lost its way and was becoming theologically corrupt by social justice and universalist influences. They also decided it was their duty as disciples to stand up to this development—to reject it in the name of Jesus—and viewed their leaving as an act of holy defiance.

Kent and Trisha do not represent an isolated situation within the church. They are part of a widening divide within the Christian tradition. For every couple who is willing to publicly declare that they are spiritually offended and quit the church, there are 10 more who just quietly disappear and even more who remain steadfast but confused in the pew.

I have had the opportunity to work with many earnest Christians who feel the strain on their faith as American Christianity is forced out of its vacuum into a more global and inclusive conversation. The tragic irony is that Ameri-Christian evangelicals like Kent and Trisha—who would follow, and supposedly defend, Jesus—appear largely out of touch with the inclusive faith of Jesus.

In the absence of the ancient Eastern context that birthed the Christian faith, Western thinking—from Greek philosophy all the way to American Imperialism—has filled the void and raised up generations of Christians who sincerely believe that it is their faithful duty to blindly believe the texts of the Bible as the literal and stationary dictates of God and to reject any deviation from that ideology while defending the honor of Jesus and his church.

Faith Lies: Seven Incomplete Ideas That Hijack Faith and How to See Beyond Them is a gentle and generative journey that seeks to help devoutly faithful people release the burdens and baggage of a de-contextualized American Christian faith and reconnect to the ancient calling to rest, feast, and love. It is not a conspiracy theory. It is a journey that creates space for the honest investigation and protest of the unhelpful and incomplete ideas we have inherited and are now defending.

In the coming weeks, we will briefly look at the seven primary lies presented in Faith Lies—hoping that our investigation and dialogue can lighten our religious load while moving us all away from our corners and toward each other.
  • LIE 1: The Bible is Only the Literal Word of God
  • LIE 2: God is Angry and Doesn't Like Me—Especially When I Sin
  • LIE 3: The Devil is God's Counterpart
  • LIE 4: I Am Supposed to Protect and Defend God and My Faith
  • LIE 5: There is One Right Way to Believe and One Right Way to Behave
  • LIE 6: Faith is a Private Matter
  • LIE 7: Real Faith is Blind Belief

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