Five Half-Truths: Addressing the Most Common Misconceptions of Christianity
AUTHOR: Flip Michaels
PUBLISHER: Christian Focus
FORMAT: Paper, ebook
The premise of this book is that a half-truth isn’t merely a lie; it is worse than a lie, because half-truths are intended to mislead. And since half-truths contain an element of truth, they are far more dangerous than an outright lie. It isn’t surprising then that Satan would employ this approach when he tempted Eve in the Garden. He took what was pleasing to the eyes and provided just enough truth to make it seem as if he was on her side. But as author Flip Michaels argues, a half-truth dynamically alters truth, so much so that it no longer represents the original intent. While there are societal implications for a culture that embraces this approach to life, Michaels addresses the effect of half-truths on theology.
As the title suggests, Michaels logically works his way through five half-truths that have potentially serious repercussions on theology and the church. While Michaels could have considered many other half-truths, he narrowed the topics to five broad blocks of thought: the Bible, Christianity, God, Christ, and faith. By doing so, he provides help for those who struggle with the cultural arguments commonly made against the foundations of Christianity. The sense is that if these five roadblocks can be overcome, then an unbeliever will be well on his or her way to accepting the full truth of Scripture.
One unfortunate result of the author’s approach is that little consideration was given to the opposite extreme. For example, Michaels artfully described the commonly accepted yet dangerous half-truth that God is only loving. Scripture clearly teaches that God is love, but this truth must be tempered against the reality of His holiness; otherwise people mistakenly perceive God as permissive. To this point, Michaels crafted a compelling argument. However, believers can be guilty of perseverating on justice—of overemphasizing God’s holiness to the point where Christianity can appear void of love. Thus, there may be a bit of a missed opportunity here.
While many believers will find this book helpful for their personal reading, it can also serve as a valuable ministry resource. Specifically, this book can be a catalyst for creating good dialogue by addressing questions that unbelievers or new believers are likely afraid to ask yet that remain hurdles in their journey to faith. Second, pastors may want to use this book as the basis for a sermon series. The logical flow of the topics, along with the arguments, provide a narrative that could easily be adapted for corporate teaching.
Daryl Neipp is an associate professor at Liberty University and associate pastor of New Community Baptist Church, Avon, Ohio.