From the Publisher
“Ever since I read The Unity Factor almost twenty years ago, Larry Osborne has been my mentor from afar. Now that Larry is writing books again, he is quickly becoming a go-to author for me, because he speaks my language and deals with my issues. I read everything he writes!”
–Pete Briscoe, senior pastor, Bent Tree Bible Fellowship and author of Christianity: A Follower’s Guide and Secrets from the Treadmill
“A very liberating read, as well as one that will surely deepen your trust in God. Larry takes apart ten commonly held beliefs that don’t make sense . . . because they aren’t true!”
–Russ Carroll, CEO, Miva Merchant
“In Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, Larry Osborne dismantles many of the ideas that have derailed the faith of sincere Christians for far too long. Larry has the rare capacity to communicate difficult truths in a way that ignites the imagination and disarms the soul. I strongly recommend this book to anyone seeking to develop a deeper and more nuanced faith.”
–Scott Chapman, senior pastor, The Chapel, Illinois
“Larry Osborne never fails to compel me to think with greater precision. Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe challenges us to reevaluate what we can so glibly believe and come away with a faith that we can deeply admire.”
–Dr. Wayne Cordeiro, author of The Divine Mentor, Doing Church As a Team, and The Life Journal
“I recommend anything that Larry Osborne writes. In reviewing Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, I see that he’s hit another homer! In Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, Larry unshackles our souls from things that threaten to destroy us. I’m confident your life will be better after reading this book!”
–Ron Forseth, vice president, Outreach, Inc., and general editor, SermonCentral.com
“Larry Osborne’s Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe will help new believers and seasoned Christians alike. People often believe what they’ve heard without knowing why. Larry pierces through widely accepted spiritual legends with common sense and scriptural precision.”
–Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv and author of Confessions of a Pastor
“This is Larry Osborne at his best: scripturally sound, brutally honest, and dripping with grace. He has the guts to blow up myths that have lingered for far too long. Whether you’ve been reading your Bible for years or just bought your first one yesterday, you should listen to this gracious, but straightforward, wisdom.”
–Greg Holden, pastor, Windsor Crossing Community Church, Chesterfield, Missouri
“This book will liberate you from faulty assumptions about God and life that keep us trapped or looking like naive fools. Larry Osborne has brought practical and biblical wisdom to bear on some beliefs that we never should have held and that have always confused us. His chapters on forgiving and on judging alone are worth the price of the book.”
–Mel Lawrenz, senior pastor, Elmbrook Church and author of I Want to Believe
“This is a very important book that has needed to be written for a very long time. With patience and clarity, Larry clearly dissects the erroneous beliefs that masquerade as faith. He helps us wade through the nonsense–inaccurate and misguided ideas we cling to–and guides us to an understanding that results in a winsome, authentic faith . . . the kind of faith we all long for.”
–Nancy Ortberg, founding partner, Teamworkx2 and author of Looking for God
“Larry Osborne blends pastoral experience and counterintuitive wisdom that will frustrate (in a good way), challenge, and encourage you as you seek to walk with God for a lifetime.”
–Darrin Patrick, pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri
“Filled with common sense from the heart of a California pastor, this is a well-written and entirely biblical look at often-misunderstood principles in Scripture. Not only have I found it helpful in my own life, but also I have been able to use it effectively in discipling others. The great illustrations throughout the book have made the principles clear and easy to grasp. The game plan illustration relating to God’s will is worth the price of the book alone.”
–Steve Potratz, president, Parable Christian Stores and The Parable Group
“I remember exactly where I was sitting when I first heard my friend Larry Osborne explode the myth that faith fixes everything. I was in San Diego for vacation and had stopped in for a visit to North Coast Church. I was there to learn the inner workings of the church but walked away with a new insight into my faith. Since that time, Larry has taught me much about the dumb things that smart Christians believe (and even a few lessons about dumb things that smart pastors believe). You’ll find one ‘aha’ moment after another in this book. I’m buying copies for all our small-group leaders.”
–Nelson Searcy, lead pastor, The Journey Church (New York City)
“Larry Osborne takes us through years of misunderstandings that have been handed down from generation to generation, from Sunday school class to Sunday school class. In today’s jambalaya mix of spirituality, Larry helps spiritual seekers and misinformed churchgoers sort through what is true and what is ridiculous. Whether it’s in the barbershop or the halls of traditional church, there are myths circulating . . . and now Larry brings the light and balance of Scripture to enlighten the misinformed.”
–Stacy Spencer, senior pastor, New Direction Christian Church, Memphis, Tennessee
“Larry’s commonsense approach in addressing widely held, but incorrect, spiritual beliefs bring clarity and sanity–finally! The chapters on forgiveness and parenting struck a particular chord with me. Larry is a wise pastor, gifted in teaching the Scriptures in a way that makes biblical truth accessible and understandable. I highly recommend this book to those familiar with the Christian faith and to those who aren’t.”
–Linda Stanley, director, Next Generation Pastors Leadership Community, Leadership Network
“Larry Osborne pulls no punches in Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe. He brings clarity and biblical insight to commonly misunderstood ideas. With books like these, Christians will believe fewer stupid things that damage their own spiritual journeys. Ten Dumb Things is worth reading and sharing.”
–Ed Stetzer, co-author of Compelled by Love, www.edstetzer.com
“Larry Osborne gives wise counsel for all Christians. It’s hard to put down once you start reading. It will influence and impact your core beliefs.”
–Tim Stripe, co-owner, Grand Pacific Resorts, Carlsbad, California
“I couldn’t put Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe down once I started reading it. I know many Christians have the same issues Larry addresses with gentle clarity to correct our thinking and behaviors. A great book for new and serious believers alike.”
–Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network and author of Beyond Megachurch Myths and Beyond the Box: Innovative Churches That Work
“Smart Christians can fall for a lot of dumb beliefs. I hadn’t considered how many ’til I read this book chock-full of sensible observations, disarming illustrations, and compelling scriptural insights. Larry makes you laugh while he makes you think.”
–Ken Werlein, founding pastor of Faithbridge Church, Houston, Texas
“This is a great book. It’s a life-changing message the world needs to hear. Everyone should buy one and read it.”
–Carolyn Osborne, Larry’s mom
Read an Excerpt
It is no news flash that smart people can do some pretty dumb things. But lots of times we forget that smart people can also believe some pretty dumb things.
What possessed amilitary genius likeNapoleon to think that the harsh Russian winter would be no match for his troops? Sure, they were well trained and well equipped, but it’s not as if he had a shred of historical evidence to support his decision to march on.
What caused the leading scientists and thinkers of Galileo’s day to ignore evidence they could see with their own eyes and brand him as a heretic and a quack?
And why would an otherwise brilliant leadership team at IBM bet the farm on main frames and practically give away the PC, as well as the underlying operating system, to a young programmer named Bill Gates?
All of these, andmany other equally baffling decisions, were made by people far smarter than you or me. Yet, in hindsight, they all look like idiots.
In each case, an otherwise intelligent person badly misinterpreted the facts, made an incorrect assumption, or relied upon information that we now know to be completely false—with disastrous consequences. Sometimes they were confused by cultural bias (which at times can be so strong that it literally blinds us to the truth). In other cases, their underlying assumptions were so widely believed and accepted that no one thought to question them. Sometimes they were done in by a bad case of wishful thinking. But whatever the cause, they weren’t alone. History is filled with examples of otherwise intelligent people who acted upon amazingly goofy assumptions—and paid a high price for doing so.
The High Price of Flawed Assumptions
We, as Christians, aren’t immune. Even a highly moral, deeply sincere, smart Christian, with the best theological pedigree, has no guarantee of protection from the consequences of a bad decision based on flawed assumptions. I like to put it this way: the wisdom of Solomon + inaccurate facts or faulty assumptions= a fool’s decision
And therein lies the reason for this book.
Over the years, I’ve counseled and worked with many people who have made life-altering decisions based on what they perceived to be biblical principles, only to discover too late that what they thought was biblical didn’t come from the Bible at all.
Most of the time, they were victims of a spiritual urban legend.
A spiritual urban legend is just like a secular urban legend. It’s a belief, story, assumption, or truism that gets passed around as fact. In most cases the source is a friend, a Sunday-school class, a Bible study, a devotional, a book, or even a sermon. Because they sound so plausible and come from a reputable source, spiritual urban legends are often accepted without question and then quickly passed on. Once widely disseminated, they tend to take on a life of their own. They become almost impossible to refute because “everyone” knows they’re true. Anyone who dares to question their veracity gets written off as spiritually dull, lacking in faith, or liberal.
Admittedly, the consequences of some spiritual misconceptions aren’t particularly devastating. For instance, if someone mistakenly believes that the Bible says that “God helps those who help themselves” or “a penny saved is a penny earned” or that Jesus was some sort of soft-skinned Western European guy with blue eyes who walked from town to town in an old bathrobe saying profound things in a wispy voice—kind of a mystical hippy on Dramamine— it will throw them off a degree or two, but it will hardly destroy their faith.
But far too often the consequences are spiritually devastating.
Think of the disillusionment that sets in when someone writes off God for failing to keep a promise that he never made. Or the despair that follows a step of faith that turns out to have been a leap onto thin ice.
That is why an exposé of the ten widely held but blatantly false spiritual urban legends that we’re about to explore is so important. They aren’t just harmless misunderstandings.They’re spiritually dangerous errors that will eventually bring heartache and disillusionment to all who trust in them.
My bet is that you’ve already seen through a few. Others you may have always questioned, but until now thought you were the only one who didn’t “buy it.” Some may rock your boat. But whatever the case, I encourage you to examine each one with an open mind and an open Bible.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
There is an old carpenter’s adage: “Measure twice, cut once.” It’s based on the observation that once we’ve cut a board too short, no matter how many more times we cut it, it will still be too short. The same holds true for the spiritual principles upon which we base our life. Once we’ve made a decision or set a course of action, it’s usually too late to go back and start checking out the accuracy of our assumptions.
The Bereans of New Testament times offer an example worth following. Believers who lived in theMacedonian city of Berea, they went so far as to check out everything the apostle Paul taught them, examining the Scriptures to see if what he said was really true.
Now remember, Paul was an apostle, an author of Scripture, God’s spokesman. But rather than being offended, he praised them for their lack of gullibility and noble search for the truth. I encourage you to follow their example as we work through each of the ten spiritual urban legends to come. I think you’ll discover not only that they are false but also that each one flatly con- tradicts what the rest of the Bible teaches. In many cases, they even contradict what their so-called supporting verses, or “proof texts,” actually say.
And, yes, I know that words like dumb and stupid are strong words. Whenever I use them when speaking to a larger group, I predictably get a couple of notes or even a face-to-face rebuke.Usually it’s a mom trying to eradicate the words from her children’s vocabulary. She wonders why I can’t use kinder, gentler terms that would be more acceptable in play group.
But I can’t. As noted above, these beliefs aren’t just false. They aren’t just unfortunate.They’re no tmerely a few degrees off. They are dangerous.They are what the Bible calls “foolish,” which in modern day terms means “stupid” and “dumb.”2
Yet I want to make it clear that nothing in these pages is meant as an attack on the people who believe these things.They themselves aren’t dumb.Their assumptions and beliefs are. If I’d had more room in the title, I would have called this book Ten Dumb Things That Smart, Sincere, Good, and Godly Christians Believe.
Each one of these spiritual urban legends is a bit like fool’s gold. It looks great at first glance, but once tested, it proves worthless. No doubt we’ve all jumped to some pretty foolish conclusions in our life. I know I have. But fortunately, early in my faith journey, I had some careful-thinking mentors who pointed out the folly of basing my belief system on what everybody else said rather than on careful biblical scrutiny. They taught me to avoid reading just my favorite verses.
They showed me the importance of reading all the surrounding verses—and the rest of the book as well.
Their advice has served me well and saved me much heartache.
It has also solidified my confidence in the Bible.The more I’ve learned to toss aside the clichés, happy talk, and cultural assumptions that don’t fit what the Bible actually says (or the way that life really works), the greater my trust in it as God’s Word and the ultimate source of spiritual truth.
It’s my hope that the pages of this book will do the same for you—that they will help you question everything you hear and test everything you believe against the actual words and teaching of the Bible.