I’m happy to announce my new book, Right Texts, Wrong Meanings: Busting Myths from Popular New Testament Texts, by Wipf and Stock. After writing twenty some odd books in Chinese, I’ve finally broken down and wrote something in English. This book takes some of the popular NT texts and examine them for what they are.
Here’s a little test that won’t affect your grades unless you’re taking a class from me. Did Jesus REALLY say not to judge or you will be judged? Did Jesus really say to ALL those who were weary and burdened to find rest in him? Did Matthew 18 really contain a promise about when two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, he is among them? Did Romans 8.28 really say that all things would work out? Was “lukewarm” referring to the spiritual temperature of the church in Revelation 3.16? If you answer with a resounding “Yes,” you need this book because you’ve just flunked the test. The resounding “Yes” answer is an indicator that you’ve bought into what I call “pop Christian cliches” and there’re plenty of those floating around pews and pulpits alike.
I’ve been convicted to write this book after teaching preaching and the NT in academia for more than a decade and after preaching in all the continents for more than two decades. The cliche-driven faith I see among evangelical is alarming. All beliefs have consequences. Some consequences are greater than others. If someone has to be the bad guy, it might as well be me.
Originally, the subtitle of the book was “Lies Your Sunday School Teacher Taught You,” but my publisher did not like the “Sunday School” idea and some people thought it was too arrogant and controversial. So, we bust myths instead. The best way to read this book is to first guess what each passage actually means before reading. Don’t read for pet answers. Read for understanding of the thought process required to discern right from wrong meanings.
I shall blog about each chapter shortly after Lent but the blog of course will not be the content of the book. Stay tuned and keep following my blog. Instead, I’ll talk about the making of this book and the consequence of answering “Yes” to all the above questions. The book also has small group discussion questions that are biblically-based, after every chapter. If you or your small group wants to follow my blog to supplement your discussion, you’re also welcome to do so. My study questions in the book will both stimulate your interpretive skills and your spiritual formation. If you wish to purchase this book, feel free to take advantage of the web price right now. It won’t hit Amazon until about a month or so. This price will probably be better than Amazon’s. Click here. As you can see the book is well-endorsed by the luminaries of the New Testament and preaching worlds. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.
After blogging about the making of the book, I will probably start a series of myth-busting blogs of other cases of misinterpretation. Some of these are by famous pastors and even theologians. I’ll bring examples straight out of my reading as I write my other books. Of course, I’m going to withhold the identity of the guilty, but you’d be surprised that the kind of crazy interpretation is more common than you think, not just in your local Bible studies but also among “famous” pastors etc. I’ve already found a lot of examples, enough for at least several months. You can also have your say and suggest more passages for me to discuss. Stay tuned.