For every truth of the Christian faith, it seems there is a corresponding fallacy. For every great doctrine there is an opposite misconception. It is a constant challenge to sort the good from the bad, the right from the wrong, the truth from the error.
Yet that is exactly the task Mike Wittmer takes on in Urban Legends of Theology. An urban legend “is something popularly believed—in the church or culture or both—that is not true.” Yet not all errors are created equal. “Some legends are more wrong than others, and some are more damaging than others. Some legends will rob you of peace and joy while others will damn you to hell. We must discern one from the other so we know how to handle each. Briars and wolves are both detrimental to sheep, but not in the same way. Wise shepherds gently guide sheep away from dense thickets, whereas they shoot wolves dead. Likewise, some of these legends will merely scratch your faith, while others will have you for lunch. Still others are setups, meant to slow your walk so you are easier to catch.”
He tackles 40 urban legends divided into four theological categories. Under the categories of “God and Theological Method” he addresses issues like these:
- It is important to believe in something, and it does not matter what
- Theology puts God in a box
- Doctrine divides while love unites
- You should pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you
Under “Humanity and Sin” he tackles:
- This world is not our home
- My body is a temporary residence for my immortal soul
- Freedom explains the problem of evil
- The safest place to be is at the center of God’s will
And so on. He also covers issues related to “Jesus and Salvation” and “Church and Last Things.” In each case, his answer takes about five or six pages to describe and then unravel the legendary belief while also offering some application. His answers come from a Calvinistic and Baptistic perspective. While it’s unlikely that anyone who reads this review will strenuously object to any of his answers, it’s also unlikely that everyone will agree with each one of them in their entirety. Such is the nature of addressing such a diverse collection of issues.
But he does address them well and in ways that are consistent with Scripture and sound doctrine. Urban Legends of Theology is a book that will prove a help and blessing to those who read it, whether they are young Christians still trying to put all the pieces together or seasoned Christians who may find, to their surprise, that they have somehow come to believe a few of these legends.