Email Tips: Leave Christian Legends Alone

This "tip" was originally delivered on Saturday, August 26th, 2023 .

Don’t be too fast to believe Christian legends. Just because they have been retold for centuries by church people or are found in an ancient apocryphal document somewhere does not mean they are historically accurate.

Religious people believing fanciful stories for centuries does not authenticate the story. Any world religion could fit this bill.

This is where inspired scripture is authoritatively superior to oral tradition and legend. Yet, Christians often assume as historical fact events whose only evidence are legends and false letters.

Did Peter start the church in Rome? The Bible does not say so, but legend says he did. If he did, then Paul is wrong in both Romans 15:20 and Galatians 2:9.

Did Thomas go to India? The Bible does not say so, but legend says he did. If true, then we should also believe that he was miraculously transported back from India to Jerusalem to witness Mary’s resurrection from the dead and just in time to catch her dropped girdle as she ascended to heaven. At least that’s what the same legend says.

Did Paul get beheaded by Nero? The Bible does not say so, but if that legend is true then milk (instead of blood) was sprayed on his executioner and Paul reappeared to Nero after his death cursing him and claiming that he was not dead yet! Miracle upon miracle! What a sap I was thinking that for Paul to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).

Legends can directly contradict the Bible, and most conflict with the Bible rightly divided. Others are plainly rip-offs of Bible events (e.g., Jesus brings sparrows to life from clay) or lack historical credibility (e.g., Luke painting icons in his spare time).

Bible history is inspired history. Anything outside the Bible is less certain. Be especially skeptical of church legends.

Let God be true. Let legends be what they are: unverified stories that were passed around campfires. Don’t let extra-biblical fables turn you from the truth (Titus 1:14).

For the words of God,

Justin “without legend” Johnson

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This "tip" was originally published in the weekly Grace Ambassadors Update sent free to subscribers.