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Exposing Myths About Christianity: A Guide to Answering 145 Viral Lies and Legends Paperback – May 14, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (May 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830834664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830834662
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An astonishingly rich plethora of historical facts and common-sense arguments--a summa of persuasive debating points in popular apologetics." (Peter Kreeft, Boston College)

"Jeffrey Burton Russell is a marvel. An eminent scholar of medieval intellectual history, he has placed his gifts in the service of the gospel, creating in one immensely readable volume an enlightening guide to the Christian experience and a bracing antidote to the follies and willful confusions of our age." (Carol Zaleski, professor of world religions, Smith College)

"If you thought Christian apologetics was an art last practiced in the third century, Professor Russell's lively book will convince you that that ancient art of persuasive, reasoned defense is alive and well. Tackling the many misapprehensions and false assumptions about Christianity that routinely circulate in the modern world, Russell counters with thoughtful and thought-provoking data. Researched with a scholar's attention to accuracy yet written in an accessible style and in a format that facilitates consideration of discrete topics, this book deserves a wide readership among thinking people, Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers alike." (Wendy M. Wright, professor of theology, Creighton University)

"This is Christian apologetics at its best--compelling, readable, convincing and informed. Distortions, myths and lazy assumptions are all challenged. Encyclopedic in scope, all the major questions are considered. From gnosticism to evil, from science to the Trinity, Jeffrey Burton Russell demonstrates exceptional competence and mastery of the literature. What C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity did in the 1940s, Jeffrey Burton Russell has done for us. For those seeking and for those who doubt, this is a must-read book." (Very Rev. Dr. Ian Markham, president and professor of theology, Virginia Theological Seminary)

About the Author

Jeffrey Burton Russell (Ph.D., Emory University) was a history professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1979-1998 where he is now a professor of history, emeritus. He also taught at the University of New Mexico, Harvard, University of California in Riverside, Notre Dame, and California State University, Sacramento. Russell has published numerous books and articles on his area of expertise, the history of theology. Early in his academic career, Russell was honored as a Fulbright Fellow, Harvard Junior Fellow and Guggenheim Fellow.

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Customer Reviews

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I'll be reading it again and again to help me deal with people's questions about my faith in Christ.
The book is bold and serves as an apologetic for Russell's particular brand of Christianity, which makes it interesting reading.
Dubious Disciple
Granted some of these myths could cover entire books or volumes of books and he has to cover them a couple of pages.
James Watrous

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Gilson on May 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
The word these days is that Christianity is immoral, unwise, dangerous, deceptive, pro-slavery, anti-women, anti-science, locked in the past, irrationally based, opposed to progress, and otherwise just really wrong. Or, as I have written recently at BreakPoint.org, Christianity is "bad and stupid."

Lately I've been coming to the conclusion that this might represent the most crucial Christian apologetic of our day: to counteract these very myths. I'm grateful to see such a thorough and responsibly handled treatment as this one by Jeffrey Burton Russell.

Russell is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He bears the graceful confidence of one who feels at ease holding his position, which I suspect reflects the fact that he has been tested in it.

Most tellingly, he's comfortable being open with Christianity's weaknesses. Is it a myth that Christianity is anti-Semitic? Well, yes and no. You need not go looking elsewhere for anti-Semitism in Christian history; Russell will tell you about it. And then he'll put it in context. Similarly with slavery, women's rights, and so on. Russell has no new myths to try to insinuate into the record. On the whole Christianity comes out looking okay in spite of all--especially in comparison to other currents of thought, and other social movements.

I can't agree with everything he wrote, especially his overly cautious conclusions concerning homosexuality in the Bible. I know that will come as no surprise to him; he was quite sure, he said, that there would be no way to write on that without raising raising disagreement of some sort from almost everyone. It's a tough topic.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Susan F. Falknor on July 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Broadly published American historian and religious studies scholar Jeffrey Russell has penned a handbook on the criticisms of the faith that Christians have encountered throughout history and in daily life today.
The personality and wit of the author shine through, making it a sort of Cliff's Notes with soul.
The book is composed of a series of short essays, each devoted to a different myth, for example, "Hitler was a Christian;" "Christianity is outdated and dying out;" "Little or nothing is known about Jesus;" "Christianity is false because miracles can't occur;" "Science has shown that there is no God;" "Religion causes more war and suffering than atheism does;" and "Nothing is true."
And, of course, it is child's play for author of Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and the Historians (1991) to dispense with the myth that "Medieval Christians believed earth was flat."
Crafting a text that is extremely learned, yet lively and easy to grasp, Russell draws with ease on his wide-ranging grounding in the history of ideas, philosophical debates, church history, political movements of the 20th century, and so on.
Russell writes as an emeritus university professor and also as a veteran of interfaith seminars where, we surmise, theological experts may put forward indefensible myths as blandly as young students. He stands up for using the rational faculty and carefully and dispassionately studying historical evidence.
"Myths often arise from bias, which is different from point of view. A point of view is open to discussion on the basis of evidence. Bias, on the other hand, is a prejudice that filters out everything that doesn't fit a preformed conception.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roger Herrington on October 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Exposing Myths about Christianity by Jeffrey Russell is one book I've been waiting to see published. Too many books out there that deal adequately with this subject deal only with a handful of criticisms. Granted, it is difficult to stay abreast with what criticisms are popular at the moment (and the internet has a way of perpetuating those which have been discredited years ago- such as the 'Recycled Pagan myth' from the evolutionary origin of religion school of the late 1800-mid 1900s), Russell does include some criticisms which are rather outdated and have been largely abandoned. Russell does a very good job with those which are currently out there. Even the forementioned 'over-kill' criticism may be good since many 'new' criticisms which surface are little more than re-gurgitated old criticisms (critics tend to have a very limited imagination). I would suggest this book for any Christian who wants to share his or her faith with non followers of Christ as the world is growingly hostile to our faith and it seems to be open season on hostility and rudeness toward Chrtistians. Unfortunately, many people, inside the church and outside, seem to be declining in their intellectual alertness and logical attentativeness to such matters. Such a book would not only be good in a 'witnessing' situation, but even such criticisms wear on a believer who eventually begins to question his or her faith. Sadly, that is because too many believers do not hash thru the faith before making in their own. Many believers, in a time of crisis, simply hear a preacher, evangelist, etc. and adopt wholesale his or her faith. Such an adoption is dangerously fragile. This book is necessary reading for any follower of Christ who is concerned with keeping to the purity of the Biblical teachings and not let 'another gospel' gain a foothold.
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