Common “Christian” Practices That Aren’t Actually Biblical

Common “Christian” Practices That Aren’t Actually Biblical

Christianity comes with a rich history of traditions, passed down through generations. While many of these practices strengthen faith, some have crept in that aren’t rooted in Scripture in the slightest. It’s important to separate the biblical from the merely cultural to uncover practices you might be surprised to find absent from the Bible itself.

1. Expecting non-believers to behave like Christians

It’s frustrating when those outside the faith don’t uphold biblical values. Yet, the Bible is clear that we are called to love and offer grace, not condemn those who don’t share our beliefs, Clear Bible insists. Instead of judgment, Christians are encouraged to embody the love of Christ, which offers the most compelling testimony of faith.

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2. The “prosperity gospel”

The idea that God financially blesses those with strong faith is a popular belief, but it has shaky biblical foundations. While God does provide for His children, the Bible never promises material wealth as a reward for righteousness. In fact, it often warns against greed, and many of the Bible’s heroes faced poverty and hardship. You don’t deserve untold riches because you go to church on Sundays and call yourself a Christian.

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3. Believing only Christians can be morally good

While Christians strive to live by biblical principles, this doesn’t mean non-believers are inherently wicked. Humans, regardless of faith, are made in the image of God and thus capable of great kindness, compassion, and ethical behavior. It’s important to recognize goodness wherever we find it, rather than assuming it only exists within our specific faith community.

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4. Thinking prayer is a magic solution to all problems

Prayer is powerful, but it’s not a wish-granting genie. God may not always answer prayers in the way we expect or desire. Sometimes, the answer is “no”, or “not yet.” True prayer involves aligning our hearts with God’s will, not manipulating him into giving us what we want.

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5. Using the phrase “God helps those who help themselves”

This catchy saying seems wise, but it’s nowhere in the Bible! In fact, the Bible emphasizes God’s grace and help for the helpless. Our salvation isn’t earned through self-effort but is God’s free gift. While hard work is commendable, we must be careful not to minimize God’s initiative in our lives.

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6. “Once saved, always saved”

man's hand on bible

This popular idea suggests that once someone accepts Christ, their salvation is eternally guaranteed, regardless of what choices they make afterward. However, the Bible paints a more complex picture, with warnings against falling away from the faith and reminders to actively work out our salvation with a healthy respect for God.

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7. Assuming Christians shouldn’t struggle with mental health

Sadly, some Christians believe that strong faith eliminates problems like depression or anxiety. The Bible is actually full of emotionally troubled figures, from Elijah to King David. Mental illness affects people regardless of faith. The church should be a place of support, not judgment, for those facing mental health challenges.

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8. Requiring women to always be submissive to men

A narrow reading of certain Bible passages leads some to promote the idea that women must always defer to the authority of men. However, the Bible also promotes mutual submission within marriage and highlights strong, wise women in leadership roles, Yale University points out. A balanced, contextual reading reveals God’s value of both men and women as His image-bearers.

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9. Believing God won’t give you more than you can handle

This well-intentioned phrase, often meant to offer comfort during hardship, isn’t found in Scripture. In fact, the Bible acknowledges times when people feel overwhelmed and cry out to God in desperation. Instead of downplaying life’s hardships, it encourages us to rely on God’s strength when our own strength runs out.

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10. Having a “holier than thou” attitude

Spiritual pride is a real danger for anyone on a faith journey. When we focus too much on pointing out others’ sins while ignoring our own shortcomings, we become the very Pharisees Jesus frequently criticized. True Christianity is marked by humility and a recognition that we all fall short and are in need of God’s grace.

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11. Avoiding “worldly” things like secular music or movies

Legalistic rules about what Christians can or cannot enjoy are often based in denominational tradition rather than clear biblical commands. While discernment is wise, the Bible doesn’t call us to a monastic lifestyle. It’s more important to focus on the posture of our hearts than creating a list of culturally taboo activities.

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12. Feeling obligated to attend church every Sunday

Regular church attendance is a wonderful practice for fellowship and spiritual growth. However, the Bible never sets this as a legalistic rule. There were no church buildings in New Testament times! If illness, caring for others, or unavoidable circumstances prevent you from attending, rest assured there’s no biblical guilt trip waiting for you.

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13. Thinking the goal of Christianity is to get everyone to heaven

While Christians absolutely desire to share the good news of salvation, the Bible presents a wider picture. God is concerned with restoring all of creation, not just saving souls. Our faith should inspire us to acts of justice, compassion, and care for the physical world, reflecting the wholeness of God’s Kingdom.

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14. Relying on “Christianese” clichés

Overused phrases like “bless your heart” or “I’ll pray for you” can become substitutes for genuine empathy and action. While not inherently bad, they can ring hollow if that’s the extent of our support when someone is hurting. True Christian love compels us to go deeper, to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”

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15. Assuming all suffering is a result of personal sin

When someone faces a tragedy, it’s tempting to search for a reason, often blaming the victim for some hidden sin. The book of Job thoroughly debunks this idea. Bad things happen to good people, as part of life in a fallen world. Instead of judgment, compassion and practical support are the most Christlike response.

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16. Proof-texting isolated Bible verses to support any agenda

The Bible can be twisted to justify almost anything if we take verses out of context. Instead of hunting for proof-texts to back up our preconceived beliefs, it’s vital to understand the overarching message of the Bible, the nature of God, and the full context of specific passages.

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Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.