Flip Michaels, thanks for interviewing with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure, I serve as the associate pastor at GraceLife Church, which is just outside the 'sweetest place on earth' (Hershey, Pennsylvania). I have had the privilege of serving my spiritual family there for the past seven years. Prior to entering full-time ministry, I worked a full 20-years in the broadcast industry--mostly radio, but also TV, print, digital and social media. I'm surrounded at home by four lovely ladies (my wife and three daughters), a handsome labrador; and I love to read, run, and fly-fish in that order.
Your new book, Five Half Truths looks at five common misconceptions about Christianity. Who did you write this book for? Who would you like to see read this book?
My book is aimed in two directions: evangelism and discipleship. It is evangelistic, in that, I believe we all have people in our lives who have not heard the whole truth concerning the fundamentals of our faith (the Bible, Christianity, God, Christ, and Faith); and they need these five truths unveiled for them. Discernment is sorely needed in our culture today, as we have learned to disguise our lying with half-truths. A half-truth is a two-faced lie. There is a motive behind its telling, where something has been left out by the teller to deceive the hearer.
A half-truth is a two-faced lie. There is a motive behind its telling, where something has been left out by the teller to deceive the hearer.
For example, in the third chapter I address the half-truth that "God is love." Can you imagine the damage this half-truth has done in the realm of Christianity? It falsely promotes a sanitized attribute of God that seemingly allows us to live in any way we choose--so long as we are happy. After all, "God is love." But the whole truth is that He is also holy, holy, holy. Every attribute of His is literally, set-apart, including His love. The whole meaning behind this is that His love is a holy love, and we see it most profoundly on display on the cross at Calvary. We need to be telling unbelievers the whole truth about God and the Gospel.
In the area of discipleship--my hope is to encourage and equip one another with these whole truths. As believers, we need to be teaching discernment. Whether it is used in one's personal reading, perhaps alongside a devotional reading, or in a classroom format--the goal is the same: to be "ready to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet 3:15). This includes how we confront those half-truths (the jargon of our day) with Scripture.
by Flip Michaels
At the end of the book you write that these five half-truths were what you used to ignore and write-off Christianity. Was there one or two of these that you struggled with the most?
Yes and yes. While my book doesn't mention me until the very end, it is--in many ways--my personal testimony of how I came to faith in Christ. I had used these half-truths to deflect any real consideration of the whole truth. Specifically, the first half-truth: "the Bible was written by men." (The whole truth is: The Bible was written by men and inspired by God.)
While my book doesn't mention me until the very end, it is--in many ways--my personal testimony of how I came to faith in Christ.
Early in my broadcasting career, I had worked with a disc jockey named Barbara. She had been labeled as our resident Jesus-freak, meaning I was warned by co-workers not to engage her in truth-seeking debates (which only encouraged me to do so!). So I began to challenge her with these half-truths, especially the first one. I would say things like, “The Bible was written by a bunch of old men. So it says in Matthew 14 that Jesus walked on water, but it was probably just a product of the telephone game. I bet he was skipping stones and two thousand years later we have a fairy tale."
Yet, when we learn about the activity involved in how we received the Bible (inspiration and revelation), its authenticity (greater than any college-reading from Sophocles, Caesar, or Plato!), only one question remains: does it deserve to be called the very "Word of God." And if it does wield that kind of authority, then it most certainly will have a profound impact on your life for all eternity.
Which chapter did you most enjoy writing? What was it about that truth that you enjoy so much?
Probably the second chapter regarding the half-truth that "all religions are the same," (the whole truth is really that "all religions are the same, except Christianity"). I absolutely love the Gospel of John, it reads like a courtroom drama. And in that chapter I unpack just four of the eight witnesses called to testify by the Apostle John (John the Baptist, the works of Christ, God the Father, and the Scriptures).
But all we really need is one verse, one glorious verse, to draw that line: "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me"" (John 14:6). Why? Because Hinduism is a multifaceted belief system that attacks any and all claims of exclusivity. Buddists are nontheistic, if not atheistic. And Islam considers the claim of exclusivity to be blasphemous.
Lastly, we like to ask authors we interview for a tip to help our readers read better. What is something you have found to help you in your reading?
I like to run a background check (credit: Tony Reinke's book "Lit! A Christian Guide to reading Books") on an author before committing to the reading challenge. This generally involves a quick search online, in social media, reading endorsements, reviewing any high profile blurbs of people who I consider to be biblically solid, etc. Those few minutes invested usually help me to get quite acquainted with the author. Now I know a bit more about them, their motivations, and worldview.
by Flip Michaels
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