Is the Crucifixion derived from Prophecy or Mythology?

June 27, 2007 at 10:25 am 50 comments

In my humble, non-scholarly opinion, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ either happened precisely as stated in the Gospels, or it is myth. I see no room for a historicized Jesus who was crucified for some crime, and who was later diefied. I think the Bible leaves us with only two hardline options.

Jesus on the crossI am not impressed with the supposed ‘Messianic Prophecies” of Scripture. The Gospel of Matthew in particular seems obsessed with citing Old Testament passages as foreshadows for the future life and ministry of Jesus Christ. However, most who have studied these passages will come to the conclusion that most are taken out of context, irrelevant, or even in a few cases, misquoted. Messianic Prophecy of the type that Matthew utilizes is extremely unimpressive to me. It is little more than prooftexting and cherry-picking of Scriptures by the Evangelist. As a matter of fact, the book that did grave damage to my Christian faith was Herbert Lockyer’s All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible. That evangelical book showed me beyond all doubt what a smokescreen ‘Messianic Prophecy’ really is.

Now with that said, there is another type of foretelling device used in Scripture that I find much more interesting. That is the ‘similitude’, or ‘type’, or ‘model’, that is, the Old Testament contains episodes that seem to foreshadow events in Jesus’ life and ministry. Depending on your orientation, you will either view these as divinely inspired prophecies, or mere source material for Gospel fiction. Some of these contrived models are too forced, for instance the tri-pillared porch of the tabernacle is said by the eager Dr. Lockyer to model the Trinity of the Godhead. But there are some episodes in the Old Testament that are so close to events in Jesus’ ministry that, in my view, we are left with only two options: either 1) the Gospel events were miraculously foretold by Divine Inspiration or, 2) the Gospel events are nothing more than myth-building, inspired by events in the Old Testament. There are episodes in the Gospels where it is too improbable for a historical Jesus to map so closely to similar Old Testament events by mere coincidence. There are dozens, if not hundreds of examples of this.

Let’s look at one of my favorite examples. The Akedah – the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac. It is a well-known story, and often used as an example by skeptics of God’s cruelty. But let’s look at how that story inspired a crucial event in the New Testament – the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I will reprint the entire story here – the majority of Genesis chapter 22. Don’t panic – it is not that long. When you read it, see for yourself how closely this story matches the crucifixion story, with Abraham playing the role of God, and Isaac that of Jesus Christ.

Genesis 22 (New King James Version)

1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Sorry, ‘only son’? What happened to Isaac’s older brother Ishmael? Apologists will state that this is by design. Does this verse sound familiar? Of course it does. Compare it to John 3:16.

3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Why did God have Abraham travel so far to carry off this event? The land of Moriah is traditionally placed near Jerusalem. This event, along with Zechariah 9:9 may have inspired Jesus triumphal entry, on a donkey, into Jerusalem, that inaugurated his Passion Week.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.

Third day? How many days was Jesus to be in the tomb? Mark 9:31

5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.

I see blatant myth building by the Gospel writers right here. The burden of sacrifice is laid on Isaac. Mark, Matthew and Luke have Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross up the hill for Jesus. John carries the analogy further and has Jesus carry the cross. I think it is an attempt by John to drive this analogy to Isaac even further in a way that the other three evangelists didn’t consider.

7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.

In the story, Abraham says this to put up a stall. John takes it to a whole new level and uses the analogy of God providing a Lamb for an offering directly to Jesus Christ – John 1:36. This analogy is built from numerous other inferences in the Old Testament, most notably the Passover sacrifice and feast (Numbers 9:9ff). Apologists also take this opportunity to state that the two of them ‘went together’ is more precisely translated as the two of them went ‘in agreement’, although there is no justification for this that I can see. The implication is that Isaac went as a willing sacrifice just as Jesus went as a willing sacrifice. This is an inference at best, and is nothing more than modern myth building by Christian apologists.

9a Then they came to the place of which God had told him.

This place is the Mountains of Moriah, which is somewhere near the city of Jerusalem. Legend has it that this event occurred on the same spot as Solomon’s Temple. That may be intentional if this story was edited during the Temple Period. Some modern apologists have driven this analogy even further by claiming that Abraham offered Isaac on the exact spot that Jesus was crucified! How is that for modern-day myth building?

9b And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.”
12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

Christian apologists claim that the name of the mountain prophetic. ‘The LORD Will Provide’ is an inference to the LORD providing a human sacrifice on or near that same location.

The parallels are obvious to me. I understand that there are numerous other parallels in the Old Testament, for this Gospel episode and others (not to mention numerous parallels in Greek Mythology), but I just focused on the Akedah. Skeptics who view Jesus as an entirely fictional character will claim that these episodes from the Old Testament inspired the mythology of his life and ministry. In this case, the Akedah was the inspiration for the crucifixion mythology. Christians, on the other hand, will claim that this is another form of inspired Messianic Prophecy, and evidence of God’s handiwork in the Scriptures.

In my opinion, either view you take leaves out little room for a historical, demythologized, secular Jesus in certain Gospel episodes, like the crucifixion. The events are either just too coincidental for a historical character to fit, or the episode is pure myth. In this case, I am claiming that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, as described in the Gospels is pure mythology.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a hardline event. It is a central theme in Christianity, and if there is a way to ‘historicize’ it I don’t see it. It is all or nothing.

- HeIsSailing

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  • 1. nullifidian  |  June 27, 2007 at 10:23 am

    5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

    So, either he deliberately lied to the men, or he had no idea what he was supposed to do when he got there, i.e. kill his kid. Or, of course, it never happened.

  • 2. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 11:36 am

    God’s test of Abraham is a great example of love, obedience and faith. Yes, there are many parallels of Abrahams sacrifice and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus Christ is the lamb that was sacrificed for us and the Lord supplied the ram in place of Isaac.

    This story is truly about Abraham’s obedience and trust in the Lord. Abraham knew that Lord work it out somehow. Also think of Isaac’s trust and love for God also. He knew when he was being tied down to the altar what was to occur, but his obedience to his father is also likened to the to Lamb. Both would sacrifice for the love of God and his purposes.

    Isaac was not Abrahams only son, there was also Ishmael born to Sarah’s servant. But Isaac was the promised son, conceived by divine intervention, born by an elderly Sarah. These two sons are the split of Israel and Arab today, as Arabs are known as the sons of Ishmael and Isaac was renamed Israel.

    I guess one has ask to himself, do i love the Lord so much i would give my life or a loved one? Am i committed to anyone or anything to the point of such supreme sacrifice?

    What do you love most in your life?

    I love the Lord and would give my life for him in a second. I have this trust, love and obedience that gives my joy even when i go through sorrows.

  • 3. Radec  |  June 27, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    This story had a great impact me after I became a father just a few years ago. Before that I had always viewed the story like Kim does, trust god and he will “work it out somehow”. I even remember being in groups discussing the possibility that maybe Abe thought god may bring his son back to life after he slit his throat. Today however I cannot think of anything more gut-wrenching and painful than seeing my child hurt…especially by my own hand. To even ask such a task of me is barbaric and the furthest thing from Love that I can think of.

  • 4. Heather  |  June 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    **I am not impressed with the supposed ‘Messianic Prophecies” of Scripture. ** Ditto. Have you ever read the prophecies that Judaism expects the Messiah to fulfill? When I did, I could very much see why they didn’t accept Jesus as a Messiah.

    **The implication is that Isaac went as a willing sacrifice just as Jesus went as a willing sacrifice. This is an inference at best, and is nothing more than modern myth building by Christian apologists.** I’ve always found that it’s a pretty extreme inference. We don’t have Isaac saying anything, but I do think he was scarred from this. He never seemed as ‘strong’ as his father or sons, as though the near sacrifice of himself cut something out of him. And he was willing to go with his father, but that makes sense. He’d never imagine that his father would sacrifice him. I doubt he’d be so willing had he had the foreknowledge.

    The sacrifice of Isaac has always chilled me — first, because if it’s a story taken literally and God did actually demand that, that is a horrible test to put a parent through, and it’s a horrible thing to do to a child. A God that demands that level of obedience is not worthy of worship.

    That, and if taken literally, what about today when people say that God ordered them to kill their children? It’s a valid reason, based on a literal interpretation of the Old Testament. In this case, God stopped it at the last minute.

    Although, we do have to wonder — would Abraham have actually done it? He physically went through the motions, but would he have made the final commitment? Because I don’t think he ever verbally said that he’d do God’s plan, he just acted. But had God not intervened, would Abraham have killed his son?

  • 5. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Think about this. God sent his only Son to be flogged, beaten, mocked, and nailed to a cross with spikes through his wrists and feet. There he hung and bled to death just for you.

    If it is gut-wrenching to imagine hurting you own child, think about your only child nailed to a cross. Then realize how much God loves you and the sacrifice He made to save you from yourself.

  • 6. kay  |  June 27, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    either 1) the Gospel events were miraculously foretold by Divine Inspiration or, 2) the Gospel events are nothing more than myth-building, inspired by events in the Old Testament.

    I vote myth-building.

    The question for me becomes “Do I find the mythological story inspiring or “true?” Sometimes yes, but mostly no.

  • 7. Justin  |  June 27, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Just as a side note, Matthew includes citation after citation of prophecy fulfilled by Jesus because his agenda was to show that Jesus was a teacher like Moses. In fact, the whole book draws parallels between the two.

    Anyway, that’s just a side note :)

  • 8. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    I don’t understand voting for myth-building. Mythology proper was formed when the Tower of Babel was destroyed and the people scattered and spread their own myths about foreign gods. This is how we know of Roman and Greek mythology. Does Christ fit into the category of mythology? No, He doesn’t because God punished those trying to reach God by building high places as altars to foreign gods.

    The Bible says that those who truly seek Him will find him. Most find it is easier to poke holes in scripture.

  • 9. Noogatiger  |  June 27, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Kim,
    Why did God have to send his son to die?
    Why and how did God even have a son?
    If the penalty for sin is death, and to pay for it God had to have sinless blood, where did this law come from, didn’t God just make it up one day?
    If God just made it up, then why make his son go through all of this pain, why not just forgive anyone who believes in him without killing his son?
    If it was some pre-existing laws which were around even before God came along, then who made up these rules?

    Bottom line: If God really had a son, and if God really killed him it was all because of rules arbitrarily setup by God himself. Is that love, or just a God complex?

  • 10. superhappyjen  |  June 27, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    It’s stories like this, where God shows his cruelty, that forced me to dismiss Christianity in the first place. So what if he sacrificed His son for us? If He’d asked me, I’d have told Him not to bother.

  • 11. Radec  |  June 27, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    **If it is gut-wrenching to imagine hurting you own child, think about your only child nailed to a cross. Then realize how much God loves you and the sacrifice He made to save you from yourself.**

    The problem is I don’t have the luxury of knowing that in 3 days I’d have my child back. Hardly the same sacrifice.

  • 12. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Why did God send his Son to die? Because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit which caused the fall of man. Satan’s temptation of was that if Eve ate of the apple she would ‘Be as God” The lie of Satan is the same today. Why should we believe God? We are Gods. (Yoga) Read Genesis.

    God just didn’t make up sacrifices one day. The Old Testament is full of how the Israelite’s were to sacrife to God for the forgiveness of sin. This was done with animal sacrifices. The forgiveness of sin is through the shedding of innocent blood. This is the foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross he created a new covenant. The old sacrifices were no longer necessary. Today all we have to do is believe in Jesus, repent and we can have eternal life.

    Christianity is the only faith that requires only belief. All others involve good works. Good works will get you a handshake from the Chamber of Commerce but you may still be lost in the eternal realm.

  • 13. Heather  |  June 27, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    **The problem is I don’t have the luxury of knowing that in 3 days I’d have my child back. Hardly the same sacrifice.** I agree with Radec. God had the advantage in being all-knowing, and thus knowing that Jesus would be resurrected in three days. In the grand scheme of things, the death took three hours totel, compared to the rest of eternity. As Radec says, we don’t have that.

    *Does Christ fit into the category of mythology? No, He doesn’t because God punished those trying to reach God by building high places as altars to foreign gods.** yes, actually, it does. The Greek Gods did punish someone for stealing fire, and thus aspiring to be a God. They would also punish people who followed other Greek Gods. The behavior is the same.

    Plus, the only way to hold the Tower of Babel starting the myth-building is to hold to a 6,000 year old universe.

  • 14. Heather  |  June 27, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    ** Satan’s temptation of was that if Eve ate of the apple she would ‘Be as God” The lie of Satan is the same today. Why should we believe God? We are Gods. **

    Except the snake didn’t lie about that (and nowhere in Genesis does it say the snake was Satan). It said that if they ate, they’d be as gods, knowing good and evil — which is exactly what God said a few lines down.

    **The Old Testament is full of how the Israelite’s were to sacrife to God for the forgiveness of sin. This was done with animal sacrifices. ** The sacrifice of blood was not the only way to achieve forgiveness. It was done through prayer and repentence as well, and they could be forgiven without a sacrifice.

    **Today all we have to do is believe in Jesus, repent and we can have eternal life. ** Which makes it a rewards-based system. You ‘earn’ heaven through holding the right beliefs, and salvation becoems something that you acheive, through holding the right beliefs.

  • 15. brad  |  June 27, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Kim: “What do you love most in your life?

    I love the Lord and would give my life for him in a second. I have this trust, love and obedience that gives my joy even when i go through sorrows.”

    Kim, its easy to give your life for “God”. But how easy would it be to give up your children? The God you worship is the God that demands such blood on a repeated basis; it is a God that murders the firstborns of every child in a city simply because of the leader’s stubbornness. When God walks down on earth again, I suggest holding your children tight, whether friend or foe.

  • 16. mahud » Mythology and Mysticism  |  June 27, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    It was from reading the prophecies relating to the life and death of Christ, his Messiahship, and unique relationship with the father, in the book of Psalms, and Isaiah in particular, that really planted a seed of faith in my heart, that Jesus was indeed the Christ, foretold for over a millennium in the Hebrew scriptures.

    The suffering servant’ (Isaiah 53) is probably one of the most powerful example of such prophecies.

    I also saw a Christ parallel in the book of Jonah. Jonah on a three day mission (compare Jesus 3 year ministry) prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed after forty years (compare the final destruction of the temple around 40 years after Jesus Death) unless they repent. Not to mention Jonah’s ‘death and rebirth’ for three days and three nights in the belly of a very big fish.

    I agree that some of the Bible Prophecies as recalled in the New Testament, are strained. For example, in Matthew, when it was safe for Jesus and family to return to Egypt, after the death of Herod, Matthew makes use of Hosea 11:1:

    Out of Egypt I called my son

    Which is clearly a reference to Israel’s escape from Egyptian captivity.

    Another Prophecy that has puzzled me is when Jesus enters Jerusalem sitting on two donkeys (a donkey and its colt). I pretty sure that the other Gospel accounts only have one donkey and I’ve wondered if this might not be an example of the Gospel writer reading the prophet Zechariah (9:9), a little two closely:

    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

    There is a Greek myth, reminiscent of Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice Isaac, of a king called Athamas, who through the deceit of his new wife, was compelled to sacrifice his son Phrixus. Before the sacrifice could take place a golden ram appeared, and Phrixus and his sister Helle climbed upon it’s back and flew off towards the land of Colchis. Here the miraculous ram was sacrificed, and its skin hung upon a tree.

  • 17. brad  |  June 27, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    mahud, could you elaborate a bit more on why you believe Isaiah 52-53 to be an accurate prophecy of the god-man of Christianity? Keeping the possibility of myth-making in mind, how do these scriptures portray anything but an archetypal messiah-figure – other than the possibility that the entire section of Isaiah is actually speaking about the entire people of Israel… but then again, that would mean looking through Jewish Scriptures with a Jew’s eyes, not a popular enterprise in the history of Christianity.

  • 18. Ardegas  |  June 27, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    There is nothing extraordinary in the story of a crucified prophet in ancient history, HeIsSailing. Why would you think it’s a myth? Hundreds of men were crucified, not only Jesus. I can imagine the scenary in which a Jewish guru died, and later his followers make a theological reflection of his death as a sacrifice to God.

  • 19. brad  |  June 27, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Ardegas, I don’t think that HeIsSailing is necessarily saying that Jesus wasn’t crucified – I think he is saying that the literature and traditions that we have are a result of myth-making. This doesn’t mean it didn’t happen… it means that a Palestinian Jew named Jesus, living at a time when messiahs were a regular scene, stirred up some trouble, probably politically on top of any religious issues, was killed and then the specifics of this death were idealized.

    Myth:
    1. a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.
    2. stories or matter of this kind: realm of myth.
    3. any invented story, idea, or concept: His account of the event is pure myth.
    4. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.
    5. an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.

  • 20. cragar  |  June 27, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Is there any way this Gospel story could have been inspired by a ‘historical’ Jesus who was crucified? I say no way.

    Until my recent renewed interest in the Bible lately, I would have said that Jesus almost definitely existed, probably was crucified, and definitely did not arise from the dead.

    I think I have changed my thinking to yours, that he probably didn’t exist at all and that the Gospels were writings desinged to continue the beliefs of the OT. I think the Matthew copied from Mark, and later Luke and John elaborated more. And who knows what changes and editing was done hundreds of years later when the canon was made?

  • 21. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Brad asked what i love most in life….I love the Lord most of all. When Jesus was picking his disciples, he said to “Follow Me.” They instantly left everything behind, family, home, possessions, friends. Everything….. The Lord leads me in my life. He called me into the discernment ministry. I did so. He told me not to desire the things of this world. I do not. (Well i try very hard) He asked me to teach children in Bible Study. I signed on. I could go on and on. But you see because i have given my life to the Lord, I have an everlasting peace. This world is but an evaporating mist that is miniscle compared to eternity. I hope all your decisions are made with the eternal consequences in mind.

    John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the the Father, but by me.

    A verse that haunts me is Luke 18:8

    …”nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

    Many will fall away and perish….

  • 22. cragar  |  June 27, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    brad, if you read HIS’ opening paragraph he seems to imply that he doesn’t think a historicized Jesus could have existed. Perhaps he will elaborate more.

  • 23. Heather  |  June 27, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Kim,

    ** This world is but an evaporating mist that is miniscle compared to eternity. I hope all your decisions are made with the eternal consequences in mind.** I understand that you’re concerned for us, but don’t you see that the last sentence is fear based? It’s basically summed up as “Make the right choice or else.” You can choose to love and follow God, or get sent to hell. That is not a free choice. It’s like the Mafia walking in and telling a shop owner to pay them protection money, or they’ll get killed. Love isn’t truly love if it’s based on fear.

    **Brad asked what i love most in life** Actually, he was quoting your originally question that you asked us, and then asked how easy it would be for you to sacrifice your children if God demanded it.

  • 24. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Heather …Fear Based? I have no fear…do you?

  • 25. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    I went back to my first comment to see my original question and sorry, i realize now what you were asking.

    How easy would it be for me to sacrifice my children if God demanded it?

    Well, i have to use the scripture for my basis of my answer. Just as Abraham offered his Son, I would also offer my child. BUT it also says that God will not put upon us any more than we can bear. He punished unbelievers for their sin. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed an entire town after removing Lot and his family.

    These are tough questions and you are a tough crowd. But i have enjoyed reading your thoughts even though i do not agree.

  • 26. Heather  |  June 27, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Kim,

    I have no fear. But the method you’re using, in asking us to keep in mind eternal consequences, is a fear-based approach. It tells us to choose wisely, or be suffered eternally. That is not a choice, that is a threat (I’m not saying that you’re threatening us, I’m saying that particular Christian approach portrays God as using threats). It’s like the Mafia example I used. The love that God offers is wrapped in fear. He’s essentially saying “Worship me. Or else.” That is the mark of a tyrant.

    **Just as Abraham offered his Son, I would also offer my child. BUT it also says that God will not put upon us any more than we can bear.** But isn’t this worshipping a God who could potentially demand that you sacrifice your child? We don’t see that as loving or just. Or even a good action. As it is, we tend to look at cultures who did sacrifice children to their gods as reprehensible — and based on what you’ve said here, God has that same potential.

  • 27. cragar  |  June 27, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    But isn’t this worshipping a God who could potentially demand that you sacrifice your child?

    Yeah, I think I will choose to not sacrifice my son and I will suffer the consequences later.

  • 28. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    This is not my method. It is scripture from the Holy Bible. It is God breathed. Is God, who is the creator of the universe, the creator of you and me, a tyrant because he rejects those who reject Him?

    Who is the tyrant here? Who is in rebellion here?

    I cannot make anyone believe in Jesus Christ. I can only be a living example of what he has done in my life. The joy He has given me. The change in my heart, soul, and attitude has nothing to do with what i can do for myself, but what the Lord has done in me. I kneel in gratitude for how the Lord has saved me.

    I do not believe that God would take away a child from me. But children are lost from God-fearing parents daily in car accidents and disease. Yes, God has that same potential. But it is to all his Glory.. How? i do not know. His ways are not our ways.

    I fell away from God after my teenage years. I am now 54. I asked the same questions many ask. How can there be only one way to God? How come He allows such famine and death and pain in this world.

    I have come to the conclusion, at his calling, that He is indeed the only way. He allows suffering so we will turn to HIm in our need.

    I hope that you will least consider some of this…If you truly want to seek God, you will find Him. He wants you!

  • 29. Karen  |  June 27, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Kim, you said above that this is ‘a tough crowd.’ That’s true, most of us here are interested in taking a tough look at things of faith as objectively as we can.

    You see, most of us were Christians too, not very long ago. Just eight or 10 years ago I would have written exactly what you’ve expressed here. Most of us could have and probably would have done so.

    But in the interim, we’ve been prompted to take a pretty tough look at what we believed, and many of us have found it lacking. What we’ve done is examine the platitudes and the anecdotes of salvation critically and put them under the microscope of reason and logic.

    If they’re true, they should hold up to that test, right? But what many of us have found, to our surprise and often to our dismay, is that they do not. We’ve been through an emotional wringer over that discovery, which you’ll discover if you read some very recent posts.

    I encourage you to find out more about where we’re coming from – nearly all of us are ex-Christians – before you continue trying to witness to us. I realize you are sincere, but we’ve heard it all before – and probably preached it ourselves!

  • 30. Heather  |  June 27, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Kim,

    ** the creator of you and me, a tyrant because he rejects those who reject Him?** Except God says, “If you reject me, you go to hell.” That is the behavior of a tyrant — someone who says “Do it my way or suffer for it.” And, yes, God should not reject anyone, because that is human behavior. God is supposed to be better than that. And we aren’t the tyrants here, because we aren’t putting that choice on others. If I asked someone to marry me, that person said no and therefore I cast the person itno a lake of fire, then I would be a tyrant.

    **Yes, God has that same potential. But it is to all his Glory.. How? i do not know. His ways are not our ways. ** Do you know anyone who does everything for their own glory? I do, and those people are not pleasant to be around. They tend to be self-absorbed and injust. To seek self-glory doesn’t fall under a definition of ‘good.’ Even if you argue that it is good because God lacks sin, we have no way of verifying that, based on the examples we see around us.

    ** He allows suffering so we will turn to HIm in our need. ** Put this in another perspective. I let my child suffer, so that the child will turn to me in need. Am I a good parent, or is someone going to arrest me and put my child with better people?

  • 31. Kim  |  June 27, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Karen

    I really am not your normal Christian because i believe that the Church is dead. The church has strayed from the Bible and has taken on a world-view of reason and logic. Where is the faith in reason and logic? The Bible says that we cannot please Him without faith. The Bible can be easily picked apart if that is what you are looking for.

    Satan rules this world. He is the Prince of the Air.

    All i can say at this point that you may have never been actually saved. Many people call themselves Christians because they pray or go to church on Sunday’s or are Americans. Many are just pew-warmers who have never been justified by faith. Study Romans for this.

    I will not preach to you.

    As to the comment that if ” i Iet my child suffer, so that the child will turn to me in need. Am i good parent..”

    Would you discipline your child for stealing? Should a child be sent to their room for lying? Of course…

    Are you saying that God punishes for sin but shouldn’t? I didn’t say God causes the suffering. But i am beginning to get the drift here. These hard questions make it easy to dismiss the Bible. These unanswerable questions are being used to justify your decisions.

    I do not have the answers to your falling away from Christ except that it was predicted in the Bible and you are fulfilling prophecy.

    Me, my faith in the Lord sustains me . I do not know all the answers but i do not have to know.

    signing off for the night.

    kim

    Hey, you may be a tough crowd, but my article on Yoga and why Christians should not practice it. was brutal.. but good. very good.

  • 32. brad  |  June 27, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Cragar, I admit, after re-reading that first paragraph several times, that HIS is probably doing as you say. In that case, I find this position untenable and thoroughly against almost all scholarly opinion.

    You could question the existence of almost every historical teacher and philosopher. Certainly there is reason to suspect that Socrates never existed, but most understand that he probably did but has been fictionalized by Plato. Did Sakyamuni Gautama exist? Most scholars believe so. What about Laozi?

    At this point it appears to me that those who deny the existence of Jesus are disbelieving for the sake of disbelief. Even most of the staunchly liberal scholars, at least those that take their work seriously, do not deny the existence of the historical Jesus. That denial is usually left to sensationalist filmmakers. Although it is not certain that Jesus existed there is little reason to believe he didn’t – what he did and what he said are another story.

    The evidence is mainly common sense. I would highly suggest Burton Mack’s polemic “Who Wrote the New Testament” as well as Walter Burkerts “Ancient Mystery Cults”, anything by Ron Cameron, Crossan, Eisenman, Funk, etc. etc. etc. In fact, just read anything on early Christianity and the historical Jesus (preferably not spouted from the mouths of theologians).

  • 33. mahud » mythology and mysticism  |  June 28, 2007 at 2:43 am

    mahud, could you elaborate a bit more on why you believe Isaiah 52-53 to be an accurate prophecy of the god-man of Christianity? Keeping the possibility of myth-making in mind…

    I’m no longer a Christian, Brad, so I’m not going to hold on the the belief that it is an accurate prophecy of Jesus, or anything, although it does correspond quite highly on a number of points with the Gospel presentation of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. That’s what gives it it’s power in the mind of potential converts. Among other more disjointed prophecies, I find it something of an anomaly. That the ‘suffering servant’ may be interpreted as a personification of the nation of Israel, shouldn’t be overlooked though.

    I find it problematic that the Jesus story is wholly a mythical reconstruction of certain portions of Jewish scripture. There had to be a preexisting (Gospel) framework, maybe partly mythological, as well as historical, in character, upon which these prophecies and religious beliefs specific to Jewish tradition were hung. To say that The Jesus story is based on this Jewish myth or that prophecy is difficult to imagine, considering the sheer scope of corresponding themes and ideas that weave and bind together Jewish thought.

    I don’t think that a definitive line should be drawn between myth and history. Not even myths, when properly understood as mythical, exclude the possibility of historical influence.

  • 34. Heather  |  June 28, 2007 at 5:02 am

    Kim,

    **Would you discipline your child for stealing? Should a child be sent to their room for lying? Of course…**

    In letting the child suffer, I was referring to letting a child starve to death, and matters along those lines, and then as an excuse, saying that one kept food from the child in order to make the child realize how dependent the child was on the parent for food. Disicpline doesn’t fall under the ‘let’ the child suffer category.

  • 35. HeIsSailing  |  June 28, 2007 at 6:42 am

    cragar sez:
    “brad, if you read HIS’ opening paragraph he seems to imply that he doesn’t think a historicized Jesus could have existed. Perhaps he will elaborate more.”

    brad sez:
    “You could question the existence of almost every historical teacher and philosopher. Certainly there is reason to suspect that Socrates never existed, but most understand that he probably did but has been fictionalized by Plato. Did Sakyamuni Gautama exist? Most scholars believe so. What about Laozi?”

    Sorry for my late reply! I must have written that paragraph very poorly. Here is my position after doing a lot of reading – both Scripture and critical opinion of Scripture – I do think that a historical character named Jesus did exist. But I think events like the crucifixion mirror events in the Old Testament so closely that it would have been too coincidental for it to have happened. The crucifixion is so closely related to Genesis 22, Psalm 22 and a few other passages, that it seems to me that either the crucifixion of Jesus, as described in the Gospels, was too coincidental, thus fiction or it really is Messianic Prophecy.

    But hey, I could be wrong. I would love to read your thoughts on this.

    I think most of the stories concerning Jesus miracles, his birth, and his crucifixion can be patched together from events in the Old Testament, but they probably had other sources too. The Resurrection – I have no idea where that came from! I hold the view that the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels are probably the closest we have to knowing a historical Jesus.

  • 36. HeIsSailing  |  June 28, 2007 at 6:49 am

    Kim asks:
    “Would you discipline your child for stealing? Should a child be sent to their room for lying? ”

    No Kim, that is too kind a treatment for that worker of iniquity. I would not justify the wickedness of that child. If my child lies or steals, then it is clear that child loves himself more than he loves me. A more fitting punishment would be to throw my child into the city dump where they burn trash. My child will wail, my child will weep, my child will gnash his teeth. But I will not hear his cries, since he will be cast from my presence while he is in the dump. And I will keep my child in that burning dung heap – if I had the power to – forever!

  • 37. HeIsSailing  |  June 28, 2007 at 6:55 am

    mahud sez:
    “There is a Greek myth, reminiscent of Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice Isaac, of a king called Athamas, who through the deceit of his new wife, was compelled to sacrifice his son Phrixus…”

    mahud, I vaguely remember this story. Is this the one where the sacrificed sheep eventually becomes the Golden Fleece in the Jason/Argonauts story? Do you think these stories are related? That the Greek story and the Semetic story are derived from each other? I have heard a lot of close paralells, and it might be true, but I am not that well read on this topic

  • 38. mahud » mythology and mysticism  |  June 28, 2007 at 7:44 am

    @HeIsSailing

    To be honest, I’m not sure if they are related or not, as both myths have very different contexts, but my intuition tells me they are related, but I’m not sure who adapted the myth first. It could be that they are both related to another lost myth.

    In one version of the myth Heracles appears (like the angel of the LORD) just as Athamas lifts the sacrificial knife, and cries out “Zeus hates human sacrifices”, knocking the knife from his hand. Then Zeus provides the children with the magical ram, and they make their escape.

    Although I’ve come across this version a few times, I’ve been unable to track down the source.

    yep, Its the same ram, whose golden fleece from the Argonautica. There is an interesting picture on a Greek vase (although no corresponding Greek myth) that has Jason emerging from the mouth of a large serpent (with the fleece hanging on a tree), which is a well known mythic motif of death and rebirth. I can’t help but compare the fleece hung on the tree with Jesus, also hung on a tree, so their might be some form of pagan god-man tradition there, but I can only guess.

  • 39. Stephen  |  June 28, 2007 at 8:55 am

    In my humble, non-scholarly opinion, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ either happened precisely as stated in the Gospels, or it is myth. … I think the Bible leaves us with only two hardline options.

    In other words, you are a fundamentalist. At least, you insist that only a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture is legitimate; and if the fundamentalists are wrong, then Christianity is null and void.

    Bullshit. The crucifixion is a historical event that the New Testament writers interpret in various ways. For example, Paul uses the word “justification”; John argues that Jesus’ glory was revealed through the crucifixion; Mark preserves the “ransom” saying for us.

    There is history — yes, the crucifixion really happened — and there is theology — various attempts to answer the implicit question, But what is its significance?

    Whether all the explations are equally valid is open to question, without necessarily spelling the end of Christianity. In truth, “ransom”, “justification”, and “glory” are all metaphors: none is an exact fit, and none exhausts the significance of the crucifixion. The authors are attempting to communicate something transcendent, something that is ultimately incommunicable to our finite minds.

    Your post goes awry at the outset, in its premise. No, it is not an all-or-nothing choice between fundamentalism or atheism. That false dichotomy is a rhetorical strategy, an attempt to put Christians on the defensive, without engaging in the hard work of seriously grappling with the issues.

    You say at the outset that you’re no scholar. It shows in your comment on Isaac as Abraham’s “only” son. I invite you to do a little research on the term used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which will shed some light on this supposed problem. In other words, do your homework.

  • 40. Anonymous  |  June 28, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    I really am not your normal Christian because i believe that the Church is dead.

    It’s interesting that every Christian who comes here to witness and winds up getting involved in dialogue seems to eventually make some statement to this effect, i.e. the church is dead, most of Christianity is on the wrong path, other Christians aren’t listening to the holy spirit, other denominations are incorrect, etc.

    Kim, it’s like you and they can see and acknowledge the problems some of us have discovered with religion, but you can’t allow yourself to see where they apply to your particular “brand” of faith. Others who’ve been here have done similar things.

    Does this constitute a trend or am I mistakenly picking up on something? It would be interesting to explore this tendency further.

    All i can say at this point that you may have never been actually saved. Many people call themselves Christians because they pray or go to church on Sunday’s or are Americans. Many are just pew-warmers who have never been justified by faith.

    Ding, ding, ding!! You win our grand prize for unearthing the No. 1 accusation against former Christians: You weren’t ever really saved!

    I was waiting for that. :-)

    Study Romans for this.

    I studied Romans and the rest of the bible in depth, both in organized groups and on my own, for 30 years. At this point, I’m done with that book. If I were going to study religion, which I have no interest in doing right now, I would study objectively the other world religions that were labeled “Satanic” or “heretical” by the churches I attended constantly from the age of 8.

    I will not preach to you.

    Really? Okay, then I will not detail nor justify my Christian experience for you.

  • 41. karen  |  June 28, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Whoops – that we me, just above. I didn’t realize I wasn’t signed in!

  • 42. Heather  |  June 28, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Karen,

    **Does this constitute a trend or am I mistakenly picking up on something? It would be interesting to explore this tendency further.** Now that you’ve mentioned it, I think you’re right. Yet, however, those who do witness to us are absolutely correct, even though everyone else is wrong.

  • 43. brad  |  June 28, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    @ Mahud and HIS:

    lol, well, I suppose I wrote that rant of mine for no reason. It appears we are in agreement, no?

    @ Kim

    As a student of religious studies I no longer find much use in theological debates. However, as an ex-evangelical, I would highly recommend limiting the use of fundamentalist rhetoric and power words if you want to have a reasonable conversation. Karen was very patient in answer some of these rhetorical devices, yet you rarely answered any of them. And then, when it came down to it, you simply stated that we were never Christians. Awesome. Are you sure you are not the omniscient Jehovah yourself? Apparently you can see our hearts and minds, past, present, and maybe even future. Quite honestly, if there is a heaven and a hell, I would take my chances with the weeping and gnashing of teeth with others on this blog than spend eternal bliss with arrogant, self-righteous, judgmental evangelicals.If your Christianity is the truth, God help us, than justice does not exist.

    “Jesus Christ is the lamb that was sacrificed for us”

    “Abraham knew that Lord work it out somehow” [But Jephthah didn’t? – Judges 11]

    “I love the Lord and would give my life for him in a second. I have this trust, love and obedience that gives my joy even when i go through sorrows.”

    “There he hung and bled to death just for you.”

    “Then realize how much God loves you and the sacrifice He made to save you from yourself.”

    “Does Christ fit into the category of mythology? No, He doesn’t because God punished those trying to reach God by building high places as altars to foreign gods.”

    “The forgiveness of sin is through the shedding of innocent blood.”

    “When Jesus died on the cross he created a new covenant.”

    “Christianity is the only faith that requires only belief. ” [Except that you just said that it also requires repentence]

    “The Lord leads me in my life. He called me into the discernment ministry. I did so. He told me not to desire the things of this world. I do not”

    “This world is but an evaporating mist that is miniscle compared to eternity. I hope all your decisions are made with the eternal consequences in mind.”

    “Just as Abraham offered his Son, I would also offer my child BUT it also says that God will not put upon us any more than we can bear [Again, didn’t fair to well for Jepthah – but quite honestly, I would hate to work with Child Services]

    “This is not my method. It is scripture from the Holy Bible. It is God breathed.”

    “I can only be a living example of what he has done in my life. The joy He has given me. The change in my heart, soul, and attitude has nothing to do with what i can do for myself, but what the Lord has done in me. I kneel in gratitude for how the Lord has saved me.”

    “But it is to all his Glory.. How? i do not know. His ways are not our ways.”

    “If you truly want to seek God, you will find Him. He wants you!”

    “The church has strayed from the Bible and has taken on a world-view of reason and logic. Where is the faith in reason and logic?”

    “Satan rules this world. He is the Prince of the Air.” [This was my personal favourite… way out of left field and completely irrelevant, but very poetic]

    “All i can say at this point that you may have never been actually saved.”

    “I will not preach to you.”

    “I do not have the answers to your falling away from Christ except that it was predicted in the Bible and you are fulfilling prophecy.”

  • 44. Heather  |  June 28, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    **How far back do travelling tent ‘Revivals’ (implying a dead church needs reviving) go?**

    The Reformation?

  • 45. Austine  |  June 28, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    The Lord”s word most surely come to pass.
    He makes the “wise” foolish in their logic.
    Whether we believe Him of not , does not change the un-parralelled love He has for us.

  • 46. karen  |  June 28, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    I have been hearing that the church is dead since the early 70s, mostly in Pentacostal circles. How far back do travelling tent ‘Revivals’ (implying a dead church needs reviving) go?

    Well, like Heather notes, at least to the Reformation.

    What’s curious to me is that no one seriously tries to defend the church as a whole. And by “church” I mean “the people who claim belief in Jesus.”

    As soon as obvious problems and inconsistencies are pointed out, individual believers will say, ‘Oh, that’s so true!” and go on to a) condemn other Christians not exactly holding the same beliefs or doctrine as them or b) condemn other Christians as individuals who aren’t obeying god, who are falling short, etc.
    The finger-pointing starts immediately, I guess because there’s no denying the truth of history.

    My question is why don’t these people question the validity of their beliefs if they’re not getting the results promised? If these folks are followers of Jesus, they should be doing some awesome miracles, they should be on the “right” side of historical advances in things like civil rights and good deeds – isn’t that what the bible promises that Christians will do? But when it obviously doesn’t happen, they point fingers instead of questioning what they actually believe.

    I can only guess that it’s a defense mechanism, or a denial thing.

  • 47. Jacqueline  |  July 3, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Again, amazing post.

    The man “Jesus” that Christians claim as their savior did, in fact exist. It isn’t too easy to find people to refute that nowadays. The question entirely becomes, was he the Messiah?

    Matthew has many references to the prophesies because it was written about 40-60 years after the death of Jesus. His audience was vastly Jews, and what is the Jewish holy book? The Torah: the 5 first books of the Bible, including the Book of the Prophets. In this way he was able to draw in a greater audience to help them relate Judaism to Christianity.

    For a couple other refutations:

    -Ishmael and Hagar were sent off into the desert and were not seen again. Thus, Isaac becomes, the “only” son. Something you probably already know, Islam claims its “heritage” from Ishmael.

    -Your three days statement: I said this on your more recent post: the Bible should not be taken literally. As an ancient people, the writers held great importance in numbers and their significance. Three symbolized a degree of balance, harmony, and holiness.

    Remember, the Bible is written to try to convey/convince people of something. Those who edited its contents could have easily added parallels, but they don’t change the core story.

    I try to distance myself from those crazy extreme Christians as much as possible because they do more harm than good. You’d have to be a lunatic to believe that (the example I used earlier) that the whole world was all created in seven days. C’mon! And people who deny the existence of dinosaurs because they’re never mentioned in the Bible. Um, are you serious?

    Again, just keep in mind that the Bible was written by ancient ancient people and think about the context in which the different parts were written. That usually helps justify (at least to an extent) some discrepancies and coincidences.

  • 48. The myth of the virgin birth of Jesus « de-conversion  |  November 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    […] including the Leviathan, the creation story, the tower of Babel, the origins of languages, and the Crucifixion story. I compiled an entry on the Exodus and wrote a short blog on the myth of the devil.  Richard most […]

  • 49. Anonymous - Morne  |  March 1, 2012 at 8:40 am

    @HeIsSailing

    Right at the top – fiction or truth – I am loving it. Is it not only Christianity that writes about this event. My people go astray because of a lack of knowledge.

    The Jewish and Moslem’s have this event also documented. So if you say it is the Christians that have sensationalized this are you wrong buddy.

    That’s it rather write on things you know about.

    My feeling is the fact that you have revert to an capital Christ – means there’s hope for you.

  • 50. cag  |  March 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    One word Morne – plagiarism.

    Even fiction can be plagiarized.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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