Posts tagged ‘Jesus’
Several years ago, I began receiving private messages on our now-defunct forum from a xian with the handle “Rocky”. He sent me some generic questions that were not directly preachy and I answered in ways that briefly made my position clear without directly challenging his faith. Until one day he asked a rather more pointed question, to which I drafted a detailed answer:
Rocky, sorry this has been so long in coming. You asked a question which I know touches on a subject near and dear to your heart. So far I have tried to stay away from direct challenges to your faith. But to give you an honest answer to this question, I must directly address just those issues. So if you have had a bad day, or are feeling particularly touchy just now, I recommend you put this answer aside and read it later.
Take a deep breath, here we go.
You asked: “I have a question for you, if you found out tomorrow that Christ truly rose from the dead would you submit to and follow Him? I am really interested in your answer.”
The short answer, which may surprise you, is NO…..
Just who the heck am I talking about here?
- Keeps track of who is being good and bad
- Rewards according to the list
- Knows what you are doing at all times
- Is aware of your requests for gifts and such
- Parents teach their children about him
- Has helpers of lesser abilities than himself
- Has supernatural powers
- Is known as loving and kind
- No one ever sees him
- Gets credit for things he doesn’t actually do
- Lots of songs about him
- May have origins in some historical character
- His example may inspire generosity in some people
- Does some rather weird miraculous things
Happy holidays whilst you figure on that. :D
There are those who leave Christianity, or refuse to join it, yet still have nothing bad to say about Jesus. Christianity, yes, but not Jesus. For me, though, once I stopped believing that Jesus was fully God and fully human, I had a hard time seeing anything good in his teachings.
The Old Testament is filled with contradictory laws and arbitrarily delivered punishments, but there was reason for hope. Some Judaic sects, like the first century Pharisees, used oral traditions to interpret, supplement and reconcile the written scripture so that it was possible to follow “God’s will”. Also, while the “punishments” were arbitrary to the point of sheer randomness, there was no reason to believe they continued after death.
Then Jesus came along, and made everything worse.
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell…. You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…. Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King…. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Mt. 5: 21-22, 27-29, 33-35, 37-39, 43-44, 48
No longer are we only responsible for what we can control- our actions. Suddenly, our very thoughts and feelings condemn us. And to what do they condemn us? The fire of hell, to which a life of self-mutilation is preferrable. Worse, Jesus teaches that our words can come from the evil one. “The devil made me do it” is given the legitimacy of Jesus’ support as a reasonable fear. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. No, making thoughts and feelings we can not control into crimes deserving eternal torment and then suggesting that the devil can control our thoughts and words is not nearly enough. It’s hardly worse than Yaweh hardening the Pharoah’s heart and then punishing him for his hard heart.
Jesus goes further to tell us not to resist evil people when they strike at us, but to love and pray for them. Don’t stand up and fight for justice. Don’t rebel against oppressive authority. Don’t resist your abusive spouse. Instead, lovingly go further than they would have otherwise forced you to, and speak on their behalf to the God who either can not or will not grant you justice. Don’t resist. Don’t get angry. Don’t even think angry thoughts. You don’t want to go to hell, do you? Maybe it will be better after you die.
But maybe not. The infamous Sermon on the Mount is barely one third over yet, and Jesus has a small command yet to slip in, barely worth mentioning. Simply, “Be perfect”. Not just perfect, but perfect as God is perfect.
“Act righteously” is difficult enough, what with the swarming mass of contradicting and unreasonable laws, our thoughts and feelings being given the same weight as our actions, and standing against evil suddenly becoming evil in itself. Now Jesus is telling us, off-handedly, that we are held not to a human standard, but a godly one. We are to know and follow God’s will as sure as God Himself, no matter how poor a job God does in communicating His thoughts and will. We are to think as God thinks, feel as God feels, and resist evil as little as a God to whom no evil can be done. The measure to which we fall short from this standard is the measure to which we deserve unending torment, and therefore force God’s hand in punishing Jesus for our sake.
That’s right, punish Jesus for our sake. By some coincidence, just as the standards for righteousness become impossibly high and the punishment for failing to meet these standards unimaginably dire, we’re made an offer by the one person who can make it all go away. Never mind that the offer is being made by the only one to insist there was a problem in the first place. We’re offered a free pass, with no way to know whether or not we really have it, leaving us open to manipulation from anyone who can promise us certainty of our salvation. And as we’ve proved time and time again, that’s something we’re willing to commit almost any atrocity for.
We have spent a considerable time on this blog, addressing Biblical myths. HeIsSailing wrote on several myths of the Bible 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 recently wrote on the Apocalypse.
An interesting myth that is widely embraced by the Christian church today is the story of the impregnation of a young Jewish woman by YHWH 2000 years ago. The Apostles Creed includes the lines:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary
There are several issues with the story of the virgin birth. The first, of course, is the parallel of this story with many other such conceptions of “gods” over the course of history. I read one Christian’s rebuttal this argument which stated that this is in fact more of a declaration of its truth since the devil always tries to counterfeit truth. Well, he had quite a head start on this one.
The second is the genesis of the virgin birth story itself. The first person to write about an individual named Jesus was Paul, the Apostle. In his letters, there is no mention of the virgin birth of Jesus. One would think if this was such an important doctrine to be embraced as a core belief of Christianity, it would be trumpeted by Christianity’s greatest evangelist…
Jesus is almost always held up as the great, human example of love. He’s supposed to embody all that the Christian should aspire to (WWJD). When a Christian does something mean, unloving, etc, they often say they messed up and need to be more Christ-like. But since I now can look at the Bible objectively -i.e., without filtering it through a set of presuppositions that demand that it must all be (mis)interpreted so that it “looks good”- I see that being angry, hateful, vengeful, even going on the out and out attack, is really being very Christ-like. It’s just the sort of thing Jesus would do.
In fact, according to the gospels, he seems to have had some problems with anger management.
Let’s look at a few situations to see WWJD.
Fig tree withering:
Matt 21:18-19 “Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.”
Mark 11:12-14, 20-21 “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. ….. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”…
(Found this on the web. And just ’cause humor is so funny, I’m sharing it here.)
Jesus loves you. But he has a messiah complex.
Jesus loves you. But then again he is under contract.
Jesus loves you! But he is high maintenance.
Jesus loves you! But it’s complicated.
Jesus loves you! Apparently it runs in the family.
Jesus loves you! But he seriously needs to update his status.
Jesus Loves You! But I hear he’s polyamorous.
Jesus Loves You! But does he LIKE you???
Jesus Loves You! But he ADORES Madonna!!
Jesus Loves You! But his handlers can be quite difficult.
Jesus Loves You! But I hear he’s clingy.
Jesus Loves You! But he may be missing a Y chromosome
Jesus Loves You! But I hear he is sick and in prison.
Jesus Loves You! And with your tax-deductible seed gift…
Jesus Loves You! But for a limited time only; while supplies last.
Jesus Loves You! But I’ve heard rumors…
Jesus Loves You! Or it might just be gas.
Jesus Loves You! He doesn’t mind the scars one bit.
Jesus Loves You! But he was caught up in that whole prisoner abuse scandal.
Jesus Loves You! He’s the Real Thing Now w/ convenient eco-friendly Emergent Church® twist-off cap.
Jesus Loves You! But he may be a little too old for you.
Jesus Loves You! For the Bible tells him to.
Jesus Loves You! But he does play favorites…
Christmas is a time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’d like to pay tribute in my Christmas sermon by listing a few of the teachings attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew that frame my view of religion. If only Christians could read and live by these scriptures.
Thoughts on the judgmental nature of Religion
1 Stop judging others and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Why worry about the speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Thoughts on the divisiveness of Religion
2 Beware of those who come to divide. You can detect them by the way that they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.
Thoughts on the greed of religious leaders
3 Why do the teachers of religion, by their traditions, violate their commandments? …