During September 2000, a number of emails were exchanged between myself and a Christian; I explained that as a fundamentalist, I had found the hypocrisy of my 'fellow-Christians' to be unacceptable. Additionally, I had found more and more of the Bible to be inconsistent. On asking other Christians whether they could explain this, I was unable to obtain anything remotely approaching a coherent or logical response.
Having jettisoned my belief, and continuing with research, I then found an increasing amount of material and factors that raised what I considered to be, and still consider to be, irrefutable problems with Christian belief.
One factor which emerged from the exchange of correspondence is that the Christian writer viewed my belief (that there are contradictions in the Bible) is caused by reading the Bible 'without the Holy Spirit'. Thus when I read in, for example, John 3:22 that Jesus baptised and then read a few verses later in 4:2 that Jesus did not baptise, if I had the Holy Spirit guiding me in my reading, these two verses and the many others which are no less contradictory would all supernaturally agree. Further comment is superfluous.
The final emails are as follows:-
>Wow all Christians let you down? There is not one
>Christian in your whole past whose walk with the Lord you
>respect? I find this very hard to believe.
Well, perhaps your level of expectations are less than mine. When people say they are something or will do something, I expect them to be or to do exactly that.
>Yes, we Christians are a strange sort. We say on one
>hand that we love the Lord, then before the day is through
>we deny him with our actions. I hate this about myself.
But if the Christian is part of the body of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit (etc., etc., etc.,) this is not logical. It would seem that the Holy Spirit makes no difference to the person in which case it therefore raises doubts about the validity of the claim made. You may of course cite those examples when people have been dramatically changed but this phenomenon is also found in other religions and even in some non-religious contexts and such dramatic changes are no less than those which arise in Christianity.
>I suppose if we were perfect, meaning 'without sin," then
>1 John 1:8-9 would be meaningless.
No, its not a matter of being 'sinless' at all. Its that Christians are, as far as I am concerned, more hypocritical than any other group of people (in view of the claims which are made) and the failure rate of living up to what they preach is far greater than any other group I have ever encountered. This in itself is remarkable.
>However I find great comfort in the fact that like
>Moses,Ex chapt.33, I too am hid in the cleft of the Rock.
>As a part of the body of Christ I know all to well the
>things you accuse us of.
>I see the same inconsistencies in people that you do, whether
>they be saved or lost. I also see however, that is the exact
>reason that Christ came, to die on a cross for the forgiveness
>of our sins, mine and yours.
You appear to be (thus) saying that by being a Christian and through Christ's expiation of sins, Christians can be absolute frauds (etc). The point you may be overlooking here is that with the claims made concerning conversion to Christianity ('born again', 'regenerated', 'in Christ', 'filled with the Spirit', 'redeemed', 'sanctified', etc) it is not unreasonable to expect all Christians who claim to be born again to be or become 'good people': not sinless angels, but at least reflecting a humble desire to quietly help others (irrespective of their faith or lack of it).
But we do not find this. Ergo, the claims made must be false. Moreover, no less serious is (as I will also discuss below) the fact that very few Christians comply with those Biblical injunctions which conflict with their desired lifestyle.
>I want to thank you for answering my e-mail this many
>times. You probably assume me to be a fundamentalist, ignorant
>of higher criticism and blinded by circular reasoning. I also
>can see that I will not be able to reason from the
>scriptures with you to any success. We view the Bible
>differently. My view is that the scriptures are God breathed
>and are useful in all aspects of my life.
How can it be 'God breathed' with (for example) statements such as:-
Jehoiachin was 8 years old when he began his reign - 2 Chron 36:9.
Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began his reign - 2 Kings 24:8.
According to Luke 2:21-39, Jesus is taken to the Jerusalem Temple eight days after he is born; the family then go up to Nazareth. In Matt 2:14-23, after being born the family flee in Egypt and stay there until Herod dies; even on returning, they avoid Judea and go up to Nazareth.
Jesus baptised - John 3:22.
Jesus did not baptise - John 4:2.
No one has ascended into heaven before Jesus - John 3:13.
Elijah ascended into heaven - 2 Kings 2:11.
Jesus refuses to give signs - Matt 12:38,39, Mark 8:12, Luke 11:29.
Jesus did give signs - John 3:2, 20:30, Acts 2:22.
The Synoptics make it clear the last supper was the Passover meal - Matt 26:19, Mark 14:16, Luke 22:13. However in John, it was held on the day before the Passover - 13:29, and states that even after the meal the Passover had still not begun - 18:28. Moreover, even after the trial, it was the Preparation day for the Passover - 19:31.
Abraham was justified by faith - Rom 4:1-5.
Abraham was justified by works - James 2:22-24.
Man does not die for his ancestors' sin - Deut 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, Ezek 18:20.
Man does die for his ancestors' sin - Ex 20:5, 34:6-7, 2 Sam 12:13-18, Isa 14:21, Rom 5:12,19, 1 Cor 15:22.
Jesus to be buried for three days and nights - Matt 12:40.
Jesus buried for one day and two nights - Mark 15:42,43, John 20:1 (These texts show the burial did not take place until Friday night and the tomb was empty before Sunday morning). Jesus was therefore not in the tomb for "three days and three nights" - whether Roman or Jewish time-reckoning is used.
No one is righteous - Rom 3:10.
There are righteous - James 5:16.
The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgiveable - Matt 12:32, Mark 3:29.
God forgives all sins - 1 John 1:7.
No one has ever seen God - Ex 33:17,20, John 1:18, 1 Tim 6:15-16.
People have seen God - Gen 32:30, Ex 24:9-10, 33:11,21- 23, Isa 6:5, Deut 5:24, Amos 9:1.
God wants everyone to be saved - 1 Tim 2:3-4, 2 Pet 3:9.
God does not want everyone to be saved - Prov 16:4, Mark 4:11-12, Rom 9:18, 2 Thess 2:11.
All forms of life destroyed because of one imperfect species - Genesis 6:5,7, 7:23.
Human sacrifice commanded by God - Leviticus 27:28,29.
God agrees that Jephthah sacrifices his daughter as a thanksgiving - Judges 11:29-40.
God sends ten plagues on Egypt because Pharaoh won't release the Hebrews, but he deliberately hardens Pharaoh's heart so he refuses to release the Hebrews making these plagues necessary in the first place - God admits this is so he can perform 'his wonders' (Exodus 11:9), i.e. wholesale mass slaughter of life in Egypt - Exodus 7:3-4,13-14, 10:1,20.
God sanctions slavery and a man selling his daughter - Exodus 21:2-6,7.
Death demanded for heresy - Deuteronomy 13:1,2,5,14,15.
God says that if a man strikes 'his slave', male or female, and they do not die immediately, the man shall not be punished because 'the slave is his money (ie. property)' - Exodus 21:20-21.
God orders people to slaughter their own relatives because they rejected Moses' religion; 3000 killed. Moses tells the killers that God would bless them for doing this by making them ordained for his service - Exodus 32:27-29.
A person to kill their own family for a difference of religion - Deuteronomy 13:6-10.
God demands death for anyone not circumcised - Genesis 17:9-14.
God demands the sick are to be driven out of the community - Numbers 5:1-4.
God burns people to death for complaining - Numbers 11:1.
God kills 24,000 people by a plague because one of them brought a Midianite woman to his tent - Numbers 25:6-9.
The curses of God upon the Hebrews (e.g. eating their own children) - Leviticus 26:14-39, Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
God arranges the Midianite slaughter - Judges 7:2,9,22. (Note: Numbers 31:l-18 states that God instructed the mass slaughter of Midianites, and the Lord "slew every male", alongwith their rulers (31:7), and the Midianite women and children and animals were captured; Moses then demanded all the males, including babies and the women were to be slaughtered, but the young girls could be "kept alive for yourselves" (31:18). This story records the extermination of the Midianites, but later on, God AGAIN instructs the slaugher of the Midianites (Judges 6:16), It is the same with the Amalekites - they are "ALL destroyed" in 1 Samuel 15:8, but they are destroyed yet again in 1 Samuel 27:8-9 and everyone - men and women - are killed; however, they are killed (- for the 3rd time) in 1 Samuel 30:1,16-17 except for 400 young men. At long last, they are are finally killed off in 1 Chronicles 4:43 when the 'remnant' were destroyed.
The Spirit of God comes upon Samson and he murders over a thousand people - Judges 14:19, 15:14-15.
The Psalmist praises God for his 'steadfast love' but then details his slaughtering in the past - Psalm 136:10-21.
God deliberately deludes people so they will not be saved - 2 Thess 2:11-12.
A girl not found to be a virgin was to be killed - Deuteronomy 22:13-21 (Note the same did not apply to men).
God kills a baby for its father's wrongdoing - ignoring they father's pleas - 2 Samuel 12:15-20.
God kills 70,000 men - 2 Samuel 24:15.
Furthermore, many people such as myself would welcome a Christian supplying a complete and coherent, detailed account of the easter Sunday events, in chronological order, to agree with the details in Matthew 28, Luke 24, John 20-21, Acts 1, and 1 Cor 15:3-8.
>I take it that you do not share this viewpoint.
>It is because of your lack of salvation and
>absence of God's Holy Spirit that you cannot comprehend
>the scriptures. You understand the letter but you do
>not know the writer.
No, it is not because of my 'lack of salvation and absence of God's Holy Spirit', but rather a refusal to be misled and deceived and to accept a contradictory, inconsistent, immoral collection of mythological stories composed over one thousand years. To say to someone 'You are not able to distort biblical texts to say something completely different, as I can, is evidence you are not Spirit-led' is obviously absurd.
And I have to return to the point already made: you say that you trust 'the Scriptures' but the 27 writings in the New Testament were selected after the fourth century when the church had become worldly (Constantine, etc). If you say 'Well, I still believe God was responsible for the selection', the obvious question is why did the early Christians use a different set of writings?
As the Christian faith is based on the life and death of Christ, why is there no extra-Biblical record of his existence before the second century, and the only information concerning an earthly life are the four anonymous Gospels?
I now find myself asking much the same questions that I did with a previous writer, i.e.,
Why so many Christians fail to comply with Biblical statements? For example, Christ is said to have raised the dead, walked on water, cured all manner of illnesses, and in John 14:12, he is reported to have said:-'He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do...'. Consequently, Christians should be achieving not only all that Christ is said to have done, but even more than this. And yet, this is not so. Why not?
Christ is reported to have told his disciples that the follower must 'take up his cross and follow me' (Matt 10:38, 16;24) and lose his life for Christ's sake (Matt 10:39, 16:25). How many Christians do this? Do you? Luke 14:26 has Christ saying that: 'if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children...he cannot be my disciple' (NB. The Greek word rendered 'hate' here means 'to hate, usually implying ill-will in words and conduct or a persecuting spirit'. Bullinger). Do you hate your parents, spouse and/or children?
In Matt 19:24 Christ is reported as warning: 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God'. Despite puerile attempts to give this a 'symbolic' or 'allegorical' meaning, the statement is absolutely clear: the 'rich' cannot enter heaven (Luke 16:19-23 emphasises this point.
Note how the faith or lack of faith of either man is not even mentioned: all we are told is that the rich man went to hell and the poor man/beggar to paradise). 'Rich' in first century Palestine would normally be understood as those who had wealth which far exceeded their day-to-day needs. However, on looking at the lifestyle of most Christians in the West (particularly fundamentalists), such people certainly satisfy the term 'rich' by owning their own home (or homes), the size of which far exceeds their actual need, many owning a car, or several cars, and having a plethora of material goods. The vast majority also have savings, investment portfolios, pension schemes, and so on (Ironically, such people are usually the first to proclaim 'moral' judgements on others).
Furthermore, this is also in stark contrast to Acts 2:44-45 which reports that believers: 'had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need'. How many Christians do this? Do you? In Matt 5:42, Jesus is reported to have instructed: 'Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you'. How many Christians do this? Do you?
Surely it is only reasonable to expect Christians to be complying with scriptural instructions before they begin preaching to others?
I have found that all Christians I meet 'customize' their faith to suit their desired lifestyle. Anything in the Bible that conflicts with how they want to live is ignored or is deemed 'allegorical' or 'symbolic' or 'no longer binding'. This I find to be very dishonest although it further highlights the element of self-deception which is necessary for all religious belief.
I cannot really honestly see any real sense in continuing correspondence as you clearly believe the Bible is a valid document for salvation whereas I do not. And I hope I have provided clear grounds for why this is.
Forward to Discussion 3 (19k)