Although fundamentalist Christians often proclaim that they
are God's authorized representatives on earth, and that the Bible
represents the only perfect guide to understanding history, these
types of claims should not be taken as anything more than a form
of self-serving advertising.
Rather than representing some sort of universal absolute truth, it represents subjective human reasoning.
This type of advertising can often be found in the "Statement of Beliefs" or "Core Beliefs" section of fundamentalist church information centers.
Here are some examples of how the evangelical advertising is often worded:
Note the extreme level of certainty and absolute nature of
The thirst for power over others is often directly proportional to the intensity of the claims.
It's not worded that the Bible might contain some elements of universal absolute truth and historical fact, but every word and described event is exactly what God intended to write, using human instruments to take dictation.
[Particularly noteworthy for the purpose of this essay is the claim by fundamentalist Christianity that Bible history is factual and completely accurate.]
Having laid the groundwork for all "truth", the next step in the fundamentalist agenda is to foist it on others.
This aim can usually be found in church mission statements.
An example follows:
There has been a great deal of fundamentalist Christian
outrage and indignation over the popular book, and movie called "The
Da Vinci Code".
A common complaint is that both the book and movie distort the truth about Jesus and contradict established history.
Fundamentalist evangelicals, along with the Catholic Church, have denounced the work as fiction and offensive.
Many zealous preachers are now on a crusade to "educate the public" about the historical facts surrounding Jesus.
Of course, they want the New Testament to be used as the standard by which all "truth" is measured.
This is understandable because there is very little else to rely on and there are no details given about the character called "Jesus of Nazareth" to be found outside the confines of Christian related writing.
This in turn brings up the issue of what historical facts really are.
If distortion of facts and the certainty of history are really important to preachers that want to educate the public about the events surrounding the life of "Jesus of Nazareth", then New Testament history should also be examined for signs of distortion.
Contrary to Christian advertising that proclaims "if the Bible says it, God said it", the New Testament should not be automatically accepted as factual if it exhibits internal inconsistencies that render it questionable or if it contains unverifiable elements.
There is an event described in the New Testament that is so monumental and so amazing, that one has to wonder why it gets virtually no attention from preachers when they instruct their flocks about the historical facts surrounding Jesus.
If the resurrection of Jesus was a huge event, as Christians constantly claim, then this event is equally huge and important.
Yet, preachers and pastors say nothing about it unless they are pressed to address it.
That event was the resurrection and appearance of many dead people after Jesus had died.
This tale is written in the Gospel of Matthew, which many Christians claim was written by "Matthew", one of the twelve apostles. However, the actual author is unknown and the text doesn't identify a specific author.
The incredible event happens late in the story line, when Jesus was crucified.
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
There was not only an earthquake and the tearing of a large
Temple curtain, but graves were opened and dead bodies came to
life. Then these formerly dead people waited for Jesus to be
resurrected, after which they walked into Jerusalem and appeared
to many townspeople.
This is an amazing event to be sure, and a very impressive testimony of how important the death of Jesus was in the timeline of history. The problem is that this incredible story appears only in the Gospel of Matthew.
It appears nowhere else in the Bible, nor does it appear in any historical writing outside of the New Testament Bible.
The ramifications of dead people coming back to life could have created some interesting situations for the Roman and Jewish authorities to deal with.
Being dead and coming to life would create at least some sort of stir as the formerly dead people tried to assimilate back into the prevailing society. On a legal basis alone, if dead people asked for their former property to be restored or marriages to be reinstated, that would have posed quite a dilemma for the legal system.
One would think there would be something written in history about not only the amazing event, but also the ripple effects that would have emanated from it.
However, there doesn't seem to be anything written regarding it and even the rest of the New Testament is completely silent about it.
But according to popular Christian advertising, because the Bible represents 100% accuracy regarding history, this event must have actually happened.
Skeptics and all other non-believers are supposed to accept this story as factual history.
Because it's written in the Bible, it cannot be questioned or denied as "truth".
This is the funky world that fundamentalist Christianity resides in, and wants all others to reside in also.
Remember the Great Commission mandate from Jesus, which commands Christians to make Bible obeying meat puppets out of all nations.
Their version of reality is to be your version of reality because they say so.
Their traditions are reality because they say so, and their facts cannot be disputed.
If their facts are openly disputed on any mainstream media forum, they'll often let loose from their mouths the self-serving cry of "Christian persecution!", along with "God is being attacked!".
The New Testament is the fundamentalist's favorite tool, an ultimate appeal to authority that backs up all their pious sounding theological mumbo-jumbo.
However, the Gospel stories, along with all the other writings found in the Bible, were not placed in a binder and dropped from heaven as many Christians like to imply.
The so-called Holy Bible and church doctrine evolved into a collection of writings and regulations through the process of voting at various councils over many centuries.
Even the early councils weren't convened until hundreds of years after Jesus was supposed to have ascended to heaven.
The council of Laodicea(~364 C.E.) was one of the major events in that process, which not only defined which writings were "inspired", but redefined the Sabbath day and the proper way to observe it.
Also of note is that this council did not include the Book of Revelation in the list of approved writings.
There were 60 Canons created at this meeting, which served to codify Church doctrine.
In other words, these 60 clerical decrees made Church doctrine official and binding on all believers.
Canon #29 is particularly interesting because Christians were not to be like Jews, but were to observe a different day as the Sabbath and day of rest.
Canon #29 states:
Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath(Saturday), but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day(Sunday); and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema(set aside,cursed) from Christ.
Ironically, while Canon 29 dictates that Christians must not
be like Jews, the New Testament claims Jesus was a Jew that
observed the Sabbath, and he commanded that all his followers do
likewise (Matt 5:18-20).
Zealous and pompous evangelicals ignore what Jesus commanded, they ignore what God said about keeping the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments(Exo 20:8-10), and instead kiss the feet of ancient Catholic Church clerics that redefined the observance of the Sabbath.
Apparently the word of men is more authoritative than the so-called Word of God.
The Bible gives a warning about those who pretend to obey God but then follow the doctrines of men.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
In an orgy of unabashed hypocrisy, these evangelical holy men go forth and proclaim that the Ten Commandments must be posted in publicly funded locations because they represent the infallible and authoritative word of an all-powerful ancient tribal deity that rules the universe.
God will not be mocked, they loudly declare.
We are here to do God's will, they proudly boast.
The wrath of God will consume those that fail to comply, they sternly preach.
But these evangelicals are frauds, exhibiting the type of behavior sometimes seen in dominant male gorillas, belching forth pious grunts, casting menacing looks, and beating their chests with the Bible.
They are intensely territorial creatures, striving to expand their "kingdom" into every nook and cranny of the planet.
The councils were functions of the Church, attended by church officials that had advanced to a level of importance within the Church hierarchy.
There is no mention or evidence of God actually attending any of these meetings or casting any votes.
The Bible is advertised as being the absolute and infallible Word of God.
If the Bible is infallible, then the clerical men that voted its contents into canon must also have been infallible and fully God-inspired when they decided which writings were the Word of God and which were not.
If the votes were not all unanimous, how does one know if the majority was correct?
What if a cleric voted to reject a particular writing that the majority accepted?
Does this make the cleric wrong about this writing?
How exactly is right or wrong established in this area?
Does right and wrong boil down to a majority or popular opinion poll?
Is it possible that the councils may have exhibited the symptoms of political conventions, where deals may have been made between clerics for them to vote a certain way in exchange for future favors?
Let's face it, the so-called Holy Bible is predicated not only on the contents of the writings, but also rests firmly on the infallibility of the male clerics that cast their votes.
Because it can't be established that these clerics were actually God-inspired, believers can only assume and assert that they were. Special pleading is the order of the day.
The man-made decrees of clerical councils or synods also extended their subjective influence into defining the composition of God himself.
The first Council of Nicaea(325 C.E.) established that Jesus was part of God, the very substance of God, and therefore was divine.
The Council of Chalcedon(451 C.E.) evolved God a bit further in the Chalcedonian Creed by declaring that Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time, apparently the ultimate god-man.
The Catholic Athanasian Creed elaborated the Trinity concept further by declaring that:
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all eternal God, yet they are not three Gods, but one.
And it went on to say that unless this was believed, salvation was denied.
It's all very official and authoritative sounding, blessed by the highest official of the Church, the Pope.
Yet, all these man-made creeds and decrees don't make Jesus God nor do they prove that God is really a three headed deity or three "person" Trinity.
For every Bible verse that Trinitarians cite to prove the Trinity is factual, other Bible verses can be found that deny it as being factual.
The Old Testament God states quite clearly that there are none except him(singular).
Isa 45:20-22(JPS 1917 Tanach)
Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations; they have no knowledge that carry the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
Declare ye, and bring them near, yea, let them take counsel together: Who hath announced this from ancient time, and declared it of old? Have not I the Lord? And there is no God else beside Me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.
Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.
Note that God, or Yahweh, repeatedly states that there are no saviors other than him.
He is a singular being, not comprised of multiple personalities or elements.
Also note that God warns his people that those who carry wooden images(symbols of other gods), have no true knowledge and that praying to false gods cannot save anyone.
The allusion can certainly apply to Christians, who carry around and promote the wooden cross as a symbol of proper belief, and they pray to a false god called "Jesus", that cannot save.
Christians that promote the Trinity will rationalize this by claiming the Trinity is just one God and that Old Testament verses such as Isa 45:20-22 do not really deny the Trinity.
It's all completely subjective however, and illustrates how that Bible can mean anything a believer wants it to mean.
If a believer wants the Trinity to be valid, then it's valid. End of story.
Further evidence that the Trinity is false, and that Jesus is not God, can be found in the New Testament.
The freshly resurrected Jesus makes it quite clear that he has a God.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
According to this verse, the God or Father for Jesus is the same God or Father for mortals.
If this evidence wasn't enough to cast serious doubt on the validity of the claim that Jesus is God, the notion that Jesus is God gets seriously debunked in the Book of Revelation.
Here, the resurrected and ascended Jesus states four times in one verse that he has a God.
Count them for yourself.
There can be no apologetic excuses about Jesus still being on earth and referring to the "God portion" of himself that was up in heaven.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
If a Bible believer still wants to claim the Trinity is a "fact" after this, then they're being disingenuous.
There are verses that do support the Trinity and the concept of Jesus being God, and Trinitarians cite them all the time, claiming them as irrefutable evidence for Jesus being God.
But the point is that no matter how many verses they cite as "proof" of the Trinity, verses with equal or greater significance can be produced which refute the concept. Once again, the Bible can and will mean whatever a believer wants it to mean, but that doesn't make it "truth" for others.
There are many problems associated with using the New Testament as 100% accurate history, and the Gospel of Matthew displays them in abundance.
The Gospel of Matthew claims that Jesus and family fled to Egypt because King Herod issued an infant death decree sometime after wizards or "wise men" had visited the baby Jesus.
There is no record of King Herod ever issuing such a decree, nor does the birth narrative in the Gospel of Luke support this story line.
"Luke" tells a much different story and says absolutely nothing about pagan star gazers bringing treasure, nothing about an infant death decree, nothing about a trip to Egypt, and provides a much different genealogy for Jesus than what "Matthew" presented.
The Gospel of Matthew also adds the element of Roman guards at the tomb of Jesus, something that is mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament.
Furthermore, the Gospel of Luke, in the preamble, states that the information in Luke was being given so that the reader would know with certainty what the actual major events surrounding Jesus were.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Note that the Gospel of Luke is not an eyewitness account, but was compiled from other sources, with accuracy as a prime goal. Christians maintain that "Luke" the physician and historian wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts.
While there is a Luke mentioned in Col 4:14 and 2 Tim 4:11, there isn't any way to know for sure who wrote The Gospel of Luke or Acts.
However, if the author was supposed to be concerned with historical accuracy, then it would certainly have been appropriate for them to mention key items presented as history in the Gospel of Matthew.
As mentioned earlier, Luke and Matthew often do not support each other and conflict on key events.
Luke has the resurrected Jesus first appearing to his disciples in Jerusalem while Matthew has that meeting happening in Galilee, which is well over 50 miles to the north.
If "Luke" intended on giving his reader confirmation of what the proper facts were, and if the reader had heard about dead people being raised to life when Jesus died, the Gospel of Luke would not be able to confirm any of this.
The reader would be left with no confirmation of the facts.
The author of Luke doesn't tell his audience to refer to other writings for more details or to learn about events that he didn't deem important enough to mention.
Certainly, many dead people being raised together as a group and then appearing to many townspeople would qualify as an important event.
There is no support from Luke for the story in Matthew and it cannot be regarded as a historical fact.
The author of Matthew was fond of specifically pointing out prophecy fulfillment, and would even cite small parts of the Old Testament in that regard.
Matthew used a portion of Isaiah 7 in order to validate Jesus as someone of importance, the product of a virgin being pregnant with child.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
The Old Testament verse states:
Isa 7:14(JPS 1917 Tanach)
Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Note that there is no miraculous "virgin birth" or conception implied in the Old Testament scripture.
A young woman(almah) is involved, and there is no specific designation for her being a virgin(betulah).
An examination of the context of Isaiah 7 reveals that the chapter has nothing to do with Jesus.
Another example of a manufactured prophecy fulfillment follows:
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
The Old Testament scripture states:
Hosea 11:1(JPS 1917 Tanach)
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.
The alleged prophecy fulfillment in this case wasn't a prophecy at all. It's all past tense, predicting nothing.
The author of Matthew pulled a small section out of Hosea 11:1 and created a fulfillment out of thin air.
Once again, Jesus was made to appear as the centerpiece of the Old Testament scripture.
However, the actual context of the verse has nothing to do with Jesus, the child being referred to is the nation of Israel.
It appears that the author of Matthew had few qualms about using pieces of the Old Testament to manufacture certain elements for his story. The author of Matthew then strongly implied that these created elements were proof or validation that Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy.
In other words, the author of Matthew liberally created elements that added to the credibility of the main character of his story, which was Jesus.
to increase attractiveness by adding ornamental elements or details
The art of embellishing a story is one that can create a very interesting and convincing theme.
But the drawback with embellishment is that it can completely obscure the line between fact and fiction.
There is no way to know what parts of a story represent fact and what parts may be fiction.
Given the tendency for the author of Matthew to manufacture validity for Jesus by employing Old Testament scripture that says nothing about him, the door of creative license swings wide open.
Further acts of embellishment can easily glide through this opening and take up residence in the "historical" event of dead people coming to life and being resurrected, as portrayed in Matt 27:50-53.
Does the Old Testament say anything about dead people coming to life at some time?
The answer to this question is yes.
In the expected messianic era, many dead people would be raised.
Isa 26:19(JPS 1917 Tanach)
Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise--awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust--for Thy dew is as the dew of light, and the earth shall bring to life the shades.
Dan 12:2(JPS 1917 Tanach)
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence.
If the author of Matthew wanted to enhance credibility to his story about Jesus being an expected King Messiah, adding the element of some dead people coming to life would implicitly convince people and support the theme that Jesus really was this expected Messiah.
However, embellishment does not advance the case for 100% historic accuracy, it detracts from it.
The tale in Matthew, about dead people being raised to life, also creates internal problems for the New Testament.
According to "Matthew", the dead people came alive prior to Jesus being resurrected.
However, the allegedly inspired author called Paul said that Jesus was the first of the dead to be risen.
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
1 Cor 15:20
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
Paul seemed to have no knowledge of the amazing multiple resurrections that happened near Jerusalem.
It's seems rather odd that Paul, who was supposed to have been in that area around the time Jesus existed, never says anything about it.
If Paul was right about Jesus being the first to rise from the dead, then maybe Matthew 27:50-53 is a false teaching, or a work of fiction.
In an attempt to reconcile this problem, apologists will assert that Paul meant the word "first" to mean that Jesus was the first raised and then lived eternally. The other people raised back to life died.
Since the text doesn't say what happened to the dead people that were raised back to life when Jesus died, there is nothing to support the notion that they died all over again.
In fact the Bible denies that they did.
The Bible says that it is appointed for men to die only once, not multiple times.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
The Gospel of Matthew also said that the resurrected dead people were saints, and this is another reason to believe they did not have to die a second time.
Paul also seemed to be unaware of another dead person coming back to life before Jesus did, or else he dismissed the story as fiction.
The story is found in the Old Testament:
2 Kings 13:21
And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
Apologists will often attempt to dismiss this verse by claiming that the man wasn't really dead, but in a coma.
As noted before, the Bible can mean whatever a believer wants it to mean. But every added rationalization and scriptural qualifier undermines the claim about the Bible being directly and perfectly inspired by God. The text says nothing about the man only being in a coma rather than being dead, nor does it say that he was being buried by mistake.
The New Testament also instructs believers to give no heed to
Jewish fables or to those who promote "false"
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Since these "Jewish fables" are not defined, one has to wonder if any Jewish fables or myths were incorporated into the Bible!
Maybe the story about a man coming to life in 2 Kings 13:21 is really a myth, a fable.
But wait a minute, it can't be a myth because fundamentalists say that the Bible is 100% accurate history, straight from God himself.
How about the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, Satan and Job, talking donkeys, the world flood, fire from heaven, the Exodus, the Ten Commandments, the walls of Jericho, the Temple of Solomon, the exploits of King David, six fingered giants, along with many other items and events?
One can only hope and pray to God that none of these stories are the very fables and myths that the Bible tells us not to pay any attention to!
Thankfully, the world has fundamentalist Christians that have already settled these issues, and so unsaved wretches don't have to be burdened with thinking about this disturbing possibility.
Having been relieved from the burden of objective thinking, these poor souls can now concentrate on being saved so they can start regularly tithing money to the church and its clerics.
As the popular advertising says If it's in the Bible, then it's absolutely factual.
Because the Bible wasn't dropped from the sky, or compiled without human aid, the extent of holy inspiration and infallibility does not simply stop with the direct transmission of God's thoughts to the authors of the scriptures that appear in the Bible today.
Another assumed layer of divine inspiration is required for the clerics that voted on which scriptures were the valid thoughts of God. The Pope must also be added to the list of those under the direct control of God because the power of the clerics was derived from the Pope, who is assumed to be the Vicar of Christ on earth.
The Church itself is supposed to be endowed with infallible powers with regard to the teaching of doctrine and the exercise of doctrinal authority. Add that to the list of assumptions as well.
Layer upon layer of assumption and assertion is what comprises the so-called infallible Word of God.
In short, the Bible is the Word of God because male human beings, whose livelihoods and positions in society depend on it being so, say that it's the Word of God.
The validation of both Protestant and Catholic institutions is based primarily on the use of argument by assertion, which relies on the trappings of divine authority to score points with the masses.
Without this veneer of divine authority, they are merely another group of peddlers in the marketplace of ideas, competing for your attention.
Simply repeating an assertion that something is factual doesn't make it factual, and the bombastic claims of fundamentalists about the Bible are no exception.
We must not mistake an echo for an answer.
Seeker: There seems to be an absence of real teachers.
Sage: That is because of the absence of real students.
Seeker: It is obvious that careless people will follow almost anyone who claims to have the answers.
Sage: There was a country that had no eagles, so parrots were called eagles.
--Parable by Vernon Howard
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