Bible Passages Christians Love To Ignore

Picture of a Bible / Ian Britton, via FreeFotoChristians these days tend not to pay too much attention to what their Bible says. Especially in the case of fundamentalist Protestants, they love to stomp around claiming how “scriptural” they are, how they love their Bibles, and so on. But when push comes to shove, it turns out that the words in these Bibles they say they follow and revere, are of little or no concern to them. The Bible’s words have no effect on their lives. Not only do they not follow its instructions, they go so far as to do precisely the opposite of what it tells them they must do.

It’s time for Christians to pay attention to the Bible’s actual words, and start acting and living as though they’re important. I’ve covered some of these items elsewhere, but what follows here is a compilation of a number of Bible passages they ignore.

About Violence

Jesus abhorred violence and directed his followers never to be violent — not even in self-defense! In fact, Jesus instructed them not even to defend themselves when sued in court!

  • “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)
  • Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
  • “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” (Luke 6:27-29)

About Public Piety

Lots of Christians love to make a point of how “Christian” they are. They wear their beliefs on their sleeves and trumpet their religiosity for all to hear. Sadly, Jesus explicitly forbid them to do any such thing:

  • “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.…

    “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18)

  • “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

Please also see my static page on the pervasive problem of public piety in Christianity.

About Wealth & the Profit Motive

Jesus taught that the acquisition of wealth, far from being a good thing, was a hindrance to finding the Kingdom of God:

  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)
  • Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” (Matthew 19:21-25)
  • Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” (Mark 10:21-26)
  • And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
  • And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20)
  • “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” (Luke 6:24)
  • “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
  • “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Luke 16:13)
  • When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” (Luke 18:22-26)
  • “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: … ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.'” (Revelation 3:14a, 17-18)

About Politics

Quite unlike Christians in the US, Jesus himself was apolitical. He had nothing to say about statecraft or polity. He was unconcerned about the physical realm — of which government was a part — and instead concentrated on the spiritual realm, the Kingdom of Heaven (or of God):

  • “Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:19-21)
  • They brought [a denarius]. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him. (Mark 12:16-17)
  • “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Luke 20:24-25)

The only thing even remotely resembling a political-economic system mentioned in the New Testament as being distinctively Christian in nature, is the communalism (not necessarily communism!) of the earliest Christians:

  • And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. (Acts 2:44-45)
  • And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:32-35)

About Mosaic Law

Most Christians since the time of Paul have presumed they’re no longer subject to the terms of Mosaic Law. But this contradicts what Jesus himself said:

  • “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
  • “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” (Luke 16:17)

About Minimalism

Jesus emphasized to his followers that they should have only minimal possessions; that material things were hindrances, unnecessary for them:

  • “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.” (Matthew 10:9-10)
  • And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.” (Luke 9:3)

About Humility

In line with the Jewish scripture of his own time, Jesus taught that God wants his people to be humble, and he punishes pride:

  • But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. (Psalm 37:11)
  • When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
  • A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3, 5)
  • And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:7-14)
  • Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:10)

About Judgment

Christians constantly judge one another, as well as non-Christians. They can always find ways to show they’re “better” than everyone else, or that other folks are “wrong” or “evil.” And they constantly bellyache about other people’s “sins.” Unfortunately for them, this too contradicts what both the Old Testament and Jesus taught (and Paul, based upon both of those sources), which is that everyone is equally “sinful”:

  • They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3)
  • Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
  • “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
  • “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37)
  • The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:3-7)
  • What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” (Romans 3:9:12)
  • Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22-23)
  • For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. (Romans 11:32)
  • If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

About Knowing When “the End” Will Come

Christians typically love to think they know when “the End” (aka Armageddon) will come. They think the Bible contains all sorts of warnings which they can use to pinpoint it. But Jesus told them that such knowledge is impossible to possess:

  • “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. … Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:36, 42)
  • “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.” (Mark 13:31-33)

About Being True to Christ & His Teachings

Jesus himself was fully aware that not all of his followers would be true to his teachings. Some would — on the surface — appear to be good Christians, yet for any number of reasons, they’d nevertheless fail to meet his own standards. And he had harsh words for such people:

  • “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
  • “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

The Bottom Line

Nearly all of the Christians who read this list of scriptures will likely come up with some kind of rationale or justification for why they won’t follow them. The majority of them have been ignoring them for nearly two millennia. It’s not something they’re going to stop doing any time soon. It’s clear to me — in light of the aforementioned Bible quotations — that a great many Christians these days are actually behaving in un-Christian ways.

My challenge to you, if you’re one of these Christians, is to admit you’ve been doing things your own religion’s founder ordered you not to; to stop doing those things; to resolve to obey these passages in the future; and to encourage your fellow Christians to do the same. If your own religion means anything to you, and if you have sufficient integrity and courage, then you’ll take up this challenge and try to live your Christianity as Jesus Christ intended it to be lived, and as you are admonished in the epistles:

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (James 1:22)

Are you going to try? Or are you going to rationalize all of this away? This is your religion, after all, not mine. Either it means something to you, or it doesn’t. The choice to live it is entirely yours.

All scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible.

Update: Please see this blog post concerning the reactions I’ve received to these remarks (and there’ve been quite a few, not all of them in the comments below).

Photo credit: FreeFoto.

Page created: October 28, 2012. Last modified: June 30, 2015

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  • Marilyn

    Since the beginning of time, mankind has needed something bigger than they. There have been religions all through the existence of mankind. Perhaps it is to have their deity to worship, blame or even to control behaviours. Whatever the reason is religion in one form or another is here to stay. For a long time I said I was a Christian. I can't do that anymore for the reasons you stated in your article. I now describe myself as a person who follows Christ's teachings. I try very hard to follow all of the teachings of Christ, not just the ones I can pull out of the Bible for my convenience or when it is beneficial to me. I have found in my lifetime that all of the major religions have one principle in common; Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you. My discipline as I said is Christianity. Thank you for reminding what should be obvious to Christians but is ignored. Having said that, "May my God Bless You." 🙂

    • I fully agree with you that the Ethic of Reciprocity (aka the "Golden Rule," or as you put it, "Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you") is the best way to live. I note, however, that it doesn't need to be backed up by metaphysics. As a way of getting along with others, and when acted upon collectively, it's its own reward. As long as everyone in a society treats everyone else in it the same way they'd want to be treated themselves, everything will work out quite well.

      • Marilyn

        Agreed with equal respect.

      • Chris M.

        Well, that is if people have self-respect and treat themselves humanely. In my life I've seen many self-destructive people who abuse themselves. Can't say I'd want to be treated like them by them, or be anywhere near them. Even the Golden Rule has it's limits.

        As a side, while it's easy to point out all the faults of religious followers it's probably fair to admit they're all human and probably doing the best they can. I don't think I've ever met a Christian who thought he/she was infallible- and the ones who appear to are usually living under the 'fake it until you make it' rule.

        Perhaps the greater idea of the bible, and all religions for that matter, is simply being good simply for the sake of being good. (Be good, for goodness sake! As the song goes). No reward seeking, no personal elevation, no concern of loss or gain from the good you add to the world, just do your best to be good to yourself and others.

        • Thanks for your comments. There's one thing you said that I'd like to follow up on, if I may: "As a side, while it's easy to point out all the faults of religious followers it's probably fair to admit they're all human and probably doing the best they can."

          This is something I've often heard, but given what most Christians believe about their religion, it's not a valid objection. To say that Christians are no better with Christianity than they would be without it, flies in the face of its presumed divine nature, and makes it appear useless as a belief system. Put another way, if Jesus came and delivered his teachings in order to make his followers better and more moral people, one would expect that Christians are better-behaved than non-Christians. If Christianity really has the power of God behind it, one would think this would influence its followers for the better.

          It's not enough to give Christians a "pass" and just say "they're doing the best they can." They ought to be doing better than they would without it.

          Back in my own days as a fundamentalist Christian, a common slogan I heard — and stated myself — was, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." But really, this isn't enough, and ultimately it can be used as an excuse for bad behavior. I suggest a better slogan for them should be, "Christians aren't perfect, but Jesus demands we do better, and we will." Sadly, I don't know of any Christians saying any such thing.

          Anyway, all of that aside, I appreciate your comments.

  • Kelly

    This is a BEAUTIFULLY written article. As a believer myself in Jesus Christ for three decades, I LOVE these words that He said. I do rely on Him to live them out in my life. Thank you for reminding us. I plan to share this with my friends who love Jesus too as a good encouragement, though I do wish you could know and experience His love for yourself. Good work for my Lord, dear one and thank you again.

    • Thanks for your kind comments. Including that you think I'm doing the Lord's work. Rest assured, once upon a time I did, in fact, "experience His love." Every bit as much as any current Christian does now. I'm sure you won't accept that, but it's absolutely true.

  • Carla

    An outstanding piece! As a Christian believer, I have said quite often that there are atheists and agnostics that know the Bible better than some professing Christians. I believe the most effective witness for Jesus Christ is the one who can preach without words (in the life they live and the love they show for all of God's creatures). Well done, PsiCop. Such an awesome job. Excellent work for our Lord. Thank you and may God bless you richly.

    • I appreciate your kind comments. You're the fourth person to tell me I'm doing the Lord's work. That's odd, because I can tell you he never hired me to write this piece. If you like it, please pass it along to your fellow Christians and let them know.

  • Brenda

    Can we really take anything that Jesus said as truth? The passages below show he was a liar. How do Christians read passages like these and still believe Jesus is the son of God?

    Matthew 16:
    27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.
    28 Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

    Mark 9:
    1 He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.”

    Luke 9:
    26 Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
    27 Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

    • Hi there,

      I agree with you the passages you quote are problematic. In fact, I’ve gone over them already in my page explaining why all Biblical prophecy is bullshit.

      That said, we’re talking about the Christians’ religion, and the premises upon which they’ve constructed it. For better or worse — no matter how valid they may be (or not) — Christians have decided the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the gospels are to be obeyed. They even use this mandate as a justification for forcing others to live according to those teachings, even if they’re not Christian and don’t want to obey them.

      But hypocritically, they choose not to live by those teachings, themselves. In fact, I just posted an entry showing how one Christian worms his way out of Jesus’ prohibition against judging others.

      In any event … I agree with you that some of Jesus’ words as recorded in the gospels, are untrue. Others are simply unwise or absurd. Still others are quite sound. Really, it’s a mixed bag. But the bottom line is, Christians say they believe what Jesus taught … but they refuse to follow through with it, in their behavior and words. If they’re going to accept as a given that Jesus is to be obeyed, then they need to just fucking obey him and be done with it already. But they won’t.

      That makes them hypocrites, of course, which is another thing Jesus ordered them not to do yet they do anyway … ! Sigh. They’re just hopeless.

      • Mike Weare

        Hi PsiCop:
        You fail to understand that some prophecies were intended to be near term and others long term. Jesus foretelling about "this generation will not pass" relates to the 70th week of Daniel which has not yet happened. Tell me, which of Jesus's words was "unwise or absurd". Many Christians may be "hopeless hypocrites", but, if they believe Jesus was the son of God, God incarnate, that he came to fulfill over 300 prophecies, have repented of their sins ( past, present & future) – then they are forgiven and will still enter heaven despite their failings. Your comments are such that you expect all christians to be perfect. Satan was and still is the accusor. By Christ's works, no fiery darts can hit or hurt true redeemed Christians. This battle is spiritual. Read or find the book by Herbert Lockyear, " All Messianic Prophecies of the Bible" – it will blow your paradigm away and get you thinking afresh and anew. Hypocrites have no effect on the truth.

        • Re: "You fail to understand that some prophecies were intended to be near term and others long term."

          Actually, no, that's not true at all. Jesus said what he said. Nothing more and nothing less. Most all of what he said was "intended to be near term" because, as an apocalyptic preacher, he didn't think there was any "long term." Even so, if he were speaking "long term," he had plenty of opportunity to say so.

          Re: "Jesus foretelling about 'this generation will not pass' relates to the 70th week of Daniel which has not yet happened."

          Uh … no. Jesus never once mentioned "the 70th week of Daniel." Whatever the hell that might be.

          Re: "Tell me, which of Jesus's words was 'unwise or absurd'."

          I guess I wasn't too clear on that. So I wil repeat: Mt 16:28, Mk 9:1, and Lk 9:27 were all predictions he made which utterly failed to come true, and cannot ever possibly come true. So those statements were both "unwise" and "absurd."

          Re: "Many Christians may be 'hopeless hypocrites' …"

          Actually, pretty much ALL of them are "hopeless hypocrites."

          Re: "… but, if they believe Jesus was the son of God, God incarnate, that he came to fulfill over 300 prophecies …"

          Not one of those things can be demonstrated to be true, based solely upon objective, verifiable evidence. As for the Bible's "prophecies," I guess I wasn't too clear about that either, but the Bible's predictions of the future are bullshit.

          Re: "… have repented of their sins ( past, present & future) – then they are forgiven and will still enter heaven despite their failings."

          I can count on one hand, minus a few fingers, the number of truly "repentant" Christians who've ever lived. If this is so, then maybe those few will end up in heaven. The vast majority of Christians … especially those who love to spew the tired old adage that "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven," which absolves them of any responsibility for wrongdoing they might ever engage in and grants them license to do whatever the hell they want … won't. That is, IF what you just said is the case. For the sake of all their immortal souls, I hope their deity isn't as harsh as they themselves love to claim he is.

  • DPMartin

    Its easy to find short comings in the Christian community, but they at least declare what the Truth is, even at the risk of others seeing that they fall short of the message they preach. Its not about the messenger, its about the message even if the messenger falls short of following it. The messenger doesn’t save souls, the message does. If one is so concerned about how Christianity should be done and lived, then why isn’t that person showing us all how is should be done?

    • Re: "Its easy to find short comings in the Christian community …"

      You're absolutely right about that. Few things in life are as easy.

      Re: "… but they at least declare what the Truth is …"

      Uh, no. They don't. They may think they declare "Truth," but when push comes to shove, they never manage to back up anything they say using objective, verifiable evidence. They wouldn't know "Truth" if it smashed them in the face.

      Re: "Its not about the messenger, its about the message even if the messenger falls short of following it."

      I disagree. This is all about the messenger (i.e. Christians) rather than the message (i.e. Christianity). Think about it … and please, really think about it: How is an objective observer of Christianity, such as myself, supposed to know anything about it, except by looking at the words and behaviors of those who claim to adhere to it? What value can "the message" possibly have, if "the messengers" who're supposed to carry it and live it, refuse to do so?

      Re: "The messenger doesn’t save souls, the message does."

      I don't even know that "souls" exist. To date no one has ever provided any objective, verifiable evidence of their existence.

      Re: "If one is so concerned about how Christianity should be done and lived, then why isn’t that person showing us all how is should be done?"

      Good question! I don't know any Christians who are willing to live Christianity as Jesus taught it during his lifetime. Why aren't any of them doing this? If you're a Christian, I assume you know the answer to that question. If so, please let me know. Because I haven't figured it out.

      If you're trying to suggest that I should be doing this for you, guess again. I have no intention of doing so. Christianity isn't my religion. It belongs to Christians. Not me. If they don't want to live it, that's their choice. It's not my problem, and their refusal to abide by their own claimed religion doesn't force me to do it for them.

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  • Publius

    All the discussion about which rules Christian are obliged to follow or prone to ignore is non-sensical. The fact it, Christians, by their own definition of salvation, are entitled and capable of willfully ignoring any and all commandments, guidelines and rules stated by any person, prophet or diety in the Bible while still maintaining a reserved address on a street paved in gold. All that is required is to accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior. Feel free to be a complete asshole to anyone and everyone you meet. Feel free to ignore civility. Feel free to be a bigot. Feel free to spread hate and discontent. So long as you "believe" you still good.

    Back to reality…….

    • Re: "The fact it, Christians, by their own definition of salvation, are entitled and capable of willfully ignoring any and all commandments, guidelines and rules stated by any person, prophet or diety in the Bible while still maintaining a reserved address on a street paved in gold. All that is required is to accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior."

      True enough. Lots of evangelicals (especially) love to announce that "Christians aren't perfect, they're just saved." This absolves them of any obligation to do anything in particular. Even so, outside observers such as myself are faced with seeing, on the one hand, a religion based on scripture that contains a large number of instructions, some of which are pretty specific. I've cataloged some of them in this page. On the other hand, observers see the followers of this religion, as you correctly point out, rationalizing away all of these mandates and granting themselves license to do as they wish.

  • Publius

    The absurdity of the conditions for entrance to heaven are enough to completely invalidate the concept. Yet humans continue to seek dieties. Please understand that there really is a very simple reason we do this. Biology. It benefits us as a species to be born with the ability for faith. That is why we trusted our parents wholeheartedly. That is why we believed the absurd story of Santa Claus…because our parents said it and thus we believed it. Religion preys upon that faith mechanism and perverts it in order to keep it functioning long after it would have naturally been turned off.

    • Re: "Please understand that there really is a very simple reason we do this. Biology."

      I don't deny there may well be a psychoneurological impulse to believe in metaphysical notions. What I don't accept is the idea that this impulse is absolutely, totally, 100% insurmountable and totally irresistable; the existence of millions of non-believers in the U.S. alone ought to make clear this is not something all human beings are forced to do by dint of their physiology. Some, clearly, can resist that impulse.

  • Publius

    When we analyze this hypothesis it becomes clear that people of faith have a disorder in much the same way someone with autism has a disorder. The brain is not functioning correctly. This also lends itself to explaining why people of faith can rarely be "logic'ed" out of their belief. They simply have too much invested in faith. To admit God is imaginary is akin to admitting they are foolish and ill. From this flows the inumerable rationalizations for faith. Those of us with normally functioning brains can clearly see how absurd religion is. But the religious brain functions like an addict's brain; almost any train of thought can be twisted and interpreted as a reason to use drugs/alcohol/religion. When we begin to understand the problem of religion and faith as an illness, only then do we stand a chance at healing this plague.

  • Re: "This also lends itself to explaining why people of faith can rarely be 'logic'ed' out of their belief. They simply have too much invested in faith."

    I agree with this to an extent. When people hold onto ideas … whether they're religious, or cultural, or political, or if they're even a matter of team loyalties … they tend to identify with it. As though the idea itself is an integral part of them. This identification makes it difficult for them to change their minds.

    Re: "When we begin to understand the problem of religion and faith as an illness, only then do we stand a chance at healing this plague."

    If religionism is an illness, then it can be treated … !

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  • Eddie Lim

    I live in Asia. I believe in God. There are many religions and faiths. It is so absurd that only Jesus and his Father (God Almighty) are the only true God. If Christianity did not come to the Far East, we will still be doing well without being Christians.

    So, even though I am baptized (as an adult) to be a Catholic, today I have reverted to a universal God. The Catholic church can be my house of prayer. So can the Buddhist temple or my own home. God is God…I do not need a legal or religious definition and 1,000 do and don’t.

  • tekmo

    In re: whether Mosaic Law is binding on Christians, I would point to several gospel accounts where various legal experts and theocrats challenge and test Jesus’ comprehension of Mosaic Law.

    Jesus’ response is NEVER, “Well, the law is the law, and that’s that.”

    For example, in Luke 10, a Mosaic lawyer asks Jesus which commandments are the most important. Jesus’ responds that #1 is love God above all else, and #2 is to love your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer asks for a legal definition of the word “neighbor.” Jesus explains with the Good Samaritan parable. This is illuminating because Mosaic law absolutely prohibited Jews from having any contact with Samaritans (deemed Jewish heretics.) If Jesus’ attitude was “all Mosaic Law is eternally valid and binding on all” then the Good Samaritan parable would be…well, quite different.

    When the legal scholars ask Jesus’ legal opinion about paying Roman taxes with Roman coin, the underlying question is about whether a Jew can even legally possess such coins because they bear a prohibited graven image of the emperor. Again, Jesus’ position is NOT the same as Mosaic Law which absolutely prohibits possession of all graven images, Rather, Jesus says it’s legally okay to have such a coin to be used for such a narrow purpose as paying Roman taxes.

    In Luke 11, the scholars demand to know why Jesus doesn’t wash before eating, and Jesus rebuts by asking them why they don’t kill their sassy children as required by Mosaic Law. (Then Jesus goes on a megarant about the hypocrisy of maintaining scrupulous observance of religious laws while being morally bankrupt, a passage dubbed the “Woes of the Pharisees”.)

    Jesus is similarly confronted with tests of his legal theories and how they do or don’t square with Mosaic Law in Matthew 22 and Mark 12. Again, in NO case does Jesus shrug and say, “Well, the law is the law, and I’m the enforcer of that law.”

    One final example, if I may. Remember when he vigilantes presented the adulteress to Jesus for stoning? Had Jesus been a hidebound supporter of each jot & tittle of Mosaic Law, his response SHOULD have been to pick up a stone and deliver some hard Mosaic Legal Justice.

    But he didn’t, did he?

    I think representing Jesus’ position on the validity of Mosaic law with those two statements you cite is rather misleading about Jesus’ actual (or maybe evolving) position on the subject, particularly given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    Otherwise enjoyed your article a great deal. Cheers.

    • Re: “In re: whether Mosaic Law is binding on Christians, I would point to several gospel accounts where various legal experts and theocrats challenge and test Jesus’ comprehension of Mosaic Law.”

      Oh, I’m aware that generations of Christians have cooked up all sorts of rationales to explain away Jesus having supposedly said: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Mt 5:18).

      Re: “Jesus’ response is NEVER, ‘Well, the law is the law, and that’s that.'”

      No, what he did say, though, was: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Mt 5:18).

      Re: “This is illuminating because Mosaic law absolutely prohibited Jews from having any contact with Samaritans (deemed Jewish heretics.)”

      Actually, it’s illuminating because it brings up two possibilities: One, Jesus wasn’t — in Lk 10 — arguing the content of the Law or its applicability, but rather, its interpretation. Whereas, in Mt 5 he was stating, both simply and generally, that the Law still was in force. Second, assuming that in Lk 10 he was arguing about the contents of the Law and whether some of its features remained in force, then he clearly contradicted what he said in Mt 5, which is that “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

      Re: “In Luke 11, the scholars demand to know why Jesus doesn’t wash before eating, and Jesus rebuts by asking them why they don’t kill their sassy children as required by Mosaic Law.”

      Yes, indeed, in Lk 11 Jesus did a terrific job of explaining the inherent absurdity and extreme nature of the Law. Which only leaves one wondering why, in Mt 5, he said that “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” It’s kinda funny … almost as if two different people were speaking in each passage. Hmm.

      Re: “(Then Jesus goes on a megarant about the hypocrisy of maintaining scrupulous observance of religious laws while being morally bankrupt, a passage dubbed the “Woes of the Pharisees”.)”

      Yes, the Woes of the Pharisees (also found in Mt 23) comprise an astounding passage. Two of the most compelling passages in the gospels! Reading them, I wonder if Jesus wasn’t speaking to the Pharisees of his own time, but to his own followers in the future? I’m not sure how Christians after his time are appreciably different from the Pharisees he castigated. (Interestingly enough, there are Christians who’ve said pretty much the same thing. So it’s not just insolent, cynical, godless agnostic heathen me saying that.)

      Re: “Had Jesus been a hidebound supporter of each jot & tittle of Mosaic Law, his response SHOULD have been to pick up a stone and deliver some hard Mosaic Legal Justice.”

      Again, you bring up the interesting possibility that Jesus contradicted himself. Because you’re exactly right: No one who pronounced that “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law” would have failed to hurl stones at the adulteress. Another possibility is that the Jesus of Matthew wasn’t the Jesus of Luke, or of John.

      Yes, there’s definitely a contradiction here. But really, that’s not my problem to solve. It’s up to Christians to solve it. They can either choose to come down on one side (i.e. that the Law must be obeyed to the letter at all times) or the other (that it can be skipped or ignored at need). Fortunately for most of the adulterers in history, they’ve tended to do the latter. But no matter what side they take, they can’t help but ignore portions of their Bibles in order to follow others.

      • tekmo

        Your argument is that ONE arguably ambiguous passage, Matthew 5:18, is of at least equal weight (or even outweighs) the many counterexamples I proffer. I really don’t think that’s a reasonable argument. The weight of evidence supports my argument.

        Nor do I think it’s axiomatically true that Jesus has “contradicted” himself. For example, I can say that I support the law, our justice system, that I believe that the adversarial trial system is the best way to arrive at the truth, etc., while I can also AT THE SAME TIME understand that there are such things as unjust laws, biased judges, and miscarriages of justice which deserve no respect at all. That’s not a “contradiction.” It’s merely apprehending the reality that laws are necessary, but not ALL laws are necessary, or that justice is attainable, but not every trial outcome is just.

        You get the idea.

        Jesus’ rather obvious point here is that laws such as the ones demanding the execution of sassy children and adulterers are ignorant, mean-spirited, and unjust. Jesus further argues that those kinds of law should be not merely ignored, but actively held in contempt by sensible, decent people. That is truly the righteous position, I don’t think we’d disagree that he’s correct.

        (This is the argument I have long attempted to impress upon Christians who insist that Mosaic Law is not fully binding on themselves as Christians, but it does remain somehow fully binding on all gay people everywhere notwithstanding their own religious affiliations — an argument that is so staggeringly insane I can barely comprehend how anyone can make it, but they do. Oh my, so, so many of them do.)

        But I digress. One need not be a Christian to respect and be impressed by Jesus taking such an eminently reasonable position with respect to Mosaic Law — particularly when he’s willing to deliver that opinion right to the face of a bunch of theocrats who can (and ultimately do) execute him for it. Well, for that and starting a riot at the Temple during Passover.

        I will conclude by saying that, with respect to the adulteress that Jesus refused to stone, he unfortunately missed the opportunity to point to the inherent misogyny of Mosaic Law as practiced by the righteous men who would enthusiastically torture-murder a woman for her sin, while evidently having no interest in delivering equal “justice” to her partner, despite the fact he is equally culpable.

        Well, nobody’s perfect. 😀

        • Re: “Your argument is that ONE arguably ambiguous passage, Matthew 5:18, is of at least equal weight (or even outweighs) the many counterexamples I proffer.”

          Actually, that isn’t what I said at all. First, I don’t accept that Mt 5:18 is in any way “ambiguous.” It’s not. It’s a short, simple statement whose meaning is quite clear, and it’s bolstered by sentences before and after. Put it all together and you have:

          “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:17-19)

          No part of this is the least bit “ambiguous.”

          Second, I don’t accept that some parts of the Bible can wash away others. Each part, no matter how small, was put there by someone who was convinced it was necessary to be there, and therefore had some importance. In this case the author(s) of Matthew wrote it, and he/they obviously meant it. That the authors of Luke and John came along and wrote something a bit different, cannot and will never change that it had been put into the gospel of Matthew. It’s there, it was kept there by the copyist-scribes who continually relayed it (so that it was preserved for us to see), and they wanted it there.

          Re: “Jesus’ rather obvious point here is that laws such as the ones demanding the execution of sassy children and adulterers are ignorant, mean-spirited, and unjust.”

          Yes, but these contradictory positions … i.e. on the one hand that the law must be enforced rigorously and in every detail, vs. it’s kind of a loosy-goosy thing that we can squeeze into or out of at will … matter. It’s not enough just to say that Jesus, if he lived, had truly intended to teach one position or the other. Oh no. That ship has already sailed, by virtue of the fact that different evangelists have told us different things, and different camps of scribes have ensured those different accounts have remained for Christians to revere, and different church leaders since their time chose to keep all three of those documents as canon.

          To be clear, if I haven’t been already: The authors of Matthew, Luke and John were different people, writing different works, which addressed different needs, in some cases reflected different beliefs, and solved different problems faced by their congregations/communities. Yes, it’s true that Matthew and Luke are, as documents, related, being synoptics based on Mark and in all likelihood the sayings gospel Q, but that doesn’t mean their authors didn’t part company in some matters. Where the Mosaic Law is concerned, the author(s) of Matthew on the one hand and of Luke and John on the other, clearly do not agree. Christians now cannot just paper that disagreement over, not when they claim to revere all three of those documents equally.

          Re: “I will conclude by saying that, with respect to the adulteress that Jesus refused to stone, he unfortunately missed the opportunity to point to the inherent misogyny of Mosaic Law as practiced by the righteous men who would enthusiastically torture-murder a woman for her sin …”

          This brings up a point related to my pointing out that the three gospels we’re talking about are three distinct documents written by three distinct men (or groups of them) conveying the beliefs, and solving the problems of, three distinct faith-groups. And that is that the Pericope Adulterae is, in all likelihood, a later interpolation. IIRC as early as Erasmus’s time, it was known not to have been included in the oldest manuscripts of the gospel of John. (Just as the oldest manuscripts of Mark end at 16:8.) I’m aware there’s a minority view among scholars that it’s actually original to John, but was lost prior to the oldest-remaining manuscripts being written, and later restored … but while this is technically possible, in reality, there’s no evidence for this, not in independent attestations (such as patristic quotations).

          What I’m getting at, is that Christians at some point appear to have decided to insert this story into the gospel of John. Why did they do it? Scholars have discussed it at length, and there are almost as many explanations as there are scholars who’ve spoken to it, but it very well may be because some Christians in the middle of the 3rd century needed ammunition against other Christians who insisted … according to Matthew 5 … that the Mosaic Law still applied, to the letter. This isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem, since there were Jewish-Christian groups around at that time and even after, e.g. the Ebionites and Nazarenes, as late as the 4th and 5th centuries (they were mentioned and condemned by Church Fathers such as St Augustine, St Epiphanius, and St Jerome).

          So again what we come down to is the problem of Christians being conflicted about what they believe Jesus taught. As I said in my last response to you, this is not my problem. These aren’t contradictions I need to resolve. But, they are problems for Christians who at least ostensibly say they revere all of these passages of all of these documents and believe them all to describe the teachings of Jesus. That said, the way to resolve it is not just to jettison one piece of one gospel because it’s inconvenient or even because other pieces of other gospels disagree with it. That’s the easy way out … but it’s one that implies that the sanctity and validity of some parts of the Bible (e.g. Mt 5:18) aren’t as great as others.

          • tekmo

            Unsurprisingly, in rebuttal, you return to the single passage you have in support of your argument, as if it is self-evidently true that it represents Jesus’ full and true position on the matter, while at the same time nullifying several other passages across three books that evince the exact opposite position.

            While I can’t imagine I’m the first person to tell you this, it is the case that hearsay, translations, and historical context routinely introduce ambiguity into statements, and I think we both agree that Jesus didn’t write the Gospel of Matthew, and he certainly didn’t write it in English.

            Your argument after that is simply doctrinaire: SOMEBODY introduced that passage into the Bible, therefore that must be understood as Jesus’ own clear, unambiguous, and explicit position with respect to Mosaic Law.

            I’ve provided abundant evidence to the contrary, yet you just hand-wave all that away, while arguing that it’s somehow intellectually dishonest for Christians to hand-wave away inconsistent outlier passages that purport to obligate them to behave monstrously.

            Well, I don’t typically side with Christians against agnostics, but in this case I most certainly do.

          • Re: “Unsurprisingly, in rebuttal, you return to the single passage you have in support of your argument, as if it is self-evidently true that it represents Jesus’ full and true position on the matter …”

            No. What I said was, the author(s) of Matthew included those words. And those words mean what they mean. They don’t magically mean something else just because their overt meaning is inconvenient for you.

            Re: “While I can’t imagine I’m the first person to tell you this, it is the case that hearsay, translations, and historical context routinely introduce ambiguity into statements …”

            Actually I’m well aware of this, but the problem is that, for Christians, the gospels aren’t just someone’s collection of gossip columns (to use a modern, if anachronistic, parallel). For Christians, they are holy scripture and lay out Jesus’ teachings on many matters. Christians revere those words … all of them. They can’t “revere” a collection of texts, but then go cherry-picking through them, casting some aside in favor of others. It takes work to reconcile the varying accounts … works that some Christians have attempted to do over the years (so far, not satisfactorily) but which the vast majority of them refuse ever to do.

            Re: “Your argument after that is simply doctrinaire: SOMEBODY introduced that passage into the Bible, therefore that must be understood as Jesus’ own clear, unambiguous, and explicit position with respect to Mosaic Law.”

            Because the gospels conflict on this point, we don’t actually know with any certainty what a historical Jesus — if he existed — actually taught. All we can do is go by the accounts that were left by the people who believed in him. But if this is what’s happened, the fault lies entirely with Christians themselves: For revering works that conflict and offer different accounts of what Jesus taught.

            As I’ve said several times already, this is not my problem to solve. It’s for Christians to solve, and it’s one they manufactured, by virtue of their having decided to revere texts which conflict.

            Re: “I’ve provided abundant evidence to the contrary, yet you just hand-wave all that away, while arguing that it’s somehow intellectually dishonest for Christians to hand-wave away inconsistent outlier passages that purport to obligate them to behave monstrously.”

            OK, so you did, finally, get my point! That was it, yes. It IS, in fact, “intellectually dishonest for Christians to hand-wave away inconsistent outlier passages that purport to obligate them to behave monstrously.” The whole bit about them having “to behave monstrously” is, as it turns out, part of the problem Christians face. The texts they revere report that Jesus taught a lot of things. Some good, some bad, some with (as you put it) “monstrous” ramifications. Yes, that’s true.

            But I repeat, that’s the problem inherent in Christianity itself, and it’s one Christians manufactured themselves. They say they revere all these texts … complete with good, bad, and even potentially “monstrous” content. Yes, it’s true. They “revere” all of that. That’s all of it. As in, every single last bit of it. If Christians, through their religion’s history, have collected up a bunch of teachings that conflict and can even have “monstrous” implications, I also repeat, that’s not my problem. I’m not the one who picked a bunch of texts to revere as the core of a religion. I choose not to participate in that religion. But … Christians have done so. The absurdity of this choice is obvious to me; why do you not see it? And more to the point, why are you defending their absurdity?

            They bought into their Christianity, now they have to grow up already and deal with the problems they, themselves, created because of how they chose to manage their faith. But the way to do that is NOT to just cast chunks of it aside because they’re inconvenient.

            Re: “Well, I don’t typically side with Christians against agnostics, but in this case I most certainly do.”

            Go ahead, then. Side with people who revere a collection of conflicting texts, some of which teach things with “monstrous” application, but who won’t face the choice they made to revere them all, and instead just ignore whole chunks because they don’t like all those implications. Please, by all means, don’t let me stop you from siding with people who are that catastrophically absurd.

          • tekmo

            >They don’t magically mean something else just because their overt meaning is inconvenient for you.

            The words mean what they said in the writer’s language within the writer’s context, which could mean something quite different in translation in another time. You have made no accommodation for that.

            Nor do those words — as you have published — magically constitute the sole conceivable understanding of Jesus’s teachings with respect to Mosaic Law simply because that misrepresentation is convenient for YOU.

            And even assuming your argument that Matthew 5:18 is the fullest and most complete understanding of Jesus’ position, he purports to claim the law remains in full effect “until all is accomplished.”Now I’m quite sure you imagine YOU know what “until all is accomplished” means, but that term is, in fact, rather ambiguous. One reasonable interpretation might be that he meant “until I’ve completed my Earthly ministry.” In which case, when Jesus passes away, so too does the legal effect of prophecy and Mosaic Law.

            I don’t know. I really don’t care. I’m not into the mystic woo of it all. I simply treat it as irrelevant because it doesn’t square with anything else Jesus taught. In doing so, I’m not violating any rule, except this one you imagine should exist:

            >For Christians, they are holy scripture and lay out Jesus’ teachings on many matters. Christians revere those words … all of them. They can’t “revere” a collection of texts, but then go cherry-picking through them, casting some aside in favor of others.

            Nonsense. Not every Christian “revere those words…all of them.” You are presupposing the extremist theological notion of Biblical infallibility as a given in order to make your faulty argument — again, hand-waving away the fact that huge swaths of Christianity don’t adopt such a ludicrous notion.

            Nor do any sensible non-Christians, although you seem to hold me to the same rule.

            >OK, so you did, finally, get my point! That was it, yes. It IS, in fact, “intellectually dishonest for Christians to hand-wave away inconsistent outlier passages that purport to obligate them to behave monstrously.”

            And thereby you missed my point.

            What it intellectually dishonest is knowingly misrepresenting Jesus’ teaching in order to score rhetorical points in an “Aren’t Christians Stupid?” screed.

            Rather, it is NOT intellectually dishonest to ignore, reject, or refuse to conform to an unjust or brutal law, regardless of its origins. When people do it in a civic arena, it’s called civil disobedience, and we extol it as righteous, brave, and decent. Its fundamental nature doesn’t change when it’s an unjust religious law.

            When Jesus, by word and deed, rejects indecent Mosaic Laws, that is sufficient example for his followers to call such laws into question, to re-examine them and consider their validity in the context of Jesus’ two commandments. For a Christian, it is an eminently reasonable understanding that Jesus’ Law trumps Moses’ Law, as Jesus outranks Moses.

            My reality is that I live in a culture that’s overwhelmingly Christian, and I need to find ways to persuade Christians of the exact OPPOSITE of the doctrinaire approaches to the Bible that Christian extremists and people like you evidently share — the absurd notion that every insane notion, every barbarity, every intellectual outlier in the Bible is BY MAGIC (not reason), of equal import and weight to the actual teachings and examples of Jesus.

            Jesus taught people to question religious authority. To stop commodifying religion. To reject ostentatious displays of piety. To reject religious laws and customs that impose obligations to engage in monstrous behavior. To stop judging each other all the goddam time. To treat women with respect and decency, as equals. To be respectful and decent to society’s rejects, and to respect them as equals. To quit stacking the cash and start sharing the wealth. To stop shunning and persecuting people for having different beliefs. To cut the tit-for-tat macho bullshit. To go high when they go low. To be decent to others even when the law says you don’t HAVE to be.

            That’s good stuff!

            And it shouldn’t be misrepresented by ignoring all that in favor of a single ambiguous statement. Which is what you have done by relying on an argument that’s rhetorically indistinct from fundie Christian extremists, whose arguments you undoubtely in all other cases would deem absurd and ridiculous.

            It’s not just wrong when THEY do it.

            Cheers.

          • Re: “Nor do those words — as you have published — magically constitute the sole conceivable understanding of Jesus’s teachings with respect to Mosaic Law simply because that misrepresentation is convenient for YOU.”

            To repeat what I said before, and apparently what you reject out-of-hand despite its incontrovertible veracity: Those words are there, in the gospel of Matthew. They were composed on purpose in the first place. They were copied, and re-copied, and re-re-copied. They were selected as canon, also on purpose. They’ve been revered since, likewise on purpose.

            I didn’t do that. Christians did. These are decisions they made, of their own volition. They matter. Therefore, those words matter. That you, personally, find them offensive, and that most Christians find them inconvenient, is actually not relevant to the fact that they are there and, thus, they matter. I can’t say it any clearer than that. If you don’t like it, tough. That’s just how it is.

            Re: “And even assuming your argument that Matthew 5:18 is the fullest and most complete understanding of Jesus’ position …”

            That’s maybe the third or fourth time you’ve purposely misrepresented what I’ve said. Mt 5 is one “understanding of Jesus’ position.” I have also said there are others, e.g. in Luke and John. But none of those written “understandings of Jesus’ position” automatically washes away any of the rest. They all remain equally in force.

            Re: “Nonsense. Not every Christian ‘revere those words…all of them.'”

            Actually, yes they do. They call their Bibles “holy scripture.” They base their doctrines, dogmas and rites on its content. For you to say they don’t, is simply laughable on its face. It makes it obvious you’re concocting a rationale and apologia for Christianity’s absurdities.

            Re: “What it intellectually dishonest is knowingly misrepresenting Jesus’ teaching in order to score rhetorical points in an ‘Aren’t Christians Stupid?’ screed.”

            I’ve “misrepresented” nothing. I’ve laid out a pretty good number of Bible passages that Christians ignore. Not just this one, which you’re obsessing over at the expense of the rest — that’s another way you’re trying to rationalize Christianity’s absurdity, by implying only this one passage is purposely ignored, when it’s by no means the only one. There’s nothing “intellectually dishonest” about pointing out that Christians have persistently ignored the content of their own holy scripture.

            Re: “Rather, it is NOT intellectually dishonest to ignore, reject, or refuse to conform to an unjust or brutal law, regardless of its origins.”

            You’re arguing something with me that I have no intention of defending … because I don’t have to. If Mt 5 supports “unjust or brutal law,” that’s not something I did. You’d have to ask the author(s) of Matthew why he/they put it there. You’d further have to ask subsequent Christians why they retained it, and why they made the book of which it’s part sacred canon. Don’t bellyache at me about the “intellectual dishonesty” of “an unjust or brutal law.” I had nothing to do with it; I refuse to be held responsible for it; and by the same token I will not stop pointing out that Christianity has, in fact, taken such a position, by virtue of that religion’s reverence for Mt 5 (among many other passages of many other books).

            Re: “My reality is that I live in a culture that’s overwhelmingly Christian, and I need to find ways to persuade Christians of the exact OPPOSITE of the doctrinaire approaches to the Bible that Christian extremists and people like you evidently share …”

            Gee, I’m so sorry that my pointing out that Christians ignore whole swaths of their own sacred texts … and also by extension pointing out the inherent absurdity of following a religion based on them … somehow is getting in the way of what you’re doing. I apologize. I will, if you want, immediately take this page down and then shut up forever. That should make it possible for you to enlighten Christians and get them to think about their religion, what it really means, and get them to reconsider how they follow it. I’m sure, within a day or so, you’ll have them — and the rest of the planet — collectively holding hands singing Kum Ba Ya.

            Just say the word and this horrible blog page, that’s preventing you from this important work, will be gone. </sarcasm>

            Oh, and please, in the future, don’t blame little old me for your failure to enlighten Christians. That’s also something I refuse to take responsibility for.

            Re: “Jesus taught people to question religious authority. To stop commodifying religion.”

            Not “all” religious authority. Assuming he lived, he probably taught an apocalyptic form of Judaism … which was, in fact, a form of religion, complete with its own authorities. Among them were wandering preachers such as himself. Nice try at the “Jesus-came-to-end-religion-not-start-a-new-one” thing … but it just won’t fly. Not with me, anyway.

            Re: “To reject ostentatious displays of piety. To reject religious laws and customs that impose obligations to engage in monstrous behavior. To stop judging each other all the goddam time.”

            Yes, he seems to have taught all those things, too. So, explain to me why his followers judge each other all the time, display their piety constantly, etc. Please, go right ahead. Oh, and while you’re at it, explain to how it is that I haven’t already covered that particular problem in this page I wrote? And why you feel the need to point out to me something I very obviously know already? Do you honestly think I’m that much of a moron? That I need the likes of you to explain something I already know?

            Or do you honestly think the only thing I discussed on this entire page is Mt 5:18? Again, by implying that’s all I’ve done and that my comments on it are wrong, you’re mischaracterizing all the rest. Christians vociferously ignore Mt 6:1-6. They ignore Lk 7:42. They ignore vast swaths of their supposedly-sacred scripture. I’ve never said they only ignore Mt 5:18 and for you to insist otherwise is just laughable. By doing so, you’re doing the Christians’ job for them. Congratulations on being an accomplished Christian apologist!

            Re: “And it shouldn’t be misrepresented by ignoring all that in favor of a single ambiguous statement.”

            I know you accept as axiomatic that Mt 5:18 is ambiguous. I don’t. And I won’t be talked into it either. Its meaning was clear to Jesus’ supposed audience and its meaning is clear now. You’re saying it’s “ambiguous” cannot and will never magically make it ambiguous. That’s the sort of magical thinking Christians love to engage in.