‘Why attempt to discredit Christian faith and the teaching of Jesus?’

Jesus8

Commenter Rebecca has asked me why I feel moved to ‘disparage or discredit the Christian faith’. It’s a fair question and one I set about answering in the comments section. However, my short answer there became rather too long so I’m posting it here instead. Apologies to those who’ve already read my reasons across many other posts here on RejectingJesus.com. I hope you’ll bear with me in this potted version.

I disparage Jesus, primarily, and Christian faith generally, because I want people to see Jesus as he really is – a man from two thousand years ago whose promises were false, prophecies fake and whose morality is impossible:

False Promises

As I’ve joked before, ‘What do you call a man who always fails to keep his promises?’ – ‘Jesus!’

Nothing he promised (or is made to promise; his script-writers came a long time after him1) has ever come to pass. God’s kingdom did not arrive; believers did not, and do not,  perform miracles greater than Jesus himself; they don’t supernaturally heal the sick; God did not and does not supply whatever believers ask of him; he doesn’t provide every need when a person ceases to be concerned for the future; his Comforter doesn’t guide believers into the truth… You name it, none of Jesus’ promises has ever materialised.

Failed Prophecies

No prophecy Jesus is made to make has ever come to pass either: God’s kingdom and judgement did not arrive while the disciples were still alive; heaven and earth did not pass away; God didn’t judge the rich and powerful; he didn’t reverse the social order so the poor, meek and humble inherited the earth; he didn’t reward the righteous; Jesus himself didn’t rise bodily from the grave (all his appearances, including Paul’s ‘vision’ are suspiciously apparition like); he didn’t become ‘the Christ’ and go on to live forever at the right hand of God (Paul and later followers made this up) and no-one has ever been resurrected as result of believing in Jesus

Impossible morality

Nor is anyone capable of living in the way Jesus said his followers should; as a rule they don’t renounce wealth; don’t sell everything they have and give the proceeds to the poor; don’t go the extra mile; don’t turn the other cheek; don’t give the shirt off their back; don’t love their neighbours, let alone their enemies, as themselves. All of these are laudable goals, to be sure, but they’re simply not possible – not even with God’s supposed indwelling spirit. Just look at the majority of Christians today: they simply don’t do it. They can’t do it.

Why does any of this matter (to me)? In one way, it doesn’t. I couldn’t care less about a fraudulent prophet from 2000 years ago. Except…. except those very Christians who fail to live up to his standards have impacted my life in negative, destructive ways. As I’ve written elsewhere, I foolishly gave my life to Jesus at their behest. I allowed them to convince me that everything I was, everything I did, everything I thought was a sin, and that Jesus died for me so that my sin might be forgiven. As a result, I denied myself in the unhealthiest of ways, the cumulative effect of which was suffering for years from a deep, debilitating depression.

I came to realise through this, however, that the belief system I’d given my life to was a falsehood. When I needed God most, the heavens were, as Deuteronomy 28:23 suggests, ‘as brass’. That was because there was no God waiting to hear from me or to answer my prayers. And no God meant no Son of God, no heaven or hell, no panoply of supernatural beings – spirits, angels and demons – no god-inspired holy books. It became clear, as Rebecca concedes, that everything about the faith was entirely human. Ridiculously and fallibly human.

For a Christian friend, however, this decision of mine was untenable. He pressurised me to return to the fold because if I didn’t, I would surely suffer an eternity in hell. I had returned, he said, to a life of sin (principally because of my sexuality), had abandoned all that my saviour had done for me and consequently I would deservedly suffer God’s wrath. The only way to avoid the punishment to come was to get down on my knees, return to Christ and beg for forgiveness. This lengthy, fruitless correspondence – or at least my half of it – became the basis of my first book Why Christians Don’t Do What Jesus Tells Them To …And What They Believe Instead, and that in turn led to this blog.

I also encountered around this time more of the awful, scurrilous lies Christians tell about gay people – that we cause all manner of natural disasters and bring God’s indiscriminate wrath down on the world; that we are degrading and degraded, Satanic and deserve to be put to death – doesn’t the Bible say so? I couldn’t let this hypocrisy and dishonesty go unchallenged, not when it caused, and causes, so much pain, anguish, suffering and even death among LGBT people. Where, I asked myself, was the Christian love for one’s ‘enemies’, the absence of judgement, the determination not to bear false witness, all of which Jesus advocates? In light of most Christians’ inability to live as he commanded (I did say his moral expectations were impossible) I became convinced I had made the right decision, firstly to walk away from faith and, then, in my own small way, to oppose the nonsense spouted by those who propagate it.

My hope for this blog then is that those wavering in their faith might begin to see aspects of Christian belief from a different perspective. They might then start to realise that it is nothing more than a product of the human imagination; a superstition handed down by pre-scientific tribesmen and first century zealots who weren’t in a position to know any better.

I was told over forty years ago by a Christian leader that the most important thing one could do in life to was to pursue truth wherever it led. He was right. The truth turns out to be that, in all probability, there is no God. Knowing this does not leave one hopeless and without purpose – that’s another Christian lie. Instead, it equips you to make your own purpose, to love others in the knowledge that love, like life, is finite, and that this one-and-only life is to be lived to the fullest. To answer Rebecca’s question, atheism does lead to a much more honest and satisfying way of life than pinning one’s hopes on imaginary beings and the claims of a failed Messiah.

That’s the short answer. For the longer version, there’s always the rest of the posts on this blog.

1. Chapter and verse for all references supplied on request.
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On being free

chains

Commenter Rebecca responded at length recently to my post ‘Why God Could Not Possibly Have Created The Universe (pts 4 & 5)’. There was so much in her response, that I thought it best to reply to her in a full length post rather than with a brief comment:

Hi Rebecca,

I won’t be able to respond to all of your points as there are so many, but will attempt a few.

I’m glad you find your faith beneficial. You’ve obviously thought about the whole incarnation/sacrifice/reconciliation issue, but I wonder whether you’ve ever asked yourself what it is you need saving from and reconciled with? What is it that means you personally need to avail yourself of the sacrifice Jesus supposedly made (however you interpret that)? I guess evangelicals, of which you seem to say you are not one, would claim it’s because of sin; the alienation from God that our very existence seems to cause.

Is that really the case though? Isn’t it rather that ancient superstitious peoples needed some explanation for why life was so difficult, short and brutish? They reasoned that surely it couldn’t be the fault of the creator God, so his tendency to treat them badly must be entirely their fault. Consequently, they had to do something to appease this god, to make him smile upon them again as they felt he must once have done. They thought the way to do this was, variously, through sacrifice and/or righteous living, by murdering those they felt offended him the most, and through praise and supplication.

There is no getting away from the fact, however, that the primary way they sought to reconcile themselves with their deity was through blood sacrifice. The New Testament’s interpretation of the death of Jesus is expressed in just such terms:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1.7).

This is not just an evangelical perspective; it is the major theme of much of the New Testament.

I’d like to ask you, Rebecca: are you really so steeped in sin that you need to avail yourself of a bloody human sacrifice in order to be reconciled with God? I have to say it seems extremely unlikely.

I didn’t leave faith behind because of how repugnant this idea is, however. I experienced an epiphany while walking one day, after many years of thinking about such things, and realised with conviction that there was no god: no god to appease, be reconciled with or commune with. He simply didn’t and doesn’t exist (see here for why I think this is the case). Of course, there being no god means there’s no son of god either.

I then started living my life on the basis of the fact there is no god, and I have to tell you it became a whole lot better. I didn’t have the constant feeling I had to come up to some impossible standard; I didn’t feel guilt for the most trivial of ‘sins’; I no longer worried that not getting my beliefs quite right would result in the loss of my eternal life; I stopped worrying about eternal life because it was obvious there was no such thing; I stopped thinking hell and heaven were real; I started living in the here and now; I stopped thinking I had to respond to others’ needs by telling them about Jesus (and started relating to them as people); I no longer had to subjugate whatever intellect I have to force myself to believe things that were clearly nonsense; the self-loathing I felt about my sexuality began to slip away. I could be me, and what a massive relief that was. I think I became a better person as a result. I certainly became a happier one.

You say the bible contains many deep truths – perhaps – but it also includes much that is cruel, spiteful, damaging and just plain wrong. I lost interest in sifting the wheat from the chaff because there was just too much chaff (a free biblical analogy for you there.)

The secrets of life, whatever they may be, Rebecca, are not in the bible, nor in any convoluted explanation of what Jesus stood for (he was just another failed apocalyptic preacher). They do not lie in Christianity or in any religion. Life is more than any of these ultimately dead things.

Thank you for writing. It can only be a good thing that you’re thinking about these issues. You will I’m sure find your way out into the light. I hope what I post here can help you with that.

Loose Threads

FamilyPick a thread. Any thread. And start pulling. Gently does it, no need for force. A gentle pull on any of the loose ends of faith and the whole fabric will come apart quickly.

Here, pull on this one marked ‘the infallibility of the Bible‘. See how easily it comes loose as soon as you realise that most of it, Old and New Testament alike, was written long after the events it purports to describe, some of it by imposters and forgers.

Or this one – the salvation thread, much of it stitched into place by an excitable chap prone to hallucinations. Pull it and see how its pattern is nothing like the one proposed by the man it claims to be about.

Pull the magic threads, the ones about Gods, supernatural beings, heaven and hell, eternal life. Watch them disintegrate in your fingers once they’re teased out into the real world.

Take hold of the threads about Resurrections, Second Comings, Raptures and Judgements; so fragile, these break away as soon as they’re touched. The only miracle is that they’ve lasted this long.

Then there’s the promises threads, about how believers are going to do fantastic miracles and heal the sick and raise the dead. Imaginative and colourful, these have never really fitted in.

Then there’s the prayer threads, whose embroidery tells us how prayer works, how God will give us whatever we ask for. Downright embarrassing, these – yank ’em out.

And how about the strands that those who say they love the cloth pick out themselves and throw away? You know the ones; the threads which tell them how to live their lives that they just don’t like the look of and think spoil the overall effect. These have definitely got to go.

What about the threads that weren’t originally there – the ones about ‘defending God’s standards‘ and having a ‘relationship‘ with a dead person? These grubby, greasy threads have been added in to replace the ones those who love the cloth have pulled out for themselves.

Choose any number of other threads – the ones that clash with other bits of the pattern, the ugly brutal ones, the fantastic, the ignorant – and give them a tug. Oh, look. They come away too.

And before you know it, the entire fabric has come apart in your hands. All that’s left is a pile of worthless, brittle threads, good for nothing but throwing in the bin.

I Don’t Believe It

Fabric‘When you think about it’, the taller of the two men said, ‘there is no evidence whatsoever that God, nor indeed any supernatural being.

‘I suppose you’re right’, said the other.

‘With that realisation, my faith began to dissipate. I mean if there’s no God, no angels, demons or Christs, no Holy Spirit, devils, fairies or Santa Claus, then it must mean they’re just figments of the imagination. Take that human element out of the equation and what you’re left with is… well, the natural world and nothing else’.

‘I suppose not’, said the other.

‘From there one realises there is no point in praying – I mean, talking to a being who only exists in your own head. Or reading the Bible; one begins to see it as a very human book, which of course it is’.

‘I suppose so’, said the other.

‘It means too that Jesus can only have been a mortal man – of course he was – and that a good deal of his teaching – if we can believe it really was his and not simply invented by his followers – makes no sense whatever. It was only the eyes of misplaced faith that made it appear so’.

‘I suppose it doesn’t’, said the other.

‘I mean, “pray for whatever you need and God will supply it”. Who has ever believed that sort of thing anyway? No-one. Not really. We all know that doesn’t work; Jesus himself, one suspects. And as for the resurrection, well, if you read those accounts at face value all they saw – Mary Magdalene, Paul and the rest of them – all they saw were visions, not a real person. All in their minds, you see’.

‘I suppose I do’, said the other.

‘No, Christianity is nothing but false promises, failed prophecies – Jesus saying he’d return within his disciples’ lifetime – and impossible morality: “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”! Well, I’ve never met anyone who is, Christian or otherwise. Good people are good whether or not they’re Christians and the mean-spirited are mean-spirited whichever side of conversion they’re on.

‘I suppose so’, said the other, before seeing his chance to add, ‘well, that’s £1.80 for your Church Times, Archbishop. Will there be anything else?’

And the World Turns

SerpentOver at the wackily named ‘Cripplegate‘ blog, pastor Mike Riccardi has an urgent message. Mike, in case you’re wondering, is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master’s Seminary. His urgent message is that God is not happy and must be appeased.

As we already know, the most powerful, creative and omniscient being in the whole of the universe and beyond is so very easily upset. And as usual what’s upsetting him is the Gay. But that’s not all this time! Turns out he doesn’t like people changing sex and abortion too. The only way we can put things right with this petulant monster, pastor Mike tells us, is to preach and pray all the bad away, so that he will bless us – well, America anyway, which is all Mike is really concerned about – instead of punishing us.

God likes more than anything else to mete out punishment for the slightest infringement of his rules, even though he neglected to tell us what he thought of transgenderism and abortion when inspiring his Magic Word™. You will search in vain for mention of either in the Bible, or anything like them, so it’s a good job we’ve got pastor Mike to tell us what God really thinks. He ‘processes’ it thus:

these checkpoints of moral degradation – transgrenderism (sic), homosexualism and the destruction of marriage, and abortion – all stem from the same polluted fountain out of which even the first sin flowed: self-deification.

It’s because we want to be like God, Mike concludes, that we are morally polluted. Work that one out if you can.

Haven’t we been here before? We sure have. Go back 50 years and God’s emissaries on Earth warned that if we (i.e. the United States again) accepted inter-racial marriage, it would be the end of civilisation because – yes, you guessed – it was against God’s rules. His wrath should have rained down on everyone once inter-racial marriage passed into law, but for some reason it didn’t. Just as it didn’t when same-sex marriage became legal a little while back. Just as it didn’t because of feminism. Just as it didn’t over the devil’s music, rock and roll (still upsetting Christians and their God even today.) Just as it didn’t when Jesus told everyone that judgement was nigh two millennia ago. Just as it didn’t when the prophets of doom in the Old Testament insisted it would (for example in Jeremiah 23.10-12). Just as it didn’t when primitive humans sought to explain why the harvests had failed.

Always, it was that God or the gods were angry and would punish us if we didn’t mend our ways. “But,” you say (just like Pat Robertson), “disasters and calamities do follow our ‘disobedience’ and ‘degradation’”. Of course they do, and they precede them too, but that does not mean the one causes the other. There is no correlation between our supposed ‘moral pollution’ and natural disasters. The latter are random and indiscriminate events, not divine punishment.

It is a favourite occupation of human beings generally and those of a religious disposition specifically, to assume a higher power will punish us, in this life or the next, if we don’t adjust our behaviour and stop doing what it doesn’t like. This is usually – by pure coincidence – what the religious themselves don’t like. As a result, it’s not all of us the deity is keen to judge, only those who don’t believe the same things as the Saved.

God’s favour is always conditional; not only on whether we have faith or carry out rituals that are pleasing unto him or dress appropriately (or grow straggly beards) but also on how we behave – whether we’re ‘morally polluted’ or ‘degraded’ and whether we regard ourselves, consciously or otherwise, as God. And you thought it was only about believing in Jesus.

And so the Righteous Ones direct their prayers up into the void (saying what, I wonder?) with words that never leave the room, or, sometimes, even, their own heads. No-one is listening. There is no-one there to listen. This same not-there, not-listening human creation is not angry with us because some people are attracted to their own sex or have abortions or change gender. Just like it was not angry about all of those other things we were told it once was. Just like it is not upset about poverty, injustice and cruelty, even though these were the concerns of Jesus, if not his present day followers. Meanwhile, not much changes here on Earth, unless we change it ourselves.

We can expect the next Jeremiah along soon, to tell us how offensive we all are to his make-believe god.

Where was God?

GodGod

While they were communing with God, gunman Dylann Roof sat among them for forty-five minutes. Then he opened fire and killed nine of them. That’s forty-five minutes during which time God could have warned the Christians who believed he was listening to them that something terrible was about to happen. But he didn’t. The communication was all one way. They talked to him but he didn’t talk to them. He didn’t even listen. Why not? Because either he doesn’t care what happens to his people, despite what Jesus promised, or he isn’t there.

After the massacre, Christians across America resorted to pleading with this negligent God to comfort the bereaved and to help police find the killer. We can be sure God didn’t do any such thing because if he cared at all, he wouldn’t have let the massacre happen in the first place. 

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee declared that if only some of those at the prayer meeting had been ‘pistol-packing’ themselves, they could have taken out Roof before he did too much damage. And he’s right – absurd as it sounds, one of them could have done. So why didn’t the God who never forsakes his people prompt one of them to take a gun to church? Perhaps because, unreasonably, he thinks it’s better to turn the other cheek. Either way, mark God down for another fail.

Fellow crank, the ‘reverend’ E. W. Jackson, blamed the shootings on liberals, gays and Obama. So, God – pissed with those who don’t support ‘Christian values’ –  allowed a gunman to mow down nine of his own. Makes sense.   

Debbie Dills, meanwhile, spotted the killer’s car on the freeway and informed the police. She later claimed this was God’s doing; the very God incapable of warning his loved ones they were about to be murdered. This God, who allowed his people to be massacred, directed Debbie Mills, who cannot see that she was just happened to be in the right place at the right time, to notice the killer’s vehicle and report his whereabouts.

Let’s get real: a God who can’t prevent the murder of nine of his children but then behaves like a third-rate Jessica Fletcher is no God at all. He is an impotent creation, a being of trivial pursuits, who fails to materialise when he’s really needed; a mythical figure who keeps his super-powers to himself, except in the most insignificant and coincidental of occurrences; a figment of believers’ imaginations.

Show us he’s not, Christians, why don’t you. Show us how he loves you, never forsakes you and protects even the hairs on your heads. Where is he? Where’s the evidence he exists, outside your inconsistent, fallacious scriptures and your own wishful thinking? Where in this real world? The people of Charleston really need to know.

Idiotic Stuff Jesus Said 12: My words will never pass away

AndersonThe premise of my first ‘Jesus’ book* is that while Christians profess to believe in Jesus, they choose to ignore most of what he taught while he was alive. While they claim a vapid super-hero Christ as personal saviour, they replace what the human Jesus had to say with words of their own choosing. In reality, they have about as much time for Jesus’ ‘eternal words’ as the average non-believer or atheist. You don’t have to look very far to see how much his words have already ‘passed away’:

Jesus said, ‘Don’t judge so that you won’t be judged’ (Matthew 7.1). Our representative Christian says, ‘LGBT people are filthy and wrong.’

Jesus said ‘Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5.44). Our representative Christian says, ‘I’m gonna pray a transgender person dies and goes to Hell.’

Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12.31). The Christian says, ‘The way to show love is to tell other people they’re going to Hell.’

Jesus said, ‘sell all you have and give to the poor’ (Mark 10.21). The Christian is concerned about where to buy jewellery: ‘…somewhere other than Tiffany’s, because Tiffany’s is gay friendly.’

Jesus said, ‘Forgive those who sin against you so you can be forgiven yourself’ (Matthew 6.14). Our believer rants, ‘LGBT people should be executed.’

Jesus said, ‘Don’t commit adultery and don’t get divorced’ (Matthew 5.27-28 and 19.9). Significant numbers of Christians , including our own Stephen Green, say, ‘that doesn’t apply to me.’

See what I mean? Christians regard the words of their saviour, not as having everlasting value, but as if they’re nothing more than worthless bits of fluff. Even if God were real, every word of the Bible true, every aspect of the Great Salvation Plan genuine, it wouldn’t change the fact that believers treat as optional almost everything Jesus commanded and live as if he never had.

 

* Why Christians Don’t Do What Jesus Tells Them To …And What They Believe Instead is available from Amazon worldwide (UK here, US here) but not, alas, from Tiffany’s.

The picture shows the deplorable Pastor Steven Anderson (linked above). He knows better than Jesus ever did.