God sends New Savior!

jesuscity

Well, Stateside Christians, you got your man. Donald Trump will be president come January and you’re largely responsible for that. 81% of you voted for him. By my reckoning that’s about 50% of his total vote; he couldn’t have done it without you. Now he’s going to be your nation’s savior. He’s going to make America great again. He’ll return the nation to Christian values and morals. He’ll honour God and bring him back into the public arena, just like you want him to.

Or will he? How do you get God-fearing Savior from a petulant, misogynistic individual who has repeatedly shown himself to be racist, sexist, xenophobic, divisive, adulterous, abusive, ignorant, vitriolic, dishonest and avaricious; a man who denies climate change, is full of his importance (and nothing else), who makes promises he can’t keep and probably had no intention of keeping even as he made them. A man who couldn’t name a single verse in his ‘favourite book’, the Bible; who admits he’s never asked God for forgiveness and who has shown no sign of any kind of Christian humility, compassion or morality; a man who is even now appointing the most reactionary, right-wing extremists to his transitional team (so much for draining the swamp!) How can this man be the one who is going to restore America to a glorious Christian past it never really had, and make it a truly God-fearing nation once again?

Someone with these ‘qualities’ cannot possibly turn America into the promised land, even though you’ve convinced yourselves he’s another King Cyrus, the heathen king in the Old Testament who helped God’s people in their time of need. Trump is no Cyrus, even if he is the 45th president and Cyrus’s story is told in Isaiah 45 (yes, some of you think this is significant). You have been duped, again, American believers. But it is not Trump who has deluded you; it is you yourselves. You have persuaded yourselves that despite all of the evidence, Trump is man who can be greatly used by God.

There was no divine guidance behind Trump’s campaign and God won’t be manipulating him into doing his bidding once he takes office. This is because, primarily, there is no God to do any these things, but even if there were, why would he? Why would he ensure a man whose values are the direct antithesis of all (you say) he stands for, became the leader of the free world? Why would he be interested in making a silk purse out of the sow’s ear that is Donald Trump? Wouldn’t your God of Reason start with someone who is already one of his own? Someone who is genuinely a Christian; someone, say, who has tacky pictures of himself and Jesus hanging in his house? Or an evangelical – let’s call him Mike Pence – who comes pre-packaged with genuine, and genuinely vicious, Christian faith and a necessary anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda?

It’s you and you alone, Christians, who have turned Trump into a Savior. It is you who have created the silk purse. You’ve ignored what has been in front of you throughout the presidential campaign and have projected on to an individual who has done nothing but tell you what you wanted to hear, a spiritual significance he does not have. You have made of Trump an artificial Man of God, just like your predecessors did two thousand years ago with that other imposter, Yeshua Bar Joseph. Like them, you’re going to find out that the man you’ve elevated to savior status is anything but, because the Donald Trump you’ve elected is a construct of your collective imaginations. You’re about to discover that the real Donald Trump is not the man you’ve deluded yourselves into thinking he is.

Call yourself a Christian?

jc-prays

So you think you might be a Christian? Try this handy-dandy checklist to see if you’re a true follower of Jesus or just someone who’s paying lip-service. You’ll need to score big if you’re ever going to get into his exclusive club!

1) Have you relinquished all worldly goods as Jesus tells you to in Matt 19.21 & Luke 12.33?

If not, better get to it. It’s pretty important to him – he mentions it at least a dozen times in the gospels.

2) Have you forsaken your loved ones, taken to hating them even, the better to serve him and his Kingdom?

No? Than what are you thinking of? Not Luke 14. 26 & 33 that’s for sure.

3) Do you constantly go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, give to all who ask, love your enemies and forgive others repeatedly (Matthew 7.12; Luke 6.27 & 29; Matthew 6.14; Matthew 5.38 etc)? In short, are you perfect as he says you should be?

Some work to do here then, to come up to the expected standard?

4) Do you sacrificially serve others – the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless, the hungry, the naked (Matthew 25.34-46)?

Better get round to it as the only way to avoid Jesus’ blacklist.

5) Do you work tirelessly and exclusively to bring about God’s Kingdom on Earth (albeit in the first century) like Jesus commands in Matthew 6.33?

Why not? Get with the programme!

6) Have you stayed single, never marrying, and certainly never getting divorced?

You haven’t? Shame on you, because you can’t into the Kingdom with a spouse and definitely not with one you’ve discarded along the way (Luke 20.34-35).

7) Have you given up judging others?

If not, you can expect to be on the receiving end of a hell of a lot of judgement in return (Matthew 7.1-2).

8) When you throw a party do you invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind instead of your friends (Luke 14.12-14)?

I think we know the answer to this one.

9) Are you tireless in denigrating, campaigning against and ranting about same-sex relationships and marriage?

Well, good for you though this has nothing to do with being a follower of Jesus (see 7 above).

10) Do you believe in a magical incantation that is going to preserve the essential ‘you’ in Heaven forever?

Jesus didn’t.

So how did you do? Are you someone Jesus would say, ‘Well done you good and faithful servant’ to (Matthew 25.21), or would he insist he never knew you (Matthew 7.23)? –

0-2: Pathetic, especially if the two in question are 9 & 10.

3-7: You’re neither hot nor cold. Expect to be spewed out of his mouth (Revelation 3.16).

8-10: You’re getting there, but then, you didn’t really answer truthfully, did you? Your yes didn’t mean yes (Matthew 5.37).

Never mind, you can always get back to singing songs, waving your arms about and condemning others because they have a speck in their eye (Luke 6.42). Everybody knows that’s what being a Christian is really all about.

Christians’ Favourite Delusions 10: God cares

dead-sparrow

@deadsparrow had just made his final Tweet.

The Bible says God controls the weather and 53% of Americans believe it. A further 17% say they don’t know or don’t want to say whether he does; evidently, they aren’t prepared to rule out the possibility, otherwise they would be among the 29% who know that he doesn’t.

I wonder what those who were hit yesterday by the typhoon in the Philippines think of God’s control of the elements? Was the destruction he brought about by sending Haiyan a mark of his love for mankind? Presumably not – destroying lives, homes, possessions and livelihoods hardly speaks of love.

Was it a punishment then? Right-wing Christians like to tell us that natural disasters are God’s judgement on human sin and our ‘shaking a fist at God‘ by redefining marriage to include gay people.  Why then does he consistently punish those in parts of the world which are already prone to extreme weather conditions? Why does he punish those who are already poor? Why does he send devastating weather to the fifth largest Christian country in the world, which doesn’t recognise gay marriage? It’s all a bit indiscriminate, wouldn’t you say? What sort of Almighty are we dealing with here, who can’t even direct his punishments at the right target? It doesn’t speak much of ‘control’.

Jesus might claim, in Matthew 10:28-31, that God cares even for the sparrows but this is another of his bare-faced lies. The evidence tells us otherwise: ‘God’ doesn’t care how many humans perish in storms, typhoons, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes and all manner of natural disasters. He doesn’t care how many lose their homes, loved ones and all they’ve worked for.

The weather, in fact, is random, largely unpredictable and indifferent to human and animal needs. If God exists, then he is as indiscriminate and uncaring as the weather he supposedly creates. But of course God is not needed to explain the weather; science tells us how it occurs in terms that don’t involve him. His very superfluousness – the same superfluousness we find in evolution and all the other ‘laws’ of the universe – is all the evidence we need that he doesn’t exist.

An experiment in Christian morality

Forget

Time for a little experiment: some data gathering for ourselves that will demonstrate the extent to which Christians are willing to comply, without cynicism or irony, with their Saviour’s peculiar requirements. While the Bible assures us it is wrong to put the Lord God to the test (Deuteronomy 6.16, etc), rest assured the same does not apply to believers themselves.

Our experiment is a cruel one to be sure, but given Jesus’ command in Matthew 5.42, that believers should ‘give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you’, we would be within our rights to test their adherence to the principle. After all, Jesus specifies that his followers must oblige ‘everyone’ and ‘anyone’ who asks, which is accommodating enough to include any sceptics conducting an experiment. He doesn’t stipulate either that those doing the asking have to have genuine need; indeed the entire thrust of his teaching in this section of Matthew is about responding sacrificially to unreasonable demands. We won’t be unreasonable – so no slapping of cheeks – and we will do our best to ensure our request is designed to meet as genuine a need as we can create.

For any experiment we need a hypothesis, so I propose that for this particular one we go with something like ‘Christians will not give to those who beg from them nor lend to those who ask to borrow’. If you want to amend this to suit your own circumstances, by all means do. You can choose too whether you’re going to beg, which means you get to keep anything you are given, or to borrow, in which case you won’t and you’ll need to pay it back at a later date.

Next, you’ll need to select your subject: you can choose an individual – they must of course be a card-carding, Spirit-filled Christian – or an institution: a church, say, or Christian organisation like Christian Voice or Focus on the Family. Whichever you opt for, you’ll need to ensure they are capable of meeting your request – we’re not going to pick on Christians of more modest means – and decide what you will ask for. I suggest that if your subject is a renowned evangelist or the pastor of a so-called mega-church you could reasonably ask him or her to lend you the money to pay off your mortgage, for example, or to meet medical expenses. I’m sure he or she will agree that these qualify as truly genuine needs, though you don’t necessarily have to tell them why you want the money, given there’s no mention of the beggars in Jesus’ instructions explaining themselves. On the other hand, if you think it will go some way to help disprove the hypothesis, you can and perhaps should be clear about why you want the cash.

Right. You should be all set. Be sure to let me know how you get on and whether your Christian subject demonstrates the hypothesis or refutes it. I’ll collate the data.

What’s that you say? You’re not going to bother because it’s a foregone conclusion that most Christians, whether prominent individuals, churches, organisations or ordinary believers won’t give to anyone and everyone who asks?

You could well be right, because, although Christians do give generously to causes close to their hearts, they baulk at the idea of giving to just anybody, in spite of what Jesus says. Maybe Christian readers of this blog can explain why; why don’t you do what Jesus tells you in this and many other respects? You cannot be his disciple, he says in Mark 10.25, unless you give away all that you have and he won’t recognise you as a follower unless you obey him entirely (Luke 6.46). So how about it?

Christians’ Favourite Delusion 6: God guides our lives

GodGuidesGod, Christians like to tell themselves, has a special plan for the individual believer’s life. This plan involves, amongst other things, directing them towards a specific career, making them successful, guiding them to the person they are to marry and showing them where they should live.

Here, for example, is some ‘guidance’ provided by Bible-Knowledge.com:

Remember – God already has your next new job all set up and planned out for you. All you have to do is simply wait for His timing to bring it to you!

As we might expect, there’s no biblical basis for this fantasy – neither Jesus nor Paul (or any other New Testament writer) mention it, which is why Christian teaching promoting the idea fails, without exception, to reference either of them. Far from being an individually tailored life-plan, God’s agenda, according to Jesus, is the same for everyone: it is to work tirelessly to bring about his Kingdom, loving your neighbour as yourself and God even more (Mark 12.28-34).

And that, once again, is that.

Or not quite, because Jesus goes further. Nothing else, he insists, compares with God’s Kingdom, the pearl of great price next to which everything else is without value or meaning (Matthew 13.45-46). So he demands over and over again that people abandon jobs, homes, spouses and family concerns to seek and work towards the Kingdom (Luke 12.27-37 etc).

Why would he change – reverse even – these priorities, the central core of his ‘earthly ministry’, to direct the careers and prescribe the domestic arrangements of Christians today? Answer: he wouldn’t, demonstrating just how much of a construct of their own imaginations is the Christ that Christians worship, profess to listen to and who, they maintain, guides the minutiae of their lives.

Another problem with Heaven

HeavenEndNo Christians met last time’s challenge of showing us where the Bible says they’re going to Heaven when they die. Looks like they won’t be. Who knew.

Let’s say though that, despite the odds, they’re right after all; which of their ever-changing selves will be the one that makes it to ‘the other side’?

Does the Christian who passes away suffering from a dementia that has entirely dissolved his personality, his very self, find himself living for eternity in this condition?

Does a deceased child-convert find herself existing as a perpetual 9 year old?

What about all of those aborted foetuses many Christians feel so strongly about, maintaining that they too have souls; do they remain embryos for their heavenly existence?

Or does God change each arrival into the very best they could have been while on Earth? If he does, and everyone lives in their prime as, say, a permanent 28 year old, how much of who they really were and are survives in Heaven? It doesn’t sound like it can be very much.

Perhaps that’s why inviting dead believers to Heaven to live with him there has never been part of Jesus’ and his Father’s great plan.

Christians’ Favourite Delusions 3: Jesus is Perfect

buddyjesus1Jesus – practically perfect in every way.

Or was that Mary Poppins?

Christians go to great lengths to present Jesus as perfect. They do this by ignoring the evidence, such as we have it in the gospels, and by believing blindly in a false version of the god-man perpetrated by those who’ve gone before them. They call it ‘faith’; the rest of us know it as cognitive dissonance. Step out from behind it, look at the Biblical record without preconceptions and what you will see is that Jesus was an unmitigated disaster.

His prophecies were wrong, his promises untrue, his morality, as his followers demonstrate to this day, impossible. His mission, to herald the arrival of the Kingdom of God for the Jewish people, was a failure that led, ultimately, to untold evil being committed in his name. He was responsible for the stultification of mankind’s cultural and intellectual development, and, still today, the suppression of reason, autonomy and equality. The world would have been a better place if he had never lived, or at least if those who followed him hadn’t made a religion out of his failure. He believed that the root cause of illness was sin and demonic possession: he was uneducated and unsophisticated. He was inconsistent, unpleasant to those who opposed him and dismissive of those outside his own circle. He was arrogant, abusive and divisive.

He was, in all of this, thoroughly human. He was not God, nor the Son of God, and he was not delivering any divine salvation plan. He was a charismatic, Jewish fanatic from a superstitious backwater of the first century. He has, or should have, no more relevance to the lives of people today than any of the other itinerant preachers of the time. I say this not because I’m choosing to ‘reject’ him; in spite of the name of this blog he can no more be ‘rejected’ than other ‘divine’ figures like Mithras, Krishna and Superman. Nor do I say it because I want to revel in my own ‘sin’, as Christians assert of those of us who really don’t see what all the fuss is about. I say it because this is what the evidence shows us.

Read the synoptic gospels for yourself, ignoring the interpretive gloss invented by Paul and later Christians, and this flawed individual is the Jesus you’ll see.