Aug 28, 2014

Always bad in Noah's time

Always Bad in Noah's Time.
Why people weren't always bad. 

Jesus said that people were merry-making and marrying in Noah's time--
Matthew 24:38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. 

Genesis says everyone was wicked in Noah's time, always doing bad things‑‑
Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
Genesis 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them."

Jesus' words "the people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" contrast with Genesis.  

It isn't an evil world that eats, drinks, and gets married. Yet Genesis tells the readers--
 "[E]very inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." 

Genesis doesn't describe the ways in which people had corrupted themselves.
Still, however, getting married isn't a corruption.  

Jesus says "they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away."
So Noah didn't warn them about the coming flood.
Meantime, the Bible says that eating, drinking, and getting married--doing those things, they were doing "only evil all the time." (Um ...)

Aug 23, 2014

What if you're wrong?

What If You're Wrong?
Why Christians should answer the same question.

Christians ask of non-believes, "What if you're wrong?"
But Christians ought to be asking themselves the same thing.
They have faith that the Bible is the word of God.
But they're unable to verify that it's the word of God.

There's no way for them to make sure.
Faith tells them it's God's word. 

Moreover, Bible interpretation differs from church to church.
Yet they believe their own church.
Meanwhile, none have the means to validate their understanding.  

They just believe to keep the faith.
You go to heaven thanks to faith. 

But what if they're wrong?
In the New Testament, Paul's letter addresses faith--
1 Corinthians 15:17 [I]f Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 

He says they lose hope if they're wrong.
In other words, they lose the wager. 

Meantime, faith makes them happier.
Well, then, it's like the old saw, "Where ignorance is bliss, it's folly to be wise."

Aug 21, 2014

Christians claim Bible is literally true

Christians Claim Bible is Literally True.
Why they don't know what they're talking about.

Christians say, "I believe the Bible is literally true, as long as you define what the terms mean."

"Literally true," however, doesn't mean redefined terms.
For example, in Genesis "evening and morning" make a day.
But re-define "evening and morning" and the words are not literally true.
A day of millions of years, for instance, is not literal.

They say, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."
Trouble is, the Bible says most anything once you redefine the terms.
Perhaps, one day they'll understand.

Aug 19, 2014

Paul saw only a vision of Jesus

 Paul Saw Only a Vision of Jesus.
Why early Christians only envisioned a Jesus in heaven. 
The apostle Paul's “First Letter to the Corinthians" is considered to be the New Testament's earliest document.
In it, Paul recalls his encounter with Jesus. He uses the Greek word for a physical or non-physical appearance.
He says--
1 Corinthians 15:4 [We preach] that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the scriptures; 5 that he appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles. ... 8 Last of all he appeared also to me--even though I am like someone whose birth was abnormal. 
The verb (ophthei) in the phrase "appeared to me" is used in the Gospels, too, when the resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples.
But Paul didn't see Jesus face to face.
  So he speaks about a vision he had. 
The question is whether Jesus was risen bodily from the grave.
The New Testament book of Acts (from the 80s CE) mentions another vision Paul had while in the Jerusalem Temple--
Acts 22:17 I went back to Jerusalem, and while I was praying in the Temple, I had a vision, 18 in which I saw the Lord, as he said to me, "Hurry and leave Jerusalem quickly, because the people here will not accept your witness about me." 
Paul preaches a Jesus buried for three days then risen to life.
But doesn't say to where he was risen to life.
So, one wonders if he preaches Jesus the spirit.
His letter fails to make it plain whether Jesus was body or spirit. 
Later than Paul, the Gospels describe a resurrected Jesus making a bodily appearance to his disciples. However, Paul's letters don't spell it out. 
Suppose a guy were to hear about the Christian doctrine of a Jesus risen from the grave. Paul's letters don't depict for him a bodily return to earth.
Paul says the body comes to life in heaven--
Romans 8:6 To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. 10 But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin. 11 If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you.

Bodies become new ones in the hereafter.
He preaches that the mortal body becomes a better one in heaven--
Philippians 3:20 [O]ur citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

Paul might well believe in a Jesus with a new body in heaven.
At prayer in the Temple, Paul had had a vision of the glorious form of Jesus.
The earliest Christians might well have believed like Paul, in a Jesus in a new body in heaven.
They saw a glorified Jesus.
They saw him
with their eye of faith.

Aug 16, 2014

Lot offers his girls

Lot Offers His Girls.
Why it's a perverse story.

In Genesis, two angels visit Lot, who lives in Sodom.
Homosexual men demand he give the two strangers to them.
(In fact the whole city is gay.)
When Lot offers his two virgin daughters Instead, the mob refuses. 

Never mind the welfare of the girls, Lot.
Not only that, he also knows they're engaged to be married.

The angels don't rebuke Lot for his attitude toward his girls.
Instead the angels strike the crowd blind.
Then Lot flees with his family.

Apologists say the angels rebuked Lot.
But the story doesn't say so.

The story.
Men surround Lot's house--
Genesis 19:1 "When the two angels came to Sodom that evening, Lot was sitting at the city gate. As soon as he saw them, he got up and went to meet them. He bowed down before them 2 and said, 'Sirs, I am here to serve you. Please come to my house. You can wash your feet and spend the night. In the morning you can get up early and go on your way.' But they answered, 'No, we will spend the night here in the city square.' 3 He kept on urging them, and finally they went with him to his house.

Lot ordered his servants to bake some bread and prepare a fine meal for the guests. When it was ready, they ate it. 4 Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there.  

Lot offers his girls--
5 They called out to Lot and asked, 'Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us!' The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them. 6 Lot went outside and closed the door behind him. 7 He said to them, 'Friends, I beg you, don't do such a wicked thing! 8 Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. But don't do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them.' 

The crowd refuses his offer--
9 But they said, 'Get out of our way, you foreigner! Who are you to tell us what to do? Out of our way, or we will treat you worse than them.' They pushed Lot back and moved up to break down the door. 

The angels strike the men blind--
10 But the two men [angels] inside reached out, pulled Lot back into the house, and shut the door. 11 Then they struck all the men outside with blindness, so that they couldn't find the door. ... 14 Then Lot went to the men that his daughters were going to marry, and said, 'Hurry up and get out of here; the Lord is going to destroy this place.' But they thought he was joking. 

Lot flees with his wife and two daughters--
15 At dawn the angels tried to make Lot hurry. 'Quick!' they said. 'Take your wife and your two daughters and get out, so that you will not lose your lives when the city is destroyed.' ... 16 Lot hesitated. The Lord, however, had pity on him; so the men took him, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city."

A heartwarming story.
A father's love for his girls.

Aug 13, 2014

Descendants as countless as the stars

Descendants As Countless As the Stars.
Why it doesn't jibe. 

In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah (around 600 BC), God tells the prophet the stars are uncountable--
Jeremiah 33:22 "I will increase the number of descendants of my servant David and the number of priests from the tribe of Levi, so that it will be as impossible to count them as it is to count the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore." 

The average person can't count all the visible stars.
It's too difficult to do. 

The descendants, God says, will be uncountable like the stars.  

Actually, descendants can be counted.
There aren't too many of them to estimate.  

Meantime, it's absurd to say the descendants will be as many as grains of sand on the seashore--
"impossible to count them as it is to count ... the grains of sand on the seashore." 

Some Bibles editions say the host of heaven, angels--not stars--are uncountable.
For example, the King James Bible and American Standard Version--
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant.”  

Okay, maybe God can count many angles like grains of sand.
But humans can't count them; so they must take God's word for it. 

There are, without the aid of a telescope, about 6500 visible stars.
Yale University Observatory puts it at 9110 in perfect conditions.
Still the average Joe would give up, anyway. 

For sure, however, there has been far more than Hebrew 9100 descendants.
But less than the number of stars--billions--the cosmos contains.  

So, at best, the passage is being poetic.
And at worst, unreal.

Aug 8, 2014

The lion will lie down with the lamb

 The Lion Will Lie Down with the Lamb.
Why it is misquoted.

One day God will make peace, and the lion will lie down with the lamb.
It's in the Bible, supposedly.

The Old Testament book of Isaiah says the earth will be at peace, and all the animals will get along.  

But it doesn't say the lion will lie down with the lamb.
It says the leopard will lie down with the goat.
As for the king of beasts, it will keep company with the calf--
Isaiah 11:5 "[The new king] will rule his people with justice and integrity. 6 Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats. Calves and lion cubs will feed together, and little children will take care of them."  

Isaiah, the prophet, expected it to come true, between the 8th and 6th centuries BC.
However, the only thing that has come to pass is the misquotation.

Aug 6, 2014

Jesus asks if they know he's the Messiah

Jesus Asks If They Know He's the Messiah.
Why he asks a strange question. 

Jesus asks if his disciples believe he's the Messiah or somebody else.
Peter answers, You're the Messiah, son of God, king of Israel 

Jesus praises him, adding that God told him he was the Christ.
Matthew 16:13 Jesus went to the territory near the town of Caesarea Philippi, where he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14 "Some say John the Baptist," they answered. "Others say Elijah, while others say Jeremiah or some other prophet." 15 "What about you?' he asked them. 'Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 17 "Good for you, Simon son of John!" answered Jesus. "For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven. 18 And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it." 

But two chapters earlier, they acknowledge him to be the messiah--
Matthew 14:33 Then those [disciples] who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." 

Moreover, in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, three new disciples say he's the messiah.
John 1:38 Jesus turned, saw [two disciples of John the Baptist] following him, and asked, "What are you looking for?" They answered, "Where do you live, Rabbi?" (This word means "Teacher.") 39 "Come and see," he answered. (It was then about four o'clock in the afternoon.) So they went with him and saw where he lived, and spent the rest of that day with him.
40 One of them was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 At once he found his brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah." (The word means "Christ.") 42 Then he took Simon to Jesus. .... 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Come with me!" 44 (Philip was from Bethsaida, the town where Andrew and Peter lived.) 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one whom Moses wrote about in the book of the Law and whom the prophets also wrote about. He is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." 46 "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," answered Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he said about him, "Here is a real Israelite; there is nothing false in him!" 48 Nathanael asked him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you when you were under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49 "Teacher," answered Nathanael, "you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 50 Jesus said, "Do you believe just because I told you I saw you when you were under the fig tree? You will see much greater things than this!" 

Apparently, it didn't count unless you learned it from God.
(One might ask if Christians today claim that God told them.) 

Meantime there's the text, "Who do you say I am?" But the disciples had said he was the messiah before.

Aug 4, 2014

Paul doesn't report a virgin birth

Paul Doesn't Report the Virgin Birth.
Why he didn't know the story.  

Paul (AD 49) didn't preach a Jesus born of a virgin.
Not a word about a Jesus coming into the world through the work of a miracle.  

The Gospel of Matthew (AD 80s) claims old scripture talks of a (supposed) virgin--
Matthew 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 

The Gospel drew it from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, which says--
Isaiah 7:14 [T]he Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin [or young woman] will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 

Paul however is economical with his words.
Doesn't breathe a word about a virgin.
Only says--
Galatians 4:4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law.

Paul is so brief, his words are suspect.
What to make of them?
It's as if the virgin birth story was unknown to him.
Or it hadn't been invented yet.

Aug 2, 2014

C.S. Lewis on Jesus

C.S. Lewis on Jesus.
Was Jesus madman or son of God?  

C.S. Lewis, a Christian author, writes that everybody must decide whether Jesus was madman, agent of Satan, or son of God.  

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952, says--
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man, and said the sort of things Jesus said, would not be a great teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman, or something worse.”    

Liar, lunatic, or Lord.
But Jesus could've been a sage, portrayed as co-equal to God.
Fictional accounts, campfire stories about the amazing Jesus, were added to his life.
Moreover, words might well have been attributed to him.
C.S. Lewis doesn't consider those alternatives.

 Jesus didn't intend to be known only as a great moral teacher.
C.S. Lewis writes--
"[L]et us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  
A common Christian ultimatum is, "You must make your choice." 
Fact is, C.S. Lewis offers limited choices. 

Christians, he says, know what Jesus intended to do two thousand years ago.
He seems to say the ridiculous: That they have the psychic ability to cross the centuries and get in Jesus' head.
One hopes that he doesn't claim something so outrageous as that. 

"[P]eople often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say."
The Gosples don't have him making a "claim to be God."
Unless, of course, C.S. Lewis misreads them or fills in the blanks, as Christians are liable to do.  

His intimation is that Christians know the secret things of God.
And what "secret things" do they know?
They read the New Testament, its misrepresentations of an historical sage, Jesus.
Thus C.S. Lewis' list of choices should have included one more thing‑‑
Jesus the legend.