Eleven Kinds of Verses Bible-Believers Like to Ignore

The Word of God

Bible-believing Christians play fast and loose with their sacred text. When it suits their purposes, they treat it like the literally perfect word of God, and, in a peculiar twist of logic, they quote the Bible itself to back up their claim:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I [Jesus] have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Matthew 5:17

Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:18-19

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword. Hebrews 4:12

Then, when it suits their other purposes, they conveniently ignore the parts of the Bible that are—inconvenient.

Here are twelve kinds of verses that Bible-believers ignore so that they can keep spouting the others when they want to. To list all of the verses in these categories would take a book almost the size of the Bible, one the size of the Bible minus the Jefferson Bible, to be precise. I’ll limit myself to a couple tantalizing tidbits of each kind, and the curious reader who wants more can go to the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible or simply dig out the old family tome and start reading at Genesis, Chapter One.

Weird insults and curses. The Monty Python crew may have coined some of the best insults of the last 100 years: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. But for centuries the reigning master was Shakespeare: It is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice. Had John Cleese and William Shakespeare lived in the Iron Age, though, some of the Bible writers might have given them a run for their money. Christians scoot past these passages, but one hell-bound humorist used them to create a biblical curse generator.

  • She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. Ezekiel 23:20 NIV
  • You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. . . . The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Deuteronomy 28:30-31,35

Awkwardly useless commandments. The Bible is chock-a-block with dos and don’ts. Some of them are simply statements of universal ethical principles like Do to others what you would have them do to you, or Don’t lie, or Don’t covet your neighbor’s possessions. But from a moral standpoint most of them are simply useless or even embarrassing—especially if you think God could have used the space to say Don’t have sex with anyone who doesn’t want you to or Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.

  • Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. Leviticus 19:19
  • Ye shall not round the corners of your heads. Leviticus 19:27

Silly food rules. The early Hebrews probably didn’t have an obesity epidemic like the one that has spread around the globe today. Even so, one might think that if an unchanging and eternal God were going to give out food rules he might have considered the earnest Middle-American believers who would be coming along in 2014. A little divine focus on amping up leafy green vegetables and avoiding sweets might have gone a long way. Instead, the Bible strictly forbids eating rabbit, shellfish, pork, weasels, scavengers, reptiles, and owls. As is, Christians simply ignore the eating advisories in the Old Testament, even though they claim that edicts like the Ten Commandments and the anti-queer clobber verses still apply.

  • All that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 9:10
  • Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Exodus 23:19

Holy hang-ups about genitals. God, or the Bible writers is hung up about sexual anatomy in a way that many modern Christians, fortunately, are not. In The Year of Living Biblically, the author, A.J. Jacobs, attempts to obey Mosaic laws about menstruation. When his wife finds out what those laws actually are, she gives him the middle finger by sitting on every chair in the house.

  • When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything also on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean, and everything on which she sits shall be unclean. Leviticus 15: 19-20.
  • When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Deuteronomy 25:11-12

God’s temper tantrums. Modern Christians may talk about God as a loving father, or even a Jesus buddy, the kind you’d want to play golf with, but in reality Bible-God goes out of his way to be intimidating. Worse, he appears to lose control of his temper at times, lashing out like an oversized thwarted three year old; and his earthly representatives, the prophets—including Jesus—do the same.

  • Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.  2 Kings 2:23-25 NIV
  • Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. Matthew 21:18-22 NIV

Times when the Bible God is worse than Satan. In the Bible, Satan is described as a roaring lion who prowls the earth, seeking whom he may devour. But if you actually read the stories, Satan doesn’t do much other than to tempt people into disobeying the dictates of Yahweh, who acts like a heavenly dictator with borderline personality disorder. God, by contrast, professes his undying love, kindness and mercy, but then commands his minions to commit brutal atrocities when he isn’t up for it himself. Some of the stories are so bad even Hollywood, with its passion for glorious biblical sex and violence, won’t touch them, especially the plentiful Bible stories about sexual slavery and human sacrifice.

  • Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18
  •  He [Josiah] executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them. . . .  He did this in obedience to all the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the LORD’s Temple. Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. 2 Kings 23:20-25 NLT

Instructions for slave masters. The reality is that the Bible says much more in support of slavery than against it. Even the New Testament Jesus never says, owning people is wrong. Instead, the Bible gives explicit instructions to masters and slaves. Awkward.

  • You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT
  • Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Ephesians 6:5 NLT

Bizzare death penalties. Years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “If the Bible Were Law Would You Qualify For the Death Penalty?” It identified thirty-six different offenses that earn a person  capital punishment in the Bible. Hint: You probably qualify. And so does the dog that belongs to your kinky neighbor.

  • If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
  • If a man has sex with an animal, he must be put to death, and the animal must be killed. Leviticus 20:15 NLT

Denigration of handicapped people. The yuck factor is probably wired into humanity at the level of instinct, a way to avoid contamination and pathogens. Shit smells bad to us as does decaying flesh, and our revulsion at illness and injury fuels a whole Hollywood horror industry. The Bible writers had the same instincts, but unlike modern health professionals, who have the benefit of germ theory, they had no idea what was contagious and what wasn’t, and they blurred the ideas of physical purity with spiritual purity. Modern Christians largely escape their denigration of physical handicaps.

  • No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:1 NRSV
  • Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken … He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries. Leviticus 21:17-23 KJV

Scientific ludicrosities. Whatever god or natural process created this world was brilliantly sophisticated and complex. Bible-science not so much. One might almost think that the author(s) of the Bible embraced the proto-scientific beliefs of the era in which they lived, things like a “firmament” of water above the heaven or a sun that literally moves across the sky. Modern Bible-believers get trapped by this, with some continuing to insist, for example, that demons  cause mental illness, because the Bible says so. But most of the scientific errors in the Bible simply get brushed away, like the existence of winged insects with four legs or the notion that a mustard seed is smaller than any other.

  • All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you. 21 There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. 22 Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. 23 But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean. Leviticus 11:21-23 NIV
  • The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree. Matthew 13:31-32 NIV

Moral edicts that demand too much. If much of the Bible get ignored because it is morally irrelevant, immoral, outdated, or factually wrong, another portion get ignored because it sets the bar too high, like putting divorce on par with—omg–homosexuality. If you want to send a conservative Bible-believer into a froth, try suggesting that Jesus was a socialist. Then, when he goes all Jehovah on you, quote from the book of Ephesians.

  • Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same. Luke 3:11 NIV
  • Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place. Ephesians 5:4 NIV

A remarkable number of Bible passages that don’t fit one of these categories still manage to be a waste of brain space and paper.Some years ago I worked on a website called Wisdom Commons, a library of timeless quotes and stories from many traditions. I had the idea that I would go through the Bible and pull out bits that were relevant, so I started reading.

What I found was that most of the Bible was neither horrible nor inspiring. It was simply dull and irrelevant: long genealogies written by men obsessed with racial purity, archaic stories about ancient squabbles over real estate and women; arcane rituals aimed at pleasing a volatile deity; folk medicine practices involving mandrakes and dove’s blood; superstition that equated cleanliness with spiritual purity and misfortune with divine disfavor; outdated insider politics.

On top of that, it was badly written, with some stories garbled and others repeated though rarely in complete agreement about the facts. The Bible’s supposed author seemed like a psychological mess, and I found myself irritated. With a finite number of pages to set the course of human history, this was the best He could do?

Thank God most Bible-believing Christians don’t actually take the Good Book as seriously as they claim to.

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Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Subscribe to her articles at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

Related
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Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible
Mandrakes and Dove Blood:  Biblical Healthcare Anyone?
If the Bible Were Law, Would You Qualify For the Death Penalty?

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About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
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43 Responses to Eleven Kinds of Verses Bible-Believers Like to Ignore

  1. Valerie: I will gladly respond to these texts. One thing Scripture does tell us to do is to be able to defend our faith. (1 Peter 3:15 (AMP) But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. [Isa 8:12,13.] ). I love your blog and writings. So I will (with courtesy and respect) write an answer for you! Thanks for the challenge!

    Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde)

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  2. Reblogged this on Experiential Pagan and commented:
    Since again, the WordPress “like” button is not posting the liked post to my list…

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  3. At AlterNet, commenters had five primary beefs with this article. Here are my responses:

    1. “The verses come from various translations.” Fair criticism. After I pulled from different lists I should have taken the time to standardize.

    2. “It would have been more interesting to focus on positive, challenging commandments that Christians ignore, like elevating the poor and downtrodden.” Also fair.

    3. “Bible bashing is hateful.” I disagree. There is a difference between criticizing or even deriding faulty ideas and hating on people. The former is a crucial part of social, cultural, and moral growth.

    3. “The verses cited come largely from the Old Testament.” To this I reply with the words of the New Testament writers. See paragraph 1

    4. “Quoting individual verses is cherry picking and ignoring the Iron Age context of the writers.” Yes. That is my point.

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    • I maintain even if you were Bible bashing (which i don’t think you were) Christians still need to be able to defend their faith. That is their (our) responsibility. I find a vast majority of Christians can’t give a reasonable defense of their faith. Answering your post should be “homework” for every Christian.

      Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde)

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      • James Graham says:

        JnH, you speak about defending your faith. So pray tell, what defense do you have on these Bible quotes? I would love to hear them.

        You claim “I find a vast majority of Christians can’t give a reasonable defense of their faith”. I find this to be so because there IS no defense. For example, you cannot rightly defend the verse, “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18″, nor can you rightly, with good conscience, defend the verse, “◾Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken … He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries. Leviticus 21:17-23 KJV”, which basicall claims that anyone who has any sort of handicap or general birthmark is trash.

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    • mriana says:

      BASH THE BIBLE, VALERIE, BECAUSE IT’S FULL OF BILE! :D lol I disagree that it is hateful to bash the Bile, because we are not talking about a person. We are talking about a book. Books, movies, and even papers (whether they are research papers or short articles) are often criticized and considered fair game for critics to critique. Criticism isn’t always or necessity bad. Sometimes what sounds like bad and hateful criticism is often helpful and good criticism. Sometimes the critique gives praise to something too. We don’t have peer reviews or movie critics for nothing and even holds true for teachers and professors too. True critiques are helpful and informative, even giving food for thought, no matter how the critic may come off to the person reading the critique.

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  4. Missy says:

    Though I was raised in a “Christian” family growing up we never read the Bible or went to church. I was merely told who Jesus was and that he died for our sins. Without going into too much detail, my parents were not ideal role models for a child and did very little to teach me or my brothers right from wrong, plus we didn’t read the Bible so I escaped that indoctrination. I was left to create my own moral compass through idolizing heroes of stories and finding a few choice adults to look up to.
    As I entered adulthood I still called myself Christian when I knew more about the dozen other religions I researched out of curiosity than my own. So I began attending Bible study and church only to be appalled that what they told me grossly defied the morals I valued. My tolerance for the homosexuality of my loved ones, my feminist beliefs, my ideals on equality, even my environmentalist and deep ecological stance were all dismissed in favor of narrow minded and deliberate ignorance. Needless to say I’m atheist now,and very proud of my rigid secular mores and beliefs. Biblical quotes like the ones above helped show me the erroneous and ignorant faults of christianity.

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  5. mriana says:

    Here’s the funniest part of it all- the original Xians, many centuries ago would not recognize the Xians today as Xians. The beliefs, values, etc are so changed so much that they aren’t even the same as the original Xians. In fact, the original Xians, those that Xians today think of Xians, didn’t even call themselves Xians. The character Jesus wasn’t even a Xian to begin with and was not the founder of Xianity at all.

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  6. Acts 11:26 (NRSV)

    and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

    J (SH)

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  7. Yes and no.
    Yes–Your article makes powerful points, showing a few of the worst verses from the Bible. As an avid fundamentalist Bible reader years ago, I came across all of those verses and even worse ones. The troubling one on the bears devastated and upset me at 11 years of age, and I told my Sunday school teacher and peers so.

    No–Choosing quotes from any source (not just the Bible) can be troubling. Discernment and sifting are important in all literature. For instance, I could choose “verses” from atheistic literature, that I hope you would also reject stridently.

    I’m a former literature teacher who thinks that ALL literature (including the Bible of the monotheistic faiths, other literary texts, as well as modern atheistic texts ) needs to be read, discerned, and judged.

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  8. Valarie, I like your interesting articles and hope they provide much food for thought to your readers and also those people that they share this information with as they pass it on. Unfortunately many people use the Bible ala carte and just select scriptures that they like as an instruction manual for themselves and as a club for others. This is usually done without taking into context the language, idioms, culture, psychology at the time, symbolism, metaphors, use of amplification in Semitic communication, as well as the situational variances in the various books and authors, etc. In short, most people misuse the Biblical texts. Mriana makes a few excellent points in her June 1 post where she repeats the word Xians several times. Christianity today doesn’t remotely resemble what Jesus did or taught. Every one of the texts quoted in your article have a logical cultural/historical/linguistic explanation when looked at in the lens of the people at the time referenced. I won’t go into detail but there is much information available. Some of it can be found at http://www.aramaicbibleperspectives.com . When looked at through a modern lens for practical application in the Western world they are catastrophic. The Bible when looked at as a series of books written by multiple authors over a large span of time in the ancient world is a wonderful and fascinating account of human problems. When looked at in that light we can learn much from it.

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    • One of the problems Christians must deal with is the fact very few actually READ the Bible. Most it seems ‘read at it’ and then either miss what is actually being taught or begin to quote what they think it says (ie: Money is the root of all evil; God helps those who help themselves).

      Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde)

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      • James Graham says:

        Many who DO read the Bible thoroughly end up atheists after seeing the atrocities and nonsense contained therein.

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      • James: Folks can certainly read the Bible and make up their own mind about it. God has graciously given us freedom of choice to make decisions concerning His Word and what He says in the Bible. But Christians do themselves and others a great disservice when they don’t read it and yet spout off as if they do. I’ve read a lot of criticisms of the Bible and read books about people who have worked to disprove the Bible and ended up believing it to be God’s Word. Ms Valerie is an example who went the other way. I haven’t had a chance to read her book yet, but plan to in the near future. Her criticisms and others here are valid questions. I’m comfortable enough with my faith that I am not afraid to consider and discuss them. I just don’t want to do it until I’ve had a chance to read her book.

        One last thing. 10 years ago I would have responded differently than today. I would have felt the need to ‘defend the faith’. Age has done it’s work on me and I now enjoy reading opposing views. I will respond with the respect she (and everyone else on here) deserves. I look forward to it!!!

        Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde).

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      • James Graham says:

        Let’s say for a moment that God did, in fact, exist. God is said to be omniscient, which means that he knows every thing that ever was, is, and will be. This means that a trillion, trillion, trillion years ago (random huge number) god already knew the fate of every single human being that ever would exist. He knows every thought they would ever have, every deed they would ever do. He would know what decisions each and every human being would make.

        From god’s viewpoint, every single human being’s life is linear and chosen, which would mean that no human being ever really has free-will. Free will gives every person the ability to make whatever choices in life they so choose to make. The [supposed] fact that god can see everyone’s lives fully from beginning to end means that their paths are already pre-chosen (ie. no free-will).

        So! The fact that god can already view each and every persons’ life paths and choices negates the logic as to why Hell would even exist. Hell is supposed to be a place created by god to “punish” those who don’t do what he wants them to do. But if every person’s path in life is fixed, then there would be no reason for god to punish those people who cannot help being what or who they are. God supposedly has a “grand plan” for ever person, which means whatever people become is a part of his “plan”: Hitler and the Haulocost was “planned”, atheists are “planned”, child rapists are “planned”, etc. The whole reason to punish someone is to try to get them to see their folly and change their ways. But if those who are sent to Hell are there burning for “all of eternity”, then that is not punishment. It’s beyond cruel torture without the ability for those souls to learn from their mistakes and repair them.

        So 1) why would god punish those whose lives are pre-chosen and he created/planned, and 2) what would be the point of god creating humans if he already knows the outcome of the entire universe beforehand? There is absolutely zero logic in an omniscient/omnipotent being to even create imperfect beings in an already-perfect universe (since when all that existed was god, imperfection was nonexistent, being that god is the only “thing” that is supposed to be perfect).

        Considering these, there is no reason why religion would be necessary or logical.

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      • James: You bring up some good points. Here are my thoughts.

        [From god’s viewpoint, every single human being’s life is linear and chosen, which would mean that no human being ever really has free-will.] God surely gave you free will and he gave me free will. We have the freedom to make choices. If you and I were having a cold brew or two and we came up with the idea to rob a 7-11. Then, foolishly, we go rob the 7-11. We had the freedom to make that choice. Did God want us to rob the 7-11? Nope, he didn’t. But he allows us to make the choice to do that if we choose to. But say on the way to the 7-11, you come to your senses and tell me this is a bad idea and we stop. While stopped, we have a few more brews and then finally ‘one for the road’. We’re plastered by this time. We leave, run a light and kill a family of 4. Was that God’s will? Hardly. What did the family do to deserve being killed? Nothing. It was the result of our choices that killed them. We made bad choices and as a result, many people suffer. But did God want us to make that choice? Nope, we did it out of our own stubborn selfishness.

        [So! The fact that god can already view each and every persons’ life paths and choices negates the logic as to why Hell would even exist. Hell is supposed to be a place created by god to “punish” those who don’t do what he wants them to do] Jesus spoke clearly about hell. Matthew 25:41 (NASB) “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Hell was created for Lucifer and the rebel angels that ‘chose’ (there’s that word again) to follow him. Which leads to the next point about hell. People will be judged for 1 thing and 1 thing only concerning heaven and hell. What did they do with Jesus and His message. John 12:47-48 (NASB) “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

        [So 1) why would god punish those whose lives are pre-chosen and he created/planned, and 2) what would be the point of god creating humans if he already knows the outcome of the entire universe beforehand?] God didn’t ‘choose’ people and force them to do this or that. Man made the choice to sin. God provided a remedy and it is man’s freedom to accept or reject that remedy (Jesus’s atoning sacrifice).

        Hope that helps!

        Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde)

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  9. Thanks. I agree with you completely about how one can approach the Bible and find insight there. I don’t regret that people pick and choose from ancient texts, or from any text for that matter. I think, in fact, we have an obligation to do so. But yes, biblical literalists tend to do that without acknowledging it is what they are doing. Also, since they can’t acknowledge the human origins of the text, some get stuck trying earnestly to honor words and concepts that don’t merit honor and in fact are morally repugnant. Proof texting like I did in this article has little relevance except as a challenge to those who see the Bible in it’s entirety as the perfect word of God–about 30% of the U.S. population. I think it is critically important that both secularists and modernist Christians showcase the flaws in this perspective because it is doing tremendous harm in our society and evangelicals are spreading it to vulnerable people around the world.

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  10. mriana says:

    Jekyll n Hyde, “God” may have given freedom of choice, but many Xians do not as they pressure people, esp children, to be Xians. The problem is “God”, if s/he/it actually exists, as well as religion/superstition, is a human concept. Very few people share the same concept of a deity, even within the same religious sect. A prime and easy example are the gods of the Western religions of Islam and Xianity. Despite what people may say, they are not the same and neither are the religious beliefs. Even more so is the Eastern religion Taoism and Western religion Xianity or Taoism and Islam. Even if one does attempt to describe God or the Tao, they aren’t describing it at all. They are only talking about their personal concept of deity. The same goes for the concepts of heaven, hell, paradise, etc. On top of it all, the religious stories and books are nothing more than tribal stories, many of which taken from other tribes/cultures, and then adapted and applied to another culture. It would be extremely judgemental, IMO, for one to insist that their religion is the one true religion, when none of them actually are. Again, they are nothing more than personal and cultural concepts and beliefs. This can be seen when one reads, and even studies, more religious texts than just the Bible.

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    • I appreciate your comments. I (of course) disagree with your statement: “The problem is “God”. The problem’s not God, it’s what you alluded to in your first line line about Christians pressuring people. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I used to be a person who pressured folks to become Christians. I’ve long since seen the error of that approach. First of all it’s not what Jesus taught at all. He pressured no one. He simply did what He was called to do (Luke 4:16ff). But the other thing is I can’t force anyone to do anything. I can’t force my wife to do anything. I can’t force my sister or any of the people I work with to do anything. I can only lead people in the direction I want them to go. Jesus defines those parameters very clearly. So I certainly agree with you that pressuring people into anything is simply wrong an it doesn’t work. I believe when that happens with sex it’s called rape. Perhaps what you described in your first line might best be called theological rape.

      On what the other religions teach I’m’ certainliy not an expert (although I have looked at them over the years). The simple fact of Jesus’s death and resurrection sets a rather high bar for Budda and Mohammad and others to attain to and to the best of my knowledge, none of them have reached that level. I have myriads of questions about God, the universe and life and death. I find the Bible gives me the clearest picture of God. My responsibility as a Christian is to simple tell what’s happened in my life as a result of my committment to God. So that’s what I do. I share with people what God has done in my life (Which is plenty). If I need to dig deeper, I read people LIke Timothy Keller (The Reason for God) and Ravi Zacharius and other Chritian apologists that are much more versed in theology and philosophy than I am.

      I read & look at both sides of the coin as well. I’ve read Dawkins, Dennet, Harris and other critics. I look forward to Reading Valerie’s book as well. (I’m moving it off the back burner to the front burner!). I spent my life working in nature with bilogy. The more I work with nature I’m more convinced than ever of the existance of God.

      Seriously, thanks for responding. While I obviously don’t know you or anyone else on here, I so enjoy reading your thoughts and your heart on this issue. One of the great regrets I have is that in my earlier days, I missed out on meeting and knowing so many great people because I so foolishly pigeon holed them as this or that. I was the big loser in that game, not them.

      Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde)

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      • mriana says:

        No, I wasn’t saying “God” is the problem. It’s the fact that the idea of a “God” is a human concept and many people try hard to impose their concept of deity on others. You are right that you (or anyone else) cannot force their concept on others. I think the best way to lead people is how one lives their life, not by what they say or impose on others. Actions often speak louder than words and who wants to worship an evil hateful damnation deity, who’s followers force that concept on others (ie Westboro Baptist Church)? No one I know, but there are some sects that “rape” people in to believing. Theological rape is a good term that I can agree with and it leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

        I agree, Muhammad hasn’t reached it, but I disagree concerning the Buddha. How much have you researched the Dahlia Lama? Not only that, I think the Tao (which some Buddhists also follow) has some good and reasonable, as well as humanistic sayings. The Taoists seem very humanistic to me.

        I won’t dispute your biology studies and your conclusion that there is a deity, but it is my guess IF It really exists, it is nothing like any of the human concepts humans have conceived. This is where I can appreciate the first chapter of the Tao and I seriously doubt that those who say they KNOW, actually KNOW and when they attempt to describe it, it’s unreasonable and unbelievable. This is where I am atheistic- when people attempt to put their concept into words. If one were to say it is indescribable and doesn’t even try to put their concept into words or attempt to label it, except to maybe say, “whatever it is, is part of nature”, such as a Taoist or a pantheist, then I am agnostic and can concede with a “maybe, I don’t know”.

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      • You’ve got to be joking! Timothy Keller is a theological determinist who thinks God predestines people to hell.:-( I’ve listened to his horrible explanations.

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  11. Keller is a Presbyterian so his beliefs would certainly be inline with Calvinist doctrine. Have you actually read any of Keller’s writings? I would recommend “The Reason for God”. He outlines solid reasoning for his belief in God. It’s a good book. Hope you will read it!

    J (SH)

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    • Yes I have, unfortunately. Keller believes like most Calvinists that God has a secret will in which he plans all evil:-( . The first Calvinist leader I heard teach this emphasized that God planned every rape and murder that will take place.:-( Some Calvinist even claim that God planned the Jewish holocaust for his own glory. I hope to God Keller doesn’t go that far. In my reading I’ve not heard him say that.

      Not only have I read The Reason for God, I’ve read other articles by Keller and listened to audios. He follows the Calvinist agenda.

      Not only that, sadly, since I’m an American literature teacher I also studied under a man who earned his PhD. in Calvinism and I’ve read most of the famous Calvinist tomes from R.L. Dabney to Loraine Boettner, to Pink to Packer, to Sproul to Piper, etc. Al the way to Matt Chandler who claims in The Explicit Gospel that all infants at conception are in “essence, evil”!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Keller and all the other Calvinists proclaim horrifically terrible news. Don’t take my word for it as a teacher. Continue reading. You will find out they all claim we have no choice, God foreordained us to hell before the beginning of time, that Jesus only died for a limited number of humans, T.U.L.I.P. etc. Very sick.

      Keller’s Calvinism/Presbyterianism is the total opposite of the good news I received when I was saved, worked as a volunteer for the Billy Graham Crusade, was youth minister, etc.

      Billy Graham emphasized that God loves to save everyone.

      All Calvinists (the mild as well as the hard) believe God foreordained only some people to be saved.

      To hell with the rest:-(

      So all my family, billions of people were foreordained to eternal damnation.

      How could you possibly agree with Keller?:-(

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      • Daniel: I am Methodist in my theological perspective so I’m clearly on the other side of the fence from a Calvinist and don’t ascribe to Calvinist theology, specifically predestination or depravity. I think the point I was trying to make was Keller’s reasoning for God’s existence. I would never point anyone to Calvinism for doctrinal persuasion. I think the strength of his book is in the way he lays out his arguments.

        Over the years I’ve talked with many Calvinists concerning predestination. These have been difficult conversations. The subject is one Wesley dealt with convincingly in his sermon # 58 on predestination. Wesley also supported the idea of In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things love.

        J (SH)

        Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

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      • I might be so bold as to say, if I thought God was anything like he was portrayed by the Calvinist’s you described, I certainly would have nothing to do with him either. Fortunately He’s not that way and scripture doesn’t teach that He is!

        J (SH)

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    • mriana says:

      I grew up Wesleyan and my grandfather read Calvin. His response was, “Wesley had it right, but Calvin had it wrong.” Not sure why he said that, but it just goes to show what I said about concepts and most of those concepts are handed to us, sometimes even forced on us, by our elders, not allowing us to make our own choices about what we do or do not believe. If one is raised Calvin, they probably believe that Calvin it had right and Wesley had it wrong. Doctrine of Predestination or doctrine of Perfectionism… both, IMO, are bad and unhealthy concepts. Secondly, the problem with apologists is that even if another sees a flaw in the doctrine, the apologist tries many ways, often taught through a form of brainwashing, attempt to support and uphold the doctrine, even if their statements are not logical.

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      • Wesley’s doctrine of Christian Perfection is sadly misunderstood. It doesn’t mean what most people think it does. The people I’ve read that I would consider sold in apologetics are anything but brainwashed. They are highly intelligent and worked their way though the main questions of their lives and after wrestling with them, ended up as Christians. I know there are many people out there who give Christianity a black eye. The clowns at the Westboro Baptist Church are just the most recent public example. Those clowns don’t represent God. Nothing in their actions or their twisted logic is remotely representative of what Jesus stood for. So please don’t think they are anything other than a fringe group that has an incredibly twisted view of life!

        Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde)

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  12. Hey J (SH) Jekyll, please get rid of the Hyde;-) just kidding you. Great book by the way. Remember, I’m a retired lit teacher and writer.

    Thanks for the response. You probably also remember when Wesley wrote another person that he would rather be an atheist than subscribe to the Calvinistic view of God, a “tyrant.”

    And to mriana:-)
    Yeah, a little kindness and compassion, instead of doctrine and dogma, would help.

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  13. James Graham says:

    (JnH, sorry, tried to reply several times but it wouldn’t post, so I had to create it in a new one)

    [begin quote]
    James: You bring up some good points. Here are my thoughts.

    [From god’s viewpoint, every single human being’s life is linear and chosen, which would mean that no human being ever really has free-will.] God surely gave you free will and he gave me free will. We have the freedom to make choices. If you and I were having a cold brew or two and we came up with the idea to rob a 7-11. Then, foolishly, we go rob the 7-11. We had the freedom to make that choice. Did God want us to rob the 7-11? Nope, he didn’t. But he allows us to make the choice to do that if we choose to. But say on the way to the 7-11, you come to your senses and tell me this is a bad idea and we stop. While stopped, we have a few more brews and then finally ‘one for the road’. We’re plastered by this time. We leave, run a light and kill a family of 4. Was that God’s will? Hardly. What did the family do to deserve being killed? Nothing. It was the result of our choices that killed them. We made bad choices and as a result, many people suffer. But did God want us to make that choice? Nope, we did it out of our own stubborn selfishness.

    [So! The fact that god can already view each and every persons’ life paths and choices negates the logic as to why Hell would even exist. Hell is supposed to be a place created by god to “punish” those who don’t do what he wants them to do] Jesus spoke clearly about hell. Matthew 25:41 (NASB) “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Hell was created for Lucifer and the rebel angels that ‘chose’ (there’s that word again) to follow him. Which leads to the next point about hell. People will be judged for 1 thing and 1 thing only concerning heaven and hell. What did they do with Jesus and His message. John 12:47-48 (NASB) “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

    [So 1) why would god punish those whose lives are pre-chosen and he created/planned, and 2) what would be the point of god creating humans if he already knows the outcome of the entire universe beforehand?] God didn’t ‘choose’ people and force them to do this or that. Man made the choice to sin. God provided a remedy and it is man’s freedom to accept or reject that remedy (Jesus’s atoning sacrifice).

    Hope that helps!

    Jekyll (Sometimes Hyde)
    [end quote]

    With all due respect, you seem to have completely ignored my point and what I said. If god can see a person’s life from beginning to end, that means his life path is fixed (ie. linear). This means since that person’s life is fixed, it is pre-chosen. Which, in turn, means they have no free will. From that person’s view, since they cannot know or see their own future, they appear to be freely making their own choices but in fact their free will is merely an illusion. The moment a single person’s life path can be clearly seen in full, their free will goes right out the door. So if god can see each and every person’s life, then they have no free will. People cannot see their own future. So if anything, by making this so, god merely gives people the ILLUSION of free will by not allowing them to be able to see their future. The only way a person can have free will is if they had the ability to go back in time at will and change any choices they make.

    Also god’s omniscience reaches eternally through time, forward and back. So a trillion centuries ago god would have known that we would get drunk and rob a 7-11 and/or would run a red light and kill that family of 4. But there’s only one outcome that could be possible with robbing 7-11: either we do it or we don’t. It’s not a matter of free-willed choice. And god would already know which choice we would make, since he is all-knowing. Which makes our lives linear.

    It’s a simple elementary concept:

    a) God sees our complete lives and choices we make, b) making our lives linear, c) meaning no free will.

    So god could not give people free will unless he was not omniscient.

    RE: Hell, I’m not challenging the fact that the Bible speaks regarding Hell. My point is that the idea of Hell existing is nonsensical. If god was omniscient and knew every single fate of every single being since the beginning of time (and prior, if god has existed for eternity (which I won’t even get to the ridiculousness of that right now)), it makes no sense for god to create Hell for ANY beings which already have a linear fate. Even the angels/Satan falling would have been pre-known by god. When god told Adam and Eve to not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, would he, in is omniscience, not have seen that coming? (Stop making sense yet??) But when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, god decides to get all angry (why if he would have already known it was going to happen in the first place?) and decides to punish every human being thereafter. Even by mortal’s standards, if a person does something horrendous (not so horrendous as eating fruit, apparently) we don’t pass that blame on to their offspring (not moral people, anyway). God acts with complete childish, immoral tantrums. Now he “demands” that all worship him.

    Which raises another issue…

    Why would a god that already knows everything, sees everything, and can do anything…require worship? It’s like a person who has trillions of dollars at their disposal needing a job at McDonald’s.

    I know, I know… You’re going to say something to the point that god’s motive cannot be understood by us mere mortals. That’s just something theists say to end an argument they cannot explain. Which is my point. The ideal of god is completely nonsensical. It is a poorly thought out idea at best.

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    • James: I have to run a few errands with my wife and so I won’t have time to respond this morning but will before the day’s over. Thanks: J (SH)

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    • James: You bring up an interesting point about your view of God. I understand how you are viewing it. I don’t see it that way however. (Surprising huh!). The fact God knows what we will choose doesn’t mean we don’t have free will, it just means he knows what we are going to choose. The game’s not ‘fixed’ so to speak.

      Let’s go back to Adam & Eve for a moment. They had free choice to either do what God said or not. They made they choice do what they were told not to do. Satan and the 1/3 of the angels that followed him made the same choice. God had to create beings with the freedom to reject Him. He wanted beings that would freely choose to love him (through obedience). With out the freedom to choose to reject him, there is no freedom. If I was pursuing a woman that I desperately wanted to love me and respond to me, I would do everything I could to make her want to love me and be with me. Forcing her into a relationship where she ‘had’ to love me would not produce a loving relationship. Forced ‘love’ is no love at all. God gave Adam the authority, or governorship of the planet. He turned it over to Satan. Satan is running the planet for now. Jesus called him the ‘god of this world’. Look at the mess the world is in now. Man is the one making the decisions that are destroying the planet and the people on the planet, not God. This goes back to ancient times, before Adam and Eve, in the Jobian days.
      Concerning Hell, Jesus pointed out the only sin people will be judged for is rejecting the salvation offered through the sacrifice of Christ. That is the only sin people will be judged for. They won’t be judged for Adultery, drinking, drugs, cussing, homosexuality or spitting on the sidewalk. The only sin that is judged is what you do or don’t do with the Words of Jesus.

      John 16:8-11 (AMP) And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me]; About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer; About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him.

      One last point. I would never tell you “God’s ways are mysterious and we can’t understand them”. People that say that didn’t get that from the New Testament I read. Jesus is very pointed:

      Matthew 7:7-8 (AMP) Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.

      Jesus and the Apostle Paul are very clear on the fact of asking God and receiving answers. Now I would point out that an infinite God will not be known completely by a finite creature such as ourselves. Having said that, God does reveal to us so many things about Himself that as Paul said in Romans, we will have no excuse when we stand before him!

      Hyde (Sometimes Jekyll)

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      • James Graham says:

        “The fact God knows what we will choose doesn’t mean we don’t have free will, it just means he knows what we are going to choose.”

        It plainly does so. If god can see my entire life, that means my life choices are already made to him. If my life choices are already made, then I’m not really making the choices, they are already made. From my point of view, they are not. Because my view of my future is unknown and it IS ‘fixed’. Now I DO believe in free will, mainly because 1) I don’t believe in an omniscient being, and 2) (as far as I know) there are no people who can go back in time at-will and make changes.

        Not only this, but if god already knew from the beginning of time which people would “fall” and which would “rise”, then it makes no sense that we even be here. A being who is all-knowing would have no reason to ever do anything. Creating a race of beings simply to ‘serve’ him would serve no purpose other than a cruel one. A being of infinite knowledge would be devoid of feelings. They would no be sad at death because it would’ve already been know eons beforehand. They would not feel happiness, or bitterness, or anger, or frustration because they’d known about it coming for eons beforehand.

        The only reasoning a being would be served by creating a race of beings, giving them so-called free will, allowing them to make their own choices, giving them the ability to reason, then punishing them for using that god-given ability to disbelieve in him when he gifts them with logic and doesn’t ever bother to present himself using logical means, sending them to Hell for eternal torture and damnation, and rewarding those who blindly ignore all that is sane and logical… this all makes no sense. There’s no justification for a being who already knows the outcome.

        Why play a game when you already know the outcome of every roll of the dice?

        And you can’t say, “Well we just don’t have the minds to understand god’s reasoning.” That’s no argument and leads the discussion in to a useless empty hole (and quoting the Bible doesn’t work as it was written by a bunch of ‘men’ with VERY limited knowledge on the world and the universe who merely CLAIM that it’s the word of god. Not to mention, being filled with atrocities such as murder, genocide, misogyny, slavery, adultery, incest…all condoned by god himself). That’s why Christianity (and most religions) say their deity(ies) can do anything, know everything, but they’re invisible and undetectable, and when you try to reason them out you can’t understand them. It makes it impossible to “disprove”. Anyone can imagine some being up, which is proven by the creation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (and myriad deities that exist/have existed (and probably will exist)).

        You claim Adam and Eve had free will to obey him or not and they ‘chose’ not to. Why would god who is all-knowing place a tree right there bearing fruit, and say “don’t eat this” when he clearly knew they were going to beforehand. Then when they do, he get’s mad and curses ALL of human kind then after? All this torture just because they ate the fruit, of which god already knew they were going to eat. One can’t get mad about something they already knew for eternity beforehand was going to happen.

        It’s like sitting a child down placing a glass of chocolate milk and a glass of sour, curdled milk in front of him. They give him the free-willed choice to drink whichever one they want. BUT what they don’t tell him is that if he drinks the good chocolate milk, they’re going to chain him up, place him in a dark closet for the rest of his life (but he’ll get free chocolate milk while he’s in there).

        If anyone these days gives a child a choice like that they’re an atrocity. God is nothing but an atrocity, giving people free will to choose to believe or not believe, then throwing them in a lake of fire for eternity for simply applying that free will. There is no “goodly” outlook on this situation.

        I’m a logical thinker. You can’t quote Bible verses to me in order to attempt to make sense when I view the Bible as a despicable book. You need to use logic and reasoning that would make sense. And that is impossible, because it does not. Religion requires blind faith, which is why they call it ‘taking a leap of faith’.

        I’d might have more respect for Christianity if god were an imperfect being who was NOT omniscient and omnipotent. Who admitted he made mistakes now and then and was more ‘human’. God is a narcissistic, megalomaniac. Much like people such as Kim Jong Un, and his father Kim Jong Il. He’s a dictator who “frees himself and enslaves the people”.

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      • James: Why don’t you tell me how you REALLY feel! I know what I want to communicate about the free will topic but, I’m not saying it the way I want to. Let me have some time to think about this 👏 and let me get back with you. Most likely tomorrow. I appreciate your thoughts and time! Later …

        Hyde (Sometimes Jekyll)

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      • James Graham says:

        “James: Why don’t you tell me how you REALLY feel!”

        lol I’m just really blunt when it comes to religion. And very opinionated. :)

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    • Ryedo40 says:

      I agree Graham. It’s akin to purposely creating bad art just so you can tear it up. It’s ridiculous.

      God, being omniscient, supposedly knows every choice a person is going to make – even before creating that person. So why bother creating that person if you already know his or her destiny is one of eternal punishment(or the waste bin). Only a cold-hearted & cruel being could do such a thing.

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