| Turning Christianity Into The Word Of God
Used by permission, from the Agnostic Review of Christianity website
An attribute of aggressive proselytizing religions is that they have a prime directive which constantly drives them.
In the case of fundamentalist Christianity, the prime directive has two parts. The first part is to expand it's sphere of influence and the second part is to dominate all other forms of belief.
These goals are accomplished in a variety of ways which include:
Claiming that the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is the literal and direct word of God.
Claiming that Jesus and Christianity are the only pure sources of spiritual truth in the world.
Claiming that Jesus/God commanded his followers to convert all people to Christianity.
By applying circular reasoning, Christians will say that in the Holy Bible, Jesus told them to preach the Gospel to the world (Matt 28:19, Mark 16:15), and to make every thought captive to Jesus (2 Cor 10:5). And because the Bible is the revealed word of God and is therefore true by definition, the aggressive preaching is mandated and approved by God himself.
Waging theological war for Jesus and making captives of the world is the very heart and soul of aggressive forms of Christianity. This behavior has God's stamp of approval on it because the New Testament instructs it.
Christians set themselves up as sole agents of "truth" who are ordained by God to put down every other religion or belief, to bring all thought into line with theirs, and to punish all disobedience to their doctrines.
2 Cor 10:5-6
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Christianity at the height of it's authority, also known as the Dark Ages, had no problem implementing the punishment portion of this policy on anyone who didn't see things as Christians did.
The New Testament is filled with warnings about "unbelief" on the part of anyone who may doubt Christian claims.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Of course, since Christians are directly wired to their deity through the Holy Spirit, it's not a coincidence that the "living God" always agrees with what Christians claim.
It's also the bombastic nature of fundamentalist Christianity to vilify anyone who has the nerve to question the "Word" as they define it.
However, if one looks past the authoritative sounding rhetoric about the Bible being the revealed word of God, there are many holes present in the claim that the Bible represents one consistent theology and that it represents the word of God.
For example, the Book of Acts exhibits some major problems that should not be seen if the writing was really coming from the mind of an infallible, truth valuing deity.
The Book of Acts is often promoted by believers to be an accurate historical account of how the Gospel was spread to the people of the world after the death of Jesus.
In particular, Acts 13 has assertions which are not supported by the Old Testament and it also attempts to use Old Testament verses out of context to enhance it's credibility.
In selling any product, it often helps to make the product appear as if it's claims are supported by another source.
If you can link your product to something which is already established (in this case the Old Testament), the credibility of the claims are easier to sell to an audience.
In the following section of Acts 13, Christian convert Paul and his partner Barnabas go out to sell their religion to Gentiles and also to any Jews who might listen to the advertising campaign.
38-Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man(Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
39-And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Here Paul preaches his new religion to the people.
According to Paul, belief in a human sacrifice will justify or make a person righteous before God.
Paul also declares that obeying the law of Moses could not make a person righteous in God's eyes.
This claim is a bold faced lie if the Old Testament is to be taken seriously.
Contrary to Paul's teaching, righteousness was obtained by observing the commandments and statutes that God gave to Moses.
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.
Those whose keep the law do no iniquity and are blessed. Obviously such people are righteous.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
God's law is also eternal and everlasting (Psa 119:152,160) (Psa 111:7-8). The law doesn't go away because some teacher advocating a new religion says so.
Even the New Testament declared that keeping the law resulted in righteousness and that people were able to achieve such righteousness.
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Paul was attempting to convince people that the only hope they had of getting right with God was to believe in the human sacrifice savior (Jesus) which was the centerpiece of Paul's new religion.
In essence, he was attempting to attract converts from the Gentiles, who had little interest in the complicated Jewish laws of Moses and who were used to the concept of "pagan" saviors and god/men.
Paul declared that God's law was ended in Rom 10:4 and Gal 5:18. Paul was also trying to lure Jews away from their established teachings about God.
40-Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
41-Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
Paul masterfully warns people not to reject his teachings because God will punish them if they do.
To bolster this threat, a misquoted verse (Hab 1:5) from the Book of Habakkuk is employed in Acts:13-41. By employing this verse from Habakkuk, Paul is implying that his new teaching is the "work" of God which is spoken of in Habakkuk and by misquoting the verse Paul is warning that anyone who didn't pay attention to his message would be punished by God.
However, this is an insidious deception on the part of Paul.
The verse lifted from Habakkuk has nothing to do with either Paul's teaching or Jesus.
A more complete context of Hab 1:5 follows:
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I (God) will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
For, lo, I (God) raise up the Chaldeans (Babylon), that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not their's.
The prophet Habakkuk was complaining to God in Hab 1:4 that people had turned away from God's law and that God is slow to punish people who ignored the law.
God then responds in Hab 1:5-6 by saying to the prophet that he will see God raise up a foreign nation (Chaldeans/Babylon) which will sweep over the land as punishment for the law breaking.
This invasion and the Jews being carried off into exile is outlined in 2 Chron 36:15-20.
Paul misquoted the first part of Hab 1:5 by replacing God's words to the prophet with his own.
Hab 1:5 actually states:
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously:...
Hab 1:5 modified by Paul states:
Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish:...
In the original verse, God tells his prophet Habakkuk, who lives among those who ignore the law, to look forward with wonder at God's upcoming judgment that will be imposed on the land by the foreign invading nation.
In the misquote, Paul attempts to show God speaking to wicked people, rather than to the prophet, and tells them they will perish. The use of a misquote puts more fear into the equation which helps coerce the masses.
Naturally, Paul only lifted the piece of Habakkuk (Hab 1:5) that served his purpose.
This illustrates how the New Testament writers would selectively hijack pieces of Old Testament scripture, work it into their preaching, change the wording if it suited their needs, and then passed it off to people as the word of God.
Of key importance regarding this particular deception is that the prophet Habakkuk was denouncing those people who ignore God's law.
Yet, abandoning the law as a vehicle for obtaining righteousness, in favor of a new system which promoted belief in a human sacrifice, is precisely what Paul was telling people to do.
Remember that Paul said the law could not justify anyone in Acts 13:39. Paul's use of Hab 1:5 makes a mockery out of the Old Testament.
42-And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
43-Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
45-And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
46-But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
In this section, the Jews are vilified because they spoke against Paul and his new doctrine which declared that belief in a human sacrifice supersedes the authority of the Law of God.
Keep in mind that Judaism was competition for Christianity and discrediting the competition through vilification is a standard tactic for aggressive theology.
The Jews were "filled with envy", contradicted Paul, and were "blaspheming".
What the author of Acts fails to mention is that the Jews were doing exactly what God told them do if they were confronted with a false teacher.
In the following verse, God instructs his people to keep his law in their hearts and not to be made afraid by the threats of false teachers like Paul.
Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
God also instructed his people to rebuke someone who taught false doctrine so that they would avoid sharing in his sin.
Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt earnestly rebuke thy neighbour, lest thou bear sin on account of him.
If the word of God in the Old Testament is to be taken seriously, then it was Paul who was doing the "blaspheming".
46-Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you (the Jews): but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
47-For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
48-And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
In this section Paul and Barnabas claim they are the ones who have the real word of God.
This is also another attempt to take a verse from the Old Testament out of context and use it to give authority to the new religion based on blasphemy of God's law.
In the verse Acts 13:47, Paul creates the idea that God commanded Christians to "be a light to the Gentiles".
To reinforce this subterfuge, Paul partially quotes a piece of Isa 49:6 in Acts 13:47. However, Isa 49:6 has nothing to do with Paul or Christians being lights to anyone.
This is shown by looking at the more complete context of Isa 49.
And (the Lord) said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee (the servant Israel) for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
As the text shows, the servant who will be the light to the Gentiles is the nation of Israel.
Israel will serve as a light to the Gentiles because God's law will be displayed through them to the world (Isa 51:4). Christians often try to scold skeptics about taking verses of the Bible out of context.
This is blatantly hypocritical because the New Testament writers had no problem ripping Old Testament scripture
out of context if it could be used to advance their agenda.
49-And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
50-But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
Once again the Jews are portrayed as troublemakers because they stood up to Paul's teachings, which were advertised by Paul as being the "word of the Lord".
However, attempting to turn Jews away from God by declaring that the law of Moses was to be ignored in favor of a new religion based on belief in a human sacrifice was the very essence of false doctrine.
Such a teaching was not endorsed by God and the devout Jews knew it.
Paul was presuming to speak in God's name and spoke blasphemy against the law of Moses.
God was quite clear on how such apostates should be treated.
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
Contrary to the assertions of fundamentalist Christians, the Bible does not display a teaching so harmonious and consistent that it could only have come from a supernatural deity.
There is evidence for manipulation of scripture to embellish and enhance credibility, coupled with internal contradictions, and topped off with a large helping of threatened punishments for failure to believe.
51-But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
52-And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
If the disciples were really filled with the Holy Spirit then you'd think they wouldn't contradict the word of God, nor would they need to pull Old Testament verses out of context and modify them to convince people that they represented God.
Christianity has no problem advertising itself as the one true religion yet displays symptoms of deception right from the beginning.
Christian preachers often proclaim that as the world sinks into an abyss and approaches judgment day, all "unsaved" humanity will have to turn to Christians for help in understanding God. Christianity will eventually dominate because only Christians have the truth about God.
Yet, even this commonly employed Christian assertion contradicts the Bible.
According to Bible prophecy, humanity will turn to the Jews for knowledge of God and not to Christians.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
If the Bible really is the word of God, Christians would be wise to stop assuming that they are God's new chosen people or that they have superior knowledge about God.