So many things were testing his faith. There was the Bible, of course, but the Bible was a book, and so were Bleak House, Treasure Island, Ethan Frome and The Last of the Mohicans. Did it then seem probable, as he had once overheard Dunbar ask, that the answers to riddles of creation would be supplied by people too ignorant to understand the mechanics of rainfall? Had Almighty God, in all His infinite wisdom, really been afraid that men six thousand years ago would succeed in building a tower to heaven?
However modest one may be in one's demand for intellectual cleanliness, one cannot help feeling, when coming into contact with the New Testament, a kind of inexpressible discomfiture: for the unchecked impudence with which the least qualified want to raise their voice on the greatest problems, and even claim to be judges of things, surpasses all measure. The shameless levity with which the most intractable problems (life, world, God, purpose of life) are spoken of, as if they were not problems at all but simply things that these little bigots KNEW!
It is remarkable that, notwithstanding the universal favor with which the New Testament is outwardly received, and even the bigotry with which it is defended, there is no hospitality shown to, there is no appreciation of, the order of truth with which it deals.
The sacred texts of human history from all over the world, can never be perceived by the rational mind as texts of historical accuracy. They can only be a glaring representation of the traditions and ideals of the people. Now, it is up to the rational mind, to analyze those texts and thereafter consume the good elements from them, while discarding the rest.
God knew man would evolve. People think some of the Old Testament laws are absurd now because we live in a very different culture, a different time period. They had their problems and we have ours. God is constant but man is not, and he foreknew the ever-changing world his people would have to deal with; therefore, and if there is indeed an omniscient God, a Christ-like figure would be our only rational, possible connection to a constant, holy God throughout the evolution of culture and social law. The only answer that makes sense when it comes to relevance regarding religions and time periods is Christ, and the chances are slim that men could have invented it.
To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.
Initially, the God of the Old Testament might seem overwhelming and domineering to you, or tyrannical, or perhaps even evil, which is good. It is the first telling that God is indeed God, by sheer definition, and not some ear-tickling fairy by which one in his depravity is guaranteed to find another form of stale romanticism or love at first sight. For such a first impression as the latter would be problematic to the essence of Christianity. Therefore the Christians are right in saying that the nature of imperfect men cannot ultimately co-exist with the nature of a perfect God; and that the hope of each man is now desperately found in God's sending of Christ.
This doctrine of forgiveness of sin is a premium on crime. 'Forgive us our sins' means Let us continue in our iniquity. It is one of the most pernicious of doctrines, and one of the most fruitful sources of immorality. It has been the chief cause of making Christian nations the most immoral of nations. In teaching this doctrine Christ committed a sin for which his death did not atone, and which can never be forgiven. There is no forgiveness of sin. Every cause has its effect; every sinner must suffer the consequences of his sins.
It’s time that Christianity should be redefined by the world based upon the original teachings of Jesus, instead of the Old and New Testaments which have been interpreted, reinterpreted and distorted by all the Ecumenical Councils, i.e. the Church Councils.
Jesus recognized that God within him and became Christ - so did Siddhartha Gautama and became Buddha - so did I - and so can you.
If we ask a random orthodox religious person, what is the best religion, he or she would proudly claim his or her own religion to be the best. A Christian would say Christianity is the best, a Muslim would say Islam is the best, a Jewish would say Judaism is the best and a Hindu would say Hinduism is the best. It takes a lot of mental exercise to get rid of such biases.
This Christian claim [of universal validity] is naturally offensive to the adherents of every other religious system. It is almost as offensive to modern man, brought up in the atmosphere of relativism, in which tolerance is regarded almost as the highest of the virtues. But we must not suppose that this claim to universal validity is something that can quietly be removed from the Gospel without changing it into something entirely different from what it is... Jesus' life, his method, and his message do not make sense, unless they are interpreted in the light of his own conviction that he was in fact the final and decisive word of God to men... For the human sickness there is one specific remedy, and this is it. There is no other.
To me, many of what seemed to be Bible contradictions only pointed to the grace of Christ. It is not so much a rule book on how to be holy as it is a prophecy of the One who can make you holy. In this, I see God as the least bigoted of all in existence: While men always, in their hearts, delight in vengeance for being wronged, God is the only Being who wants to free you from the penalty of His own laws.
Jesus confronted many of the important issues of His time. He went into the temple, taught the New Testament message, and took action against those who were buying and selling on holy ground. He healed the widow, forgave the adulterer, and by His example, the righteous walked away in shame. He had said, whoever is without sin, cast the first stone (John 8:7 - paraphrase)! Not one pebble, nor one rock was thrown. He who had that right to judge, Jesus Christ, did not cast judgement either. He looked upon the sinner lovingly, and embraced them. He guided them to change and opened blind eyes to see. By Christ alone, was and is salvation attained. Truth is in the New Testament, and a Holy Spirit-guided understanding of it. It must be read without regard for self. For when self enters in, that is when misinterpretations and heresies arise.
By shattering my preconceptions and cultural stereotypes, what materialized was a massive personality who was astonishingly winsome yet gravely terrifying. A man whose breathtaking compassion would draw you in, but whose ferocious honesty could cut and slice like a razor. Someone who was the most controversial, confrontational, divisive, yet compellingly beautiful man who has ever lived. Which is precisely what we would expect if the Creator of the universe happened to invade our world.
Had it been the object or the intention of Jesus Christ to establish a new religion, he would undoubtedly have written the system himself, or procured it to be written in his life time. But there is no publication extant authenticated with his name. All the books called the New Testament were written after his death. He was a Jew by birth and by profession.
The telescope destroyed the firmament, did away with the heaven of the New Testament, rendered the ascension of our Lord and the assumption of his Mother infinitely absurd, crumbled to chaos the gates and palaces of the New Jerusalem, and in their places gave to man a wilderness of worlds.
The miracles of healing, important as they were, were not an end in themselves. They did not constitute the highest good of the messianic salvation. This fact is illustrated by the arrangement of the phrases in Matthew 11:4-5. Greater than deliverance of the blind and the lame, the lepers and the deaf, even than raising of the dead, was the preaching of the good news to the poor. This “gospel” was the very presence of Jesus himself, and the joy and fellowship that he brought to the poor.
Most Christians believe that Jesus IS God, that Jesus is the same jealous and angry God that abhorred homosexuals and condemned them as an abomination. He is the same deity that gave instructions on how to beat slaves and the same divine Creator that suggested the stoning of non-believers and disobedient children. You have to accept the good along with the bad... after all, he came not to abolish the Hebrew laws, but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).
First, if you are a homosexual or feel that inclination, keep yourself pure. If you are unmarried, you should practice abstinence from all sexual activity. I know this is difficult, but really what God is asking you to do is pretty much the same thing that he requires of all single people. That means not only keeping your body pure, but especially your mind. Just as heterosexual men should avoid pornography and fantasizing, you, too, need to keep your thought-life clean. Resist the temptation to rationalize sin by saying, “God made me this way.” God has made it very clear that He does not want you to indulge your desires, but to honor Him by keeping your mind and body pure. Finally, seek professional Christian counseling. With time and effort, you can come to enjoy normal, heterosexual relations with your spouse. There is hope.
To begin with, there is an almost compulsive promiscuity associated with homosexual behavior. 75% of homosexual men have more than 100 sexual partners during their lifetime. More than half of these partners are strangers. Only 8% of homosexual men and 7% of homosexual women ever have relationships lasting more than three years. Nobody knows the reason for this strange, obsessive promiscuity. It may be that homosexuals are trying to satisfy a deep psychological need by sexual encounters, and it just is not fulfilling. Male homosexuals average over 20 partners a year. According to Dr. Schmidt,The number of homosexual men who experience anything like lifelong fidelity becomes, statistically speaking, almost meaningless. Promiscuity among homosexual men is not a mere stereotype, and it is not merely the majority experience—it is virtually the only experience. Lifelong faithfulness is almost non-existent in the homosexual experience.Associated with this compulsive promiscuity is widespread drug use by homosexuals to heighten their sexual experiences. Homosexuals in general are three times as likely to be problem drinkers as the general population. Studies show that 47% of male homosexuals have a history of alcohol abuse and 51% have a history of drug abuse. There is a direct correlation between the number of partners and the amount of drugs consumed.Moreover, according to Schmidt, “There is overwhelming evidence that certain mental disorders occur with much higher frequency among homosexuals.” For example, 40% of homosexual men have a history of major depression. That compares with only 3% for men in general. Similarly 37% of female homosexuals have a history of depression. This leads in turn to heightened suicide rates. Homosexuals are three times as likely to contemplate suicide as the general population. In fact homosexual men have an attempted suicide rate six times that of heterosexual men, and homosexual women attempt suicide twice as often as heterosexual women. Nor are depression and suicide the only problems. Studies show that homosexuals are much more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexual men. Whatever the causes of these disorders, the fact remains that anyone contemplating a homosexual lifestyle should have no illusions about what he is getting into.Another well-kept secret is how physically dangerous homosexual behavior is.
So, once more, the question is: Does the Bible forbid homosexual behavior? Well, I’ve already said that it does. The Bible is so realistic! You might not expect it to mention a topic like homosexual behavior, but in fact there are six places in the Bible—three in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament—where this issue is directly addressed—not to mention all the passages dealing with marriage and sexuality which have implications for this issue. In all six of these passages homosexual acts are unequivocally condemned.In Leviticus 18.22 it says that it is an abomination for a man to lie with another man as with a woman. In Lev. 20.13 the death penalty is prescribed in Israel for such an act, along with adultery, incest, and bestiality. Now sometimes homosexual advocates make light of these prohibitions by comparing them to prohibitions in the Old Testament against having contact with unclean animals like pigs. Just as Christians today don’t obey all of the Old Testament ceremonial laws, so, they say, we don’t have to obey the prohibitions of homosexual actions. But the problem with this argument is that the New Testament reaffirms the validity of the Old Testament prohibitions of homosexual behavior, as we’ll see below. This shows they were not just part of the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, which were done away with, but were part of God’s everlasting moral law. Homosexual behavior is in God’s sight a serious sin. The third place where homosexual acts are mentioned in the Old Testament is the horrifying story in Genesis 19 of the attempted gang rape of Lot’s visitors by the men of Sodom, from which our word sodomy derives. God destroyed the city of Sodom because of their wickedness.Now if this weren’t enough, the New Testament also forbids homosexual behavior.
In addition to these physical problems, sexually transmitted diseases are rampant among the homosexual population. 75% of homosexual men carry one or more sexually transmitted diseases, wholly apart from AIDS. These include all sorts of non-viral infections like gonorrhea, syphilis, bacterial infections, and parasites. Also common among homosexuals are viral infections like herpes and hepatitis B (which afflicts 65% of homosexual men), both of which are incurable, as well as hepatitis A and anal warts, which afflict 40% of homosexual men. And I haven’t even included AIDS. Perhaps the most shocking and frightening statistic is that, leaving aside those who die from AIDS, the life expectancy for a homosexual male is about 45 years of age. That compares to a life expectancy of around 70 for men in general. If you include those who die of AIDS, which now infects 30% of homosexual men, the life expectancy drops to 39 years of age.So I think a very good case can be made out on the basis of generally accepted moral principles that homosexual behavior is wrong. It is horribly self-destructive and injurious to another person. Thus, wholly apart from the Bible’s prohibition, there are sound, sensible reasons to regard homosexual activity as wrong.
If we could believe that he [Jesus] really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods, and the charlatanism which his biographers [Gospels] father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations, and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and the fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind that he was an impostor... We find in the writings of his biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications... That sect [Jews] had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust... Jesus had to walk on the perilous confines of reason and religion: and a step to right or left might place him within the gripe of the priests of the superstition, a blood thirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. They were constantly laying snares, too, to entangle him in the web of the law... That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore.[Letter to William Short, 4 August, 1820]
On the other hand, inspiration - a criterion for canonization we might expect to play a great role - is not a factor. The Shepherd of Hermas and many writings either claimed inspiration or had it claimed for them, yet were neither universally nor ultimately accepted as canonical. In contrast, no NT writing claims inspiration for itself. The statement in 2 Tim. 3:16 that all Scripture is inspired by God (theopneustos) refers to Torah. Second Peter 3:16 refers to Paul's letters as though they were Scripture but does not say they were 'inspired.' In Revelation, 'inspiration' is certainly implied but not explicitly claimed. No doubt there was an increasingly widespread conviction that the NT writings were divinely inspired, but that notion did not appear to factor in as a criterion for canonization.
Mine is the only view that appropriately combines the end-time messianic expectations of the Jews with Christian scripture.
In my view, the gospels are true, not historically, but theologically, or, as I would argue, prophetically! What we have is, the Messiah’s history written in advance in story form.
I have furnished myself with a Bible and Testament; and I can say also that I have found them to be much worse books than I had conceived. If I have erred in any thing, in the former part of the Age of Reason, it has been by speaking better of some parts than they deserved.
It is not then the existence or the non-existence, of the persons that I trouble myself about; it is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene. It gives an account of a young woman engaged to be married, and while under this engagement, she is, to speak plain language, debauched by a ghost.
Church, in the New Testament sense of the word, is not a meeting we attend, but a group of which we are a part, and a group we serve within.
My knowledge is, if you will follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, every man and woman will be put in possession of the Holy Ghost; every person will become a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and an expounder of truth. They will know things that are, that will be, and that have been. They will understand things in heaven, things on the earth, and things under the earth, things of time, and things of eternity, according to their several callings and capacities.
Theologically, the demand for “circumcision” can take many forms, even today. It appears whenever one thinks along these lines: “Faith in Christ is fine as far as it goes, but your relation to God is not really right and your salvation not adequate unless…” It does not matter how the sentence is completed. Whenever such fine print is introduced to qualify trust/faith, there is “circumcision,” and Paul’s defense of the adequacy of trust/faith can come into its own again. The Galatian situation is never far; in fact, it is all too familiar.