| The New Testament and Godly Propaganda-Part 1
Used by permission, from the Agnostic Review of Christianity website
Fundamentalist Christianity often proclaims as an absolute fact that anyone who fails to accept the Bible as God's infallible word and who fails to accept Jesus as their savior will be damned to hell as an eternal punishment. That's quite a claim to be making to people.
Telling other people what they must believe in order to avoid being eternally punished is certainty a tremendous moral responsibility for a person to be taking on.
An unbeliever should always ask why they should carry around someone else's spiritual luggage when it's accompanied by so much unsustantiated rhetoric, along with threats of hellfire and damnation for the failure to reach the same conclusions about the universe that a zealous believer has reached.
Organized religions that revolve around a God or savior figure are sometimes described as cults that have achieved some type of official government or popular recognition. When a cult evolves into an officially recognized religion, it accrues a wide array of benefits for itself.
It's often the nature of hierarchy based, power seeking organizations to not only establish influence and power for themselves, but to expand and dominate other beliefs which compete in the same or related arenas of human thought. Other characteristics exhibited by this type of system can be found in the requirements for maintaining control over existing and newly acquired territory.
Often, as more territory is annexed in the name of (fill in the blank), more energy and resources are needed to maintain the status quo, which is often kept in place by the use of standardized teachings, combined with the rejection and vilification of anything that doesn't conform to the "word of God". Controlling information, the use of elaborate rationalizations, ritualized attendance at meetings, and aggressive advertising are all tools used to achieve the desired goal of doctrinal maintenance, which is universal conformity to a belief.
The expand and dominate prime directive can easily be observed in the areas of politics, industry, commerce, nationalism, and corporate advertising, These areas are often looked upon by theologians as being crassly materialistic and soulless human enterprises.
Christian doctrines and teachings are by no means immune from the principles exhibited in self serving human ideological structures, and the New Testament is loaded with examples of the vilification of a competing belief in order to discredit it. Upon observance and inspection, the commonly displayed traits of an aggressive, proselytizing religion differ little from the competitive nature exhibited by worldly institutions and such religions reside on no fluffier or higher a moral plane than these secular humanist enterprises.
Many fundamentalist Christian apologists and intellectuals go to great lengths advertising and reassuring the masses that the New Testament most surely represents the official word of God and also represents absolutely reliable and accurate history, free from the taint of opportunistic human manipulation that would corrupt the word of God. In other words, the New Testament stories are not in any way embellished or tainted with human materialism in order to serve a political type agenda.
According to Christian preachers and apologists, the New Testament is a perfectly harmonious continuation of the Old Testament teachings and represents God's latest word to mankind. However, these assurances are bogus if the entire Bible and its tenets are to be taken seriously. The scriptural evidence suggests that the New Testament writers and Christian theologians grafted their ideas onto the Old Testament writings and proceeded to weave a new religion, which is based on the Hebrew male tribal God, but actually evolves him into a three headed(or three person) Trinity volcano God.
This new God also has a new system for salvation that revolves around a volcano like human sacrifice that was made to appease his wrath. Salvation for all humans under the dominion of the three headed volcano God requires faith in a human sacrifice called "Jesus"(Mark 16:16). This new system neatly replaced God's prior instructions (Ezek 18:20-28) in the Old Testament, which state that salvation is achieved through obedience to his eternal laws (Psa 111:7-8, Psa 119:152,160).
The employment of fear tactics to reinforce the superiority of the new system over the old system is vividly displayed in the New Testament. Failure to comply with the new system results in immediate disqualification from salvation along with the promise that God will hold it against any person who thinks the old system was God's truth.
He that believeth on the Son (Jesus) hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
The new system must be obeyed and believed. Fear is a useful tool in this theological power grab. Threats and intimidation also abound in the following New Testament scripture:
2 Thess 1:8-9
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Another example of the type of intimidation tactics used by the allegedly inspired writers of the New Testament follow. Anyone who denies that Jesus was a valid Messiah is a liar and denies God as well.
1 John 2:22-23
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ(or Messiah)?
He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
Whether or not an actual cult leader called "Jesus" existed is somewhat secondary to the issue at hand. An actual Jesus may have existed but that doesn't have to mean the New Testament is accurate history or inspired by an infallible deity. Embellishing a character story to serve an agenda isn't at all uncommon in history.
Of primary concern is the claim by Christian fundamentalists, who in seeking to expand and dominate other beliefs, declare to the world that the New Testament represents the absolute word of God and is 100% accurate and reliable history. The inconsistencies between Old Testament and New Testament theology are quite glaring, and that may help explain why Christian apologetics is a virtual industry in itself. It provides validation of whatever theological whims the Christian hierarchy wants to set forth as "gospel" to the masses of church going believers, who are the lifeblood and cash cows for any ministry.
The issue of whether or not Christianity borrowed any ideas from "pagans", and incorporated them into their construct of "Jesus", is one that will usually produce an absolute denial from fundamentalist Christians that any such thing could have or did happen in the New Testament. However, apologists have no problem with New Testament writers borrowing as long as it comes from the useful launching pad of Hebrew scriptures.
The author of the Gospel of Matthew was perhaps the most obvious borrower, as he lifted a prophecy about a young woman giving birth to a child and retrofitted the birth of Jesus into it, claiming a fulfillment of prophecy. (Matt 1:22-23 borrows Isa 7:14). Another one of the many examples of borrowing can be seen when the author of Matthew records a journey to Egypt by Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. The author of Matthew then claims the return trip fulfilled yet another prophecy. (Matt 2:15 borrows a piece of Hosea 11:1, which is not a prophecy of anything). All of this is claimed to be 100% reliable and accurate history . Apparently, some borrowing is perfectly acceptable and inspired by God while other forms could never have happened.
The New Testament character called Jesus claims that he was sent by the "Father" (who is supposed to be the Old Testament tribal God), to do his will.
For I(Jesus) came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Jesus also claimed that the "Father" told him what to say.
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
However, some of the teachings of Jesus are not in line with what the "Father" declares to be his word in the Old Testament. One has to wonder who this "Father" is that gave Jesus some of his teaching points. The new covenant as defined by God in the Old Testament (Jer 31:28-34) says absolutely nothing about belief and faith in a human sacrifice replacing obedience to his laws as the vehicle for salvation. Even more disturbing is the bizarre new ritual for salvation that Jesus instructs his disciples to follow. Jesus instructs his disciples to consume his blood, which he claims is real drink.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
If the Old Testament is to be regarded as the word of God, then God the "Father" most certainly would not have instructed a valid Messiah to teach this abomination. The consumption of blood by anyone, in any form, is a sin in the eyes of God.
And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
Jesus also declared that symbolic sin was still sin (Matt 5:28), so drinking wine and pretending it was blood doesn't make the sin any less of an abomination or wicked affront to God. Christians are constantly telling unbelievers that God's moral standards are absolute and represent the unchanging essence of holy thought. The Bible states that God's laws are perfect (Psa 19:7), that God does not change (Mal 3:6), nor does God change his mind (1 Sam 15:29).
If God changed his mind and decided that an abomination and sinful act was no longer a sin, then this God practices moral relativism. This type of God, who changes his laws to suit the situation, presents fundamentalists with a dilemma of universal proportions as it makes a shambles of the God they wish to promote. Under this system, which fundamentalists say they abhor, God's laws would not be moral absolutes but would be based on situation and only applicable to specific time periods.
Since this blood drinking ritual didn't come from Yahweh the "Father", it could easily have been borrowed from a pagan belief system where blood is consumed as part of a ritual.
In an attempt to set the record straight on where this blood drinking ritual came from, the Christian apologist Saint Justin Martyr (~C.E.100-165) claimed that "wicked devils" had borrowed this from Jesus and used it in the religion of Mithras.
Justin Martyr wrote:
"For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body; "and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood; " and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done."
(Justin Martyr-- First Apology, Chapter LXVI)
The implication here is that the blood drinking ritual was started by Jesus and was not borrowed from other belief systems. If this is true, and if the Old Testament laws of God are to be taken seriously, then Jesus was an apostate and a false teacher, not of God. The other equally possible scenario is that early Christians did borrow, or were influenced, by concepts from other belief systems, despite the apologetic claims of Justin Martyr.
Christians have no problem borrowing the "pagan" based holiday of the winter solstice in late December, calling it "Christ-mas" and using it to promote their human sacrifice savior called Jesus. They even claim that Jesus is the real reason for the season and in the process they violate God's mandate not adopt any heathen ways (Jer 10:1-5). Apparently, expedient public relations and slick advertising are more important than doing God's will.
The version of Jesus portrayed by the author of the Gospel of John also declares that his sermons to the Jews insured that they were sinners. The character called Jesus then manipulatively declares that any Jews who aren't impressed with his works and words not only "hate" him, but they hate the "Father" as well.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
But this cometh to pass, *that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.*
This is quite a piece of self-praising rhetoric on the part of Jesus, considering how he thumbed his nose at God's law by telling his followers they should drink his blood as part of a new salvation ritual in order for them to live forever. Jesus also disregarded the law of God when declared all foods clean in Mark 7:18-19. All foods are not clean according to God's law (Lev 11).
God the "Father" certainly wouldn't endorse any prophet that urged people to break his laws. [*Jesus also misquotes the Old Testament Bible in John 15:25 by claiming that the scripture "They hated me without a cause" is part of the written law. The Old Testament scripture used in John 15:25 is found in Psa 35:19 and Psa 69:4, which are part of the Psalms of David.
The Psalms are not part of the written law in the Torah, nor do they have anything to do with Jesus.
It's also interesting that in John 15:25 and also in John 10:34, Jesus(who was supposed to be Jewish) refers to the Law of God as "their" law and "your" law. One would think that Jesus, the alleged King of the Jews, would refer to the Law of God as "our" law. Perhaps the Gospel of John was written by a Gentile who didn't have any problem putting assorted dialog into the mouth of "Jesus" as part of promoting a savior designed to serve a particular theological agenda.]
While the New Testament attempts to portray Jesus as a valid representative of God, the Old Testament speaks against such a claim. God doesn't endorse or send false prophets and dreamers.
Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.
The God of the Old Testament set down a set of explicit instructions that are to be used by his people in identifying false prophets and teachers:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
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.
When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God.
Also: Deut 18:20-22
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.
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Some key points to consider in these instructions from God:
- The performance of miracles does not mean that someone is a valid teacher or prophet from God.
- A false teaching can be a test for the people of God, to see if they will hold to his commandments.
- False teachers may try to redefine God and make claims in his name which are not true.
- Prophecy that does not come true is an indication of a false prophet.
- False teachers are to be put to death for the crime of trying to deceive God's people and lead them astray.
These key points all come into play when one inspects the New Testament claims about Jesus being a valid Messiah, and they also come into play when analyzing the common Christian assertions, which advertise that the New Testament represents the unembellished and accurate thoughts of God, as beamed into the minds of his "inspired" writers.
This essay is continued on Part 2...click on the link for Part 2...LINK