Happy #Easter to all! I do not believe for a second Jesus rose from the dead, but I still love the tradition of Easter. Were it not for social distancing, I would be in church at this very moment on Easter Sunday.
I have researched, reflected and written extensively on the resurrection of Jesus as recorded in the four biblical gospels. It has consumed my life from the day I converted and became an evangelical born-again Christian at seventeen years of age. By the time I turned thirty I was already beginning my slow and systematic extraction from Christianity. Reason dictated it was untenable.
For the next several decades I would engage in a detailed, painstaking investigation into the person of Jesus. I would rely primarily on the biblical text itself and unflinching criticism to discern the truth. I would not let my preconceived faith bias and belief in the absolute inerrancy of the Bible predetermine my path. My journey would be undertaken with strict objectivity no matter where it led.
As human beings, we have only one reliable source for determining what is true — reason. Many evangelical Christians are instructed to distrust their own mental faculties whenever they begin to question or doubt the veracity of their faith. the Bible or “divine revelation” is considered to transcend any and all of men’s (and women’s) findings that run counter to it. God’s truth is absolute.
Tragically, almost every Christian enters the faith backwards and usually as children or infants. They adopt a faith without having undertaken a thorough critical evaluation of it before accepting it as true. Then afterwards, if questions or uncertainties arise, they may seek answers to preserve their faith. Those who are determined to remain will construct a series of arguments and rationalizations to bolster their faith. The problem is this is performed from a faith perspective that relies on a subjective analysis. Objectivity is lost and replaced with a mindset incapable and unwilling to consider the possibility one’s faith may be unfounded.
I have said repeatedly, “Christianity offers its adherents tremendous benefits that are not easily surrendered for the sake of intellectual honesty.” Asking a believer who has staked his/her eternal destiny on the hope Christianity affords to pursue a rationalized investigation that may lead to abandoning the faith is a tough sell.
The greatest enemy of Christianity is the Bible itself!
The above statement may seem self contradictory, I assure you it is not. Science and philosophy may appear to run counter to Christian belief, and they do, but one need look no further than the biblical text itself for indisputable evidence the Bible is deeply flawed and Jesus is not who Christians claim he was. Logic is a cruel judge especially in matters of faith.
I would admonish anyone who subscribes to belief in the Bible, the supernatural and miracles to study the Age of Reason and its impact on how we as reasonable people view the universe and religion. It is not surprising evangelical Christians consider this period as the time when man attempted to elevate himself over God. Reason displaced revelation as the primary source of authority for truth. For the first time in its history, the Bible’s preeminence was challenged. That should have forever ended Christianity’s reign as repository of divine truth and banished it to the basement receptacle of ancient superstition. Instead, there were those who choose to ignore their own intellect and denigrate man’s capacity for rationality as a tool of the devil used to bring down God.
Today, we continue to see the grand children of Medieval thinking throughout evangelicalism. Men and women who proudly proclaim their allegiance to a book without a shred of evidentiary support to its divine claim. And in fact, a book riddled with factual errors, internal contradictions, incongruences and implausibilities IF ONE IS WILLING TO LOOK FOR THEM.
I spent eight years in extensive theological training at five evangelical institutions graduating with two theology degrees. But when I graduated from seminary, I was a product of evangelical ideological propaganda. For years I had been conditioned to “think” about who Jesus was and what the Bible was within the strict and narrow boundaries of evangelicalism. I had been subjected to “channel” thinking which discouraged serious criticism of its central tenets.
Nobody would arrive at Christianity’s conclusions were they to study the Hebrew Bible without Christian influence. The so-called proof texts in no way support the New Testament writers claims about Jesus if studied in their strict contextual and historical setting. In fact, many Hebrew texts thought to point to Jesus were assumed to be prophetic and stories like the nativity were created around them to bolster his messianic credentials.
Christianity was a Jewish sect which eventually died after the first century precisely because Jesus failed to satisfy his role as first earthly and then heavenly messiah. Jewish leaders quickly dismissed his claims as did most of the nation of Israel. Only a handful of followers remained loyal and even they deserted him after his death. Were it not for some mystical encounters with “the risen Jesus,” the Jesus story would have ended with his death. Their experiences revived hope in his messiahship.
Jesus and his followers lived during the dawn of the coming kingdom. In their minds the Last Days were upon them. It was all or nothing. After his death, either Jesus was returning as messiah soon, or he was not coming back at all.
If Jesus was who he said he was and the Bible was the Word of God, Christians would be meeting in synagogues not churches. Remarkably, for two thousand years Jews have resisted Christians attempts to convert them (back) to their own faith in Jesus as messiah.
Christianity would have died after Jesus failed to inaugurate the messianic kingdom shortly after the fall of Jerusalem (68-70AD). Paul, a converted Pharisee is the real Savior of Christianity. He singlehandedly rebranded Christianity to appeal to a Gentile audience thereby ensuring its survival. He is the true story of Christianity.
My goal is not to offend but to awaken minds to the dangers of evangelical ideology. It starts with challenging the foundation of their faith, the Bible as the inerrant word of God. In order to do this, we must strike at the heart of their faith, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
When I began to study the Bible in the penetrating and unforgiving light of reason and not through the cloudy lens of faith, I saw Jesus as never before. It is only when one refuses to examine him with unflinching criticism one will be blind to the truth. I urge everyone to study the gospels account of the resurrection (see previous series of articles) and see how contradictory and implausible they are when compared and analyzed. They may have satisfied religious hearts for almost two millennia but when it comes to the rational mind, they are deficient.
Faith is no reason to be unreasonable.