Here is the plain unvarnished truth: The resurrection of Jesus was a mystical experience not an historical event. All evidence and common sense support this conclusion. Those who “think” otherwise are relying on their own spiritual relationship not a shred of reliable data, as I will laboriously show to those willing to objectively examine the biblical test.
My sacrifice for Jesus
I can guarantee you have never met nor will ever meet anyone who has spent more time studying the Bible than I have — nobody. I would further add, anyone who has devoted their lives to studying the Bible as a believer, has no idea what the Bible(s) is/are.
You could memorize every word of the Bible but that would only mean you know what the biblical writers want you to know. I would argue, reading the Bible as a Christian makes one a victim of ancient propaganda.
I tried to calculate the cumulative hours spent studying (never just reading, always critically interacting with each verse), cogitating and writing about Jesus, the Bible and Christianity in the last forty years. I would estimate it is about eight hours a day conservatively (probably closer to ten hours when you factor in two to three hours each night). That comes to over one hundred thousand hours. It’s a lot of time to devote to a single subject.
Why do I mention this? To brag? No, to convey how personally invested I have been to my research. I can honestly say, the most productive hours spent have been in the middle of the night. I used to resent not being able to sleep for hours on end until I realized it is then I have the most revelatory thoughts and break throughs. While I see other people absorbed with their smart phones listening to music, texting or checking emails and social media, I am thinking about Jesus, the Bible and Christianity. It never stops.
There is no such thing as leisurely anything in my life. Books are history, philosophy and theology. I took up mountain biking and snowboarding to force myself to stop thinking about these things. It was a mental reprieve from all things biblical. Yet I still found my mind wandering back to Jesus. Vacations are never relaxing. Socializing is awkward. Bike rides and walks afford me more time to ponder what I’m working on. Nothing seems to matter as much as studying and thinking. It’s mentally exhausting.
My mother used to say I was a perfectionist. I had to master whatever I did. I would practice nonstop until I got good at something, typically sports. Before my conversion, the one thing I had no interest in was education. I never did homework, study or read a complete book. That all changed after I became a born-again evangelical Christian.
When I was an evangelical I was consumed with studying the Bible and meditating on it constantly. I had a library of over six hundred books mostly reference material. At Bible school in England, I spent most of my spare time in the library meticulously pouring over commentaries trying to acquire as much information as I could. I wrote a harmony of the four gospels so I was forced to read every word. This compulsion continued in Bible college and seminary. I was determined to master the Bible. It was to me the highest and most noblest of callings.
After leaving the faith my study only intensified. I felt betrayed by those in whom I had placed my trust. I was desperate for answers. Once I began to realize the Bible was actually two Bibles containing religious propaganda and revisionist history for three different faiths (Yahwism and Jewish and Gentile Christianity), I found myself questioning the accuracy of what I had learned the last dozen years. Had I been guilty of falling victim to unquestioned allegiance to the Christian faith without properly examining its veracity?
I want to clarify. Viewing the Bible as religious propaganda is not pejorative. The writers were devout believers concerned their fellow Israelites might incur God’s wrath if they did not conform to the Law. Likewise, Jesus and his followers were persuaded, “The Day of the Lord” would soon arrive and all unrighteous Israelites would be judged. Later, the Christians would attach Jesus as the heavenly messiah to this event. Tribalism and sectarianism was very much in vogue and essential for survival especially for the early Israelites.
If every Christian could live in my head for a day, there would be no Christians in the world. What I have discovered about Jesus and the Bible makes faith impossible. The challenge is how to communicate what I have learned to my reader? Think of it as a leak in a dam. I can’t just release all the “water” onto someone. I have to do it in a slow stream which takes an immense amount of time to empty the reservoir of information I have accumulated. But what choice do I have?
These articles are an attempt to synthesize and summarize my major findings, think of it as a bird’s eye view, a macro perspective. I realize very few will invest the time I have in mining the data, but perhaps these articles will help spawn a curiosity to investigate these claims. The bulk of my work will be directed at the four gospels portrayal of Jesus and the Hebrew texts appealed to in support of these claims. I figure if a Christian would be willing to spend considerable time studying anything, it would be the life of Jesus.
When I began to suspect Jesus was not who his disciples or Paul thought he was and most importantly who he thought he was, I was driven to find the truth. It was like trying to solve a huge mystery. I started discovering more clues which spurred me on. It has been an immensely rewarding quest, intellectually speaking. It has also been emotionally devastating. My obsession has not been without tremendous cost. I have spent most of my life locked in the solitary confines of my mind. It is here I retreat from the world in hopes of finding answers and the solace I crave.
Here is not the place to disclose the harm done to me and others during these many years of painstaking research. I have never felt more alone. I have sacrificed relationships, a career, all my energy and time, sleep, peace of mind and personal happiness in this quest. Was it worthwhile? Time will have to answer that question but at least my findings are being exposed.
Why I stopped believing
There are literally hundreds of reasons why one should not believe Jesus rose from the dead, but it all begins and ends with the authority of the Bible. That is The source of faith, not one’s experience. Without a Bible there is no Jesus.
I have devoted my entire life to studying the Bible proving the irrationality of belief. Twenty years ago it was obvious Jesus was not who Christians claim nor who Jesus himself thought he was (Yes, there is a big difference)
My research has taken me places I never knew existed in the world of biblical/literary criticism. For those brave enough to explore these areas, there is a wealth of information to support a naturalistic interpretation of the Bible.
For me the theological straw that broke the back of Christianity was Hebrew prophecy. Jesus legitimacy as the heavenly messiah depends on being able to establish an irrefutable link between the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible. It was the umbilical cord of early Christianity. Without it Christianity dies.
I analyzed with painstaking precision all the so-called “proof” texts upon which Christianity rests. All were found to be either already fulfilled, in part or full, manipulated, misinterpreted or completely fabricated.
For those who accept the literal reading of the Bible, especially the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, they do not have a single, uncontested, verifiable fact upon which to build the faith. Christianity is a mammoth superstructure with no foundation. I challenge anyone to provide “the cornerstone” which supports Christian belief.
One’s personal God experience, no matter how “real” and affirming it is, does not constitute objective evidence; otherwise, every religion, belief system and experience generated faith would be validated. As powerful and dynamic as a spiritual or mystical encounter might seem, it alone is unreliable. It must be laid aside and another piece of verifiable evidence which can be independently corroborated must be put forward as proof.
After I left the faith, I came to a stark realization. The source of the remarkable change in my life (“Once I was blind but now I see”) was not God but me. The power of believing in a personal God within me (the holy spirit) unleashed the potential I did not have the confidence to. Though at the time I gave God all the credit and it seemed inconceivable at the time it could be anyone else, let alone me, I just needed someone to believe in me.
When I think of how many Christians give “God” credit for their own ability to change their lives, it is unfortunate. It feeds the Christian idea we are all hopeless, debased creatures in need of redemption. Any good in us immediately is attributed to God who places within us his divine spirit.
20”I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”(Galatians 2:20,21)
A fundamental characteristic of Christianity is its pessimistic outlook of mankind. It renders a believer hopelessly dependent on God. Without Jesus, each person is dead in their sins and destined for eternal damnation. Only by believing in Jesus is one delivered from their sinful desires (“Crucified with Christ,” Gal. 2:20) and set free to live righteous lives through God’s spirit.
Christians sum it up this way: The only good in me is Jesus, everything else is sinful.
It is time to bury God in the past and resurrect mankind and womankind. Human potential does not reside in an invisible God but ourselves. Unlocking our latent capacity to rise above our weaknesses and struggles should be the goal of every person. If God were real, as Christians maintain, this world would be much better than it is, human suffering would be less, natural disasters would not exist and Christianity would not be fractured into hundreds of “independent” churches and denominations and Christians themselves would be the marvel of all for their unsurpassed charity, generosity, kindness, humility, uprightness, joyfulness and love. Instead many, like evangelicals, represent the worst that humanity has to offer because of their hypocrisy, bigotry and self righteous smugness.
There are hundreds of reasons why the Bible is not divine and Christianity is a fabrication, but none more so than those who profess to follow it. I think Jesus said it best.
18”A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”(Matthew 7:18-21)
The New Testament standard for true believers: How do you stack up?
5“But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”(1 John 3:5-9)
“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. Romans 6:13
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, Romans 8:12-13
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
“… and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:10
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16