All throughout my years as a Christian I remember hearing the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. I remember hearing about how awful a person Judas had to have been in order to turn his back on his friend and teacher for a couple of pieces of silver. He was easily one of the most demonized figures in biblical teaching.
All that said, if you take into account the whole reason that Jesus came to Earth according to the bible, don’t you think that Judas kind of gets a bum rap? I mean, without Judas’ betrayal there would have been no trial of Jesus. Without the trial, there would have been no execution of Jesus. And without the execution of Jesus there would have been no opportunity for him to rise again, thus beating the bonds of death and serving as a stand in punishment for humanity’s sins. Doesn’t God’s entire plan fall apart without Judas?
It seems to me that Judas should be celebrated for what he did. What option did he have? It almost seems to me that he didn’t even have any free will in the process. The plan was made and executed exactly as God had laid it out. And Judas has taken the fall for it. When you actually take a step back and look at it this way, the story really seems silly (it’s silly for lots of other reasons too, but I’m gonna stay on topic here).
The other day I read a passage in the book I’m reading currently that mentioned the fact that, according to the bible, all men must face judgement after death. And that simple statement kicked off a big-time flashback to childhood for me.
I can remember being terrified of this when I was just a very young child (between 6 and 9 years old). I remember vividly picturing the scenario in my head. It went something like this…
I was dead (obviously ;)), and standing before the throne of God for my judgement (after waiting in a LONG line of other recently deceased souls! Can you imagine the wait that must be? Having to stand there while each and every human soul is judged on everything they’ve ever done in life? Not to mention if you were to be taken up in the rapture…the huge influx of souls all at once would certainly cause a bottleneck the likes of which the universe has never seen before!). What I was seeing was basically a HUGE movie screen. And on that screen was projected everything bad that you had ever done in your life. I remember thinking how amazingly embarrassing some of the things that would be shown would be. Kind of like the ultimate ‘He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake’ scenario. I also remember thinking how unfair it all seemed that all those waiting in line were able to sit in and enjoy the ‘show’.
Now that I realize that this was all a product of the indoctrination that I had as a child, as an atheist adult I am able to see how silly that all was. It also shows how easy it is for religion to control people through fear.
I’ve kept this post to rather light-hearted in tone, but the reality is that while I was living those years, there was real and tangible fear in me about this. I remember having a LOT of fear as a child. I’m glad that I’ve been able to create what I hope is an environment without all of these irrational fears for my daughter. I hope when she looks back at her childhood when she’s an adult, that she only has images of joy, hope, love, and fun. I know I can’t shelter her from all of the REAL sorrows that are a part of life, but at least I know I can avoid having her suffer needlessly concerning things of this nature.
I just finished reading Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D Erhman. It was one of the easiest reads I’ve done in quite a while. Not because it was over-simplified or non-scholarly. It is quite the opposite really. I think it was so easy for me, because it’s a topic that I find great interest in and one that I was deeply immersed in from childhood through young adulthood. In this book, Erhman discusses the many inconsistencies and discrepancies within the New Testament. These inconsistencies are not only in the actual words within the various manuscripts that we have of the books, but also its major theological themes between the various writers of the books (many of which are anonymous, contrary to popular belief).
Erman discusses how this information is found through the historical-critical method of biblical study. This is what all seminary students are required to learn. He outlines how we have no original manuscripts of the gospel books. And the versions we do have were passed down via word-of-mouth for several decades after the supposed death of Jesus before they were written down by people who never even knew Jesus. He also discusses the evidence that shows that Paul didn’t actually write many of the books that are actually attributed to him.
While I already knew of a lot of the inconsistencies and the history of how the bible was put together, Erhman’s scholarly approach was very interesting. The information he presented in the book is widely accepted throughout the world, by biblical scholars, as legitimate.
Erhman is a self-proclaimed agnostic even though he was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. He maintains throughout the book that the historical-critical study of the bible did not lead to his loss of faith. The last chapter of the book is dedicated to a high-level explanation of what led him, ultimately, to disbelief.
What amazed me most from what I read in this book is what I mentioned in an earlier paragraph: That all seminary students are presented with the historical-critical perspective as a part of their religious education. Ehrman explains, most Christian parishioners that he has talked to over the years, have never heard this information from their pastors. Why is it that pastors chose a devotional/emotional approach from the pulpit rather than ever discussing the history that they’ve been taught? Are they afraid of losing some of their congregation due to the obvious questions that would result from finding out that the bible is not the inerrant word of God? Are they merely history deniers? I wonder what the reasons would be. I know that in all the many years that I spent in church, I never heard this information until I started digging for myself, and from my perspective this information just goes to further secure what I’ve already been questioning for many years.
Leviticus 25: (New International Version)
44 ” ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges. [a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.
7 “If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, [b] he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.
I found some apologists claiming that you can’t resolve our modern thoughts on slavery with the ‘world view’ that was in place in biblical times. I find this amazingly short sighted.
Thes laws came from ‘GOD’. The infallible, unchanging, all-knowing, omnipotent ‘GOD’. World view should have NOTHING to do with it. If God is unchanging and all-knowing, then those ‘LAWS’ still apply today in his eyes. And, as a result, I find ‘GOD’ amazingly immoral.
No-one! Not even ‘GOD’ (who I’m pretty convinced does not exist), has the right to take away the rights of another human being, and OWN them. There’s just no way for me to rationalize this in my head to find a way that this would be considered moral. All these Old Testament, biblical ‘laws’ sound to me like they were created by the people who considered themselves ‘elite’, in order to justify their elitism by claiming that ‘GOD said it is so’. In-sighting fear in the masses is a great way of controlling them.
This issue of slavery is just one of MANY topics in the bible that I find to be completely immoral. And to hear the claims of theist say that the bible or ‘word of god’ is our (human beings) only source of morallity is just beyond my capacity for credulity. If this is the book that our race bases it’s morality on, we are, indeed, in trouble.