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).
There’s a website (and book) called: Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?
I’ve been considering this question for quite a while now. And, while I know this has been hashed out over the internet for a long time, I’m going to give my 2.5 cents worth on the topic now.
I don’t think that admitting or believing that God does not heal amputees will ultimately disprove God. (Although, I can add this to my arsenal of reasons for believing that there is no God for myself.) There are plenty of other arguments out there for that – The Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument, and others. What it does for me, instead, is argue against the fundamentalist viewpoint that the Christian God does, indeed, intervene when prayed to and miraculous healings can take place. And if the argument DOES indeed prove that, how do these folks justify the selectiveness of God in their own minds?
I’ve been reading a lot of the counter opinions on this topic and there seem to be a few standard responses from believers. I’ll list some of them now:
1) Free Will – Apparently some believers think that if God were to intervene and cause someone’s limb to grow back that that will, in some way, take away our ‘free will’ to believe in him. I find this rather surprising considering these folks are the ones that swear by the Bible as the inerrant word of God. In the Bible Jesus does MANY amazing miracles that go FAR outside of the normal laws of the universe (healed the blind, raised the dead, walked on water, etc etc). Wouldn’t the folks witnessing these events have had their free will compromised?
2) The ‘Hiddeness’ of God – Kind of goes hand-in-hand with the free will argument. But in the book, the author addresses this rather well. In today’s world, people claim all the time to have been miraculously healed from Cancer. Tumors are just gone after prayer (and usually also after Chemotherapy!). Isn’t that the same thing as having a limb grow back? Doctors can SEE and document a Tumor before and after, thus revealing God (if that were really the cause). So, just because the tumor isn’t immediately visible to the rest of the world, it isn’t truly hidden either. So, God wouldn’t really be hidden at all in that scenario.
3) God’s Plan is Mysterious – Well, this one is a classic of course. It seems the usual take that ‘we can’t know what God’s will is, so we just have to accept it’. I’m NOT ok with this take at all. In ANY of the arguments where this is used. It just feels like such a cop-out to me. Like throwing your hands up and saying ‘We just don’t know, so we’re gonna make up a reason.’
All these argument, just seem to me like more rationalization for the massive paradoxes that result in this question. Like it says in this book (and the way I’ve felt about the world for a while now), if you remove God from the equation, and look at the world as just natural process, and things just happen (both good things to bad people and bad things to good people), then everything just makes a lot more sense. There’s no longer any paradox.
As I’ve said many times, I’m open-minded. I really am (contrary to what most people think about atheists). If someone had a limb grow back, and there was a documented case, I’d believe it. I mean, people don’t regenerate limbs. It’s as simple as that. So, if someone was to be prayed for and they were to regrow a limb, I’d believe. I’m also assuming that if it happened once, it could happen many times. In a world with 6 billion people (and a large number of limbless ones I’m assuming), you’d have to think that the odds are in favor of many people with missing limbs being healed.
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.
A thought hit me today: Where are the actual writings of Jesus? I might be wrong, but I’m pretty certain that there is nothing in scripture or any other source that is identified as being written by Jesus himself. This seems odd to me. Everything we have about the life of Jesus is from 2nd hand sources (or 3rd hand, 4th hand, and beyond). Not to mention that the bulk of the New Testament is attributed to Paul who never even met the man himself.
I would venture that ALL of the scholars that we hold in high standards throughout history have written their ideas down. Most often times they have written MANY volumes. It would seem to me that Jesus being the amazing teacher that he was proposed to be, should have or would have done the same.
So where are they?
Obviously, people were writing in those times and before. We have the manuscripts to prove it. Old testament scriptures among them.
I’m thinking that their apparent non-existence, might also be another bit of evidence (or lack thereof) for the non-existence of Jesus. I am going to research this a bit more, but wanted to pose the question here so I can keep track of it.
Where are those writings?!?!?!
It is RUMORED that, in the initiation rite of the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, a potential candidate is, at some point, asked to spit on the cross. For those that refuse, the leaders of the ceremony reply with a well done…that is the correct response…and welcome them in. However, it is said that for those that DO spit on the cross, they are told that they’ve made the right decision and only THOSE candidates are ushered into the ‘inner-sanctum’…the ‘elite’ if you will, of Freemasonry. Now grant you, I started this paragraph with the words ‘it is RUMORED’ for a reason. This is NOT verified information. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that it is.
With that begin said, there are books and theories that trace Freemasonry back to the Knights Templar. The protectors of the sacred ‘Holy Grail’. In many sources, the Holy Grail is NOT what most people believe it to be. It is not the ‘literal’ cup that was used during the last supper. The Grail is believed to be the sacred bloodlines of Jesus himself. Which obviously causes a great deal of problems for orthodox Christianity. If Jesus has a bloodline, he would have to have had children, and most likely a wife (many believe this to be Mary Magdalene). It is believed that the Templars (created originally by the Priory of Sion), had found proof of this bloodline and have been protecting that secret for centuries.
So, let’s say, for argument sake, that all of this is true. The Kights Templar DID, in fact, have PROOF of Jesus’ bloodline and humanity. Let’s also say that the theories are true that connect modern Freemasonry to that same group of Knights Templars. It would certainly make a lot of sense to have that final act of the 33rd degree be what it is rumored to be. Because, they would be ‘in the know’ of a secret that would render Christianity completely false.
A bold statement for sure. And one that I’m not committed to believing fully. But from reading Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and from many other sources on the Magdalene, it certainly bears consideration. And it certainly starts to make a lot of sense when you step back and look at the whole picture.