Firstly, as with any book, sentences can be pulled from any passage to suggest one thing or another. The true test of understanding requires careful study of the texts, the languages used, the culture in which it was written and most importantly, the context (of which the previous items are part of.) I believe if you were to study the passages (not I didn’t post single verses but chunks that express the immediate context) you’ll see that at least in what I posted, my viewpoint is supported.
Now you’ve posted a few snippets of the text, with very limited commentary. You don’t really interact with the text except to show your hostility toward God yet again and simply prove what He states in His word that “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them” (1 Cor. 2:14).
You state that you find the Bible “difficult to accept anything it says because I don’t trust its origins or content”, but have you actually studied the text and its history? And even if the history, context and content was evident and perspicuous (which I believe it is, but your commitment to your worldview precludes your ability to accept that), would you find it satisfying enough?
Do you realize that there is more evidence (if indeed evidence were sufficient to change your mind) for the historicity of Scripture than for the existence of Plato, Archimedes and even Shakespeare? But I doubt you’re really tell anyone that you distrusted the possibility that they existed and did what has been said about them.
So, before committing yourself to a presupposition as you have, you should do the research in critical scholarship regarding the text we call Scripture. Also, it might behoove you to understand the context of the various passage you (and others) often appeal to in order to support your dislike of God.
As to the specific verses you quoted, we can look at them on at a time, but it requires lengthy discussion, which I suspect you’ll dismiss out of hand. Also, consider for a moment that unlike the Qu’ran or other texts, the Bible is generally (apart from certain poetic and/or wisdom literature) not intended to be taken one verse out of context.
To understand the context of Deut 28:20, you would do well to at least read the entire chapter. I won’t post that here, I expect you to go do some home work on your own.
Consider firstly that God has delivered the people to whom He speaking to from slavery in Egypt. He’s brought them, as a people, safely through seas, deserts, dangerous animals and enemies. He’s fed them, provided them with shelter, water and even visible evidence of His ongoing presence in their midst. Then He states, in v1 of the chapter… “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today…” and He goes on to enumerate the many, many blessings to which the people of Israel would receive if they followed Him in entirety. At v15, however, we find Him explaining what would happen if they disobey: “However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you…”
Seems to me that given all that God had done for this people that obedience to what He commanded wouldn’t be that out of line with expectations. Of course, there is much deeper meaning here, of which I may touch on later. But the fact of the matter is that God expects the people He saved from slavery to screw up, and has planned ahead for it. So while He promises curses, many of which are simply what we’d call a “natural result” of their actions (if you’re busy doing wrong you’re not doing what you should and everyone in the community suffers), I would suggest that all of it is a direct result of God’s curse upon all mankind firstly because of Adam’s sin and because of their own.
So God, who has provided life, freedom, health, food, shelter, comfort, families and other numerous blessings to these people expects obedience and warns about the results for disobedience. I realize in this modern unjust age where we don’t believe in punishing anyone (except those who wish to live morally), this seems harsh. But the fact stands, if we take it for its word, this is the Creator of the Universe talking, and what he dictates stands.
One of the most difficult concepts for people to understand, even (especially?) typical evangelical Christians, is that God owes no one salvation, or even the benefit of the doubt. For, as Scripture
explains, all have sinned, and fallen short of God’s commands.
These laws, in fact, that He is providing to the people He brought out of Egypt are not intended to save them. God even explains that He fully expects them to fail. The reason is that man is tainted by the fall, and will reject God’s sovereignty over him. I could post passage after passage to show this to be true. Romans chapters 1~3 seems to be the most succint expression thereof, sorta a summary of all of the historical account to that point:
9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better?
Not at all! We have already made the charge that
Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.
10As it is written: There is no one righteous,
not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
This is the normative state of all mankind. God’s intent in providing the Law then is to provide an even clearer means for this fact to be expressed.
Rom 3:20 – Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
The intent therefore of law that you read in Deut and elsewhere, firstly is an expression of the nature of God, but is primarily a means by which we humans become conscious of wrong doing against a completely holy, righteous and infinite God.
You then quote Matt 5:17-18. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
You should now have a better understanding of this passage. Sin, against God’s Law is that which causes the separation from God that we’re all suffering from. Therefore, since we’re all sinners and fall short of that Law, someone needs to fulfill it in our stead. Jesus just got done in the earlier part of Mat 5 (1-11) expressing what a life lived after God looks like in the so-called “beatitudes”, notice there is mourning (for sin) in there, as well as a hungering and thirsting for righteousness and finally… persecution, like that the poster of the original blog article is undergoing right now as people contact the UK child protective services simply because she believes she needs to raise her child in love and fear of God rather than a selfish love of self.
In the verse right after the one you quote, Jesus states, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” This raises the bar far above that anyone should consider, and if that’s not enough, the end of the chapter he states: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now, notice he doesn’t say “try”? If there is any doubt that Jesus and Paul were talking about the same things, this should clear it up. Only one person was able to keep this law in perfection as Jesus demands… that is the God-man himself.
You then quote Luke 14, and here again Christ is establishing the complete demands required of those who are to be called followers of Christ. Notice he even mentions a cross, something he has yet to go and die on, noting that followers of Christ will be despised, hated and even persecuted unto death.
If nothing else, by now you should be able to acknowledge that the woman who wrote the original blog post is acting consistent with the demands of Christ. 😉
Matt 15, Christ is quoting the Law, and if you were to have actually read the passage you’d notice that there is context wherein Christ is conflicting the actions of the Pharisees with the Law they claim to support:
v3-7 “… why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother'[a] and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.;’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites!…”
This is a fantastic passage! Here Jesus nails the Pharisees for teaching others to not support their parents in their old age and to instead use that money to support the temple and the Pharisees themselves! (Where is this being taught in today’s evangelical church?!)
Yes, I realize your intent was to focus on the quote of the Old Testament. But consider that this was within the theocracy of the people of Israel, lost in the wilderness, in constant danger and in need of community unity are commanded to execute rebellious (not just disobedient, btw, the language used is that of willing, intentional, family-destroying rebellion.) The Israelites were a people at war, and rebellions against one’s parents in this manner was tantamount to traitorous action against God himself. Again, I don’t expect someone living in the a 21st Century, unaccustomed to the concepts of fidelity to one’s country and family in the face of a mortal enemy to grasp this, it is, as Paul stated, spiritually discerned. I can only hope that God uses the words I am stating here to supernaturally open your heart and mind to the truth.
Finally you quote, yet again, completely without the surrounding context, as if it makes some point on its own apart from it, Matthew 10:34-36. The context of course demands that this be realized in the view that one who becomes a follower of Christ should expect persecution from not only outsiders but even people within their family. Moments before in v18 Jesus had stated: “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles..” thus establishing partial context for this passage. Again in v28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jesus explains that not only will people despise believers (as has come to be the norm, as seen in the past days on that other blog) but even people of one’s family will revile them. But the believer is not to fear them, even though they may put us to death, as was done during that time, during the days of Rome, during the many regimes of Muslims, apostates and atheists… and will occur again soon, but to fear God instead.
You state: “I studied History and English at university and after reading the Bible a few times I have seen too many inaccuracies and contradictions for me to trust its authenticity.”
I tell you this, given your few quotes in this post, and lack of understanding of the context of the passages, I’d try to get my money back if I were you for your education. I’m not trying to be rude here, I simply think that if you truly value interaction with others, you’d attempt to understand their position properly.
You write: “Even saying that the content on its own shows truly barbaric and violent practices that I would not dare inflict upon others let alone condone the atrocities committed in its name.”
You haven’t provided a single passage which condones any “barbaric” practices. Certainly there are things that, in this age of seeming blessing wherein wars are fought with computers and execution done by lethal injections, seem barbaric, but thousands of years ago? How can you anachronistically apply your standard of morality upon a people and culture which, in times of antiquity fought for its very survival? Also, in the cases of the commands of God, what basis do you, a mere creature have the right to challenge that which God has declared. As Paul writes, “what right does the pot have to say to the potter, “Why have you made me like this?”
You write: “Should Jean kill her daughter if she ever speaks back to her? Jesus and God both demand it according to the Bible so is it right to trust its wisdom?”
Again, showing your ignorance of the Biblical texts with such comments does nothing to support your case. Christians, firstly, do not live in the theocracy of Israel prior to the death and resurrection of Christ. Secondly, the verses you might appeal to for such a claim do not teach what you intend them to. I highly recommend that if you intend to interact with Christians you come to understand the context and scholarship related to the passages you’re quoting. It is impossible to take seriously someone who so easily dismisses the context of passages to attempt to support an untenable claim.
Finally, consider that my quotes of Scripture are intended to do two things. Firstly, and most importantly, to provide the Holy Spirit of God means to work within your heart and mind so as to cause you to be born again. Believers such as I do not accept the ignorant-christian idea that being born-again is something a person does, rather being born again is something God does to those whom He has chosen through their hearing/reading of the Word of God. Thus when I quote Scripture, (contextually, mind you) it is in sincere hope that God will regenerate you and bring you to faith. Secondly, I don’t quote random verses to that end, but intend to support my claims with relevant texts. There are many atheistic websites out there where you can go and find supposed “contradictions”, but I contend that none of them are based upon sound exegetical principles or contextually relevant.
I realize you might dismiss my contextualization, but I ask that you at least check it out for yourself.
You write: “I completely and utterly doubt she would ever wish harm to come to her daughter or anyone else but I was hoping to illustrate my point by using the writings of the Bible as an example.”
Yes, and as believers we know that a high view of self-worth apart from a basis in the person and work of Christ is ultimately a root of sin. Like Adam, we all want to be “like God” but want to do so on our own terms. The Pharisees had high self-esteem, and yet they were condemned.
I also apologize for the length of this post, however, it is impossible to discuss these things in one or two sentences. Historical and textual criticism of the text of the Bible is a big subject and there is much written out there on both sides. You would do well to read up on it.
Now to address your first questions:
Why do you have to be damned?
Because God has demanded obedience and we have all failed to obey in perfection. Regardless of one’s feelings of right/wrong on this matter (as if we creations can tell that which created us what is right and wrong), He is God, and His demands are just.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the similar question:
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Why do you need a saviour?
Because of our sin, God’s wrath is kindled against us. We’re all in the same boat, (or lack thereof if you consider the flood/ark concept.) God’s wrath would damn us all if He did not condescend to save some of us for the purpose of providing a people to reign with His Son in eternity.
The catechism again:
Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.
Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
What possible heinous and disgusting crime did you commit, before you were even born it seems, that justifies such persecution and self loathing?
Too many to number, but, that aside, any transgression against a truly holy, righteous and infinite God who has provided a standard that we fail to achieve is sufficient. The proper attitude therefore is like that of the tax-collector:
Luke 18:10-14“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'”But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.“
Is this passage not sufficient to at least show that I and the blogger are acting consistent with what Jesus taught?
The recognition that one is sinful, and rightly deserving of God’s wrath is part of what it means to believe. Hence, the psalmist writes: “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” And of those who are evil it is written, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Finding your worth and value under the threat of eternal damnation from an invisible presence of which the evidence for its not existing vastly outweighs the evidence for its actually existing is something I can never understand or would ever subject myself or others to.
Of course not, you are a sinner, dead in your sins and as such you rebel from even that sliver of truth that God has placed in you called a conscience wherein His Law is hammering against you day-after-day is insufficient to cause you to repent. This is why Jesus said in John 6 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” Therefore unless God chooses to change your heart by bringing you to life anew in Christ, you will remain dead in your sins and unwilling to do anything about it. I will pray for the opposite of course. 😉
Since we are all sinners, and by our very nature seek to rebel against God continually, we as believers note that there is nothing in us, that is of us, that is truly, completely good. In fact we are in are whole being tainted by the sin of Adam and our own transgressions. (Another concept lost to the “modern era”, when a king or governor declares war, the whole nation is at war. Our governor, Adam, declared war on God.)
This little tune will help you understand perhaps:
This may sound shocking and offensive, apologies if it is, but being so scared of such an authority figure who tells you that you are so wretched and worthless at the same time demanding your worship and love, no matter what he/she inflicts upon you, sounds so much like some of the dictatorships I have studied in History classes.
Consider for a moment that in your every deed you in some way shake your fist at God. You stand in constant and willful rebellion against him. Even the most ‘moral’ likewise argue their case against Him day after day. And yet, he not only provides you with life and breath, but music and movies and food and wine and cheese and dogs and cats and family and beautiful sunsets and the like…
He even went so far as to send His only Son to die in the place of those who would believe. No dictator has ever done this for his people, so self interested are most of us, that few would consider laying our own lives down for our enemies who hate us and curse us daily.
If you die, face judgment and are condemned of rebellion against God, it is only justice. If you rather come to faith and receive life eternal, it is only grace.