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Monday, December 05, 2016

Never Figured It Out

Something that has always, always bothered me. I understand why it is that Christianity in general and the Bible in particular are constantly under attack. I mean, clearly, if this stuff is true, things will have to change. Lots of things. Nearly everything. Including parts of Christianity. Everything except the Bible. So that's big. Add to that the natural hostility of unbelievers (Rom 8:7), and I get where it comes from. But here's what I don't get. Why do detractors of Christianity and the Bible often do so from the Bible? No, not by trying to prove that it's not true; by claiming that it is.

The ever-reliable Huffington Post (in case you don't get that, I'm being sarcastic there) has offered another reason why Christianity and the Bible ought to be ditched. The headline says it all. "Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene Is Fact, Not Fiction" There you have it. The end of Christianity and the Bible. You can all close your church doors and go home. Thanks for playing. Why? Well, if Christ was married as Simcha Jacobiovici claims, then Christ did not die, did not rise again, did not ascend into heaven as the Scriptures claim. And clearly "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." (1 Cor 15:17) Not good news. For anyone.

I am baffled, then, that Jacobovici uses the Bible to prove his point. Well, to be fair, some of his argument are arguments from silence. "... none of the four Gospels say that Jesus was celibate." "Never once does Paul argue that Christians should be celibate, because Jesus was celibate. Not once!" (Nor do I understand why "celibate" is so important here. But, hey, it's not my argument.) But others are taken from Scripture ... intended to refute Scripture. He, for instance, spends several paragraphs explaining that Paul was a loon. Oh, no, he doesn't say that, but it's the only conclusion I can come to. Paul, he says, was lax about Jewish law. (This is hard to maintain since Paul clearly claimed to be "under the law, blameless" (Phil 3:6) and "as to the law, a Pharisee" (Phil 3:5).) We know that he was lax because he "prayed that the hands of ritual circumcisers shake so that they cut off their own penises when they perform circumcision (Galatians 5:12)." (Whatever you do, don't go check on that claim in Scripture because it won't read to most anyone the way Simcha reads it.) No, no, Paul was a loon. His theology isn't based on God's revelation and historical events. It is a product of the pagan world in which Paul lived. Paul was simply casting the Tarsus deity, Attis, as his "Jesus", complete with a dying and resurrecting event. In fact, the reason Christianity holds that Jesus was celibate for life was simply that Paul advocated celibacy, even in marriage. Proof? 1 Corinthians 7:1. (Again, don't read the text itself or you'll find that Paul specifically instructs married couples not to abstain from married sexual relations (1 Cor 7:2-5). Using the Bible will only disrupt his arguments.) Elsewhere, Jacobovici takes it as true that Mary Magdalene went to the empty tomb to clean the body of Jesus, but he uses this to prove that Jesus never resurrected and ascended, but went on to live a full life with His wife, Mary Magdalene. Jacobovici is quite sure that the tomb found in Jerusalem was Jesus's tomb with His wife laid alongside ... by citing biblical accounts referring to Jesus's brothers (Mark 6:3).

Jacobovici's best proofs, of course, are primarily extrabiblical and consistently false. You know, like "Lost Gospels" and such. But, ultimately, Jacobovici concludes that the only way that Jesus died and rose again is if Paul manufactured the story. It is, in his view, obviously false. Christianity and the New Testament, then, is patently false. And Mr. Jacobovici has gone a long way, including using the Bible, to prove that the Bible is false. Why? Why do people use the Bible to prove the Bible is false? If the Bible is false, just make the claim. Give the facts. Offer the proof. Don't say, "The Bible claims this and it's true, so the Bible is false." Makes no sense.

Unfortunately, skeptics will snatch this stuff up and run with it. "Proof that Christianity is false!" And others will be confused and swayed. The whole thing will not be closely examined nor verified. There are good sources like this article from The Biblical Archaeology Society or this response to the HuffPo article explaining the problems with the arguments, but it won't sway them. As for me, I'll still never figure out why they feel the need to take the Bible as true in order to prove the Bible is false and feel like they're doing Jesus and His followers a favor. "No, no, you're not saved. You're damned. And you're much better off. And, yes, you're welcome." I've never figured this out.

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