Almost Too Easy

One thing I have mentioned several times in passing, and at least once explicitly, is the words referenced in Galatians 3:13, and those mentioned in Matthew 5:17-19.

Galatians offers freedom, for Christians, from the curse of the Law! And Matthew 5:17-19 commands Christians to follow the law. It is clearly worded, in the plain English translation (and many have made it a personal war to find a less damning translation of the verses in Matthew 5) that offers two completely opposing viewpoints.

I got curious, how do Biblical literalists deal with Matthew 5 specifically?

I searched for comments on Matthew 5, and found the following written at :

“To ask again: Did Jesus mean Christians had to keep all the regulations of the Law of Moses, including the “holy time” regulations of the Sabbath, or strict tithing, or the food laws? Consider what that line of reasoning would demand.

Christians would be obligated to keep all the sacrificial, ceremonial and civil laws described in the Law of Moses. They would have to keep every single law mentioned in Genesis through Deuteronomy — and the rest of the Old Testament. The Jews calculated that there were 613 laws in their Holy Scriptures. Christians, then, based on the idea that Jesus was telling his disciples to keep the regulations of the Law and the Prophets, would have to keep all 613 laws.”

To paraphrase: “No, Jesus didn’t mean we should keep the law, because that would be haaaaaarrrrrdddddd.” (Read in the whiniest voice you have available to your brain.)

Bible Gateway (my general choice for researching Bible verses, as it will show you as many parallel translations as you care to read) offers the commentary as read here:

It basically says, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus would have had you follow the Law.

How about historical context? Reza Azlan writes that James, the brother of Jesus, son of Mary–and we are talking literal, here– James, the brother of Jesus, was the first leader of the Christian Church, and he said (in no uncertain terms, to the point where he ended up in a fistfight with Saul of Tarsus, who was called Paul (and who styled himself the thirteenth Apostle, and greatest of the apostles)) that to be a follower of his brother, who was the Christ, you must follow, strictly and to the letter, all of the Law as written by the inspiration of God in the Old Testament.

I mentioned the above casually, but it requires some explanation: James, brother of Jesus, got into an actual fistfight with Paul (who wrote well over half of the New Testament of the Bible), on the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem. James, who followed Jesus, and knew Jesus, versus Paul, who professionally killed Christians prior to his own conversion well after the death of Jesus. Which one, in your mind, would have more likely understood the message of Jesus?

Why do you think we follow Paul’s teachings and nearly forget altogether the brother of Jesus? Hell, James is mentioned in history books more often than Jesus was. He was known in Jerusalem as James the Just, he fought for the rights of the poor, he sat on the Temple Council! What happened?

It all comes down to this: People agreed with the comments written by the GCI. Following the law is haaarrrrrddddd. “I don’t care if this was a theology made up that flies in the face of the teachings of both Jesus and James. Following the law is just really, really, really difficult, and Paul says we don’t have to, and I WANT to go to Heaven, as long as it isn’t so haaaaaarrrrrddddd to get there! Who is James? Nobody, that’s who! Time to follow Paul!”

That explains why Galatians 3:13 is far more readily followed than is the tenets of Matthew 5.

It is also worth noting the reason why you have probably never heard of James, the brother of Jesus (or, if you have, why you didn’t know how prominent he was to the early Church). He was martyred by the High Priest at the time (the Jewish High Priest, mind) because the people liked James more than they liked the High Priest, and he was just a big ol’ jelly-belly. He had James killed, and without James telling everyone to ignore Paul and his (to James) false teachings, Paul was left to evangelize almost without contest. Jesus’ cousin replaced James as the leader of the Christian Church of Jerusalem (it would not have been called that at the time, Christian was not yet a word, but for all intents and purposes it paints a clear picture to use these words), but he never managed to gain the following of James the Just.

And that is your history lesson for the day, I suppose?

If Your Very Own Brother Tempt Thee

Oh glorious day! Oh happy hour! The folks at Creation Today have released a new video after a long time of silence! (

The video is a very long diatribe against the tenets of Islam (and if you go to their home page, you will find two additional videos extending the diatribe), in which they profess a rare moment of agreement with Bill Maher. That should set your hackles on guard at the best of times; agreeing with Bill Maher on Religion is inviting Satan into your home, the man is a bigot (or, at the very least, a stereotypist). Bill Maher takes all of the worst parts of every religion and draws with broad brushstrokes over the face of all religions.

That is not the point, here. The point here is that they reference Qur’an 4:8, which states that those who lose faith in Islam should be killed. They state “The BIBLE would NEVER condone such a thing! There is NOTHING like that in our Bible, which is a book of love.” ‘Kay, I am sure if I go looking, I will have to dig very deep to find anything that proves you wrong… Wait. What is this? The top answer on Google? Huh.

Deuteronomy chapter 13 reads thus (KJV translation): If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 8Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Now, forgive my ignorance, but wouldn’t you argue that this is a very clear call to kill anyone who turns away from Christianity? Maybe I am just the crazy one here.

There are many verses in the Qur’an that could have been chosen to show a disdain for unbelievers, many of which could be taken either in or out of context to prove the point they were gunning for, but they chose this one. They did not find themselves in a glass house before throwing stones, they dragged Islam around the block until they could FIND a glass house, then smashed the door with stones, cut up their feet walking in, then missed Islam with the stone and brought the house down on both themselves and the poor Islam that they dragged with them.

I was looking for a challenge, but they really didn’t put up much of a fight. Ah well, maybe next time.

The End of Days!

Lately, several parts of my life have found themselves oddly synchronized. My love of bad movies had me in the theater last night watching Left Behind (An Armageddon drama based on a particular interpretation of the Book of Revelations), while my general day-to-day research landed me on the Orange County Harvest Crusade, a Christian Rally. Their most recent crusade dealt with the end of days, and they spent over an hour talking about interpretations of the Book of Revelations, their reasons for believing in Pre-Tribulation Rapture (more on that later), among other things.

The odd thing about the Harvest Crusade is the devastating specificity they claim in knowledge of the end times. They do not just know that Israel is to be attacked by an alliance of ten countries, they claim to know several members in those countries. They also claim knowledge of military strategy based on the book of Revelations (“Why, in the 1970’s, one Priest who is a member of our Church was speaking to the generals of the Israeli army, and he told them to watch out for Iran. Now, at the time, Iran was an ally of Israel, but then just a short while later the government was overthrown, and Iran turned against Israel. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the generals of the Israeli army placed a phone call back to our Priest just a few days after Iran came out against Israel, asking for military advice!”), but their ideas seem somewhat anecdotal. In any case, to claim detailed knowledge of the end times is a little odd to me, as it was said in Mark and Matthew, No one shall know the day nor the hour, not even the son, or the angels, but only God in Heaven.

That being said, this seems to come into stark contrast with this line (found in not one, not two, but THREE of the Gospels!), “Truly I tell you, there are some here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom!”

Do you want to know how people resolve this line, by the way? This is a theory that is not widely known, and I cannot even think of when I last heard it cited; this is generally a section of the Bible ignored for obvious reasons. Strong Literalists do so like to say that the Bible offers specific prophecies, and has never made an incorrect call. How would you justify this line from Jesus? How could some of those there be alive 2,000 years later?

Now, please know that this theory is not popular, even among Biblical Literalists (though I’d love to hear their justifications, as I am not intimately familiar with them), but it does have adherents in any case. It is the legend of The Wandering Jew. Cited as early as 1228 A.D., and perhaps being even older than that in verbal tradition, there is supposedly (walking the world among us to this day!) a Jew who was present when Jesus stated the above. He was given immortality (whether a blessing or a curse is left to the reader to decide), and will walk the Earth until the second coming. This seems an odd way to validate prophecy, to me (We literally cannot be wrong because the immortal Jew could be here until the sun explodes in a few billion years, and that could be interpreted as God’s wrath, so no matter what, we are right!). Whatever, I can let them have their cake.

Now for more oddly specific readings of the Bible, and more things people fight over, in the silliest ways in the silliest forums. Now, there are three primary timings proposed for The Rapture, very creatively named and defined as pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation. The runny thing is, again, this gives them enough wiggle room that it would not even be defined as wiggle room. If the end of the world happens without the Rapture, it obviously wasn’t Pre-Trib. If the world recovers from the brink, it obviously wasn’t Mid-Trib. Post-Trib is vague enough that the human race could go extinct and then no one else would be left to tell them they are wrong! Boy, with such devastatingly specific prophecy, it’s no wonder that people cling to the Bible! It practically knows what I am having for lunch!

For those not overly familiar with the Biblical displays of the end times, the Tribulation is the time in which God’s wrath is poured out onto the world, and it will be the seven worst years in all of history to be alive. Wars, famine, plague, suffering, all headed by an Anti-Christ. Why do I say “an” Anti-Christ, instead of “the” Anti-Christ? Well, that comes down to the fact that Anti-Christ is a very vague term applied to many people throughout the Bible and beyond. Really, if you are not a Christian, you are an Anti-Christ. Do you want to know the funny thing? Do you want to know how this Anti-Christ comes to prominence? It will make you sad, I fear, for it is silly.

This Anti-Christ will be defined by his or her ability to bring peace. Before the Tribulation, there is (or may be) a single nation world, and all wars will end. You may not immediately see the problem with this yet, it is ok, it is very hard to without speaking with a ton of people who believe in the book of Revelations.

If the worst time in human history is brought on and presaged by one who brings peace and prosperity during his or her rise to power, then any good, Bible-believing Christian must stand against anyone who preaches these values. And there are certainly those who do; people in my very own family have voiced opinions AGAINST bringing the world together. There are people who stand against world peace, for that is the last sign of good times before the end times. I would even go so far as to say that people who hold to this opinion are the reason that this will never, in all of history, be allowed to come to fruition. I would argue that there are enough people out there that believe peace and world-unity are enough of a devastating sign of the proximity of the end times that they would form their own nation in defense. Well, now we’ve got a two nation world, and don’t need to worry about Armageddon. Problem solved!

Forgive me, but to me this is just silliness, and silliness that is dangerous. Christians may stand against Muslim extremism, but the nearer the world comes to unification, I would argue, the more often we will see Christian extremism. And to say that this is something that would never happen, recall the story of George Tiller, a doctor who was willing to provide abortion services who was murdered by Scott Roeder, a Christian extremist. I do not know how one justifies punishing someone they view as a killer by killing him, but his was the picture of an unwell mind. That being said, it shows certainly and clearly that it is possible, and the more downtrodden a people feel, the more extremists will be born.

I suppose I ought to clarify that; Islam is certainly the fastest growing religion in the world, how can they feel downtrodden (as I would argue they do, and as I would argue is the cause of the rampant extremism among the faithful compared to most other religions today)? Their Holy book teaches that the adherents of the religion are truly the most superior, gifted people in the whole world. It doesn’t matter that they may soon be the dominant religion in the world, even in the west, they do not feel that they are the dominant FORCE in the entire world, as they were promised to be by THE GOD OF ABRAHAM Himself. Anything other than a perfect Muslim caliphate is less than they were promised; this certainly does not mean that all of them are going to be extremists some day; like Christians, there are more who are patient and waiting for their gift from On High than there are who are going to fight to create that very gift themselves. That being said, the worse you feel about your position, the higher the chance that you will birth extremists (to use an analogy, the more cornered a scared dog feels, the more dangerous it is), and being as your goal is nothing short of perfection, even 99% completion feels like a drastically missed target.

Ah, I have deviated again, so let’s get back to the point.

Sam Harris said it best, I think. Christian end times, the tribulation, is characterized by death, war, famine, and destruction on a drastic scale (and they are seeing the signs everywhere, in the earth quakes and tsunamis of the recent years), which led the prolific atheist to write “New York City could explode in a massive mushroom cloud, and there are those who would see a silver lining in it; it would signal to them that the best thing that will ever happen is about to happen.”

To this end, I call on everyone to take a step back, think, and seek peace. Do not even stoop so low as to find a silver lining; there is no monstrous act of death that could signal anything good in this world. If God spoke a word, and all unbelievers were killed, and Jesus Himself came to me and told me I was left alive despite my unbelief, and I should rejoice, I would tell Him (though I know he would have foreseen my response) that it is a horrible thing that has happened this day.

For the happiness and life of a massive number of people to be snuffed out, that is a terrible thing. I would say I am happy to hear of their suffering coming to an end, but in this case, the Bible is clear that they are those accursed who shall suffer for eternity.

No, I stand against death, but even more, far more than standing against death, I stand against suffering. I hope you understand this, reader. I hope I have impressed upon you the difference between death and suffering, and the silliness of the end of the world.

Also, Left Behind was hilariously awful. I wholeheartedly recommend it!