The above graphic was doing the rounds of the Internet the other day. I was tossing it back and forth with one of my Facebook friends, discussing its theological merits (or otherwise), when it occurred to me that this person (whoever he or she was; the attribution has been lost) actually had put a finger on the real problem with Christianity: it’s the Bible.
Bear with me now, because I’m analyzing (some will say attacking) one of the most popular books in the world.
You see, the big strength of Christianity (also its main fault) is its nature as a copycat. Christianity may have started in Judea, but it didn’t really get going until it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. And the Romans copied everything. They copied the Greek gods, engineering and art. When they were attacked by barbarians, they didn’t beat them down, they offered them land to live on and incorporated them and their culture into the Roman Empire. So when the Romans were trying to enforce their new religion on the whole of that polyglot Empire, they borrowed as well. Everybody knows they borrowed Christmas and all its traditions. They also borrowed the resurrection from the Isis myth of Egypt. They borrowed the wine ritual from the Greek god, Dionysus. And sadly, because the Jews were so important at the beginning, they borrowed the Old Testament. The whole thing.
The problem with this little act of acquisition was that Jesus was a rebel. He was against everything that the Pharisees stood for. And their Bible, which became our Old Testament, was the basis for the Jewish faith, with which He took strong issue.
The Old Testament is a set of historical documents chronicling a tribe of nomads who stormed out of the desert into Judea somewhere around 1300 BC and threw out the Canaanites who lived there. Much as their modern Muslim foe did in 600 AD. The Hebrews have spent the next 3300 years trying to change as little as possible. It’s how they survive as a people. “Tradition!” As the song goes.
Christianity started around 30 AD as a rebellion against the ideas and restrictions of that old order, and it has been changing and adapting ever since. I know it doesn’t seem like that, but even the Roman Catholic Church had a Counter-Reformation.
As the guy who made the poster above has noted, putting the two pieces of literature together has created, instead of a unified religious tract, more of a thesis and antithesis. One says, “This is how it was,” the other, “This is how it should be.”
So all those people who take both halves of the Bible as gospel (sorry) are trying to reconcile two opposing camps in a 2000-year old argument. Sure, it means that the Christian religion can appeal to all sorts (sadly, it does). But it also means that people who believe in loving their brother and turning one’s cheek to the enemy are also supposed to espouse an eye for an eye. It just don’t compute. The best that moderate Christians can do is the old, “We don’t take it literally,” line.
If Thine Eye Offends, Thee, Buddy, Pluck it Out.
If half of the book that your religion follows is full of ideals directly counter to the ones you believe in, may I humbly suggest that you get rid of that half? It might cut down your congregation, but it would certainly help curb the violence in the world.
Because religious “belief” can be used to rationalize a lot of nasty behaviour. Whether you’re a Hun riding your desert pony out of the steppes of Georgia, or a redneck driving your pickup out of the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia, “an eye for an eye” sounds great. It explains why so many so-called Christians could vote for a violent, unChristian sexual offender and pathological liar.
Whoever you believe He was, Jesus of Nazareth gave us a useful handle on how to live together in peace, and we need more of that right now. If all those Christians would start acting in a Christian way, the world would be better off. And a good first step would be to get rid of the Old Testament.
Not That This Will Happen
Because the guy who created the poster above is way off base. The moment he says he’s going to “disprove someone’s belief,” he might as well shut up and go home. It’s not going to do any good, because they won’t believe him. They believe. Nothing to do with logic or proofs.
Thinking he can disprove their belief makes him just another self-righteous crazy, trolling Facebook for other crazies who will “Like” him as good bobble-heads do, and validate his own belief, which I consider pretty nutso as well.
But that’s okay. He’s not going to listen to me either.
Facebook Joke of the Week:
Trump can’t keep all those Muslims out of America. They’ll just pretend to be Christians. Like the Republicans do.