How is early Christianity not a cult?

The New Testament contains several references to the world coming to an end “soon”:

1 John 2:18 It is the last time

Matthew 24:34 This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.

Matthew 16:28  There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the son of man coming in his kingdom.

Luke 9:27 There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God.

Luke 21:32 This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled.

John 21:22-23 If I will that he tarry till I come…

Acts 2:17 In the last days, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…

Corinthians 7:29 The time is short…

II Corinthians 1:14 We are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Phillippians 1:10 Ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

Phillippians 4:5 The Lord is at hand.

I Thessalonians 3:13 – The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

4:15-17 Which we are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord

5:23 – The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

Hebrews 1:2 these last days…

9:26, the end of the world

10:25 the day is approaching

10:37 For yet a little while, he that shall come will come and will not tarry.

James 5:8 the coming of the Lord draweth nigh…

2 Peter 3 – last days;

Jude 1:14 The Lord cometh with 10,000 of his saints

Revelations 1:1, Things which must shortly come to pass

1:3 the time is at hand

22:10 the time is at hand

3:11 Behold I come quickly

22:7 Behold I come quickly

22:12 Behold I come quickly

22:20 Surely I come quickly

Matthew 10:23 Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come.

Many passages also tell followers to leave or hate their family and give up everything:

Matthew 10:35, 37 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother…He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worth of me. and he that loveth son and daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Luke 14:26  If any moan come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and bretheren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 Whosoever he be of you that foresaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 19:29 Everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name’s sake shall receive an hundredfold an shall inherit everlasting life.

Luke 12:33 Sell that ye have.

Matthew 10;21 Brother shall deliver up the brother to deat and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.

Mark 10:29-30 There is no man that hath left house, or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my sake and the gospel’s.

Luke 5;11 And when they brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed him.

Luke 18:29-30 There is no man that hath left house, or parents or brethren or wife or children for the kingdom of God’s sake who shall not receive manifold more in this present time and in the world to come, life everlasting.

Acts 2:44-45 And sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men.

Acts 4:32-35 Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them…

 

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What if God had killed Adam for eating the apple?

So God told Adam if he ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he will die that day.  And you would think that Adam knew that he was created by God.  And he would do anything he said.    But no, his wife listens to a talking snake, because no one had ever lied before.  Well, I take that back.  If you count God saying “if you eat this tree you will die the same day” then yeah, that’s the first lie.

Adam had ONE JOB.  And he blew it.

But what if they did die?  Would God just make another couple of humans?  Or would God, who at that point had made all the animals, have said, “You know what?  I’ll just go with the animals, they don’t give me any lip”.  You’d think he’d at least have killed the snake.  But he doesn’t even do that.  He even lets the snake on board the ark! WTF?

Writing the Bible

Remember, each individual book of the Bible was composed hundreds of years before the whole thing was codified.  The authors never knew that they were writing something that was going to be the holy book.  But I digress – my point is, why in hell, would the priests who codified the Bible in the 300’s keep in the parts where Jesus told his followers he would “return in their lifetimes”.  (Luke 21:32-33 The earth and sky will be destroyed in your lifetime.  Matthew 10:23 – The Son of Man will come again before you can even travel from city to city…)

Why didn’t the priests in the 300’s take those parts out since at that point it was obvious that was false?

If the Bible was the work of a creator of the universe who could communicate with us, it wouldn’t say these things.

The Bible For Children

I bought the book  The Bible For Children: From the Age of Gutenberg to the Present by Ruth Bottingheimer (1996 Yale U. Press) “used” on Amazon and it was a bit dry and historical, but it told me what I wanted to hear.  That “Children’s Bibles” became popular in the 1800’s, and they drastically edited the various Bible stories to suit the readers’ needs.  “Revisions undeniably aided nineteenth century mothers and governesses who felt incompetent to deal with the Bible’s unaltered text: its manifest improprieties forced them to resort to ‘constant artifice and evasion to divert the attention of inquisitive children from [unfit] subjects’. The Abraham and Isaac story is one of the only potential violent parental/child instances ever detailed; yet that one story is one of the most effective at scaring children into “becoming religious”.  If you piss God off, he’s not going to be so lenient next time.

In another instance, “…the full, and illustrated story of Lot and his daughters has  been so thoroughly suppressed in the twentieth century, that contemporary adults routinely respond to its telling with incredulous consternation.”

The author of the current satirical set of books entitled,  Awkward Moments Children’s Bible contains cartoon illustrations of some of the most violent and innappropriate verses in the Bible.  The author goes by the pseudonym “Horus Gilgamesh” because of the constant death threats he receives.  And all he’s doing is quoting the Bible!

I recall when my oldest child was in pre-school at a local Lutheran church, they held a book fair, and he went through the line and simply picked up whatever book the kid in front of him chose.  I flipped through it and was aghast at the implications therein: “If I die today, I won’t worry because I’ll be with Jesus”.  To my paranoid parental mind, it invited a young child to dash into a busy street. I said as much to the parent standing next to me, and she said, “no, this is when you want to reach them, when they’re young.”  And I thought, that’s interesting.  She was talking about brainwashing.

Children’s Bibles tend to tell basically only the creation story, the flood story, the above mentioned Abraham and Isaac story, Moses in the rushes, Daniel in the lions’ den, Jonah and the whale/big fish, David and Goliath, and the Jesus stories.  As much as kids question “why?” when they’re four, for some reason kids don’t question who Cain’s wife was.  Or why God didn’t create Jesus from the get-go, if Christianity is the one true religion.  Or why  their friend goes to Synagogue and not the Baptist Church like they do?

I’m totally going to write a Children’s Bible for Skeptics.

The 100% true Bible

Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shal not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

And they both died before midnight.  And the animals roamed the earth with no humans for ever and ever, the end.

 

Reading the Bible

I remember reading the Bible when I was a teenager – kind of as a challenge.  I think I read my little onion-skin paged KJV but soon after that I bought a “The Way” version, written in 1970’s hip language.

But I didn’t think critically about what I was reading – I just read it so I could say I had. I’m sure I didn’t make it all the way to the end.

But if I had read it critically, I would have wondered:

Gen 1:1 “In the beginning” – has God always existed?

Gen 1:2 “the waters” – how was there water?

Gen 1:5 God called the light day on the first day bud didn’t create the sun until the 4th day.

Gen 1:7 “the waters above the firmament” – The Chinese thought the stars in the Milky Way were water.

Gen 1:11 God creates the plants before the sun.

Gen 1:16 (personal favorite) “lesser light to rule the night”

Gen 1:25 all creeping things were good (except that damn talking snake) (clean v. unclean)

Gen 1:27 Male and female he created them (at the same time, and after the animals)

Gen 1:29 – they can eat any plant (oh, those magic mushrooms!)

Gen 1:30 they can eat any animal (unclean ones defined much later)

Gen 2:17 the day they eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they will die

Gen 2:19 God created animals after man in this verse.

Gen 2:22 God created woman after animals in this verse (did he create male and female animals at the same time?)

3:22 The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. (How many gods are there? And why is it bad to know good and evil?  If they hadn’t eaten the apple, would humans be blissfully ignorant?)

3:23 He drove them out of Eden but didn’t kill them.

4:1 I have gotten a man from the Lord. (what?)

4:12 (Cain) A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be.

4:14 Everyone who findeth me will slay me (Everyone being Adam and Eve)

4:17 And Cain knew his wife (who?) and built a city. (not my idea of a vagabond and fugitive)

5:2 God creates man and woman “and called their name Adam”

5:3 And Adam lived 130 years and begat Seth.  This version doesn’t even include Cain and Abel.

6:1 The sons of God saw the daughters of men and married them.  (Who were these sons of God?)

6:19 Two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark.  They shall be male and female.

7:2 Of every clean beast, thou shalt take by sevens, the male and the female (and one of your choice) and of beasts not clean, by two the male and the female.

7:8 Of clean beasts and unclean fowls – 2 and 2.

7:15 2 and 2

8:7 He sent forth a raven which didn’t return (so there’s only one now?)

8:11 In her mouth was an olive leaf (how did it survive?)

8:20 And Noah built an altar, and took of every clean beast (not defined until Moses) and fowl and offered burnt offerings upon the altar.

10:5 Every one after his tongue

10:20 After their tongues

10:31 After their tongues

11:1 And the whole earth was one language.

 

So if you don’t believe the Bible is 100% fact (and how could you), how do you decide what’s fact and what’s fiction?  Why is any of it fact?