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Among all the other things you've pointed out, the one on the idiocy of believing without proof (and in fact, it being better to believe without proof), has grated on me recently. I wrote a small blog post on why a miracle a generation shouldn't be too much for God, if that's what it takes. If he truly loved the world and wanted us all to be with him, WHY WOULDN'T HE? Jesus talks about the faith of a child, but the faith of a child also leads to believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy unconditionally. What children have isn't faith, it's ignorance, and as we grow older, theoretically we put away childish things. Adult faith can't and shouldn't be like child faith.

Here's the part of my blog post that I'm just going to copy and paste because I don't want to write it over again: "Besides, Christians argue, even if God were to give everyone a sign now, it would be forgotten or disregarded a couple of generations later. Well, what of it? God is omnipotent - he shouldn't get tired of it. And if he gets frustrated, why did he make things so that his existence was so faith-based? If he created humans to praise his name, why did he make it so difficult for many to know him? If a miracle a generation is what it takes, why the hell not? The sheer number of people in hell according to the judgment of the Bible proves how much he failed in that respect of making his name and his glory known. Sure, the God of the Bible supposedly gave us free will, but he seems to have forgotten adequate proof. Since proof isn't in a feeling and anecdotal evidence is inadmissible, we're left with faith. And faith is illogical. If God requires belief only through faith, he cannot expect constant and widespread praise. It would be ridiculous to pretend the emperor has clothes when he's naked, but even more ridiculous to swear fealty to an emperor one does not even know exists."

It comes down to: if God loves us so much, why doesn't he make it as easy as possible to come into heaven? If God loves us so much, why are so many people predestined to not believe in him? If God loves us so much, why did he only focus his questionable mercy on one little spot in the world?

Blue Linchpin

Matthew 12:30: "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."


Who said this? Jesus? Does that mean Jesus was a Sith Lord?

Erk...nerd joke, excuse me. ;P

Great read, definitely passing this on and pointing friends to your post. Well written and really points out how Christians are, well, full of crap.


Dang. The more I learn about Christianity, the more I think that Mao is Jesus 2.0

A couple of quotes from Mao:

"Father is close, Mother is close, but neither is as close as Chairman Mao."

"Where there is a will to condemn, there is evidence."

And the worst: "The more books you read, the more stupid you become."


Great post - It just shows how much picking and choosing goes on in Christian theology.

Just one additional thought - as you may well know the gospels were not written during Jesus lifetime (if he did in fact live), and were written by folks who had AGENDAS. Mark is generally considered the first gospel written and has the fewest embellishments (by no means a small amount, however). Many in the Jesus movement were striving against what they saw as a liberal creep in Judaism because of Roman influence and their texts reflect that idea.
In fact, Gospel scholars can point to "Old Testament" inspired Jesus quotes as easily as they can point to the Old Testament verses that inspired Jesus' miracle birth story.


One disagreement I tend to have with most atheist critiques of the Bible is that these arguments tend to simply dismiss the whole "Old Testament" as some hateful vile document as if it was one unified philosophy.

If you read the OT from cover to cover you'll see that there are a whole range of traditions interwoven in there from the atrocious to the sublime. And virtually all the "good stuff" said by Jesus is actually continuing the Jewish prophetic tradition that criticised social injustice etc. (whilst going off in numerous eschatological tangents just like the NT)

Steve Caldwell


There are a few things to be careful about when reading the Gospels.

As best we can tell, Jesus was born between 7 and 4 BCE. He died around 30 CE (give or take a year or two).

Of the Gospels in the Bible that are accepted as "canonical," the earliest (Mark) was written around 70 CE (around the time of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem). Matthew was written around the year 85 CE. Luke and Acts were written around 90 CE. John was written between 80 and 100 CE (an earlier "signs" gospel that John's author borrowed from was written between 60 and 80 CE).

And there are non-canonical writings as well like the Gospel of Thomas -- a collection of sayings that has no birth story, no crucifixion, and no story narrative at all.

So -- you've got a long period of poorly document sources between the time of the Jesus' life and the gospel writers putting pen to papyrus. It's possible that there was an intermediate source that was a collection of sayings that scholars call the "Q" document ("quelle" or "source" -- they think this was one of the two common sources that Matthew and Luke copied from -- the other source being Mark).

You've also got every copy of the gospels prior to Gutenburg's Bible being different from every other copy due to human errors accidentally changing the text during hand-copying (not to mention the intentional changes due to copyists with their own agendas).

This copyist agenda doesn't even get into the theological agendas of each gospel author.

So -- in this poorly preserved collection of fan fiction, one asks what in the collection of stories and sayings looks like something that is historically and authentically in the life of the historical Jesus.

The problem here is how do we untangle the pre-Easter "Historical Jesus" from the post-Easter "Christ of Faith." It's highly likely that they are not the same person.

The answer to what is authentic Jesus in the gospels is very little -- for example, the Jesus Seminar scholars think that nothing attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John was actually said by Jesus.

And large parts of the "red letter" words in the other gospels are considered to be later additions by the fan fiction authors.

One final link here -- I wrote a sermon several years ago on the Jesus Seminar research and what it might mean to folks who are not Christian. You can read that online here:

Jesus: Icon or Iconoclast?

Alexis Kauffmann

Hi, Dear!

I do love your writings. It's a pleasure to read this blog's feed - I saved in my "Thoughts" directory. I really admire your atheist thoughts as you shed light on obscureness and obscurity - so much that I must say I wish my daughter, to be born a few months from now, cultivates an intellectual independence and boldness just like yours!

But I must also say that, this time, you made a "non sequitur". The fact that Jesus said stupid things doesn't prove that he was not God. You must take into account that he was talking to very, VERY stupid people. And even a perfect omnipotent God might face a limit to his infinitude in human stupidity.

I may testify this from my 14 year experience as a university professor. Although I never pretended to be God, most of the time I had to say the most stupid things just to get a chance a couple of my students would not miss the point.

Now, imagine you were limitlessly intelligent but had to tell something to an amoeba... You sure wouldn't sound so brilliant.

Be happy,

Paul Crowley

If Jesus had not said those things, we probably would never have heard of him. If at the same time in the same place another man was preaching "You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for yourselves! You're ALL individuals!" - it's rather unlikely that his name would have survived 2000 years in the same way.

In other words, Christianity is popular not because it is backed by evidence nor because it is nice; memetic fitness trumps both of these characteristics.

Fantastic post, I enjoyed it very much, many thanks!


Alexis, I admire the fact that you can approach the Bible critically, but I'm afraid you misrepresented Greta's argument. She was not arguing against the divinity of Jesus, only pointing out the teachings that didn't quite square with progressive Christianity.

Also, you seem to be saying that everything Greta transcribed is a "dumbed-down" version of Jesus' true morality. But even if you consider it to be simplified, you can't possibly interpret Jesus as saying, think for yourself, don't have slaves, don't have sexual hang-ups, welcome women and homosexuals as equals, and there is more than one way to God, because he tells them to do exactly the opposite of that. So if you accept Jesus' divinity, it seems like you either have to accept that he really meant those things, or that his moral prescriptions for mankind have actually changed, which makes you kind of a relativist which, as far as I can tell, would be a big problem for Biblical morality. Unless, of course, you're going to be skeptical about the accounts themselves, in which case, you really need to rethink accepting the divinity of Jesus.


Here's Jesus. His girlfriend Martha has invited him over for lunch. While she's in the kitchen fixing stuff, her sister Mary comes over and starts smooching with Jesus. Martha catches them smooching and gets upset, so Jesus lips off at her. And so we're supposed to hold some sorta high esteem for a clod who treats his girlfriend like that.

John B Hodges

I did a similar study, the main point I would add is that a lot of Jesus' odder teachings make logical sense if you understand that he thought and taught that (1) the world was ending soon, Judgement Day was imminent, and (2) very few would be saved. So, you are not trying to have a happy or successful life on Earth, you are applying to get into Heaven when the Earth is destroyed. See my essay at


Honestly, I think this whole "Historical Jesus" discussion is a non sequitur. We have no more access to the historical Jesus than we have to the historical Socrates. But if we start critiquing the philosophy of Socrates, no one pops up to say, "Well, the REAL Socrates probably never said that ..."

We're stuck with the Jesus of the gospels - or the Jesus of Faith if you prefer. Greta is critiquing Jesus as he is presented to us by the early Christians and as he is understood by the majority of believers. That's the Jesus of Faith, and that's the only Jesus we have to work with. Saying, "well, that's not the real Jesus ..." is just evading the question.


Excellent post, Greta, as usual ^^ I very much agree that the problem is not whether or not "everything" Jesus said (or supposedly said) is good or bad, but rather the problem lies with the fact that people are expected to accept it to the letter without any justification beyond 'because He said so' - and they do just that. This is not particular just to Jesus and Christianity - blind obediance and faith is dangerous, in any context, because it effectively shuts down independent, logical thought. And as the only known sentient creature on this planet, that's all we have going for us. We're just sheep otherwise.

Donna Gore

I heard somewhere that "It is easier to worship Jesus than to follow his teachings."

Donna Gore

Oooo oooo wait, I just had an idea how to have some fun. The next time somebody comes at me spouting babble verses, I am going to say "My favorite bible verse is (pick any one of the above)." Then I will just smile and walk away. They'll have to go to their bibles and look it up.

Greta Christina

Just want to say that I totally agree with VorJack. The question of which verses the historical Jesus really said is totally moot. I mean, there's serious doubt as to whether the historical Jesus even existed... much less whether he really said anything that he's quoted as saying in the four Gospels.

When you start cherrypicking the verses you like and rejecting the verses you don't by saying, "The verses I like are the ones Jesus really said, and the verses I don't like aren't"... well, sheesh. Who died and made you the Synod of Hippo?

That's why I kept using the phrase "the Jesus character." I'm not talking about what the real historical Jesus may or may not have said. I'm not convinced the real historical Jesus existed. I'm talking about what the Jesus character in the stories known as the four Gospels said.

Steve Caldwell

On 1 July 2008, VorJack wrote:
"Honestly, I think this whole "Historical Jesus" discussion is a non sequitur. We have no more access to the historical Jesus than we have to the historical Socrates."

No offense intended, but this sounds suspiciously like the young-earth creationist claims that we have no way to directly observe the "big bang" or the process of macro-evolution as a way to dismiss the work of researchers who don't work in laboratory disciplines.

Ethongraphy and textual analysis social science methods that are akin to the historical sciences like geology and paleontology. They are not "laboratory sciences" where folks in white lab coats can do repeatable experiments.

Based on when a text was written, one can observe the process of the gospel authors borrowing a bit of this and a bit of that (e.g. Matthew basically copied all of Mark and blended the "Q" sayings document into his final copy).

Modern-day ethographic studies of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures can provide some insight into past practices.

Historical writings describing the past can also be used to describe the time and place that a hypothetical Jesus might have lived.

Finally, one can look at the long period between when the hypothetical Jesus died and when the first words were written down.

The types of sayings that survive oral transmission effectively are short pithy aphorisms or memorable stories that went against the grain of the prevailing culture. Longer pronouncements that one finds in the Gospel of John are almost certainly later inventions.

One can see how the stories change over time as the humanity of the Jesus character is lost. For example, Crossan's description of the pre-crucifixion "agony in the garden" scene is very different when one compares Mark (earlies gospel) with John (last gospel). In Mark, there's agony but no garden. In John, there a garden but no agony. By the time this story is written, John's Jesus shows no fear as the story moves towards his death.

Keep in mind that none of this textual analysis is done with 100% certainty.

But it does give a range of probability for what is more likely to be "historical" and what is more likely to be an invention of a later "fan fiction" writer embellishing the story that is loosely based on a historical character.

Also, keep in mind that this sort of historical detective work doesn't assume anything about the existence of God or gods.

It also assumes that Jesus was not a god but rather a mortal man who was influenced by his surrounding culture -- Galilean peasant upbringing, Jewish social justice demands to speak out against political and economic injustice, and Greek cynic philosophy.

This has led one member of the Jesus Seminar to suggest that Jesus was a agrarian peasant Jewish Cynic philosopher. All the "son of god" stuff was a later invention of his followers after he died.


Steve - I find your mention of the big bang interesting. The big bang was an enormous event that took hundreds of millions of years. As for evidence, everytime we look through the telescope, we see objects streaking away from us as space continues to carry out its expansion. The big bang left the entire universe literally glowing with its light.

Jesus' ministry was somewhat less impressive.

And that's the problem. I'm not suggesting that we cannot work from sources of evidence to observe the past - for the record, I'm an archivist, so that's my frikken' life we're talking about. No, what I'm saying is that the quality of evidence is so low that we cannot reliably say anything. I won't lecture; we all know that the gospels are products of faith that come to us fourth or fifth hand through a screen of redaction and canonization.

Yes, I'm aware of Crossan. But surely you're aware of some of his colleges who voted against every single periscope being authentic. I'm aware of the Jesus Seminar, but are you aware of the Jesus Project, which was started by Seminar members who wanted to proceed without the assumption the Jesus existed? Scholars like Earl Doherty pick apart the gospels to show how Jesus could have been just a literary creation. Robert M. Price shows how each saying or story attached to the Jesus character may have come from another source, either accidentally through confusion in the oral tradition or intentionally through midrash.

What I'm saying is that the game isn't worth the candle. We can use Crossan's techniques to say that it is possible that Jesus said this or that - but not certain, never for certain - but why bother? Again, I go back to Socrates. Every one of the teachings attributed to Socrates may have been placed in his mouth by his students. We know that, yet we don't have a "Socrates Seminar." Why? I hold that it's because the quality of the ideas that are important, not the author. We recognize this with Socrates, but for some reason not with Jesus.

If an idea is bad, then it is bad whether it came from the mouth of Jesus or the pen of Matthew. If an idea is good, then it is good whether Paul wrote it or Marcion forged it at a later date. And if we say "Jesus said ..." as a shorthand for "Jesus, or someone in the early Christian community, or some later redactor, or someone else, said ..." what's the harm?


Brilliant as usual. Thanks for making this catalog. I remember a bunch of these from my college Bible as Lit course, but oy it's been so long, and the fundies are just so very earnest that without being able to cite chapter and verse, I usually just let them talk without bothering to contradict them. But I feel once again suitably armed the next time they come knocking at more door or the more noisome members of my family start mouthing off.

absent sway

Well written and powerful. Thank you.


Who died and made you the Synod of Hippo?

That's a fantastic line. :) I've got to remember that.

I was going to make a comment about what Jesus didn't say being at least as important as what he did say - he didn't advocate the equality of women, he didn't speak out against slavery, he didn't encourage people to investigate the world rationally or seek freedom rather than submit to tyranny - but Greta already covered that ground. I have something else to point out instead. Greta mentioned Matthew 5:18, but there's another part to it:

"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

This verse represents an endorsement of everything in the Old Testament's Mosaic law - that vicious legal code that allowed you to sell your children into slavery, beat your slaves to death, stone people to death for changing their religious beliefs, and more. A good person would have denounced this law code in no uncertain terms. Instead, Jesus endorses it as the word of God. Even though Christians believe he abrogated some of it, he never said there was anything wrong or immoral about any of it, only that God's moved on to a different dispensation now. That's a big strike against him, in my book.


You remind me of Bertrand Russell at his most endearing :)

"I cannot myself feel that either in the matter of wisdom or in the matter of virtue Christ stands quite as high as some other people known to history. I think I should put Buddha and Socrates above Him in those respects."

Luis Dias

Great post and great blog. I'll come back more often.


I realize this is extremely off topic but I have to know, is your name a pseudonym?

Greta Christina
I realize this is extremely off topic but I have to know, is your name a pseudonym?

It's not. It's my legal name. It's not the name I was born with, if that's what you're asking -- I changed my name in my twenties, dropping my family name and taking my middle name as my last name. But it was a legal name change, and Greta Christina has been my legal name for about 20 years now.

Lacey Ramse

The things you mention in this post are very much related to my decision to drop out of Christianity. I was one of those progressive Christians who believed in the "love your neighbor" bit but not in the "Jesus is the only way" bit. I got so worn out from doing mental gymnastics, trying to make obvious contradictions within Christianity and the Bible fit with each other. I felt so guilty all the time for not being perfect, too. Finally, I could no longer force myself to believe. I chose to believe in my own belief system and remove the only part that didn't agree-Jesus and Christianity. Once I did that, I felt like everything clicked together. I took out that one piece of my belief puzzle, and I was free to think whatever the hell I wanted, dogma be damned. I am just happy to find others who reject the contradictions and know that morality not only can be present without God--it actually makes more sense. Thank you for your blog!

Bertha Vazquez

Hey, how about when Jesus said, "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to be tempted, cut it out." I sure hope nobody takes that literally. Jesus is all for self-mutilation!! I think seeing a therapist might be more effective.


Isn't it ironic that your middle name is Christina?

RE: "I Am God": it's my opinion that a lot of this stuff was injected into the religion to add weight to it once Constantine adopted it. It was intended by him as the means by which he was going to cement together his religiously diverse empire through enforcing Christianity as the official religion. After all, if one was previously worshiping Ishtar, Astarte, Amon Ra, or Zeus, one would have to replace them with a single deity which had at least as much ego and sense of self-importance. It would also be necessary to bury the legitimate questions about the alleged death of Jesus (I have my theories as to how this happened - and what came of the remainder of the story) so that the absolutism of the declaration "I Am God" would overrule human thought.

And in regard to the comment immediately above mine, there are a lot of Old Testament ideas such as the one cited which would have been intended to pay a similar role. Christianity was still considered a new and radical religion, and it wasn't necessarily accepted by the majority as being legitimate as of yet. In order to do so, it would be necessary to reinforce the idea that Christianity was a linear descendant of the traditional Jewish belief system.

Someday, it will be possible to read the decoded Dead Sea Scrolls, which already testify that much of what passes for "divine inspiration" is really the output of merely mortal humans. Christianity will then become merely a philosophy of living, which is what it should have been all along. The disappointment is that even this is too difficult for its so-called adherents to follow to the letter!


Even the "Love thy neighbor" bit isn't as ecumenical as many seem to believe. Jesus did not say "Love all mankind", he specifically said neighbor. I.e., someone in your community. Not foreigners, but those in your community. In the context of Jesus' preaching, Jews. Oh, sure, there's the tale of the Good Samaritan, but Samaritans were closely related to Jews. They worshiped the same deity, and had a variation of the same scriptures. So, it would be like a Protestant telling a parable of the Good Catholic. After all, Catholics are Christians too.

Like the hypothetical Parable of the Good Catholic, the Parable of the Good Samaritan only stretched the definition of the community a little bit to include a divergent tradition. It didn't expand it to include gentiles.


Martin Luther King and his followers often DID "just stand there and let themselves get hit", and it often worked in the long run.

What bothers me is Mark 14:7 and the surrounding verses.

"The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me."

This seems to contradict not only optimistic progressive hope for the abolition of poverty, but also all of Jesus' other teachings on giving to the poor.


I was raised with these ideas and it is a disturbing and confusing thing when faced with the truth of the situation that the Truth you believe you are following, and have believed since you were a small child, is not only fiction, but harmful fiction. I never thought of myself as a stupid person or a sheep, but I really didn't question things the way you have. Not until I was around other people who did. Maybe that does make me a sheep. I am ashamed, but I know that if I don't admit it than I can't really get past it. On one hand I am so sorry that fear had such a hold on me, and faith was so tempting a pillow to bury my intellect in. I could "believe" away any responsibility and of the real work that would have to come from seeing. Faith really is the easy way out of everything; problems, fear, misdeeds, life. God won't give you anything you can't handle! Right? But if there's no god, then you have to get up and handle it yourself. That's a lot more difficult.

I just found your blog, so I'm sorry I'm late to the party. I'm a bit behind on quite a few things, I suppose. Thank you for this though. I look up to your bravery and your insight. I'm still working on it, personally. From reading the comments left here over the years, you seem to bring quite a bit of insight to many.


Hi Greta,

I enjoyed your post immensely as it highlights what we all do as believers, emphasise your key verses then place less emphasis on the rest that contradicts them. All believers do this to some degree. During my Theology Degree at Uni, being an academic course, there was a huge range of interpretations and theories across the entire spectrum of belief, from Jesus was a Zealot Political Revolutionary, to being God, and everything in between. Some hypotheses were more plausible than others. As most Atheists will appreciate, no two believers believe exactly the same things. Every believer has an internally personalised version of "the gospel".

Steve makes an excellent point abut the search for the Jesus of History compared with the Jesus of Faith, since all three Quests for The Historical Jesus by Theologians, basically interpreted Jesus according to the culture of the Theologian's day. We can therefore never really know the Jesus of History. Before any Atheists think of making "If Jesus ever existed" or similar claims, then do I need to remind you of Tacitus, Josephus or Suetonius, all respected historians from the first century AD?

Where Steve and I differ in opinion (note that it is just opinion) is concerning the dating of the gospels, their literary dependency (if any) and their transmission accuracy. Steve only mentions one of several main theories regarding the various attempts to identify source materials for the synoptic gospels. I once went with a 4 Document Hypothesis, an expansion of Steve's. Today I'm in the "I give up" camp as it is impossible trying to explain the similarities and differences between the synoptic writings, as the writers had differing target audiences and agendas, so arranged their source material accordingly.

The disciples were aging, Jesus had not yet returned so the early church tried to capture as much authentic material from eye witnesses as they could, before they passed away, either naturally or "assisted" by Roman executioners. Not many people realise that most of the disciples were executed/murdered for their faith. Some executions took place at the very same Colosseum you go to visit and marvel at the architecture! I wonder if we'll be visiting Auschwitz in 2000 years time to marvel at the architecture! So if you think the religious right of today are "intolerant" of Atheists, just try being a Christian around 50-70 AD where public executions of thousands of believers took place throughout the Roman Empire.

That's why I can identify immediately with an Atheist's anger at being persecuted and unfairly treated by society. I share your sense of outrage that significantly less numerous groups of society get vastly disproportionate representation within society. I see parallels between Atheism coming out and Christianity coming out of Judaism, but you won't have to pay with your life for what you believe, unless these extreme fundamentalist christians start murdering Atheists en mass as well as Pro-Abortion doctors.

The claim "you've got a long period of poorly document sources between the time of the Jesus' life and the gospel writers" and similar claims that "the gospels were written in the second century AD" are not well supported by the evidence. The first Christian writings were Paul's Letters to the Thessolonians written about 42-44 AD, that's only 12-14 years after the Crucifixion of Jesus (assuming 30 AD) which is hardly a "long period". A significant number of scholars maintain that all 4 gospels were written before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, beginning with Mark around 55-60 AD. So thats 25-40 years after the Crucifixion. Again not a "long period".

The earliest surviving Christian document is P52, a fragment of John 18 in Coptic (Egyptian) held in the John Rylands Library at Manchester University, England, and dated around 125 AD. That is 35 to 55 years after the original gospel was written. Comparing the earliest Christian manuscripts against other ancient literature, there is about half a millennium between Homer and the earliest surviving copies of his Iliad. Although there are hundreds of lines in doubt, my guess is that you will believe you are reading a perfectly transmitted, 100% accurate, error free, rendition of Homer's Iliad as originally written, and translated perfectly from Classical Greek into English. I suspect selective skepticism is at work for most Atheists, just as believers rely on their selective gospel verses.

I'm sorry this is more like a Greta length piece, but after all the good work you've done presenting such an excellent case that what I believe is so messed up, it would be a shame to give believers like me holes in your debating points to latch on to.


PeteMObie, I respect your points, but no, I don't believe I'm reading a 100% accurate rendition of the Iliad, and it doesn't matter. It's basically a work of fiction. Heinrich Schliemann's quest to find a historical Troy was considered quixotic, and even though he succeeded, nobody seriously thinks that Homer's story is true in all, or even most particulars.

It's a fable spun around an actual event, just like many pieces of history. Consider the stories of Spartacus, William Tell, Pocahontas or Lady Godiva; it's human nature to embellish stories and lionize heroes.

King Arthur stories are fun, but I'm not sure any such dude actually existed. And if there's any truth to the stories at all, I'm quite sure it's very sparse.

As a work of fiction, I expect Homer's works have been distorted by successive copying, but they're still more Homer's work than anyone else's.

For a work of fiction, that's good enough.

With the Gospels, far more weight is put on their particulars, and they have been subject to vastly more political pressure.


I think it's quite possible that a brilliant and enlightened teacher existed, and had his persona co-opted and his message perverted. He may not have even identified himself as a diety. Thomas Jefferson rooted through the Bible ( trying to separate out what he thought was authentic. Modern scholar Stephen Mitchell did something similar (, though likely in a better informed way. Ultimately it's not an endeavor one can be certain to have gotten correct. But that doesn't mean this scenario (Jesus being a brilliant, enlightened "mystic" or teacher of ethics whose messages were corrupted) is necessarily false. Something to consider. We could be throwing babies out with bathwater.

Rob Squires


I love your blog and this is a great article. However, you left out one serious humdinger, and that's Luke 14:23 - "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled."

If you read the parable that's connected with this verse, you'll see that it clearly gives approval to force (i.e. "compel") people to enter the church once it becomes clear that they're not responding to mere preaching. Indeed, this is how the pre-Enlightenment church, including (Saint) Augustine and others, understood this (rather unambiguous) parable and verse for I just wanted to share.

Keep up the good work!


Timmer D

"You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for yourselves! You're ALL individuals!"

A man named Socrates did say these things. Another man named Plato wrote them down.


Uh, Timmer, my friend, have you ever actually READ any Plato? He may have been the most totalitarian major philosopher in the Western tradition, which is really saying something. The Republic is a blueprint for a society where individuality is ruthlessly surpressed.


After reading this post and other comments I am amazed and appalled at the shallow and ill informed thinking demonstrated. Scriptures taken out of context, erroneous references, holes in historical remarks. Sad. Very sad.

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