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Editing the Bible

Posted by Roberta Grimes • January 23, 2015 • 8 Comments
Jesus, The Source, Understanding Reality

In the wake of recent terrorist attacks that seem to have been inspired by Old Testamentholy writ, certain helpful folks have suggested that the Koran may need editing. Well, a certain other book could use a bit of editing as well.

My primary objection to mainstream Christianity is that it does not follow Jesus. It follows instead a set of dogmas that were first advanced by the Apostle Paul as he tried to make sense of the unexpected and calamitous death of the Messiah. Paul did the only thing he could think to do, which was to wrap the words of Jesus in first-century Jewish beliefs and practices that are for the most part abhorrent now.

With the plain words of Jesus suggesting that his mission was to wean the Jews from what was already ancient scripture and teach them that they could approach God directly, this stubborn adherence two thousand years later to beliefs that are not supported by either the teachings of Jesus or the afterlife evidence is frustrating for me. So you can imagine my delight when a friend sent me the following email that shows much better than I ever could why Christians and Jews alike should be willing to give God the right to deliver new revelation.

My friend says:

In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, “as an observant Orthodox
Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and
cannot be condoned under any circumstance.” 
The following response is an
open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the
Internet:

——————————————————————————–

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have
learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as
many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual
lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly
states it to be an abomination …. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of
God’s Laws and how to follow them.

* Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female,
provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine
claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify?
Why can’t I own Canadians?

* I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus
21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

* I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev15: 19-24. The problem is how do I
tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

* When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odour for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They
claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

* I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2
clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill
him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

* A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I
don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

* Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a
defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my
vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

* Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27.
How should they die?

* I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me
unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

* My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different
crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two
different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse
and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble
of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16) Couldn’t we
just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people
who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy
considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan….
James M Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum,
Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

Dr. Kauffman makes such a brilliant point. Anyone who insists upon using the Old Testament to condemn homosexuality – or indeed to condemn anything at all! – had better be prepared to start condoning many things that people of good will find abhorrent.

Fortunately, although most Christians haven’t noticed this detail, two thousand years ago Jesus himself abolished all but two Old Testament rules. He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ ProphetsThis is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:37-40)

In first-century Samaria and Judea, what we call the Old Testament was commonly called “the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus is saying that the whole of the Old Testament comes down to the simple commands that we love God and we love one another. Period!

Let’s be clear about this. Anyone, whether Christian or Jew, who bludgeons others with Old Testament rules while he himself cuts his hair or wears blended fabrics or plays football or does a little work on the Sabbath is a hypocrite. If he is a professed Christian, he also is showing a sorry ignorance of the words of Jesus.

(My friend who sent the above email adds, “It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian.” Heh.)

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pelegrino/4610934992/”>Nick in exsilio</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/18909153@N08/5954223821/”>Cross Duck</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Roberta Grimes

Roberta Grimes is an internationally recognized expert on death and the afterlife. Learn More

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8 thoughts on “Editing the Bible

  1. I am a New Testament christian under a new covenant of God’s love,attend a Pentecostal church claiming to be “Born Again” but allow the Old Testament Law to creep in by the back door! they preach grace but still quote the Ten Commandment’s is still in force today,but i feel guilty even criticizing that church does not being judgmental bring me back under “Law”?

    1. What a great question, Dennis! I’ve read the Bible through at least a dozen times, and like you I have been “born again.” I remember being afraid to question Christian teachings. But the afterlife evidence consistently shows that God never has judged anyone, that being a Christian makes no afterlife difference, and that the death of Jesus on the cross never has “saved” anyone. When you know that, and when you see how amazingly consistent the words of Jesus are with the afterlife evidence, you realize that Paul’s theology was of his time. It was a wrapping that by the grace of God preserved the eternally true words of Jesus that otherwise would have been lost. (Thank you, Paul! Now at last we can open your gift and throw away the wrapping.) Dear Dennis, the only “Law” is the law of love, just as Jesus says in the Gospels! When Jesus himself tells us that, and when he declares himself to be the fulfillment of the OT, then eventually you come to see that you can be a “Christian” or you can follow Jesus, but it is impossible to do both. And once you are reading no part of the Bible but the Gospels – and those you read until you know them by heart – you find yourself forgiving and loving and growing spiritually as you never have before. You also are happy! Jesus encourages us to question (“Seek and you shall find”), and he also tells us that “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Boy, does it ever set you free!

      If you would like to see how closely the teachings of Jesus that Paul miraculously preserved correspond with what the dead are telling us, please email me through this website and I will send you a PDF of The Fun of Dying. Thank you for reading and commenting, Dennis!

  2. Touche, Roberta:

    Love really is the answer and I am so thrilled to be able to read the simplicity of your words. A rational understanding of scripture makes all the difference. Thank you for being a beacon of truth in a world that sorely needs it. Sending love,

    Pavel

  3. I AM GLAD WE ARE UNDER GRACE (NEW TESTEMENT) AND WILL NOT BE JUDGED UNDER THE LAW OR ELSE WE WOULD ALL FAIL. WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN GODS’ ONLY SON JESUS CHRIST. THE LAW COULD NOT SAVE YOU BUT CHRIST CAN.

    1. Welcome, Danny! Of course, what we talk about here is truth and not mere religious beliefs, right? And everything in the New Testament except for the Gospels is first-century religious beliefs that have little to do with the glorious teachings of Jesus. I’m sure that as a professed follower of Jesus, you would put His teachings first of all? Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find.” (LK 9:11) He never said, “Bag my teachings, but instead trust in an Apostle who will come along after my death and package my teachings in other teachings.” No. He did say, however, “If you hold to my teaching, YOU are really my disciples. THEN you will know the truth, and the TRUTH will set you free.” (JN 8:31-32)

      Jesus Himself tells us that His teachings are the TRUTH! And he tells us that His TRUTH will set you free! Isn’t that spectacular? Be of good cheer, dear wonderful Danny! All that Jesus asks of you is that you learn to love perfectly and learn to forgive completely, and by God’s wonderful revelation this message turns out to be exactly what we also have been receiving from the dead for the past nearly 200 years. Mainstream Christianity’s appalling core dogma of sacrificial redemption turns out to be wrong, but the Teacher that we both love – Jesus – is proving to be absolutely right ;-).

  4. if you have time, read “The Messengers-A true story of angelic presence and the return to the age of miracles” byJulia Ingrams and G.W. Hardin. It gives a very fresh insight into the apostle Paul and his ministry. I think you might like it.

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