First, let me say that I am not Christian. I will explain why later.
Second, let say that I do believe in God. Not the God of Christianity, not the God of Judaism, but I do believe there is a god. I'll explain my perception of God later. For now, I will explain why I cannot accept Christianity as my religion.
Let's start with the concept of Original Sin. The baptizing of infants originated from the false idea that babies inherit the sin of Adam--termed, "original sin." In defining different kinds of sins, the book, My Catholic Faith, on page 50 says, "Original sin is the kind of sin that we inherit from Adam." There is nothing in the Bible which teaches that men inherit the sin of Adam, or that men are born in a state of sin. A person becomes a sinner when he commits sin, and he commits sin when he transgresses Gods' law. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4; see also James 1:13-15). A baby cannot be a sinner because he has not transgressed God's law. The prophet Ezekiel said, "The soul that sinneth, the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son: the justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." (Ezek. 18:20). Hence, sin is not transferred from one generation or person to another. All men are sinners, not because they have inherited sin, but because "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23). Christ even points out that to be saved, we must be like the children. Jews believe children are sinless, and so did Jesus. Hence, the original sin doctrine is incorrect.
Most conservative Christians are particularly insistent on the literal truth of the creation stories in Genesis. If those passages were shown to be false, then the Garden of Eden story, the fall of mankind and the alienation between God and man would all be in doubt. Some feel that this could negate the need for Jesus' execution and resurrection. Some believe that the entire conservative Christian message would collapse like a deck of cards, if Genesis is shown to be a fable. One writer has said: "Overthrow Genesis and you destroy the whole foundation of Christianity. Evolution is just a modern version of the old Pelagian heresy. If Genesis is not historically accurate, then there was no Fall of man and no need for a Savior. Man is then free to exalt himself and even to take Christ's place on earth!!" Calvin stated that those who disagree with the literal truth of Genesis' creation stories "basely insult the Creator." After death he predicted they will meet "a judge who will annihilate them."
Well, I may well be annihilated then, because I deny the literal truth of creation in Genesis. Here is a little tidbit from Genesis. Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel. Cain slew Abel and was cast away. He went to the land of Nod and found a wife. If there were only four people in the world, then who founded Nod? Who was the wife? How many centuries does it take to create a civilization? Obviously the people of Nod did not come from Adam, therefore God must have created them seperately. Did he create them sinless, as he did Adam, or did he create them with sin? If he created them sinless, then the sins of Adam would not plague them. If he created them sinful, then it is not our fault we are sinful, for most men (all but two) were created by God sinful.
Another problem with the Genesis story are the two trees. Why would God tempt man that much if he did not want them to sin? Notice that in every scene, the serpent tells the truth and God lies. God said that if they ate of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. The serpent said if they ate of it they would NOT die, but would be as gods and know good and evil. They ate, and they did NOT die. Adam lived for over 900 years after the eating. And they did know good and evil. Just as the serpent said. Then God drove out the man and woman from the Garden, not because they sinned, but because he feared they would eat of the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-23). God even admits that man has become like "one of us" (the gods) and was afraid that Adam would eat of the tree of life and have eternal life. If God didn't want us to eat of those trees, then why put them there? To test them? If they were so perfect, then Adam and Eve wouldn't need testing. To offer them free will? Then why threaten them with death, and then drive them away as soon as they excercised their free will? That isn't free will, that is will with a price tag. Obey or die. And he didn't give them a choice on the Tree of Life. He ran them out of the Garden.
Biblical evidence suggests that we aren't sinful because of the Fall of Man, but because God made us sinful. And if that is the case, we are exactly as God intended us to be. Therefore, we do not need Jesus the Saviour.
I also contend the Christian God is immoral. He punishes the innocent to atone for the guilty. Imagine that I have created some action figures (creation), but I created them without one of their arms (imperfection). Then I tell them I will not play with them (let them enter into heaven) until they acquire arms (until they are perfect in God's eyes). Is this just? Is this fair? Then I realize they cannot make arms (gain perfection on their own), so I send them a person who will fashion arms for them (a saviour) and because of this man's sacrifice (he had to give up his livelihood to work for me), I can now play with the toys (let them enter heaven). That whole scenerio fails to make sense. Why would God create us imperfect and then demand perfection before we see our reward? That is cruel, immoral torture. Imagine if your father refused to accept you as his child until you returned to him with a sex change!
The God I accept gave us the ability to learn from our mistakes. He loves us for who we are, good and evil, sins and good works. He likes who we are. We don't need a saviour.
If we do good works, then good things happen to us. If we do evil, that also returns to us. I believe in the concept of karma and the absolute fairness of the cosmos. I also believe in reincarnation and that is the path we take toward personal fulfilment. We deserve all that we have and all that has transpired. Nothing in life is truly unfair.
What if I am wrong? I get asked that a lot. What if I am wrong, and Christianity is correct? Then surely God will damn my soul to Hell. That is what he does to people who think for themselves (I was created by God, and He gave me a brain, so why wouldn't he He want me to use it?) Yes, if I am wrong, then God will demand an accounting from me for my sins. I will tell him I do not have to account for my sins. He will ask me if I believe in Christ. I will tell him I will not let any man, beast, or God stand in my place. If I am to be punished, then punish me. I will tell God I think it would be cowardly to let Christ be my "stand in" and die for MY sins. My sins are mine. I did them. Do the crime, do the time. Christ did not commit my sins, and he has no right to wash them away. Those sins helped to make me who I am. I will tell him that he made me human and he gave me my life, and if he wants to punish me for human frailties that he created within us, then he has every right to do so. And God will blast me into Hell and eternal death. And I will accept that death with pride because I stood on my own two feet and took what was coming to me without hiding behind the skirts of Christ. That is what will happen if I am wrong. I will burn proudly in Hell.
Luckily, I do not think I am wrong. I cannot imagine God being that insane. Let me ask you this: What if you are the one who is wrong?
I asked four Christians that question. I got four responses that they would be angry. That they spent their life afraid of God and of themselves. That they felt guilty when they did not need to. That they were unable to accept themselves when they could have. They were unable to enjoy life as they had to live a life of sacrifice.
Notice the difference? If I am wrong, I still have pride and self worth. If they are wrong, then they have anger. If I am wrong, then I know that it is an unjust god who punishes me. If they are wrong, then they know that they were fools, spending an entire lifetime in fear and self-loathing.
Here are some of my thoughts on Christ's supposed "sacrifice". I have always been horrified by the thought of someone dying for my sins. Why should God kill a man because I, created by God, am sinful?
Imagine this scenario: Let's say you get into trouble. What if I would stand up and convince the judges to send me, someone completely innocent of your trouble, to prison in your stead? Sure that would make me look good, but can you imagine how that act would make you feel about yourself if you would accept my sacrifice? Can you imagine the guilt and torment as you walked free, while an innocent man lay in prison because of his love for you?
That is how Christ made me feel. He did not make me feel good about myself. He made me feel like a coward because I could not face my own punishment. I finally decided not to let Christ make that sacrifice. I will not feel guilty because I sin and let someone else take the blame. If my punishment is to burn in Hell, then to Hell I will go. And I will go with my head held high, knowing that I deserved it.
Christ makes me weak. If He is in my heart, He takes from me my dignity. He takes from me my honor. He takes from me my sins and everything I learned from them. He takes away my individuality. I simply will not allow that. I am stronger without Christ. It took a lot for me, coming from a Lutheran background, to step away from Christ and say, "Thank you, but no thanks. I will take my own punishments." I say with pride, "I am not Christian. I do not need an innocent to suffer in my place. I am not a coward."
And what about this God who is supposed to punish us? How much sense does that make? An all-powerful judge. I don't want a judge for a God. God, to me, is more like a force, good and bad both, sort of like the Force in Star Wars. Use the light side or the dark side, it doesn't matter to the Force, but be ready to face the consequences of your choice. That is the way God is to me. He doesn't care if I use his presence for good or for evil (he is non-judgemental), but be ready to face the consequences. If you do evil, and think negative thoughts, bad things will happen to you. If you do good, and think positive thoughts, you access the "light side" of God and good things come to you. No one has a right to judge me but me.
Why would God want me to let an innocent man suffer for me? Would he not rather see me grow in wisdom and learn from my sins? Perhaps he gave us sins so that we could learn from them and gain perfection from that learning over several lifetimes. Would he not rather see me accept my own punishments and not let others stand in for me? I think it is wrong to let someone else accept the blame and punishment for my wrongs.
Somehow I just think it is wrong to let someone else take the blame for something I did. That is why I cannot accept Christ's "gift" to mankind. I cannot see how doing something wrong can earn me forgiveness for being the way God created me. I have to live my life according to what I think is right and wrong. I may screw up every now and then, but I think I live a good life overall. And if the Christian God is the True God, then I guess I will go to Hell for doing the right thing and not letting an innocent "wash away my sins" with blood.
Frankly, if the only way I can get into heaven is to bribe God with the innocent blood of Christ, I would rather go to Hell. At least there, in that land of deceit and evil, you will find honesty. I don't believe Christ suffered so I could bribe God to let me into heaven. He suffered because some asses hung him on a cross.
Of course, the Christians cry out, "But that is God's gift to mankind! Christ's death freed us from sin!" I ask, "Why could God not have given the gift of forgiveness without killing someone?"
Let us suppose Christianity is right again. Let us say when we die, that the situation the Bible proposes is the Truth. "Everyone of us will have to give an account of himself before God." (Romans 14:12)
Now, let us say two men go up to God and he demands the accounting. They both, being truthful men, admit to being sinners. God informs them that his Son has died for their sins and asks these two men if they accept that gift.
One man says, "Thanks, but no thanks. I committed my sins, and I am willing to take whatever punishment you give me. I am no coward. Christ did not do my sins; he should not have to suffer because of me. I love him for offering, but I cannot in good conscience accept that gift. It would be wrong."
The other man breathes a sigh of relief and says, "Thanks! I accept that Jesus is my Savior. It doesn't quite seem right that he should do this for me, but I appreciate it. I knew he would come through for me."
According to Christian theology, the first man would be doomed to an eternity in Hell, and the second man would be permitted into Heaven.
I say this is wrong. Some of you Christians will need a verse to support why this is wrong, so I offer you one. "But if a man does a thing when his conscience has misgivings about doing that thing, he is already condemned because he is not acting in accordance to what he believes. Whatever does not accord with one's belief is sinful." (Romans 14:23) Well, I do not believe it is right to let someone else stand in for my sins. No one's blood but my own can justify my sins. So if any of you want to cringe at my non-acceptance of Christ and his "gift", then do so, but I know that I am living every day in accordance to how I believe. I slip up and sin, of course, but I pay the price for that. I don't let others pay so that I can get off scott free.
Read this verse: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him avoids condemnation, but whoever does not believe is already condemned for not believing in the name of God's only Son." (John 3:16-18)
Those verses are considered to be the most beautiful in the Bible. I think they are disgusting. God is putting a limit on his love. He will only save those who accept his Son. Now look at my wife. She loves without limit. She does not need me to be perfect. She does not need to send a proxy in so that she can love me. She loves me just the way I am. God does not. I have hated those verses for as long as I can remember. Those verses showed how little God actually cared for the real me. The sinful me. God only wants perfection. I say my wife is a far better person than the Christian God. She loves the whole person, saintly virtues AND sinful evils. The Christian God requires that my sins be wiped clean before he can accept me. I think that idea of God sucks.
Thank you, my wife, for accepting me for who I am. Thank you for loving without requiring perfection. Thank you for being greater than the Christian God.
If the Christian God cannot accept me for who I am, sins and all; if He cannot love me unless I let Christ wipe my sins away; if He cannot love me unconditionally; then I reject His idea of Love. I will embrace what my wife has shown me as a truer sense of love; I will embrace the love my parents offer. If the Christian God truly exists, and he sends me to Hell for not letting Christ stand-in for my sins, then I will love God for sinning against me.
Let's try some more Bible quotes to show the insanity of Christianity. "Do not fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna" (Matt 10: 28)
How am I suppose to love a God that is supposed to be feared? If God is Love, then why the threats?
"It is precisely in this that God proves his love for us; that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Now that we have been justified by his blood, it is all the more certain that we shall be saved by him from God's Wrath." (Romans 5: 8-9)
If God loved us, why doesn't he just love us for who we are, who he created us to be? Why does an innocent man have to die in order for God to love us? I would rather face God's Wrath than have to sacrifice a single innocent life for my salvation. Why does his innocence justify my sins? Should I not learn from my mistakes and grow in wisdom?
"Everyone of us will have to give an account of himself before God." (Romans 14:12) When this time comes, you will not find me cowering behind the shield of Christ. I will step up and say that I am who I am and have done what I have done. The God I know is not a Christian God, and he does not accept bribes. He accepts me. As a Christian, if you wish to bribe your way into heaven with Christ's innocent blood, then do so. I will not let another stand in for me.
The whole idea of Hell is also unjust and illogical. Let's examine Hell. Some belief systems about hell have some apparently unjust or illogical features, when studied within the limitations of human knowledge. They appear to conflict with the best of today's declarations on human rights. Rejecting God is basically a thought crime. It involves no overt act. It does not directly affect another person. It does not threaten society. Those countries which have respect for human rights have long abandoned punishment for persons whose only transgressions were mental and spiritual. Yet most denominations teach that God endlessly tortures people without mercy and without hope of relief, because they do not believe in Him. i.e. they are punished for a thought crime. Most conservative Christian denominations teach that those who are saved by repentance and trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved and attain heaven at death. Those who have heard the gospel and rejected it will go to Hell. This raises the question of what happens to persons who have never heard of Christianity, Jesus or the Gospel. In the past, religious conservatives generally believed that they would not be saved. Lack of trust of Jesus meant eternal damnation, even if they did not trust Jesus because they never heard of him. This appears to be fundamentally unjust and immoral to an increasing numbers of conservative Christians. They are in a state of flux over this issue. There is a growing belief that people who have never been exposed to the gospel will have some sort of second chance to be saved after death.
In most countries, the longest punishment that is inflicted on criminals is life imprisonment, which can mean an actual jail sentence of as little as 15 years. But the punishment of Hell lasts not for 15 years, not for a century, or a millennium; it lasts for all eternity. Many people feel that an infinite sentence for a finite crime is fundamentally unjust. I am one of those people.
On earth, countries with respect for human rights have abandoned torture of its prisoners because it is incompatible with the dignity of the individual. But various sources on Hell indicate that shackles, whipping, flesh eating worms, incredible thirst, and unbearable heat are used as forms of punishment.
One prominent Christian group recently said, "We are a biblical people. If it's not in the Bible, then we're not concerned about it."
That is the attitude of most Christians. They do not care about reality. They care about the Bible. And I think that is just about insane. A Christian I know said to me that just because he comes across a truth that is contrary to his beliefs, he will not change those beliefs. Christians simply do not want to see things as they are. They are truly not interested in the truth. They want someone to pat them on the back and offer to die for them.
They want to believe the Bible is without error. They refuse to actually look at the Bible in detail, afraid they will find out they are wrong. Here it is folks: The Bible is not inerrent. It is inaccurate and fictional. Want some proof? Let's look at the Christmas story to start with.
The Christmas Story, as I see it, many (if not most) components of the stories should be regarded as myth. There are many elements in the Gospels relating to Jesus' birth which did not happen.
· Gospel of Q: This gospel was written circa 50 CE. It does not mention Jesus' birth as being in any way special. One can assume that the Christians at the time had not yet developed a birth myth.
· Writings of Paul: These were probably written a few years after the Gospel of Q, and pre-dated the remaining gospels by up to 5 decades. He makes reference to Jesus' birth in two passages. In both cases, the virgin birth was not mentioned. Jesus was presented as having a normal birth: Galatians 4:4: "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law." Romans 1:3: "...Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh."
· The book of Mark: This gospel was written by an unknown author circa 70 CE. He apparently knew nothing about miraculous events associated with Jesus' birth, and thus did not record any in his writings. If he were aware of them, he certainly would have mentioned them.
· Let's look at Matthew: This was written by another unknown author, probably a Jew who lived remote from Palestine. It was composed circa 80 CE, presumably after some of the early Christian movements had invented miraculous traditions associated with Jesus' birth. Most of the elements associated with this myth appear to have never happened:
· Matthew 1:1: The author traces Jesus' genealogy from Abraham. He lists Jacob as being Jesus' grandfather. This conflicts with Luke, who lists Eli. Jesus' line is traced through Solomon, son of David. Luke traces the Messianic line through Nathan, son of David. The author lists 28 generations between David and Jesus; Luke says it was 41. If the Bible is without error, one of these has to be wrong, and therefore the Bible does have errors!
· Matthew 1:18: The virgin conception of Jesus by Mary is an obvious myth. The Gospel of Q does not mention it. St. Paul not only does not mention it, but implies that Jesus' birth was normal. The author of the Gospel probably invented the virgin birth so that the story of Jesus' could compete with the magical conception of many heroes and gods in surrounding Pagan religions: e.g. Horus (circa 1550 BCE), Zoroaster (1000 - 1500 BCE?), Krishna (circa 1200 BCE), Indra (circa 750 BCE), Buddha (circa 600 BCE), Mithra (circa 500 BCE), Quirrnus (circa 550 BCE), Attis (circa 200 BCE), Adonis (born in Bethlehem many centuries before Jesus).
· Matthew 1:22: The author cites a passage in an ancient Greek translation of Isaiah. The translation was an error: it substituted "virgin" for "young woman." Matthew and Luke probably felt compelled to go along with the expectation that Jesus' mother was a virgin.
· Matthew 2:1: The story of the Magi coming to Palestine to give homage to the King of the Jews was probably freely adapted from the story of Mithra's birth. He was mythical Persian savior, also allegedly born of a virgin on DEC-25, who was worshiped many centuries before Jesus' birth
· Matthew 2:7: Herod inquired as to the exact time that the star appeared. According to Matthew 2:16, this was to learn exactly when Jesus was born, so that he could have all of the male children of a suitable age in the Bethlehem area murdered. Since he later ordered all of the children under 2 years of age slaughtered, Jesus must have been living with his parents in Bethlehem for many months by the time that the Magi arrived - perhaps at least a year. If Jesus had been just born, then Herod would have ordered only newborn infants killed. This conflicts with Luke 2:39 which states that when Mary was ritually purified 40 days after the birth, that the family returned to Nazareth immediately afterwards.
· Matthew 2:9: The story element which has the Magi following a star is obvious mythical. Any star or super-nova or comet or alignment of planets would obviously be tens or hundreds of millions of miles away from earth. In order to serve as a marker for the house in Bethlehem where Jesus was, it would have to be only a few hundred feet above the town.
· Matthew 2:11: The author presents Joseph and Mary as being residents of Bethlehem, living in a house. This conflicts with Luke's account which describes Jesus' parents as residents of Nazareth and only temporary visitors to Bethlehem.
· Matthew 2:13: The author describes the family fleeing to Egypt. No record of this is seen in Luke. It was apparently added to the gospel in order to match the prophecy in Hosea 11:1 that the Messiah must come out of Egypt.
· Matthew 2:16: HEROD'S SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS: Matthew 2:16 describes King Herod's order that all of the boy infants who had not reached their second birthday in Bethlehem and vicinity were to be murdered. The date of that mass murder would give an approximate idea of Jesus' birth. Unfortunately for historians (and fortunately for the residents of the Bethlehem area) the killings never happened. If the children were killed, then historians of the era would have been certain to have recorded the event. Josephus would have been one. He wrote in great detail about even minor actions and decisions of Herod. The mass murder was never mentioned.
· Matthew 2:23: Joseph and Mary bypassed Judea and settled in Nazareth. The prophecy that "He will be called a Nazarene" does not exist in the Hebrew Scriptures.
· Let's check out Luke: This gospel was written by an unknown author circa 90 CE. He was probably the only writer in the Christian Scriptures who was not born a Jew. Originally, it was believed that the author of Luke and Acts was a physician. But recent analysis of the text indicates that his medical knowledge was typical of any educated person of his era. The Christmas story that we see portrayed in plays and pageants is most often taken from this gospel. Matthew's mention of the Magi is then tacked onto the end. Some suspicious elements from Luke's birth story are:
· Luke 3:38: As noted above, Luke's genealogy cannot be reconciled with Matthew's.
· Luke 1:26: The description of the virgin conception is, as described above, an attempt to make a mistranslated prophecy from the Hebrew Scriptures come true. Alternately the author might have incorporated a birth tradition invented by his religious group in order to make Jesus appear to be a great hero or god, like those of the surrounding religions in the Mediterranean.
· Luke 2:1: The census never happened.
· Luke 2:2: Even if a census did occur at the time of Jesus' birth, the people would not have been required to return to their ancestral home. That would be a totally impractical arrangement.
· Luke 2:5: Joseph would not have taken Mary with him, even if he had to go to Bethlehem to register. Only men were taxed, so there was no necessity for her to accompany Joseph. Mary's pregnancy was in its 9th month at the time. She would not have been in a condition to travel.
· Luke 2:8: The author seems to have invented the shepherds; the latter do not appear in Matthew.
· Luke 2:39: The author describes Joseph and Mary as being residents of Nazareth. This is probably true, but conflicts with Matthew's story which has them living in Bethlehem, and only deciding to go to Nazareth because it would be too dangerous to remain in Judea.
· Luke 2:39: Luke describes them as going directly from Bethlehem to Nazareth. This conflicts with Matthew's account which has them fleeing to Egypt and only returning after Herod died. At least one of these accounts must be wrong.
· And then, of course, we have John: This gospel was written by one or more authors circa 100 CE. The writers would have certainly been aware of the birth stories of Matthew and Luke. But they seem to have rejected the stories as myths, and not worthy of being incorporated into their gospel.
After removing all of the fantasy and myth from the birth stories, we are left with the following probable facts: "Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph, in Nazareth in the fall circa 4 BCE." But it would be a mistake to reject all of the other events associated with the Christmas season, just because they never happened. We can still enjoy the stories as beautiful myths and legends, which have inspired Christians for centuries. But that is just it: They are myths and legends. And if his birth is mythical, then what about the rest of the story?
One thing about the Bible you must remember. St. Paul wrote his epistles before the Gospels were written. He did not believe in a physical resurrection, but a spiritual one. He did not believe in the virgin birth. St. Paul does not mention the virgin birth anywhere in his writings. It would seem reasonable to assume that if Paul had known of the special conditions of Jesus' birth that he would have mentioned them in one of his epistles. In fact, the opposite appears to be true: he seems to have thought that the birth was natural and conventional: In Galatians 4:4, he writes: "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law." If he had been aware of the virgin birth, he would have undoubtedly replaced "woman" with "virgin", or made some other change to show that the birth was miraculous. This passage was written some 45 years before the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written. In Romans 1:1-3 he writes: "I Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and separated onto the gospel of God...concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." The phrase "of the seed of David" strongly indicates that Paul believed Jesus to be the son of Joseph, because Matthew traces Jesus' genealogy from David to Joseph. The phrase " according to the flesh" implies a natural, normal conception and birth.
The Gospel of Mark was the first gospel to be written of the four that are considered Canonical. He also did not believe in the virgin birth. His gospel does not include the virgin birth tale. In the time when Mark was writing, the common concept was that God adopted Jesus to be his son, and that he became His son only at baptism, NOT at birth! According to Justin Martyr, the original version of this verse has God, at Jesus' baptism, speaking the words: "You are my son, today have I begotten thee." Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, and other ancient Christian authorities also quoted it this way. The implication is that Jesus was first recognized by God as his son at the time of baptism. But a forger altered the words to read: "You are my son, whom I love." The altered passage conformed more to the evolving Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God at his birth, (as in Luke and Mathhew) or before the beginning of creation (as in John), and not at his baptism.
The Gospel of Matthew and Luke were written about the same time, independantly of each other. They used Mark extensively, and both intended for Mark to be permanently replaced. They were not written to co-exist side by side with other gospels. They believed in the virgin birth and included two incompatible tales of that birth, stealing from various ancient sources. They believed Jesus was the Son of God at birth. Jesus talked extensively about individuals being saved and inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. The main path to salvation that he described is based on good works and attitudes. Salvation is dependent on what people do and how they behave towards others - particularly the poor. Repentance, belief in Jesus or the act of baptism are irrelevant. Actions and attitudes only matter. This path is described very clearly in this passage:
Matthew 25:31-46: This is an important passage, because it describes the exact criteria which Matthew believed will be used at the Final Judgment when Jesus separates all the people of the world into two groups: those who will enter heaven and those who will spend eternity in hell. Addressing those on his right, Jesus says that they will "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." He orders those on his left hand to "depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his [fallen] angels." where they will go away into eternal punishment." The sole criteria for routing individuals to heaven or hell is whether the person gave food, drink or clothing to the destitute, and welcomed strangers and visited the sick or persons in prison. That is, salvation is totally dependent upon one's treatment of one's fellow humans while on earth. The ancient creeds of the Christian church appear to agree with this concept.
The gospel of John was considered a heresy when it first came out and it was the last of the accepted Gospels. It also was written to replace all those that came before. John also rejected the virgin birth. He wrote that Jesus was the Son of God since the Creation. John even makes sure to call Jesus the Son of Joseph a few times to make sure that everyone understood that the virgin birth story was unnecessary mythology. The main message of the writer(s) of the Gospel of John is that salvation is attained only by faith and trust in Jesus as the Son of God. The author(s) have largely ignored the messages of the synoptic gospels, which taught that salvation is results from good works. John does not mention baptism as a requirement for salvation. Many liberal theologians believe that this gospel represents a very different belief system in the early Christian movement from that described in the synoptic gospels.
None of the Gospel writers lived during the time of Christ. St. Paul even thought Christ died CENTURIES before, not decades as most Christians claim. Many of the quotes attributed to Christ have been found to exist for up to 600 years before his supposed birth, mostly from the religion of Mithra, which also featured a demigod saviour who was the Light and the Way. The miracles of Christ can be found in the Old Testament. Every miracle Christ did, the prophets Elijah and Elisha were also able to do. The authors of the new testament just maginified the miracles. Where Elijah and Elisha were able to feed dozens of people with a few scraps of food, Christ was able to feed hundreds. Every miracle of Christ was mirrored by the prophets. Most of the "prophecies" that we are told relate to Christ don't actually relate to him at all when you look the passages up. Every single prophetic statement in the Old Testament was actually fulfilled in the Old Testament!
In the final analysis, I cannot accept Christianity. It is a ridiculous religion based on foundless mythology and unjust concepts. I may as well put my faith in Thor or Zeus. I am not Christian. Nor am I Norse or Greek. In closing, I will give you my personal creed, how I choose to live my life.
I am me.
I believe in me.
I accept that I am who I am.
I accept that all things are possible.
I have the power to think for myself.
I have the power to decide for myself.
I have the power to change myself.
I have the power to forge my Destiny.
I am my own savior.
I am responsible for all I think and do.
I do not live in fear.
I do not live in guilt of others.
I do not shove my ideology onto others, yet I am willing to share its insights.
I am willing to listen to the opinions of others.
I will do Good for Goodness sake.
I will always strive to enlighten myself and others, if they wish.
I will strive for the betterment of mankind.
I will not strive to put myself above others.
I can laugh at myself.
I can enjoy life.
I can live for me.
I can do all things.