The Key to Understanding the Scriptures

Introduction

So far we have tackled issues starting with the fact that the Bible has been changed over the course of it’s history – (See: Has the Bible been Changed? Part One) – and that the gospels originally portrayed the beliefs of the Ebionites. The Ebionites believed that Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary and that he became the Christ at his baptism, I also showed that that the virgin birth story was not originally apart of the gospels. (See: Has the Bible Been Changed? Part Two) – in not recongnozing these corruptions Christians keep themselves locked in a mental prison which no one can free them from but themselves. The same is true when Christians do not come to grips with the many seeming inconsistencies, blatant contradictions and how their God is portrayed in their holy book. This blog was written to help explain some of the biggest but often ignored biblical mysteries of all time.

The Great Mystery 

If the Christian God is the supreme intelligence and creator of the universe who is all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent, then the question must be asked by all intelligent people everywhere: Why didn’t God author a set of scriptures where the meaning was so plain that everyone who opened the book would derive the same meaning from what they read?

The answer to this crucial mystery was addressed in the writings of the church father Clement I, who was the disciple of the Apostle Peter. This work written by Clement is one of the oldest documents in all of Christianity and is known as the Clementine Homilies, and in this document you get a more in-depth look into the beliefs of the Ebionites. In the Clementine Homily, the Apostle Peter is set to have a religious debate with a man named Simon Magus. Before the debate Peter sets forth the beliefs of Simon before his disciple Clement, Peter tells Clement that:

“Simon today is, as he arranged, prepared to come before all, and show from the Scriptures that He who made the heaven and the earth, and all things in them, is not the Supreme God, but that there is another, unknown and supreme, as being in an unspeakable manner God of gods; and that He sent two gods, one of whom is he who made the world, and the other he who gave the law. And these things he contrives to say, that he may dissipate the right faith of those who would worship the one and only God who made heaven and earth.” (Clementine Homilies, 3.2)

Peter then goes on to explain how he is grieved that Simon believes such things:

“When I heard this, how was I not disheartened! Wherefore I wished you also, my brethren, who associate with me, to know that I am beyond measure grieved in my soul…And for the sake of this attempt Simon comes to do battle with us, armed with the false chapters of the Scriptures.” (Clementine Homilies, Book, 3.3)

After this Peter drops a bomb that should shock many Christians, Peter explains to Clement that:

“And with us, indeed, who have had handed down from our forefathers the worship of the God who made all things, and also the mystery of the books which are able to deceive, he will not prevail; but with those from amongst the Gentiles who have the polytheistic fancy bred in them, and who know not the falsehoods of the Scriptures, he will prevail much. 

“And not only he; but if any other shall recount to those from among the Gentiles any vain, dreamlike, richly set out story against God, he will be believed, because from their childhood their minds are accustomed to take in things spoken against God. 

“And few there shall be of them, as a few out of a multitude, who through ingenuousness shall not be willing so much as to hear an evil word against the God who made all things. And to these alone from amongst the Gentiles it shall be vouchsafed to be saved. Let not any one of you, therefore, altogether complain of Simon, or of any one else; for nothing happens unjustly, since even the falsehoods of Scripture are with good reason presented for a test.” (Clementine Homilies, Book 3.4)

The Apostle Peter portrayed the scriptures as, books which are able to deceive” and that the only people Simon Magus will be able to convince are polytheistic Gentiles, “who know not the falsehoods of the Scriptures. Peter also goes on to say that the falsehoods of scripture are presented for a test. Why would Peter say such a thing? Does he not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God?

That Peter might have believed in the scriptures as the inerrant word of God is erased when you see what he says to Clement next, Peter portrays the scriptures as a mish-mash of contradictory doctrines. Peter states:

“…if any one dares to hear anything against God, as trusting in the Scriptures, let him first of all consider with me that if any one, as he pleases, form a dogma agreeable to himself, and then carefully search the Scriptures, he will be able to produce many testimonies from them in favour of the dogma that he has formed. 

“How, then, can confidence be placed in them against God, when what every man wishes is found in them?”

“Therefore Simon, who is going to discuss in public with us tomorrow, is bold against the monarchy of God, wishing to produce many statements from these Scriptures, to the effect that there are many gods, and a certain one who is not He who made this world, but who is superior to Him; and, at the same time, he is going to offer many scriptural proofs.

“But we also can easily show many passages from them that He who made the world alone is God, and that there is none other besides Him But if any one shall wish to speak otherwise, he also shall be able to produce proofs from them at his pleasure. For the Scriptures say all manner of things, that no one of those who inquire ungratefully may find the truth, but simply what he wishes to find, the truth being reserved for the grateful now gratitude is to preserve our love to Him who is the cause of our being.” (Clementine Homilies, 3.9-10)

In the above quote Peter states that the scriptures were written in such a manner that each person who reads them would find what he or she was predisposed to believing in. That Peter’s warning is correct, is overwhelmingly proven by the modern church. Many very intelligent minds and astute biblical students have studied the scriptures and continue to hold conflicting opinions that oppose what the next person sees very clearly represented in the Bible.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God and they can demonstrate their doctrine in the bible. Baptists, Pentecostals, and most other Evangelical Christians believe that Jesus is God, and they also have a whole host of biblical citations to prove their doctrines. The Mormons believe in the pre-existence of the soul. Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, this Orthodox, that Orthodox, this Church of God, that Church of God, the Universalists, the Reformers, the all inclusive Liberals, the Conservatives, etc., they all faithfully read the scriptures, yet these groups can’t come to any agreement on numerous important doctrines. How can we trust such a book when as the Apostle Peter stated, “what every man wishes is found in them.” 

Untruths were purposefully written into scripture

According to St. Gregory of Nyssa the early church father Origen was considered, “the prince of Christian learning in the third century.” The Encyclopedia Britannica calls him, “the most prominent of all church fathers.” St. Jerome considered him, “the greatest teacher of the church after the apostles.” When early Christianity was under attack by the pagan philosopher Celsus it was Origen who was commissioned by the church to respond to Celsus. In Origen’s most celebrated work titled De Principiis he wrote concerning the factualness of the literal narrative of the Bible, Origen said:

“Where the word found that things done according to the history could be adapted to these mystical senses, he made use of them concealing from the multitude the deeper meaning; but where in the narrative of the development of super-sensual things, there did not follow the performance of those certain events which were already indicated by the mystical meaning, the scripture interwove in the history the account of some event that did not take place, sometimes what could not have happened; sometimes what could but did not.” (De Principiis)

 How could an intelligent individual not agree with Origen that the scriptures contain things in them that “did not take place, sometimes what could not have happened; sometimes what could but did not.” Sometimes the untruths in scripture are so blatant that only a fool would believe the literal text of the scriptures. This was done intentionally by the biblical authors so that the believer is unable to read the text of the body of scripture in its literal sense, or in the words of the Apostle Peter, the falsehoods of Scripture are with good reason presented for a test.”

Such of an example can be found in the book of Joshua:

“Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘O sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day” (Josh 10:12-13)

The untruth in this section of scripture is so obvious that only a fool would believe the sun stood still when modern man knows it is the Earth that orbits the Sun and it is the Sun that is stationary.

Another untruth is found in the creation account in the book of Genesis. According to the first book of the bible the sun, moon and starts weren’t created until the third day yet the Bible tells us there was an evening and a morning after the first two days.

And there was evening, and there was morning —the first day. – Genesis 1:3

And there was evening, and there was morning —the second day. – Genesis 1:6

With regard to reading this portion of scripture as actual events in history, Origen wrote:

“What man of sense will agree with the statement that the first, second and third days in which the evening is named and the morning, were without sun, moon and stars, and the first day without a heaven. What man is found such an idiot as to suppose that God planted trees in paradise in Eden, like a husbandman, and planted therein the tree of life, perceptible to the eyes and senses, which gave life to the eater thereof; and another tree which gave to the eater thereof a knowledge of good and evil?  I believe that every man must hold these things for images, under which the hidden sense lies concealed” (Origen – Huet., Prigeniana, 167 Franck, p. 142).

“What man of sense”, Origen asks, will blindly believe such statements? A man of reason would ask: “If there was no sun, moon and stars, how could there have been a day, night and dawn of a new day?” “What man is found such an idiot,” Origen says, who could believe that God planted trees in the Garden of Eden which gave to the eater the knowledge of good and evil, while the fruit of another tree gave eternal life? To go one step further than Origen, I would like to add, what man or woman is so mentally incompetent that they would believe the reason people grow old and die, why women go through so much pain during childbirth, and why evil exist in the world is because a talking snake tricked a man and woman into eating the fruit from a tree. Only idiots believe such things.

But remember the words of Origen, these obviously ridiculous things were written into the scriptures to conceal from the multitude the deeper meaning. Thus the Bible is actually an allegory which on the surface appears to be a historical narrative. The dictionary defines an allegory as the, “representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form.” Absurdities like a dead man rising from the dead, the sun standing still and there being an evening and a morning when there was no sun, moon, and stars, these ridiculous things were written into the text so that the true seeker of truth would reject the literal word of the scriptures and seek the spiritual  allegorical meaning.

This is exactly what Origen meant when he said:

“Scripture contains an unhistorical element in-woven with the history, in order that the worthlessness of the latter may drive us to seek the spiritual meaning” (The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics)

The Christian should immediately ask, “why are there events reported in the Bible that on the surface appears to be history, but in reality they never actually happened?” Origen answered this in the last part of the quote by stating, “in order that the worthlessness of the latter may drive us to seek the spiritual meaning.” Fundamentalist Christians may reject this but is this not what the Apostle Paul alluded to in his letter to the Galatians when he said:

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 

This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. – Galatians 4:22-26, NASB

In view of the fact that the Apostle Paul writes that the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar are not historically true but are an allegory, how does this information impact the genealogy of Jesus? Was his lineage born from an allegory, or does the lineage of Jesus itself convey a series of profound sacred truths to the disciple? These are important questions a sincere seeker of truth should ask themselves.

Contradictions were purposefully written into the scriptures 

 Skeptics have pointed out on numerous occasions that there are so many contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible that only a fool thinks he can harmonize all of these contradictions. Here are a few examples, in the book of Acts the story of the conversion of Paul is told numerous times in this one book yet each time the story is told the story contradicts itself, for example:

Acts 9:7 tells us that, “The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.” (KJV)

But when the story is told again in Acts 22:9 we’re told that:

“And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.” (KJV)

The book of Acts has other inconsistencies too. Acts 7:14 tells us that:

After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. (NIV)

This is in direct contradiction to what the book of Genesis tells us:

“…the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all. – Genesis 46:27, NIV

Multiple inconsistencies can be found in the lineage of Jesus in the New Testament,  and what was recorded in the old testament. I am going to give a few example of this, for example Matthew 1:17 says:

“Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.”

When we examine this matter closely we find a number of contradictions. First of all the most obvious contradiction is that if the genealogy of Jesus is laid out in three sets of fourteen generations we should have forth-two people named yet there is only forty-one people named, someone is missing from Jesus’ genealogy. The second problem is found in Matthew 1:11.

and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon (NIV)

But 1st Chronicles contradicts this statement by saying  Josiah was the grandfather of Jeconiah.

And the sons of Josiah were, the firstborn Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum. And the sons of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son. – 1st Chronicles 3:15-16

Where was Jacob buried? The book of Genesis tells us that Jacob was buried at Machpelah near Mamre.

They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. -Genesis 50:13

The book of Acts tells us that Jacob was buried at Shechem.

So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. – Acts 7:15-16

Within this contradiction we find another contradiction. The book of Acts just told us that Abraham bought the tomb at Shechem, the book of Joshua tells us something differently.

And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor. – Joshua 24:32

 Who bought the tomb at Shechem Jacob or Abraham? The book of Genesis says Abraham did, the book of Joshua says Jacob did. Moreover the book of Genesis says the tomb was bought from Ephron the Hittite. The book of Joshua and Acts both agree it was bought from the sons of Hamor. So you have multiple accounts that cannot agree on who bought it, where the tomb was located and whom it was purchased from.

How did Judas die? The book of Matthew tells us that Judas died because he hung himself:

And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. – Matthew 27:5

Yet the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Judas died by falling off a cliff:

“Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. – Acts 1:16-18

If the objective of scripture was to convince people of the historical reliability of the narrative therein then the biblical authors failed terribly. And if the holy spirit wrote both the new and old testaments there should be uniformity between them but this is not what we find when we critically examine the scriptures. But if in the words of the Apostle Peter, the falsehoods of Scripture are with good reason presented for a test, and the objective of the falsehoods of scripture are to drive us to seek the spiritual meaning as Origen said, then this makes a great deal more sense than putting your trust in a book with so many mistakes in it. The problem is Christians either ignore or try to harmonize these contradictions are literally blinded and reject any thing that does not conform to their current belief system.

Why is God Such a Barbaric A**hole?

In the Clementine Homilies the Apostle Peter portrays the Gentiles as being easily deceived, because they are accustomed to believing bad things about God.

the Gentiles…from their childhood their minds are accustomed to take in things spoken against God. (Clementine Homilies, Book 3)

The same is true of Christians today, Christians believe in a God who tells us, “Thou shall not kill” yet he is the first one to break his own law.

• God kills a man who touched the ark of the covenant to keep it from falling (2nd Samuel 6:6-7)

• He repents that he made man and drowns everyone on the globe except Noah and his family. (Genesis 7)

• God kills 70,000 innocent people because David ordered a census of the people (1 Chronicles 21:9-14)

It doesn’t stop there.

• The God of the Bible also allows slavery, including selling your own daughter as a sex slave. (Exodus 21:7-11)

The God of the bible condones murder, rape, pillaging, plundering, slavery, genocide and child abuse. He’s loves physical circumcision, animal sacrifices and blood sprinklings. Christians not only overlook these atrocities they even defend it when any intelligent and moral person would reject such a God. But in worshiping the God they read about in the literal text of the scriptures and not realizing that scripture contain things that did not take place, sometimes what could not have happened; sometimes what could but did not’ Christians not only fail the test Peter speaks of they also fall victim to the falsehoods of scripture. What the Apostle Peter and Origen are stating is no different than what the great Jewish theologian Moses Maimonides said:

“Every time that you find in our books a tale the reality of which seems impossible, a story which is repugnant to both reason and common sense, then be sure that the tale contains a profound allegory veiling a deeply mysterious truth; and the greater the absurdity of the letter, the deeper the wisdom of the spirit”

The Jewish Zohar puts it like this:

“The narratives of the Doctrine are its cloak. The simple look only at the garment — that is, upon the narrative of the Doctrine; more they know not. The instructed, however, see not merely the cloak, but what the cloak covers.” (The Zohar, iii., 152; Franck, 119.)

So to answer the question, why is god such a barbaric a**hole? As you should have anticipated, God is not really like what he is portrayed as in the Bible. The stories of God doing god-awful things are allegories. In the words of Origen:

“But all the narrative portion, relating either to the marriages, or to the begetting of the children, or to battles of different kinds, or to any other histories whatever, what else can they be supposed to be, save the forms and figures of hidden and sacred things? As men, however, make little effort to exercise their intellect, or imagine that they possess knowledge before they really learn, the con­sequence is that they never begin to have knowledge” (Origen, De Principiis, Book IV)

Conclusion

I asked a very important question in the beginning of this blog, I asked: Why didn’t God author a set of scriptures where the meaning was so plain that everyone who opened the book would derive the same meaning from what they read?

The answer is this: It was by design. 

It was by design that the Jehovah Witness sees his doctrine in the scriptures. Regardless of how many pamphlets the born again Christian publishes in an attempt to prove the doctrine of the Trinity, the Jehovah’s Witness will continue to see their favorite passages of scripture that affirm their position that Jesus was not God. The scriptures say all manner of things and this was done on purpose so that the sincere seeker of truth would reject the obvious absurdities and seek the deeper spiritual meaning of the scriptures.

Only idiots argue over things like did Noah take dinosaurs on the ark or did they perish in the great flood. Only idiots ignore or try to harmonize, explain away or defend the numerous bible contradictions and absurdities. Only idiots worship a God who’s morality is lower than the creatures he created. But as we have learned these things we read in the literal text hide spiritual messages and it is this knowledge that is the key to understanding the scriptures.

 

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