The Secret Gospel

Early Opponent of Christianity

Introduction

 In the year of 178 A.D., Celsus, the Epicurean philosopher and opponent of Christianity, published a work in opposition to Christianity known as The True Word or Discourse. Seventy years after its publication The True Word was still so widely circulated, that the Church Father Origen was commissioned by St. Ambrosius to refute this attack by Celsus in a work called Contra Celsum (Against Celsus). Both of these works are crucial to our understanding of early Christianity because in the True Word we see the allegations of this Epicurean philosopher against the church and in Contra Celsum we see the official response of the church to the allegations of Celsus. It’s like a window to the past opens up and we get to sneak peak at the beliefs and doctrines of the early church.

True Word

The True Word was written to oppose the “false word” which was Christianity, sadly The True Word has been lost to history but some of the arguments Celsus made against the church are preserved in Contra Celsum. Celsus as an Epicurean philosopher sought to understand nature by looking to nature itself, so it’s no surprise that in this work Celsus uses the same logic and arguments you hear out of modern day critics of the bible, for example he attacks the Christians for having blind faith:

Some do not even want to give or receive a reason for what they believe, and use such expressions as, “Inquire nothing. Believe and your faith will save you.” (Celsus, The True Word)

he attacks Christians for believing that God came down from heaven in the form of a man:

“God, my friends, is all-perfect and all-blessed. If He leaves His present state, and comes down as a man among men. He must pass from blessedness to unblessedness and from perfection to imperfection, from good to bad, and no such change is possible with Him. Change is the condition of mortality. The immortal remains the same for ever. (Celsus, The True Word)

and he even attacks Jesus Christ questioning his virgin birth and resurrection. While writing from the perspective of a hypothetical Jew, he writes:

“You, sir, have invented your birth from a virgin! You  Jesus were born in a small Jewish village. Your mother was a poor woman who earned her bread by spinning. Her husband divorced her for adultery. You were born in secret and were afterwards carried to Egypt, and were brought up among the Egyptian conjurers. The arts which you there learnt, you practised when you returned to your own people, and you then persuaded them you were God. It was given out that you were born of a virgin. Your real father was a soldier named Panther. The story of your divine parentage is like the story of Danaë. (Celsus, The True Word)

“Who saw your prophet after he rose—an hysterical woman or some of his own companions who dreamt of him or were deluded by their enthusiasm—an experience that has happened to thousands? More likely they wanted to impress others with this fantastic tale and so provide a chance for other beggars with this cock-and-bull story. All the world were witnesses of his death. Why were none but his friends witnesses of his resurrection? Had he desired to prove that he was God, he would have appeared to his accusers and his judge, or he would have vanished from the cross.” (Celsus, The True Word)

But this blog will focus on one particular claim made by Celsus. Celsus claimed that:

Of associations some are public, and these are in accordance with the laws; others, again, secret, and maintained in violation of the laws; of this latter sort is Christianity. The Christians teach and practice their favorite doctrines in secret. (Celsus, The True Word)

Celsus accused the church of teaching and practicing their favorite doctrines in secret. This alone means nothing but it is the response of Origen that should shock believers and unbelievers.

Origen responds to this charge by saying:

“to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system is altogether absurd. But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are after the exoteric ones having been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others are esoteric. Some of the heroes of Pythagoras were content with his ipse dixit; while others were taught in secret those doctrines which were not deemed fit to be communicated to the profane and insufficiently prepared ears.  Moreover, all the mysteries that are celebrated everywhere throughout Greece and the barbarous countries, although held in secret, have no discredit thrown upon them, so that it is in vain he endeavors to calumniate the secret doctrines of Christianity, seeing that he does not correctly understand its nature”. (Origen, Contra Celsum)

Origen does not deny that Christianity has secret teachings,  Origen responds by saying yeah we teach secret doctrines but we’re not the only ones who do that, the philosophers and barbarians do the same thing so that doesn’t discredit Christianity. Before we get into the evidence that Christianity has secret teachings the question needs to be asked, who today would claim Christianity is a secret system? No one would. In the minds of believers and unbelievers alike if there is a religious group who isn’t scared to share what they believe it is the Christians so to accuse them of having secret teachings would seem absurd in our modern culture. It seems that this type of argument should be leveled against the Masons who do practice their doctrines in secret, the Masons are so secretive that many think they are planning on creating a one world government.

Evidence Christianity is a Mystery Religion

A mystery religion is defined as, “ religious cults of the Greco-Roman world, participation in which was reserved to initiates. The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the cult practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. That Christianity is a mystery religion can easily be seen when one actually reads the Bible without their doctrinal biases. To begin to grasp the concept that Christianity once had secret teachings I am going to begin with the Apostle Paul and the letter he wrote to the Christians who lived in Corinth hence why it’s called the Epistle to the Corinthians.

In chapter one in the Epistle 1st Corinthians Paul tells the believers at Corinth that:

“in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 1st Cor 1:5-8

Paul clearly tells the believers at Corinth that they possessed all knowledge of the testimony of Christ. The testimony of Christ is the knowledge of Jesus’ life, words, crucifixion and resurrection. It is important to remember that Paul letters were written before the gospels ever existed so he simply couldn’t give them a copy of the gospels which tell the story of Jesus. The believers had the testimony of Christ and were now just simply waiting for the revelation of Jesus. Yet in chapter two the mood changes and Paul begins to tell these believers that they have just begun in their walk with the Lord he tells them that they are nothing but babes in Christ and they don’t know the true essence of the gospel.

 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony (mystery) of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. – 1st Cor 2:1-2

In some versions of the Bible like the NAS for example there is a footnote that explains that in the most ancient manuscripts the word testimony in this verse is wrong and the correct word is mystery. The fact that in chapter one Paul already said they received the testimony of Christ should make it easier to accept that the correct word in this verse should be mystery and not testimony.

This leads to the first piece of evidence that Christianity is a mystery religion. The gospels were written in Greek and in the Greek language mystery (Musterion in Greek) means:

Musterion – hidden thing, secret,  religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals a hidden or secret thing (New Testament Greek Lexicon)

In chapter one the believers at Corinth we were told had received the testimony of Christ (i.e. Christ and him crucified) but in chapter two Paul tells them he did not tell them the mystery of God. By chapter three Paul is outright telling these believers that they aren’t even spiritual.

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? – 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

What should be troubling to modern Christians is that Paul told these believers who were told the testimony of Christ and didn’t lack any spiritual gifts that they were still worldly – mere babes in Christ – who he could only feed milk and not solid food. This is a common theme you find in early church writings, babes in Christ are often told they can’t handle solid food (deeper knowledge) because they aren’t yet mature in their faith. Instead they are given milk since they are still babes in Christ. In other words in the same way you that you cannot feed a baby solid food before it is ready (because it will choke) a baby christian cannot be fed deeper knowledge because he/she will “choke” on  it. The secret teachings of Christianity is found all throughout the early church.

Testimony of the Early Church Fathers

 The early Church Father Ignatius (A.D. 35-117) in his Epistle to the Trallaus writes to fellow Christians and tells them:

“Might I not write to you things more full of mystery?  But I fear to do so, lest I should inflict injury on you who are babes.  Pardon me in this respect, lest, as not being able to receive their weighty import, ye should be strangled by them” (Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians)

Again we see that food is being represented as a degree in knowledge. Babes in Christ get milk, while the mature get solid food. Ignatius couldn’t write things more full of Mystery because the Trallus believers would have chocked on it.

Christianity started out as a mystery religion, and remember the definition of a mystery religion, a mystery reliigon is a religion in which, participation in the religion is reserved only for initiates. In his Epistle to the Ephesians Ignatius wrote that he had been;

initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred.” (Ignatius – Epistle to the Ephesians)

This might seen strange to a modern Christian, why would Ignatius have to be initiated into the mysteries of the gospel? Maybe because Christianity was a mystery religion.

The disciple of the Apostle Peter Clement of Rome (A.D. ???-101) wrote about Jesus and the mysteries, he said;

We remember that our Lord and teacher, as commanding, said to us, guard the mysteries for me, and the sons of my house.  Wherefore also he explained to his disciples, privately, the mysteries of the kingdoms of the heavens.” (Clementine Homilies)

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215) stated that:

“The Lord… allowed us to communicate to those Divine Mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them.   He did not certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to the few to whom He knew that they belonged, who were capable of receiving and being molded according to them.  But Secret things are entrusted to speech, not to writing as in the case with God… And to him who is able secretly to observe what is delivered to him, that which is veiled shall be disclosed as truth; and what is hidden to the many shall appear manifest to the few” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata)

Clement said, Secret things are entrusted to speech, not to writing” which means the deeper mysteries of God are not written down in a book somewhere.

Those Christians that were spiritually mature were taught the secret doctrines Celsus accused the church of practicing in private. This is why the Apostle Paul said:

We do use wisdom when speaking to people who are mature in their faith. But it isn’t the wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who will soon disappear. We speak of God’s hidden and mysterious wisdom that God decided to use for our glory long before the world began. – 1st Corinthians 2:6-7

Paul clearly states that the mystery of God is only revealed to those who are mature in their faith. What Christians fail to realize is that studying about Jesus’ life, words, deeds, death and resurrection are for babes in Christ (new converts to the faith) but there comes a time when a believer must graduate past such elementary teachings. This is confirmed in the epistle to the Hebrews when the Apostle Paul says;

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” Heb 6:1-2

Can you imagine a preacher in a church telling his congregation that it’s time to leave the elementary teachings about Christ and move onto maturity, he would be labeled a false teacher and will most likely lose his followers. Yet this is exactly what the Bible tells us. Christians deny that there is any higher teaching, to them Christianity begins and ends with Jesus Christ but Paul said, “let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.” Christians ignore these words of Paul, they also ignore Paul when he says:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. – 2nd Cor 5:16

This is exactly why the Biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann rightly concluded that:

Christian faith is, and should be, comparatively uninterested in the historical Jesus and centered instead on the transcendent Christ” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

This information is shocking to modern Christians. The Christian may ask, “do you mean to tell me i am actually suppose to move past teachings about Jesus Christ. My reply is: Yes you are, the elementary teachings about Jesus are for new converts but Christianity is deeper than Jesus so do as Paul says and leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity if you want to begin to comprehend the mysteries of God.

Et tu Jesus?

To further understand Christianity’s secret teachings we must go back to the great master teacher himself, Yeshua ben Yosef.  When his disciples asked why he taught the people in parables but when they were in private he spoke to them openly, Jesus responded and said;

“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding…’ – Mark 4:11-12

Let’s go back once again to the definition of a mystery religion. We’re told that the main, “characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the cult practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders.” Here we not only see Jesus saying the secrets of the kingdom of heaven was given to his disciples but to those on the outside they only received parables. Moreover the word translated as secret is the Greek word Musterion (mystery) this is the same word Paul used in his letter to the Corinthians.

We see this again in the latter part of Mark chapter four. We’re told that:

Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them. – Mark 4:33-34

The word translated explained in this verse is the Greek word Epiluo. This word in Greek means:

Epiluo – (1) to unloose, untie (2) to clear (a controversy), decide, settle (3) to explain what is obscure and hard to understand. (Thayers New Testament Greek Lexicon)

Why would Jesus have to unloose and untie and explain what is obscure and hard to understand to his disciples when they were in private? Believers and unbelievers alike believe that a parable was meant to clarify a teaching, nothing could be further from the truth, they were meant to hide teachings from those who were on the outside. In explanation of the above words of Jesus the Wycliffe Bible Commentary correctly states that the purpose of parables when they state:

“The purpose of parables was to instruct the initiates without revealing the items of instruction to the ones who were without. This is in keeping with the Biblical principle that spiritual understanding is restricted to those who have become spiritual…” (Wycliffe Bible Commentary)

This is exactly what we find in the writings of Paul, spiritual things are only for those who have matured past the milk and were ready for solid food. What this also means is that those on the outside who try to interpret the true meaning of the parables of Jesus are liable to abuse them, meaning try will come to the wrong conclusion because they are trying to understand the parable from their limited knowledge, not knowing that the parable is not revealing the items of instruction to the ones who were without. 

Can you see a re-occurring theme happening here?

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. – Matthew 13:36

When Jesus taught in public he veiled the true meaning of his teachings by way of a parable, but with his closest disciples he explained everything to them. Paul told the Corinthians that when he visited them he couldn’t openly speak about the mystery of God the only thing he could tell them was Christ and him crucified but he also explained he does speak about the mysteries of God to those who have become mature. We also see from the early church fathers that there are divine things which could not be spoken to those who are still babes. As we’ve just seen, even Jesus himself claimed that he told those on the outside of his inner circle parables so that,they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding.”

Enter the Gnostics

Any one who has studied early Christian “heretical” groups will know everything I am saying fits perfectly with what the Gnostic Christians believed. Gnostic Christians claimed that they had a hidden secret knowledge that was passed down from Jesus Christ himself and that one was saved by this secret knowledge which they called Gnosis. The Encyclopedia Britannica does a good job in trying to convey the meaning of Gnosis, they describe it as thus;

“Among the majority of the followers of the movement, ‘Gnosis’ was understood not as meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘understanding’, in our sense of the word, but ‘revelation’.  These little Gnostic sects and groups all lived in the conviction that they possessed a secret and mysterious knowledge, in no way accessible to those outside, which was not to be proved or propagated, but believed in by the initiated, and anxiously guarded as a secret.  This knowledge of theirs was not based on reflection, on scientific inquiry and proof, but on revelation. It was derived directly from the times of primitive Christianity, from the Savior himself and from his disciples and friends, with whom they claimed to be connected by a secret tradition, or else from later prophets, of whom many sects boasted. It was laid down in wonderful mystic writings, which were in the possession of the various circles”. (The Encyclopedia Britannica)

Now hopefully you can see why the Encyclopedia Britannica describes Gnosis as NOT being based on reflection, on scientific inquiry and proof, but on revelation. Also you are beginning to see how this secret Gnostic tradition started with Jesus and was passed to his disciples and the apostle Paul and later to the early church fathers, therefore we see evidence that the Encyclopedia Britannica is correct when it states that this secret gnostic tradition; “was derived directly from the times of primitive Christianity, from the Savior himself and from his disciples and friends, with whom they claimed to be connected by a secret tradition.”

The Resurrection Has a Deeper Mysterious Meaning

What Christians literally believe is the milk of the gospel. The milk of the gospel was explained by Origen in his reply to Celsus. Origen writes:

For who is ignorant of the statement that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that He was crucified, and that His Resurrection is an article of faith among many, and that a general judgment is announced to come, in which the wicked are to be punished according to their desserts, and the righteous to be duly rewarded?” (Origen, Contra Celsum)

Some of the same doctrines Origen mentions here are the same doctrines the Apostle Paul called the elementary teachings about Christ and that the believer must graduate past.

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity,not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” Heb 6:1-2

Let’s bereak this verse down, the Apostle Paul told the Hebraic followers of Jesus, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity,” but what were the elementary teachings about Christ Paul said they had to move past? He mentions them in the rest of the verse, Paul said they had to mature past – laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death – This means the believer must mature past existing in a state of perpetual repentance from sin – and of faith in God – The believer must stop having blind faith in God and mature so he/she can know God directly through Gnosis – instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands – The believer must mature past ritual baptism and the laying on of hands – the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment – The believer must mature past the belief in a literal bodily resurrection and the concept of eternal judgement.

Origen does NOT disagree with Paul because after listing the doctrines of elementary Christianity Origen says:

“And yet the mystery of the Resurrection, not being understood, is made a subject of ridicule among the unbelievers.to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system is altogether absurd. But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are after the exoteric ones having been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone. (Origen, Contra Celsum)

Origen says that the multitude were not taught certain doctrines until the exoteric ones had been taught. In his response to Celsus Origen even goes so far as to say that exoteric christian doctrines like the literal resurrection of the physical body was:

“preached in the Churches… for the simpleminded and for the ears of the common crowd who are led on to live better lives by their belief”. (Origen, Contra Celsum)

This is exactly why it is important to understand that the Bible is an allegory (See: The Key to Understanding the Scriptures). In his treaties on The Soul and the Resurrection, St Gregory writes that:

“… the resurrection is no other thing than ‘the re-constitution of our nature in it’s original form.” (St. Gregory, The Soul and the Resurrection)

Thus what Christian believe to be a literal physical event is actually a spiritual one. In other words this exoteric doctrine of a literal resurrection was taught to babes in Christ, but the true meaning of the resurrection was taught in secret to those who had matured in their faith, those who matured received the esoteric meaning of the resurrection. This is why the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip says:

Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing. (Gospel of Phillip)

Those who say that the Lord died first and (then) rose up are in error, for he rose up first and (then) died. If one does not first attain the resurrection, he will not die. (Gospel of Phillip)

The true resurrection is an event that must take place while one is still alive in the body, not in physical death. The literal resurrection though was taught to those who were immature in their faith or in the words of Origen, “preached in the Churches… for the simpleminded and for the ears of the common crowd who are led on to live better lives by their belief”.

A surface reading of the Bible will lead one to believe that one must physically die first to be resurrected. This is exactly why it is important to understand that the Bible stories are actually allegories. (See: The Key to Understanding the Scriptures)

Conclusion 

Evidence has been shown that Celsus was right when he claimed Christians have doctrines that they practice in secret. Origen did not deny this at all and the evidence is clear is that early in it’s history Christianity had secret teachings which started with Jesus, who told his disciples the secrets of the kingdom which wasn’t for those on the outside, to Paul who told the Corinthians that he didn’t tell them the mysteries of God, to the early church fathers who said these secret teachings go back to Christ himself:

 We remember that our Lord and teacher, as commanding, said to us, guard the mysteries for me…” (Clementine Homilies)

“The Lord… allowed us to communicate to those Divine Mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them. He did not certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to the few to whom He knew that they belonged (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata)

This means the Christianity we all know is incomplete. In modern times all we have left is the exoteric doctrines of Christianity because in the 4th century when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, he proceeded to persecute the Gnostic followers of Jesus to near extinction. The simple truth is the Gnostics were correct and they faced persecution from the “orthodox” church in Rome, and when it seemed like they were about to be destroyed some of their scribes went into the desert and hid their sacred writings in the hope that a future generation will one day discover them. That day came in 1945 with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library which contained esoteric writings such as The Gospel of Thomas. The first saying in the Gospel of Thomas has Jesus saying:

“Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.” (Gospel of Thomas, Saying 1)

The Gospel of Thomas is a spiritual book for those Christians who had moved past the milk of the gospel and were ready for deeper knowledge. Those Christians who love the milk of the gospel and fail to move past the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity condemn any higher knowledge and claim all Christianity is about is Christ and him crucified. In not knowing that Bible stories are actually allegories Christians don’t realize that the gospel account of Jesus being crucified is also a mystery that has a deeper meaning. If the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip is correct in saying that the resurrection is an event that must take place while you’re alive, does this shed light on the fact that Jesus actually was never crucified and that the gospel narrative of the crucifixion is an allegorical symbol of a higher teaching? Maybe Origen was onto something when he claimed that the literal resurrection was “preached in the Churches… for the simpleminded and for the ears of the common crowd who are led on to live better lives by their belief”.

The only way you can interpret the sayings of the Gospel of Thomas and therefore not taste death you must become initiated into the mysteries so that you can eventually learn the truth from the Son of God himself via a revelation (i.e. Gnosis).

Jesus said: He who drinks from my mouth will become like me, and I will become like him, and the hidden things will be revealed to him. (Gospel of Thomas, Saying 108)

If what i have presented in this blog is true then this means that there is nothing a preacher, theologian, or any one else can tell you that can save your soul, the bible as understood today by modern man cannot save you. Professing with your lips and believing in your heart that Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Saviour cannot save you, only Gnosis can save you. The Gnostics were right and modern Christianity is a mere shawdow of it’s former self thanks to the church of Rome.

Advertisements

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.