Also posted on my Facebook Page
BRISBANE, Australia. Wednesday 6 May 2020
With ever-increasing access to information, ever-increasing numbers of people have come to realise that the doctrines and teachings of the Christian religion are little more than a collection of ancient pagan beliefs about virgin mothers, half-divine heroes and gods who are three yet inexplicably one. Although many of these people no longer believe these false doctrines and teachings, they continue to believe the false claim that they are all based on the New Testament. So they have walked away from the Christian religion throwing the baby out with the bathwater as they go.
Can the exodus be stopped or slowed? Perhaps. But it would take a revolution in thinking to sweep away all this pagan paraphernalia.
Such a revolution in thinking requires recognition of the fact that the documents of the New Testament were not written for 21st Century Christians but for Israelites separated from us by vast differences in both culture and time.
Such a revolution in thinking requires an understanding of Israelite Messianic expectations as they existed in the 1st Century. The most significant of these were that the Messiah, when he came, was expected to fulfill the ancient promises to the tribes of Israel scattered in the Diaspora that they would one day be symbolically “resurrected” from their exile, regarded as a symbolic “death”, and be ingathered to the land to form the Kingdom of God on Earth to be administered by the Messiah in the name of God.
However, by the time the New Testament came to be written, these promises had not come to pass in the material sense so the authors were faced with the problem of reconciling the promises with the reality of a dead and gone Messiah. They developed the following arguments based on the claim that the death and resurrection of Jesus were types and shadows of a future fulfilment:
- Although the Kingdom of God in the land of Israel under the rule of God’s Messiah had not yet been established, the resurrection had brought into being a foreshadowing “spiritual” Kingdom. (Paul taught that it was not necessary to wait for the establishment of the material Kingdom but that one could join the “spiritual” Kingdom of the present by symbolically “crucifying” the old earthy man after the fashion of Adam and symbolically “resurrecting” the new spiritual man after the fashion of Jesus).
- Although the tribes of Israel still remained scattered in the dispersion, the resurrection was a foreshadowing of the “resurrection” from dispersion and death envisioned by prophets such as Ezekiel in his Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones. For example, the author of Matthew draws multiple allusions to this passage in his account of the “signs” accompanying the crucifixion (Matthew 27:51-52) and the author of John claims that Jesus not only died for the nation but also “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:49-52).
If the opaque layer of Hellenist-inspired doctrines and teachings had not been superimposed on the documents of the New Testament, it would have been recognised long ago that they are Israelite-specific in all their dimensions and addressed to Israelites, whether specifically stated or implied by content. (See just a very few examples - James 1:1; Acts 2:36; Acts 24:7; 28:4-7; Matthew 10:5-6, 19-28; Luke 1:32b-33; Revelation 21:14.)
What about Paul, the so-called “Apostle to the Gentiles”? Well, far from being a “universalist”, as is claimed, he was an “ethnocentrist” just like all his 1st Century contemporaries. The general scholarly consensus is that there are only seven undisputed letters attributable to Paul himself, the remainder being written by followers at a time when non-Israelites had begun to join the Jesus movement in larger numbers, which is quite evident from their content which ceases to be Israelite-specific. There is no evidence in Paul’s seven undisputed letters that he showed any interest whatever in non-Israelites, even issuing stern warnings about their status to some who had joined the Jesus group in Rome (Romans11:17-21).
The Paul of the New Testament is not even remotely similar to the Paul of Christian theology who, it is claimed, sought to establish a new religion. So what were his claims about himself and his “theology”? The author of the Gospel of Luke, who also wrote the following passages in Acts 22:3-14; 24:11-15; 26:2-7; 26:22-23 and 28:17-23, tells us all we need to know:
- he was commissioned by the God of Israel;
- he worshipped the “God of our fathers” in the Jerusalem Temple;
- he preached nothing against his people or their customs;
- he believed everything that was according to the Law of Moses and everything written in the prophets;
- he tried to persuade the Roman Jews about Jesus using the Law of Moses and the prophets;
- he hoped to see the promises made to the twelve tribes fulfilled;
- and he preached nothing but what Moses and the prophets said should come concerning Jesus.
So Paul preached “nothing” but what Moses and the prophets said should come concerning Jesus! This statement alone should be more than enough to consign the vast edifice of creedal Christianity to just a footnote in history.
So what does all this mean for Christians today? If they wish to remain followers of Jesus and see their religion survive beyond this Century, then they must reject all the Hellenist-inspired false doctrines and teachings, proclaim that they are not based on the New Testament, and build up the “assembly of God” anew. Their choice!
When Paul uses the designation “Jew”, he is referring mainly to those who follow the customs and practices of the Judeans who worship in the Jerusalem Temple and follow the Law of Moses no matter where they live. These practices included circumcision, dietary requirements, calendrical observations, and so on. When he uses the designation “Greek”, he is referring mainly to Hellenised, Greek-speaking Jews and other Israelites who live in diaspora communities scattered throughout the Roman Empire and who don’t follow the Law of Moses, including the practice of circumcision. (To actual Greek people, Paul’s writings would be just unintelligible gibberish).
Paul’s letters have been subjected to multiple doctrinal overlays and the distractions of theological hair-splitting over issues such as Faith, Works, Righteousness, Justification, Grace, Election and so on. If they had not been subjected to these distractions, it would have been recognised long ago that the seven letters directly attributable to Paul were addressed to those who could understand them, viz. fellow Israelites living among majority non-Israelite societies beyond the confines of the land of Israel.
It’s important to recognise that Christians as a group are not now, and never were, the “people of God”, except through a process of individual spiritual adoption into the Abrahamic Covenant, as Paul outlined in Galatians 3:7, 29.