Are There Contradictions In The Bible?

 Are There Contradictions In The Bible?

“There have been prophets and students who handle the Bible like a child’s box of bricks; they explain to us the design and structure and purpose; but as time goes on things do not work out in their way at all. They have mistaken the scaffolding for the structure, while all the time God is working out His purpose with a great and undeterred patience.” Oswald Chambers


The following article is based on the belief that God for the most part, does not give over- whelming evidence or proof of his existence in order to create faith[1].  The norm is that God hides or veils himself to protect mans free will.  God does this so that men might freely enter a love relationship with him without being mentally compelled by overwhelming proof.  God does not like shotgun weddings.

The answer to the question, “Are there contradictions in the Bible?”, would depend on a few things; one’s definition of contradictions and the way one looks at the Bible.  If a person approaches the Bible from a  particular point of view which  carries  certain human presuppositions, one could find what they might call contradictions.  However, from another point of view they might be called anomalies.[2]  One of these determining viewpoints is to approach the Bible as if it was totally divine; absolutely perfect, similar to the way we think of God.  This is the position of the fundamentalists of the 18th and 19th century and it was the view that the skeptics of the enlightenment know and rejected and attacked, and may I add, rightfully so.  It still is the view held by many fundamentalists and the skeptical educated class that criticizes the literalist and the Bible.  The sad thing is that for many in the educated class, it is the only view held and even known by most, making them as one dimensional as the fundamentalists whom they reject.

The problem with a fundamentalist view of the Bible is that it overlooks the Bible’s origin as being both human and divine.  In holding to this view fundamentalists approach the scriptures in a one-dimensional way; they often only look at the outward form and ignore the inward substance.  In my thinking, the scriptures should be viewed much the way we view Jesus, who was both human and divine.  Jesus the man (the outward form) could make mistakes, get sick, and hurt himself.  The Scriptures tell us that in every way He was human but without sin[3].  When skeptics say Jesus was a man they are right, they err when they say he was just a man.

You could say that God was hidden in the man Jesus and revealed himself gradually as God lifted the veil, showing his glory, or divine nature to the disciples.  Case in point is the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine and the scripture tells us, “He showed his glory.”  His resurrection from the dead was the final unveiling of his divine glory, and his transformation into something other than human.

As Jesus was very much like all men on one level, but on another level he was highly different. For example, when Jesus spoke things happened.  People’s lives were changed and they began seeing things on a new level of awareness.  Using this example the Bible is a lot like Jesus.  On one level (in its outward form) it is like other books.  However, on another level the Bible seems to have the ability to create faith and the power to change lives.  Like many books it seems to bear the spirit of its author, and its authority is based on that Spirit.

The difference between the Bible and other books is the Spirit that it bears; it is the spirit of Jesus Christ and his Father.  Jesus said, “My words are spirit and life.”  If you take the Spirit out of the scripture you no longer have the word of God but simply a book; a book that can do the very opposite of what it was intended to do, i.e. give faith and life to humanity.

Let’s make a comparison study with science.  Science is the study of the physical reality and has developed many theories about reality based on observation.  Most good theories are based on the best known knowledge at the time.  However, we need to remember that knowledge is human, which means it is imperfect and incomplete and is constantly changing.  In science when they come across some inconsistency, which seems to contradict their theory, they do not throw out the entire theory, but they set the irregularities aside and look at  them later, believing that when they have more knowledge they will be able to explain it.  These things set aside are often called anomalies[4].  Anomalies are pieces which seem to belong to the puzzle but at the time cannot be fit in.  When we are putting a jigsaw puzzle together we do not throw out every piece that does not immediately work.  No, we set them aside believing in faith they will fit later as we progress.  We often find that some pieces are so hard to fit we must wait until the very last minute to make them work.

Just imagine how hard it would be to put together a difficult puzzle without the completed puzzle picture on the box as a guide.  Trying to understand the Bible without having a picture passed down by the community of believers, is like trying to put together a puzzle without a picture.  To make things even harder just think if someone had mixed your puzzle up with another puzzle and you had bystanders telling you that there isn’t any picture and you should just give up.  This is exactly what is happing today.  People believe that they can put together the puzzle of the Bible without the picture and then when they get stuck they blame the puzzle (filled with contradictions) or they just quit giving up all hope of understanding it.

One of the views of the Bible that gets people into the puzzle predicament is approaching it with the idea that it is simple or easy to understand.  This idea has been propagated by many fundamentalists who often have an anti-intellectual point of view and other believers trying to get people to read their Bibles.  The truth is the Bible is as simple to understand as the one that it attempts to explain, i.e. God.  Then add the limits of our culture, language and our finite minds and you begin to see the problem.  However, this does not mean that you have to be a Bible scholar to understand it, but it does mean you must be diligent in your study and it might mean that you will have to ask an expert for some help to understand it.

You will not get to know the Bible by just reading it a few times and to be fair to the Bible, I would say that it would be very presumptuous to say that there’s contradictions in it when one does not know it and it author well[5].  Even if there are contradictions, those contradictions would have to be qualified.  One such qualification would be, does the Bible contradict itself or does our interpretation have contradictions in it?  I had one man tell me that he found a contradiction and when we turned to it, it was not God talking, but Satan.  You surely could not call the words of Satan God’s word, yet often in the Bible you find Satan’s words and the words of men mixed in with God’s word, for example, read the Book of Job.  How do you tell the difference? Very simply, know the context of the passage you are reading.  It is only after you know the textural and the cultural context that you are prepared to understand the text.

What does the Bible claim for itself?  It claims to be a sufficient guide to God.  It says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).  In the work of growing and perfecting the soul it claims to be perfect (Ps 19:7).  I believe this because I have seen it in others and have experienced it myself.  When a person accepts the Scriptures as the bearer of God’s spirit the Scriptures will change their life.

We are back to the question, are there contradictions in the Bible?  My response is based on the above; you will find in the Bible what your worldview allows you to see and what you are looking for[6].  If you are looking for God you will find Him.  If you are looking for the human with all its contradictions, you will find that as well.  It all depends on your point of view, disposition and what you are looking for.

[1] In view of this it would be improbable for God to give us a book that is beyond question or criticism. Such a book would rob man of his free will and would in itself become an idol. Faith is like a hunch, a hunch becomes faith when you are willing to act on it.

[2] Anomalies are something that deviates from the norm or from expectations. In science what seem to be contradictions or inconsistencies are called anomalies.  In religion they are called errors or contradictions.  This is one example of the bias of the secular mind.

[3] For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:17)

[4] All scientific theories have anomalies otherwise they wouldn’t be a theory but rather, a fact.  However, some theories have more anomalies than others, e.g. the theory evolution has far more problems to solve than some theories in physics.

[5] A proper understanding of the Bible only comes to the pure in heart, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. Therefore, seeking God begins with the heart and not the head.

[6] If you are looking through a dirty lens you will see dirt. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matt 6:22-23).

A Letter to a Liberal about the Muslim Faith

A Letter to a Liberal about the Muslim Faith

(please read the footnotes)

I would like to share a correspondence that I had with a person about a number of issues pertaining to Islam and the liberal[1] Western response to it. I have found it difficult to find a general expression that would tell the reader where that person was coming from, e.g., liberal, conservative, or progressive. So, let me just give you some facts about her.  She is middle-aged, white, middle-class, well-educated with at least a Master’s degree and not overly religious. These are the facts. It is my opinion that she is probably a conservative liberal in her political and social philosophy.

Our correspondence began when I sent her a well-documented article (by someone else)on the violence committed by some of those who claim to be Muslim. The article was tasteful with full documentation which was beyond question. In response to my letter, I received a short, curt reply[2] which simply compared what the article showed about the numerous acts of terrorism committed by those affiliated with the Muslim faith with two acts of violence done by Christians in the United States. Of course, it was completely overlooked by the person that the two acts of violence by so-called Christians had nothing to do with their religion and the acts of violence were not done in the name of God. The following is my response to my middle-class, white American conservative liberal:

“You said you were surprised that I would tolerate what you call ‘that stuff.’ Well, I’m equally surprised how tolerant you seem to be of the Muslim religion. Would you be as tolerant if it were the Christian religion doing the killing and suppressing  people’s rights around the world? I did note some prejudice toward Christianity in your short remarks[3]. I also noted a judgment made without any evidence on what you call ‘that stuff.’ Now is that tolerance? If a man is wrong, tell me how he is wrong, and I will consider the evidence. To belittle someone’s thinking by calling it ‘that stuff’ would presuppose that you have a great number of facts to back up your opinion. I would sincerely be interested in seeing those facts. I’m very much into facts.

I would like to refer you to the meaning of tolerance in the dictionary. Tolerance by its very nature includes a negative judgment on the subject in view. I tolerate people who I disagree with, yet because of other principles or considerations, I remain in a relationship with them. A good friend of mine is a womanizer, and yet I tolerate him hoping he will change through my influence on him. The time might come when my tolerance wears thin, and I tell him to take a hike. Today when people use the word tolerance, they have taken the idea of a negative judgment out of it, which means that what they’re talking about is no longer tolerance but something else. If you can articulate what that something else is, please let me know (sincerely). When it comes to Muslims, I can tolerate some easier than others. My level of tolerance depends on their level of commitment to their faith, that is, their prophet and their book. I’ll say more about this later. (If you are reading this and fancy yourself as a progressive, I really would like your definition of tolerance. My friend never answered.) 

I personally have done a good deal of research on the subject of Islam[4]. My conclusion is that it is a bad religion. Therefore, I have an obligation to speak out against it. However, I still tolerate the Muslim people in the true sense of the word. I wish the Muslim people only the best, which would entail their deliverance from their bad religion. As a true liberal America, I do not tolerate the Muslim prejudice and hate speech toward the Jews or other religious groups, nor their practice of polygamy, as well as much of their cultural view of women in general. Their lack of tolerance for religious freedom and free speech borders on that of the Nazis and Communists. I have little tolerance for such behavior. On the other hand, I can tolerate and even agree with some of their religious beliefs, traditions, and culture and at the same time disagree with them on other things. Tolerance does not mean that one has to pretend that you accept everyone’s beliefs as equal to your own. This includes religious beliefs. In order to do that, you would have to be a complete relativist and a perfect egalitarian. I am neither.

From your remarks, it seems that you believe that Muslim terrorism is a small isolated problem similar to that of Tim McVey and Waco. I’d have to agree that Waco was an act of terrorism, but I’m not sure who the terrorists were, the cult or the government. I respectively disagree with your comparison of Tim McVey, Christianity, and Muslim extremists. There is absolutely no comparison to a few acts of violence committed by a handful of men in a small cult, with what is happening throughout the world by the hands of thousands of Muslims, possibly hundreds of thousands or even millions. If you’re worried about offending people, I would worry about offending Christians with that comparison. You cannot point to one predominantly Muslim country where Christians and Jews are not being persecuted  by Muslims. In India, they seem to like to target Buddhists and Hindus as well. By the way, this information is suppressed to a large degree by the media in the West. It would make an interesting intellectual pursuit to understand why the media is so blind to the violence of this religion. Could it be a progressive ideology that blinds them to the fact that pluralism is nothing more than a myth? Of course, the media and academia were blind to Hitler and the Communists, as well.

In fact, the only places that have true religious freedom are Western Europe and the United States, countries that have been influenced by Christianity and classic liberalism and have not yet been brought under the spell of atheistic communism and Islam. I say this to point out that freedom is rare and should be protected from all that would destroy it. It is quite obvious that the common denominator among the nations where people are persecuted for their religious faith and speaking out for freedom is where either the majority is Muslim or the oligarchy is atheist. There is every reason to believe that when the numbers of Muslims or atheists reach a large enough number in any country, persecution of other religions and beliefs will start. In Europe where Muslims number 15% to 20% of the population, people are already being intimidated by threats of death if they speak out against Islam. There’s no reason to think it will not happen in our future. In fact, at their present birth rate Muslims will be one of the biggest political groups in the country by 2050. Some estimate the number as high as 40 to 50 million.

I have read the Koran and found the flaws in Islam are not so much in its followers as in its founder and its holy Book. There are at least 100 verses in the Koran telling Muslims to kill the people of the Book (Christians and Jews)[5]. These passages have been softened in some English versions of the Koran. Mohammad himself was a polygamist, pedophile[6], and a terrorist (of course, you may try to excuse this on cultural grounds). To say this in any Muslim country publicly would cost me my life[7]. For a Muslim to build bridges with Christians and Jews, it would involve them denying their own Holy Book and their prophet. Now that is a real possibility. We have an example of this happening with numerous Christians who deny much of the New Testament because of the secular brainwashing they have received in our public schools. I personally don’t think the Muslim community is going to buy into that brainwashing; one thing that I respect about Muslims is the level of their commitment to their faith. I based the above opinion on the fact that they have not assimilated into Western culture in Europe.

Let me also point out that there is a huge difference between Christianity and the Muslim faith. In Christianity, the flaw is with the followers and not with the leader (Jesus) or with the message of the book (New Testament). However, the very opposite is true of the Muslim faith. The flaw is not only in some of the disciples or followers but rather with the prophet and the revelation (the book).

Let me hasten to point out that I am no more friendly toward some Christian sects than I am toward some of the Muslim sects. The Calvinists of the Middle Ages were a mean lot and some Roman Catholics did some harm during the Inquisition. However, most of this abuse has been greatly embellished by atheists and secular folks to bring reproach on Christianity. I would also say that most organized religion is a form of idolatry, and I include the Christian religion. Therefore, I have very little love for most organized religion. Jesus said the truth will set you free. He did not say that religion would set you free. All religions should be watched for abuses; this includes the Christian religion. One sect of the Muslim faith, the Baha’i is a very peaceful religious sect, and I can fully tolerate their beliefs and would, from a human point of view, grade their religion as being good. However, they have been viciously persecuted by their own Muslim brothers in every country where they exist.

Before we start building bridges, I think it would be good to do some real research and have some real debate on where we are building those bridges to. In the 1930s, many were saying that we should be building bridges with the Nazis and then in the 1940s they were saying we should be building bridges with the communists. If the 30s and 40s proved anything, they demonstrated that Americans are naïve and gullible. We should learn from history to watch ourselves. Bridge building is fine if you mean by it a dialogue. I’ll dialogue with anyone who will speak in good faith and carry on an honest debate, but at the same time I’ll be watching what they do and not just listening to what they say.

Now, in this I am not saying that the Muslim people as a whole are evil. I have a number of Muslim friends who are good people. However, like most ethnic groups and ideological groups, they all tend to support the same ethnic and ideological groups that they are members of.  Most of the Germans in the 30s and 40s were not Nazis and by human standards the majority of them were nice people. Nevertheless, when it came to the war, they supported the Nazis. Most people are like sheep that will follow the leader. Many of the Muslim leaders have a will to power and are evil. Yes, I still believe in evil. Because people are like sheep and follow their leaders, you should not judge a movement, ideology, or a religion by what the average person believes or does, but rather by the foundational beliefs and the goals of its leadership. In the case of the Muslim faith, there are a large number of their leaders who want to destroy the Jews and every other religious faith that will not bow the knee to Mohammad. I personally don’t feel any obligation to tolerate these leaders, to accept them, or to ignore their behavior or speech. To me, this would border on insanity.

It is extremely important for our culture in order to stay free to label and resist any religion or ideology that would rob us of freedom. Just because a group calls itself a religion does not give it the right to be insensitive to the feelings and emotions of others. They may have a right under the Constitution to build a mosque on Ground Zero, but the same Constitution gives those whom their offending the right to protest their building of that mosque. I find it very strange that a religion, which says it wants to build bridges of peace and healing, would be so insensitive that when hearing that 70% of the people don’t want that mosque built there, would not immediately change their plans.

I would invite you to read and study some good books on the Muslim faith before building too many bridges. I purposely did not use the Bible to discredit the Muslim faith because I believe that it is self-evident that Muslim beliefs contradict much of the teachings of Jesus. Please excuse me for any “rambling on” that may be in this letter. I realize there are many other points that I could expound on that would clarify my beliefs on this topic even more, if time would allow. If you cannot tolerate my opinions, I will take you off my mailing list if that is your wish. It is not my purpose to offend or upset people but just to present facts to thoughtful people who may be seeking the truth.”

Following is a list of a few books you might be interested in:

The Hidden Origins of Islam (An academic book that researches the origin of Islam)

Islam and Terrorism (by Mark A. Gabriel Ph.D., former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University Cairo, Egypt.)

The Unseen Face of Islam.(by Bill Musk)

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (by Robert Spencer.  This book is a critique of the Koran in comparison to the teachings of the Bible and Christianity.)

The Koran (Islam’s Holy Book)

[1] When I use the word liberal I am using it to denote those people that have embraced the ideology of liberalism.

[2] This is a typical response of the liberals I have encountered. Not much content.

[3] Liberals in general have a negative biased towards Christianity. One reason for this is that Christianity rivals Liberalism for the high ground of morals and ethics and is it sole competitor on the stage of ethics and intellectual rigor. In essence, Christianity is liberalism’s chief competitor in the world of ideas.

[4] I do not consider myself an expert on Islam. However, I have read a number books on Islam and the Koran.

[5] Sometimes it is hard to determine who the Koran is referring to as unbelievers. Some Moslems believe that it is only talking about people who attack Islam.

[6] Mohammed married a nine-year-old girl and consummated the relationship. For some this can be justified culturally. I leave it up to the reader.

[7] In contrast Christianity has tolerated attacks on its belief system and its founding documents since the time of the Enlightenment. They have defended themselves not with violence but with intellectual argument.

The Death of Religion

The Death of Religion[1]

The Christ event, the death and resurrection of Christ, symbolizes many things like the end of the old order and the beginning of the new  “It represented a new way of approaching God and a new and better covenant. However, many fail to see that the first part the equation, the death of Christ marked the end of religion as a way to approach God.  So, we could say that when Christ died, all religion died with him, along with all of its idols.”  In view of this statement, I thought it good to give the readers a working definition of what we mean by religion.

The most common idea that comes to mind when we hear the word religion is one of ceremonial and other worldliness.  However, when we look deeper we begin to see a sense of religion in just about everything we humans say and do.  We see it in our devotion and ceremonialism in regards to our professionalism and nationalism.  Robert D. Brinsnead goes so far as to say, “To be a person is to be religious, because a person is by nature homo religious.”  One man said, “that a man’s religion is his ultimate concern” and we all have an ultimate concern.

We can also understand the word religion in a narrow sense to mean an institution that forms the foundation of a society and gives it the moral fabric that holds it together[2].  Religion as an institution can be created by humans as in the case of the world’s great religions like Buddhism,  Islam, and modern Christianity, or it can be a divinely created religion like ancient Judaism or primitive Christianity.  It can be organized like the great religions around the world, or unorganized like American civil religion or New-Age religion.  It may even take the form of non-religion like atheistic communism, which itself has become a religion.  It is religion in the form of institution that we will be discussing in this article.

From the above we can gather that we can never be completely free from religion in its broadest sense and probably not in any sense of the word.  However, we can strive to be free of bad religion in every sense of the word.  We might say that anything we do or say that does not lead to life is bad religion.

If you didn’t notice, let me draw your attention to the fact that in talking about religion I did not classify primitive Christianity as a religion.  I did this for the simple reason that it is not a religion but rather a way of life.  Jesus Christ never founded an organized religion nor did he intend his followers to fabricate one.  In fact, Jesus’ intent was to destroy religion as a mediator between God and man.  Therefore, primitive Christianity in the first century, like its Lord, stood against all institutionalized religion.  It called upon all men everywhere to cease building the institutions of religion, which is a call for man to stop making idols and to start having a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  The command of God in the gospel is that all men must come out of religion into his Son (II Cor 6:14-18).  This calling out of religion includes modern Christianity, which is a total subversion of primitive Christianity.

In order to understand the degree of this subversion, we must further understand the contrast between modern Christianity and primitive Christianity, the latter we will refer to from now on as the Faith.  We will see from this contrast that the Faith was subversive to all religion and that modem Christianity is nothing more than a total perversion of the true Faith, which we will see has very little in common with religion in any of its form or institutions.

As we begin to observe organized religion, you will begin to see a common thread that runs through all religion.  That thread is that religion is the mediator between man and his absolute.  In some cases, this absolute is God, in others it is an idol.  An idol is anything made by man and exalted by man as his absolute.  This would include ideologies and theological belief systems that have been created to serve him in his understanding of God and reality.  Given time these systems usually are exalted to be absolutes.  When this happens they become idols and men soon found that these systems of belief that were intended to serve and liberate them, have in fact enslaved them[3].  The religious traditions and institutions that he has made to serve him by giving structure and form have become his master.  A modem example of this enslavement to an ideology is Marxism.  First, you have the ideology that was meant to enrich mankind.  Then you have the subversion of it by the followers of the founder.  Then you have the institution that enslaves while claiming to be the perfection of the ideas of its founder.

This subversion and movement away from the founders intentions can be seen equally well in the Christian movement.  The Christian church in its institutional form has watered down and has even subverted the teachings of its Lord to make them and itself acceptable to the masses.  This perversion is often done under the cloak of evangelism and the love of souls.  However, the truth about of the matter is that the institutionalized church loves numbers because it loves power and the status of the numbers.

Subsequently, in order to protect and propagate itself, the institution must also exalt itself to a place of being the sole mediator between its members and their absolute.  It usually also claims the right to invest the authority of mediation on certain sacred people, places, codes, and times.  Thus we have the creation of the distinction between the sacred and the profane.  As long as the institution has control over the sacred, it has a tremendous power over its followers.  It is in this area of distinction between the sacred and the profane that primitive Christianity became hostile to all religion.  For it proclaimed that in the resurrection of Christ, that God had declared all things clean or sacred, for He is the Lord of all things and all people.  In this act of raising his Son, he forever abolished the distinction between the sacred and profane.  Therefore, this act of God is also the abolition of all religion, which raises the question; can one believe in the resurrected Christ and religion at the same time?

We have already made the statement that religion mediates though the channels of sacred people (priests or clergymen), sacred places (temples, shrines, etc.), sacred laws (creeds, theological systems, laws, etc.) sacred times (Sabbath day, Sunday, etc.).  However, when we look at primitive Christianity we see an amazing absence of these sacred mediators.  Instead, we find that there is only one mediator between God and man, and that one mediator is not a religion nor any of its forms of mediation, but rather a man.  “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.  The testimony given in its proper time” (1 Tim 2:5,6).  If we build on this teaching of the apostle Paul, we must conclude that when Jesus Christ appeared, all religion ceased to mediate the presence of God.  In other words, when Jesus came to life, all institutionalized religion was put to death along with all its forms of mediation.  At least in the mind of God.

It was religion and its laws that judged Jesus to be the accursed one, but God reversed that judgment by raising him from the dead and declaring him to be the just one.  In justifying Jesus in this mighty act of raising him from the dead, God condemned to death all religion, placing it in the old order of things that was done away with through Christ (John 19:7,  Col. 2:13-17).  He also shows in this act that the real intent and purpose of the Law (religion) was to point people toward Christ and to bring them to faith in the perfect revelation of God which is Jesus Christ (John 1:17, Gal 3:23-25).  In restoring Law [religion] to its proper place and fulfilling it by his very presence, Jesus dismantled one of the main forms of mediation of religion.  In religion law rules as the absolute.  In the Faith it is the living Christ that rules and we could go so far as to say that his standard of rule is not a written code but rather the well-being of man (Mark 2:27).  When God raised Jesus from the dead and enthroned him at his right hand, He dethroned all religion.  The living Christ has replaced all religion (a system of law or theology).  To be involved in making new laws, religions, or systems of theology, is to stand opposed to the living Christ.

Moreover, where institutionalized religion rules there must also be a sacred group of people to teach and enforce the law, for the profane or common people as defined by religion, have no right to handle the sacred law.  Thus we have the need for the professional clergy that is set apart for the sacred.  However, when we look at primitive Christianity we find no evidence of a professional clergy that was set apart from other members of the community of Faith.  In fact, we find evidence that would contradict and even condemn any professionalization or sacralization of any group in the Christian movement.  The message we find in the New Testament is that in Jesus Christ all men are equal and have equal access to God through the one mediator, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the apostle Peter could refer to all believers as priests of God (I Peter 2:9).

In the act of making all believers priests, God has forever done away with a separate or professional priesthood or clergy system.  In his book entitled “The Church” the Catholic theologian Hans Kung says, “all human priesthood has been fulfilled and finished by the unequal final, unrepeatable and hence unlimited sacrifice of the one continuing eternal high priest.  The perfect self-offering sacrifice replaces all cultic sacrifices offered by men; the perfect priest replaces all human priests” (page 469).  In commenting on 1 Peter 2:4, Kung says, “the word ‘priest’ ” occurs again here, not used in the sense of an official priesthood, and not in reference to the one high priest Christ, but applied through him and in him to all believers.  The WHOLE people, filled by the Spirit of Christ, becomes a priesthood set apart; all Christians are “priests”[4] (page 475). In making all Christians priests, God has made them equal and has forever destroyed the religious concept of mediation through sacred groups of men or women.  In this we again see a marked distinction between religion that promotes a sacred group of men and primitive Christianity that makes all men equal before God.

Religion tells us the temple or Holy Place is the place where man will find and worship God.  In religion the temple or shrine is the symbol of the presence of God.  However, when we turn to the New Testament, we find the very opposite message.  In fact, the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was killed for telling religious people that God does not dwell in earthly dwellings made by man (Acts 7:48).  The apostle Paul proclaimed the same message when he visited Athens.  “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples (church buildings) built by hands” (Acts 17:24).

In His polemics with the Pharisees, Jesus contrasted the physical temple in Jerusalem with his own body. In this, he was claiming to be the new temple of God.  No longer would men find God in earthly temples made out of brick and mortar, but now they would find him in a person.  As God dwelled in the physical body of Jesus, He now dwells in the spiritual body of Jesus, which is made up of all that believe in Jesus as their Lord (II Cor 6:16).  This group of people is referred to in scripture as the church.  In the Bible the word church is used to denote a people, never a building.  This is why the apostle Paul could refer to the church as the new temple of God in the new order.  From this it becomes obvious that the only place that God dwells in all of creation, is in the only thing that was created in his image, that is man.  God dwells in our brother and only in our brother.  Therefore mankind and only mankind is sacred.  What we do to our fellow man therefore, we are actually doing to God.  This is why Christians put such a high importance on human life.  This is why we must go to the aid of our brother; for helping our brother is helping God (Matt 25:26).  We that are brothers in Christ should remember this teaching when we begin to tear each other apart in the name of truth.  What truth is more important than our brother?

We also see in religion an emphasis on sacred times.  Both in Judaism and paganism we find a distinct separation between the sacred and the profane in regards to time.  In paganism, the times vary greatly. In Judaism, we find the Sabbath day or the seventh day set apart with a number of additional feast days as the sacred times for the Jewish people.  However, when we turn to the New Testament, we find the distinction between times abolished in Christ.  In the new order in Christ, all time becomes sacred because it all belongs to Christ.  For he is the creator and Lord of all time (Col 1:15-18).

The apostle Paul in writing to Gentile Christians that had been converted out of paganism, exhorted them not to go back to religion by observing special times and days.  “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not Gods.  But now that you know God or rather are known by God how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?  You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!  I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Gal 4:8-11).  He goes on to say, “therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat, drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Col 2:16-17)  Some have misunderstood this passage thinking that Paul was saying that the reality behind the Sabbath was Sunday.  However when we look at the passage in its context we quickly see that the reality behind the Sabbath was not just another or different sacred day, but rather the person of Christ himself.  It is Christ that is the final and perfect rest for the people of God. (Heb 3:7-11).

By Through Christ, God has made all times sacred by entering into ALL of time in the person of His son Jesus.  In everything that Jesus did, he did it to the glory of God.  Therefore, everything he did was worship to the Father.  In this, Jesus demonstrated that God is present in all times and activities.  For in Jesus (God with us), God has entered into the very times and activities where Christ was involved.  In this God was telling us that the everyday and ordinary has become sacred.  Therefore, Christians no longer worship God at a particular time or place, for they worship him at all times in everything they do (Col 3:17).  This also means that our work, play and even our rest is worship to the Father, for we see Jesus involved in all of these things making them acceptable to the Father.  Christians do not come together to worship God in the traditional sense but rather to encourage and to exhort one another unto good works, which is worship in its true sense (Heb 10:24-25).  The good works that we do outside of our meetings are the highest form of worship for the spiritually mature.  Putting the emphasis on coming together to worship God in a sacred place at a sacred time is a digression back to religion and a movement away from God.  Note Herman Ridderbos, “Paul: An Outline of His Theology” (Page 481).

The modern church’s emphasis on corporate worship with its ritual, form, and structure is a move back to religion and an effort to take God out of the everyday or ordinary and place him back into the sacred.  Great attention is given to create the atmosphere that will give the worshiper the sense of the presence of God.  This sends the message that God is somehow more present in this religious atmosphere than in the nonreligious everyday.  It matters little whether the religious atmosphere is created by icons, ritual, esthetics or emotionalism; it all represents a return to religion.  When religion does this, it presents God as the totally other, that is, totally removed from the everyday, a God that must be approached through sacred people and sacred places.  However, in the New Testament we see a very human God that draws close to man in the everyday.  A God who has come among his people in the form of a man.  A God to whom all have equal access.  A God that is near and can be called on in any place and at any time.  A God that has hallowed the everyday with his presence.

Moreover, religion makes worship something you do in a sacred place and is directed toward God.  In contrast, when we look at the Faith, we find that worship is something you do in the everyday and is directed toward God through your fellow man.  “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Heb 13:16)  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)  From this we can gather that true religion and true worship is something that is done in the everyday and has very little, if anything, to do with what the modern church calls worship.  True worship is loving your brother and sharing the message of God’s love with your neighbor.

From all this, we can conclude that religion, instead of bringing or drawing us closer to God, actually distances us from God.  But if this is the case, how do we explain this phenomenon?  How could a faith that started out as a simple way of life turn into a religion?  How could God be taken out of the ordinary and placed back into the sacred? The answer is that the Christian faith was subverted by religion and human wisdom.  The tracing of the evolution of this subversion is beyond the scope of this article.  However, for those who would like a complete treatment of this subversion, I recommend “The Distancing of God” by Bernard J. Cooke and “The Subversion of Christianity” by Jacques Ellule.  These two books will forever change the way you look upon the Christian religion.

[1] This article may help some to see that religion and faith in God are not the same. A person can question religion without questing the existence of God. In like manner, a person can believe in Jesus Christ and yet reject many aspects of the Christian religion.

[2]  Some of the new atheist type have postulated that religion has nothing to do with shaping the morality of a culture. This position is so ridiculous that it’s not worth commenting on.

[3] These idols can consist of ideologies, pseudo-religions like scientism and political ideologies like nationalism, etc.

[4] Hans Kung