There is a new apologetic from the new apologists that attempts to sweep all faith challenges under the Jesus carpet. Under that carpet goes the problem of evil, and all failed theodicies, biblical contradictions, god-ordained war crimes, holy atrocities committed by god himself, the eternal torture chamber known as hell, and every other difficulty they routinely face.
Rather than offer a vigorous apology for these individual challenges, they shift the focus to Jesus, claiming that nothing else matters as long as Jesus died and was raised for our sins. Because Jesus, Christians need never face or be stuck wrestling with difficult questions that challenge their faith.
These Jesus-only Christians even go as far as to use a sort of Jesus hermeneutic. They interpret everything in the Bible through a lens of Jesus. Want to understand the 10th plague? Jesus. Remember when god sent those she bears to rip apart those kids? Jesus. You know that passage about not suffering a witch to live? Jesus.
This even works in day to day life. Remember that storm that wiped out tens of thousands of people at once? Jesus. That poor child being brutalized even as you read this? Jesus. You were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver? Jesus.
It is as if Jesus has become a shield of faith, a talisman, a mantra. No matter what challenge you face, Jesus is your hermeneutic, your proof against doubt, your incantation. Everything is going to be just fine because Jesus. Here are a few challenges that cannot be resolved by falling back on Jesus:
Jesus is not an answer to the problem of suffering, which itself is slightly different from the problem of evil. Under Jesus, suffering is just as bad. Some Christians try to make the problem go away by suggesting that Jesus also suffered. So he understands what you are going through. They even go as far as to say that in some sense, when you suffer, he suffers along side you.
But I fail to see the point of a god who suffers with you. I don’t need a god who feels my pain. I need a god who stops my pain. I don’t desire empathy. I desire relief. If god is suffering with me, then he can’t do anything to help me. If you find yourself drowning at sea, you don’t look to the person drowning next to you for help. You look for the rescue helicopter.
Some people look to Jesus to make sense of suffering. But that doesn’t make sense either. People without Jesus can invent false meaning for random bad events. Jesus does not make the suffering okay. This is especially true since Jesus supposedly has the power to make it go away.
In the Bible, he healed the blind quite a lot. But what he did not do is eliminate blindness. For every blind person he supposedly healed, he left a million without sight. That leads one to ask what was so special about the ones he healed, and why doesn’t he heal you. One is left with the answer the Jesus has a reason for your suffering.
If Jesus has a reason for your suffering, then at some level, suffering is good. Birth defects are good. Accidents that leave one without the use of their legs are good. This is a sick and twisted view of suffering that only makes sense if Jesus is the answer. Hint: He’s not.
I could fill many pages listing the Bible’s most poisonous passages. But I will only point out one to represent them all:
“Put to death any woman who does evil magic.
“Put to death anyone who has sexual relations with an animal.
“Destroy completely any person who makes a sacrifice to any god except the Lord. Ex. 22:18-20
Okay. I promised 1. But the other 2 were right there. I couldn’t help it.
You might be more familiar with the rendering, Suffer not a witch to live. Notice in the rendering I provided, it is only women put to death for evil magic. Also notice the death penalty for imaginary crimes. In the writers worldview, magic was as real as physics. Apparently the good magic was okay.
Quick question: How does one go about killing a person capable of performing bad magic? It seems such a person could kill you and any mob at will. If she were not in a killing mood, she could just disapparate, Harry Potter style.
Second question: Does all this focus on witches make the Bible seem more like fantasy fiction than ever? Or is it just me? OpenBible claims there are 49 verses in the Bible about witches. That seems like a lot of ink spilled over something that doesn’t exist.
That’s really too bad for all those women killed over the centuries because of the command of Jesus/god not to suffer a witch to live. It is odd that despite the fact that he made revisions and clarifications to many Old Testament laws such as divorce and eye-for-an-eye justice, He saw nothing to amend about putting witches to death. An appeal to Jesus/god does not make these poison passages go away.
Many Christians align themselves with Jesus as if he is a firewall from the excesses of Jehovah. But if Jesus is Jehovah as claimed by mainstream Christianity, then there is no refuge in treating Jesus as a distinct entity.
That means we can literally do a word swap throughout the Old Testament and replace words referring to god with Jesus. It is Jesus who committed the atrocities in Egypt. It was Jesus who ordered all those war crimes involving the slaughter of the innocent, and child slave wives.
One way these Christians try to dodge this problem is by saying that the people who wrote the Old Testament were confused. They often were not relaying clear messages from god, but confusing their own ideas with the word of god. But Jesus came to clear all that up.
The problem is that Jesus does not repudiate those poison passages from and about god. He cites them, and builds other doctrines on top of them, leaving them as foundational. Jesus does not start a New Testament. He seems quite content with the old, telling some seekers to keep the law and the prophets. In other words, suffer not a witch to live.
Some Jesus apologists like Gary Habermas believe that Christians can avoid all the above problems by retreating to a single aspect of the Jesus story. He believes that if he can prove that Jesus rose from the dead, that would make all other questions moot.
For me, the only thing a resurrection would prove is that something unexplained happen to someone a long time ago. Even if a person was raised from the dead by some mysterious force, that would not mean he was worth worshiping. It would not suggest anyone should devote their lives to such a person.
What if someone else rose from the dead? Should we give our lives to that person? How does the resurrection of Jesus eliminate the possibility that his benefactor was an evil god? Should our own desire to be raised from the dead trump our moral intuition about all the other problems previously mentioned?
No! Appealing exclusively to Jesus is not a winning strategy for the Christian. That particular flavor of Christianity should be disavowed by even mainstream Christians.