Christianity – Fact or Myth
Growing up in a Christian family, I may have taken certain things for granted. Take Christianity, itself, for example. Most of what I learned about Christianity I learned from our minister. It never occurred to me that I should ask him how he knew the things about which he spoke, especially since they had happened 2,000 years (or more) ago. As Brian McLaren, a Christian pastor himself, said, “One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.”
So here’s a little pop quiz, the answers to which may surprise you.
Fact or Myth:
The Bible is a religious book . True, but incomplete.
The Bible is actually a compilation of a number of religious scriptures. Some of the stories relate to events that occurred over 5,000 years ago (according to the chronology given in the Bible itself). The Old Testament stories were purportedly passed on through oral tradition, some for as much as 3,000 years before they were written down.
The Bible is the Word of God. Myth.
The Bible is more correctly the Word of Man about God. Certainly, God didn’t write the Bible and there is no proof certain that it was even inspired by Him. To confuse the matter even more, some Christian denominations use different Bibles which include or exclude various scriptures, so there is no one universal “Word of God”. Finally, some scriptures have never even been included in any bible. Even early church father Origen of Alexandria did not take the Bible literally. Origen had this to say about the Genesis story, “For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”
The Bible was written by Jews, about Jews and for Jews. Fact.
For example, Jesus and his disciples were Jewish. For the most part, Christianity did not even exist when the events of the Bible took place.
Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus. Fact.
However, it would be more correct to call them by their Hebrew names (Mattithyahu/Matthew and Yochanan/John).
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were eyewitness testimony. Myth.
Except for Paul’s letters, the various books of the Bible were not written contemporaneously with the events that they were describing. Most historians/theologians agree that the gospels were based on older sources. Therefore, the Bible is not based on eyewitness testimony. In fact, except for Paul’s letters, there is no proof as to who wrote the different books of the Bible.
The first Christian church was founded by Paul in Antioch. Fact.
However it must be noted that after the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were initially led by James, the brother of Jesus, through the auspices of what is referred to as the Jerusalem church. The Jerusalem church was the first movement to spread the teachings of Jesus. To some extent, the teachings of Paul conflicted with the teachings of the disciples as can be seen in the New Testament.
Christian dogma is based on the Bible. Myth.
While some Christian dogma can be found in the Bible, some can not. For example, the words “the Trinity” are not in the Bible. As for original sin, that concept is attributed to Saint Augustine (354-430 AD).
The Christian belief in monotheism is supported by the Bible. Myth.
Prior to the establishment of rabbinical Judaism (circa 6th century BCE), the Israelites were polytheist which has been confirmed by archaeological findings and as can be seen in the Old Testament itself. For example, Psalm 82:1 says that, “God stands in the assembly of El; in the midst of the gods he renders judgment.” Actually, the concept of monotheism is attributed by scholars to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten (circa 1300 BC). Prior to that, people (by definition) had to have worshipped many different gods.
So, how many questions did you answer correctly? It might surprise you to know that many Christian ministers didn’t know many of the correct answers either. As I’ve said before, though, sometimes it’s easier to simply repeat what you were indoctrinated with than to seek the truth.
“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”
– Stuart Chase