or: Why You May Need to Sacrifice a Goat!
A large part of the Bible sets out the laws of the god Yahweh: the war god of the ancient Hebrews. (This is the same god that the Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on calling “Jehovah” much to his chagrin.)
Don’t confuse the laws of this god with the mere “ten commandments”; there were 613 of these laws given in the Bible. They included such moral imperatives as:
- Not to slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day — Lev. 22:28
- Not to boil a baby animal in its mother’s milk — Ex. 34:26
- The rapist must marry his victim if she is unwed — Deut. 22:29
- Men must not shave their beards with a razor— Lev. 19:27
- Don’t offer an animal sacrifice if you traded in a dog for the animal — Deut. 23:19
- Sassy children must be stoned to death and then hung — Deut. 21:18-:22
etc… (See the full list here.)
Were these laws temporary or permanently imposed upon Yahweh’s followers? The Bible relates that Yahweh stated the following in reference to this question:
And you must love Jehovah your God and keep your obligation to him and his statutes and his judicial decisions and his commandments always.
— Deut. 11:1
Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations … an everlasting covenant.
1 Chron. 16:15
Most Christians are under the impression that these laws are no longer in force since the time of Jesus (at least for those who believe in Jesus). However, what does the Bible relate that Jesus said about this?
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
The above appears pretty clear: the law was permanent according to the two most important characters in the Bible.
There is a dissenting voice in the Bible however: a man named Saul — who later assumed the alias “Paul” to distance himself from his past complicity in murder (Acts 7:58). Paul, who never met Jesus or heard Yahweh’s voice (as past prophets in the Bible had claimed), evidently had an epileptic seizure in which he hallucinated that Jesus was speaking to him and giving him a commission. At least that’s what Paul claimed, though it’s highly suspicious since all we have is his word for it, and he couldn’t seem to get his story straight; there are three contradictory accounts of the incident in the Bible (Acts 9; 22; 26).
What great message did Jesus have for Paul in this hallucination? He said “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (Acts 9:5) Based on this amazing revelation Paul decided that the law had passed away. Did he consult with people who claimed to have known Jesus to see if they agreed with this conclusion? No, he made a point of not consulting them. He just decided, all on his own authority, that the law of Yahweh had expired. When those who claimed to have known Jesus disputed this he argued with them that he was right (Gal 2:11). Amazingly, most Christians today believe him! This is probably because the law of Yahweh is so weird and is such a hassle to follow. Not to mention being at odds with civilized morality of today.
But if Christians are defined as “followers of Christ” then hadn’t they better follow what Christ said instead of what Paul said?
Here’s what probably happened:
Paul invented Christianity. Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus ever say to start a new religion. Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus ever say that Yahweh’s law had expired and now salvation would be granted based on belief in him. These were Paul’s ideas.
Compare how Paul and Jesus answered the same question:
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
— Mt. 19:16-17
In answer to the question of how to be saved, Jesus said to keep the commandments. Paul said to believe in Jesus. That’s quite a difference!
“Christianity” did not exist prior to Paul, as is related in Acts 11:26. What existed before Paul’s new religion was Gnosticism, the Nazarenes (basically Pharisees who thought some ancient “Jesus” was the messiah but who was in no way supernatural), and a bunch of “mystery religions” some of which featured an allegorical crucified savior who died and came back to life to redeem humankind. Paul’s innovation was to take the allegory literally and imagine that the dying and reviving god was an actual man: namely the Nazarene’s Jesus. Paul gave very little in the way of a biography or of the teachings of this mythical person; he stated that the really only important thing about him was that he was crucified (1Cor. 2:2: For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.). Later, after he had established churches of his [Paul’s] followers (1Cor. 4:16: Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.) these churches began manufacturing biographies for Jesus, and moving him up into a more recent past. This is why we have four contradictory biographies in the cannon [many others exist outside the cannon]. The writers of these imaginary tales borrowed heavily from existing myths and legends, including: the annunciation, the virgin birth; the visit of the “wise men”, the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; the slaughter of the children; raising Lazarus from the dead, ascending into heaven, etc.
So there never was a Jesus as depicted in the Gospels. Maybe the writers of Matthew were just putting words in the mouth of their concocted Jesus in order to refute Paul. But if it comes down to “whom do you trust?” the smart money would be on the one who agreed with Yahweh on the matter.
So now you know. Go out and sacrifice a goat, or give up the notion that Christianity is anything other than a mad man’s dream.
If I wasn’t an advocate of animal’s rights I could now become rich by staking a claim to the goat concession stand at the next JW convention.
Hmmmm, maybe I could make even more with the stone concession; just think of all those disruptive children one hears getting smacked by their parents during those long, boring convention talks!