How the Bible Became an Idol

How the Bible Became an Idol

bibleidol

Again I am raising a difficult subject, but again, it’s something that needs to be said. And my title is true. The Bible – the holy book of more or less all Christians – has become an idol. And yes, I do mean idol as in “false god.”

A book, no matter how good, remains a book and should be treated as a book. A deity is something far different.

Not every Christian uses the Bible as an idol of course, but many millions do – probably a majority in North America – including nearly all of the TV preachers.

And if you’re about to start screaming “heretic,” please remember something the book says:

Does our law judge any man before hearing what he has to say?

What Is an Idol?

An idol is something you hold above reality.

A true God – a creator of the universe, for exampleshould be held above reality, since he created reality. If, however, we hold something else above reality, we make it an idol. A created thing should be considered a part of reality, not held above it.

So, when I say the Bible has become an idol, I mean people hold it above reality, putting it into the position of a god.

Christianity Was Not a Book-Based Religion

Christianity very clearly did not start as book-based. When Jesus “preached the good news,” he quoted just a small number of scriptures and usually as a necessity, answering people who questioned him. And several of those were of the “you’ve heard it said… but I say” variety. He read a few lines from Isaiah in his hometown synagogue once, but we see very little more than that.

Even the very literate Paul uses Greek poets in his sermons almost as much as Old Testament passages. (He uses some scriptures in his writings.)

Furthermore, there was no such thing as a New Testament for many generations of Christians. And when we do see them quoting the words of Jesus or the apostles, they are often different from the versions we have today. The fact is that such writings weren’t taken very seriously.

Ernest Renan, one of the finest scholars on Jesus, wrote this:

Little importance was attached to these writings, and the preservers, such as Papias, greatly preferred oral tradition… Hence the little authority which the Gospel texts enjoyed during one hundred and fifty years. There was no scruple in inserting additions, in variously combining them, and in completing some by others.

Whether we like it or not, that’s what happened. The book existed only as separate parts and wasn’t turned into a whole for centuries. It simply wasn’t important.

In fact, the first outside record we have of Christian meetings, a letter of Pliny the Younger from roughly 110 AD, makes no mention whatsoever of scripture readings and expositions, much less altar calls or plate-passing. Their services were very simple and in two parts: early morning singing and oaths, then later in the day, a communal meal… and that’s all.

The first mention I know of reading any sort of New Testament scripture in a meeting comes from Justin Martyr at about 155 AD, a solid four generations after Jesus. And not only does it refer to a small reading, but it doesn’t call the writings scriptures or even holy words; it merely calls them “memoirs.”

The typical excuse regarding this – that God gave a “dispensation of miracles at the beginning, then a dispensation of his Word for us” – is simply a fantasy. There is no real support for such an idea. That doctrine was conjured, being necessary to support current beliefs. People who teach this are openly placing their doctrines above reality.

The Bible’s Flaws

This is the point where authors begin listing the Bible’s flaws and slashing away at them. I, however, don’t want to slash at anything; I find the book to be immensely helpful.

More importantly, anyone who reads the Bible seriously has already seen the flaws.

The problem is not seeing the flaws; it’s facing them.

Those of us who’ve read the book know the laws in the Old Testament that no one follows anymore. We know how the apostles disagreed. But – and this is where idolatry comes in – millions of us pretend that we saw nothing and move on. Or if we’re trying to be very religious, we come up with creative interpretations to resolve the flaws.

And let me be clear on this: Trying to prove everything by the Bible is a deviation from actual growth. If you’ve done this for any length of time, you’ve hindered yourself.

Doing, Or Not Doing

Readers of the book really should know these things. The core of the New Testament – the recorded words of Jesus – require people to do the things he taught. The “Bible as word of God” people, on the other hand, spend endless hours arguing about who Jesus was, comparing scriptures, finding hidden meanings, proving their interpretations right, and proving the interpretations of others wrong. And so they bypass doing.

Because of space I’ll skip past quoting Jesus directly, but any Christian should be familiar with the end of Matthew 7. I recommend rereading it.

The Sad Part

The central requirement for any follower of Jesus is to love. Everything else comes second. Jesus not only taught this again and again; he exhibited it in his life. Christians, however, consistently push it aside in favor of other things. (I could tell you stories, but you probably have your own.)

The reason for pushing it aside of course is that loving is demanding. It forces you to confront all sorts of hidden hatreds, pettiness, envies, and vanities. Once you start to major on loving, you find such things popping up at you. It’s far easier to debate doctrine.

The really sad part of this is that the Bible idolaters – or at least a great number of them – do have experience with the divine impulse, of contact or at least innate yearning for a transcendent ultimate. But they never develop these things, because they’re busy idolizing a mere book, following the traditions and commandments of men.

And they really should have known, because the book says that the letter killeth.

Last Words

A hundred pages would be required to cover this subject sufficiently, but at least this much needed to be said, and rather sooner than later. It could be a very long time before I find the time and energy to produce a book on the subject. Perhaps someone else will take up the job.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

[Editor’s Note: Paul Rosenberg is the outside-the-Matrix author of FreemansPerspective.com, a site dedicated to economic freedom, personal independence and privacy. He is also the author of The Great Calendar,

Evil Is Weak

Evil Is Weak

EvilIsWeak

For clarity, let’s define “evil” as “the willful abuse of other humans.”

By this definition, any person or persons who purposely manipulate other humans to their own ends – anything from tricking them into a bad business deal to extorting money from them to murdering them – are engaging in evil.

Evil Almighty?

From television, politicians, and endless “authorities,” we learn that evil is pre-eminent. God may be supremely powerful, but he’s powerful somewhere far away; Satan is powerful here. We can slide into evil with ease, but being good is difficult. Western man is convinced that darkness is stronger than light, whether he defines it in religious terms or secular terms.

The fear-sellers, we must admit, have won the day.

This primacy of fear and darkness is necessary to authority of course; without it, how would we be driven into their arms?

So, when someone comes along and calls evil a weakling, we think they’re a bit crazy, and maybe we worry that the devil might notice and chop them down.

Fundamental Weakness

Carrying such fears around every day, people seldom realize that evil is weak. And not weak temporarily or in a certain situation, but fundamentally weak. Here’s why: Evil does not produce.

Armed robbery is a good example of evil, and it is clearly contrary to production; we could almost define it as “anti-production.”

Evil is massively wasteful: it burns crops, it breaks down bridges, it steals important, useful assets, and it kills people. Evil, therefore, must take advantage of healthy and effective life if it is to prosper.

Genghis Kahn had to get his arrows, horses, and shields from somewhere, and he didn’t produce them himself. Likewise for Mao and Stalin and Tamerlane and the rest. One way or another, they required basically decent people to produce for them. Regardless of whether these producers were tricked or intimidated, it was they who armed evil; evil didn’t arm itself.

And this brings us to one of the great, simple truths of our times:

If goodness ever stops allowing evil to take advantage of it, evil is simply finished.

The good don’t need the evil, but the evil are fully dependent on the good.

It is the good (or at least the basically productive) who permit evil to continue. These decent people are laboring under fears and flawed ideas of course, but without their acquiescence, evil could accomplish very little. And this is massively good news: Evil is vulnerable… deeply vulnerable.

Changing the Game

Right now, evil has tricked millions of productive people into doing its will. At this point, most think acquiescence is the right thing to do, or they simply don’t realize any option exists. And being in that position, they accommodate themselves to it. This can be seen in the moral confusion that is currently endemic. How else could people believe that what is immoral for one person is somehow moral for another?

So, the very first step toward the defeat of evil is to clarify morality. And here we can get a quick start, because morality is simple. It boils down to this:

What is hateful to you, do not do to any man.

From there, we can move on to things like, “Do not encroach upon anyone or their property,” or, “Keep your agreements,” but those are just extensions of the first statement… and that’s all we really need.

Yes, a professional philosopher can come up with strange exceptions, but those aren’t serious concerns. Send the one-in-a-million scenario to a specialist and get on with the other 999,999.

Act with integrity and you’re guaranteed to do the right thing 99.999% of the time. Do you think any of the complicated, academic systems of ethics will touch that percentage?

Furthermore, integrity is a simple concept that can be understood by any functional adult. This means that moral clarity is not only possible, but universally accessible.

Then What?

Once we’re clear on morality, we simply start calling things by their true names… and we don’t stop.

After that, evil openly displays its weakness every time it objects: It shows that it cannot abide – cannot survive – the persistence of simple truths.

* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

[Editor’s Note: Paul Rosenberg is the outside-the-Matrix author of FreemansPerspective.com, a site dedicated to economic freedom, personal independence and privacy. He is also the author of The Great Calendar, a report that breaks down our complex world into an easy-to-understand model. Click here to get your free copy.]

Hustled Through Life

Hustled Through Life

Hustled

Most people, sad to say, are too rushed, frightened, and confused to think about what they really want out of life. They are hustled through school, forced into long-term decisions before they’re ready to face them, then held to those decisions by fear and shame. They choose from a limited set of options, and they know that change will be punished.

Eventually they get old and find time to think, but by then they can’t bear to question too deeply; that would jeopardize their self-worth, and they haven’t time to rebuild it.

For an intelligent, creative, and expansive species like ours, this rush to nowhere is among the greatest of evils. And yet it continues, mostly unquestioned. At no point in the usual Western life do we stop, take some serious time for ourselves, and think about the overall:

  • What’s life about anyway? What’s the point of what we do?

  • What’s the purpose of a career? Why should I care about it above everything else?

  • Why should I glorify the existing system? Why should I agree to support it?

  • Who paid for everything I learned in school?

  • Should I have a family? If so, why? If not, why not?

  • What do I think is fun? Does it really coincide with the beer ads on TV?

  • What’s the purpose of being like everyone else? Why am I so afraid to be different?

We don’t address such questions. Rather, we’re pushed past them. Even in a church or synagogue – places where larger questions are supposed to be addressed – the person in the pulpit wants us to become and/or remain a member of the congregation; their job depends upon it. There are true ministers and rabbis, but for most it’s all too easy to push their audience into what’s convenient.

As a result, we see little motivation in the modern West, save for the basest of motivators: things that match a line from the Bible that says, “Whose god is their belly.”

Mind you, I’m not against wealth, good food, or sex. I think those are fine things. They are not, however, the whole of life. We are much bigger than that. We ought not be limited to belly-level aspirations. But when we’re rushed, that’s all we’re able to see.

Status and Fear

The two big motivators we face in this rush through life – fear and status – are both negative.

Fear is a manipulation technology; people who make you afraid are hacking your mind. They want you to ignore reason and obey them fast. (I wish I could cover this in depth here, but we haven’t space. Please see issue #54 of my subscription newsletter.)

When we’re afraid, we make our worst choices. Put plainly, fear makes us stupid. But we encounter it on a daily basis… and it destroys us by inches.

Status is the compulsion to compare ourselves with others, and whether we’re looking for the ways we’re better than others or looking for our shortcomings, it is deeply destructive. It’s also irrational, but the advertising business would crash without it and advertisers currently own the collective eyeballs of humanity.

Fear and status are, in a broad sense, drugs, and if you had a choice between smoking pot every day or being on fear and status every day, I’d definitely recommend the pot.

Confusion

Let’s be clear on something: Nearly every adult in the West will agree that politicians are liars and thieves… and yet they obey them without question. Is there any possibility we’d do such things if we weren’t harried and confused?

When we are confused, we pass over our own minds and their deliberations. There’s an old joke: “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?” But that’s precisely what confusion does to us, and under the pressures of confusion and authority, most people will ignore their own eyes.

Such things do not happen to people who are calm and confident. But the existing hierarchies of the West couldn’t function with a calm and confident populace; their operations require people to be frightened, confused, and blindly chasing status.

As a Result…

As a result, most of us hurry through life, never knowing why. We live as others do, simply because that path is streamlined for us, exposing us to a minimal level of fear and shame. But that path does something else: It keeps us from experiencing ourselves.

Seldom has this problem been put more succinctly than in this quote from Albert Einstein:

Small is the number of them who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.

Stop following the crowd. Turn your back on the popular script. Stop feeding at the same trough as everyone else. Break away and learn to see with your own eyes, to feel with your own heart.

Don’t conform. Let people criticize you. Decide for yourself what your life will be about. Make it matter.

* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

TheBreakingDawn

Paul Rosenberg

[Editor’s Note: Paul Rosenberg is the outside-the-Matrix author of FreemansPerspective.com, a site dedicated to economic freedom, personal independence and privacy. He is also the author of The Great Calendar, a report that breaks down our complex world into an easy-to-understand model. Click here to get your free copy.]

The Military-Evangelical Complex

Military-Evangelical

There are evangelical Christians whom I love and respect. Nonetheless, it’s time to face this: The military-evangelical complex is not just politically dangerous; it’s a corruption of the Judeo-Christian tradition and thus of Western Civilization itself.

Definition

Let’s start by defining this clearly: The military-evangelical complex is an intricate partnership between the US government and thousands of churches, typically evangelical. These churches support and glorify government-authorized violence. Their messages to their members are clear: To enforce laws is noble and righteous; to bleed on a foreign battlefield is godly; the US military is a great force of goodness upon Earth; America, manifested especially through military action, is God’s special tool.

Every American past high-school age should recognize this description, but to be clear, here are a few exemplary images:

  • It is announced in church that Johnny has joined the military. He is asked to stand and is heartily applauded by all.
  • Memorial Day church services (or Veteran’s Day or July 4th) feature dedicated sermons and proud displays of flags and uniforms. There is effusive praise for soldiers, casting them as godly heroes.
  • Military-themed ceremonies are held before every major sporting event.
  • Children are encouraged to choose “service” as a life plan; if not in war, at least enforcing state laws.
  • Enacting violence on behalf of the state is certain to get you public praise and pats on the back.
  • Government-ordered violence is prejudged to be good and right.
  • Funerals include the ritual touching of flags by military veterans.
  • Churches promote slogans like, “Jesus died to save us; soldiers die to keep us free.”
  • Rituals of saluting flags, singing anthems, and thanking soldiers for ‘service’ are obligatory.

Now, let’s be honest about this. Military service has become a sacrament in these churches; soldiers are the new missionaries, and wounded soldiers are the new martyrs.

And let’s be honest about something else: If we found records of such things in ancient inscriptions, we’d define them as the rituals of a military cult… and we would not be wrong.

How Did This Happen?

It happened because it was the easiest thing to do.

Christianity, however, was never meant to be easy. Not only did early Christians risk serious persecutions, but Jesus had warned them that “all men will hate you for my sake,” that they would be persecuted, and that they would “suffer for righteousness’s sake.” A follower of Jesus is supposed to lead mankind “into the light,” thus angering those who remain in darkness. (“He that dwells in darkness hates the light….”)

Most Christians, however, don’t want to suffer and don’t want to be hated. On top of that, leading mankind into the light is hard work. Alternatives to such things – easier ways – have always been popular.

And so, joining with the state – the biggest and most powerful entity – is the safest thing to do; once joined, no suffering and no hatred are required. And to gain that position, all you have to do is spin a theology that makes church-state partnership into a righteous thing.

Christians began making such arrangements just a few centuries after Jesus’s time. The Middle Ages had their versions, and modern times have theirs. And right now, among the most vocal advocates of Christianity, we have a military-evangelical complex.

And we all know what has supercharged this process over the past decade and a half: 9/11.

In a single day, people in uniforms were promoted into a new Hero caste. Minds stewing in fear skipped right past contrary facts and the lessons they had learned in the 1970s. (The Pentagon Papers, the Church Committee reports, the Gulf of Tonkin, etc.)

All of this gave Christian leaders an immediate opportunity to fill their pews and keep them full. So they jumped at it. Presently, they are clinging to it. Military leaders jumped at it too and have spent millions of dollars promoting it, notably at sporting events.

We Were Warned

There is a great deal more to say about this, and I am tempted to ramble on about the military-evangelical complex inverting the most fundamental elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition, how it turns government into an agent of sanctification, and how the Scriptures condemn it. But I shall not. I’ve made my point and I will leave it where it stands, adding only this:

As he was stepping down from the US presidency in 1961, Dwight Eisenhower warned about this. He talked about the threats of “an immense military establishment,” that it was “new in the American experience,” and that Americans “must not fail to comprehend [the] grave implications” of this “total influence – economic, political, even spiritual.”

And yes, this was the speech where he warned Americans to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… by the military-industrial complex.”

But, like all the great warnings of history, Eisenhower’s were flatly ignored.

It was the easiest thing to do.

* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

TheBreakingDawn

Paul Rosenberg

[Editor’s Note: Paul Rosenberg is the outside-the-Matrix author of FreemansPerspective.com, a site dedicated to economic freedom, personal independence and privacy. He is also the author of The Great Calendar, a report that breaks down our complex world into an easy-to-understand model. Click here to get your free copy.]