John 3:16 – Now what do you say to THAT,
you stupid heathen?
(Part 4 of Dr. Laurence Brown’s refutation of John 3:16)
In the 1969 film, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, they shot Jane Fonda, didn’t they? Now, I’m not stupid. I understand the metaphor. Or is it a simile – it’s all the sametome. Jane Fonda isn’t a horse, although she certainly made a complete ass of herself (sorry – couldn’t resist) during the Vietnam War. It’s not my intention to Hanoi Jane . . . excuse me, I mean, to hannoy Jane (the ‘h’ is silent – how am I doing, all you Vietnam Veterans out there?).
So like I said, Jane Fonda isn’t a horse, and I get the metaphor. I just don’t buy it. I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of the concept of putting an animal out of its misery. Really, are we putting the animal out of its misery, or are we putting it out of our misery? Your senile, diabetic Siamese is perfectly happy peeing on your carpet because it can’t find its way to the cat-box through its pearl-white cataracts. This doesn’t bother the cat one bit. No, it’s you who can’t stand the sweet yellow putty-puddles. So who are you really putting out of its misery when you tell the veterinarian to off the kitty? If you left the cat alone, it would happily drool on your sheets at night and poop in your flower pots during the day.
Similarly, if your decrepit horse could talk, it would get down on its arthritic knees and beg you to lower the gun, and give it another turn at the plow. “I’m good for another twenty acres, Wilbur. Just give me a feedbag of oats and another chance.” So I just don’t buy the concept of mercy killing of animals. On the other hand, there is such a thing as beating a dead horse, and as ridiculous as it sounds, that is basically what I’m going to do now. But first let’s recap what we’ve covered to date:
Episode 1: The gospel known as ‘John’ almost certainly was not written by the disciple John;
Episode 2: Bible translators illegitimately capitalized ‘his’ and ‘him’ in John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”) to make Jesus look like God;
Episode 3: The Bible does not stand up to the basic requirements of reliability, and hence does not satisfy the standards of sacred scripture.
And judging from your emails, that’s what you want more of – Episode 3. No problemo. But remember that what follows are only snippets taken from my book, MisGod’ed (psst: e-books are cheap. Hard copy? Mmm . . . not so cheap. Sorry *cringe*).
The point is that if we are going to give any credence to John 3:16, we have to trust the book in which it is written. In the last episode, I cited many reasons why the Bible does not stand up to critical analysis. That was a more scholastic analysis. What follows is more common sense.
Let’s start with the obvious. If the Bible is the word of God, then what should we make of verses that tell us they are not the word of God? The “word of God” says it is not the word of God? Quite a paradox. If you believe it’s the word of God, then by its own admission, it isn’t. And if you don’t believe, it doesn’t matter either way. 1 Corinthians 7:12 reports: “But to the rest I, not the Lord, say . . .”—indicating that what follows was from the author (in this case, Paul), and not from God. So if nothing else, this section of the Bible, by Paul’s own admission, is not the word of God. 1 Corinthians 1:16 points out that Paul could not remember if he baptized anybody other than Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas: “Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.” Now, does this sound like God talking? Would God say, “Paul baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas, and there may have been others. But that was a long time ago, and, well, you know, so much has happened since then. It’s all kind of fuzzy to Me right now”?
1 Corinthians 7:25–26 records Paul as having written, “Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress . . .” (italics mine). 2 Corinthians 11:17 reads, “What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly . . .” Again, does anybody believe that God talks like this? Paul admitted that he answered without guidance from God and without divine authority, and that he personally believed himself to be divinely trustworthy in one case but speaking foolishly in the other. Paul justified his presumption of authority with the words, “according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7:40). The problem is that a whole lot of people have claimed the “Spirit of God,” while all the time doing some very strange and ungodly things. So should Paul’s confidence be admired or condemned? However we answer this question, the point is that whereas human confidence wavers at times, such is not the case with the all-knowing, allpowerful Creator. God would never say, “I suppose . . .” as Paul does.
Point made? In essence, the Bible is its own worst critic.
If we view the Bible as revelation, telling the story of Jesus Christ, we have to wonder why it’s so inconsistent. For example, when celebrities die, their final words are frequently immortalized. And yet, the Bible gives us two different accounts of Jesus’ last words – Luke 23:46 states: “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, ‘into Your hands I commit my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last.” But John 19:30 says something completely different: “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.” A bold and undeniable contradiction.
Jesus’ most famous and respected teaching is probably the “Lord’s Prayer,” which Matthew 6:9–13 records as: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” But Luke 11:2–5 records the same prayer with some very crucial differences: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Hmm. Jesus Christ’s most famous prayer, and the two gospels that tell the tale disagree. The discrepancy is so great The Jesus Seminar, a body of prominent biblical scholars, announced the only word of the Lord’s Prayer that can be directly attributed to Jesus is “Father” (Newsweek. October 31, 1988. p. 80.) This conclusion is startling, for it not only shakes one of the most accepted trees in the forest of Christian faith, but it questions that very tree’s legitimacy.
Regarding the law, “Rabbi” Jesus taught Old Testament law. Furthermore, he taught the law would endure (till heaven and earth pass away): “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot [Greek Iota—the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet] or one tittle [a stroke or dot] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17–18). Add to that: “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). So that’s what Jesus taught. Now, what did Paul teach? Answer: justification by faith – the vain concept that belief in Jesus Christ cancels a person’s sins. Paul didn’t change just a jot or a tittle, no, he cancelled the entire law: “And by him [Jesus Christ] everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39). A more permissive blanket statement would be hard to conceive. We can easily imagine the voice of the collective public screaming, “Please, let’s have more of that!” And here it is: “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died [i.e., suffered] to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6). Or, if I may freely paraphrase: “But now I tell you to forget this old law, the inconveniences of which we have lived with for too long, and live by the religion of our desires, rather than by the old, uncomfortable mandates of revelation.” According to Paul, God’s law was good enough for Moses and Jesus, but not for the rest of humankind.
Punch the ‘skip’ button. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus teach the Trinity. In fact, he taught tawhid (divine unity). Read Mark 12:30, Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27: “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’” But presto, change-o, Pauline theologians adopted the Trinity.
So Jesus’s most important teachings – his last words, his prayer, the oneness of God, and our Creator’s law for mankind – are all cancelled elsewhere in the Bible. What, exactly, is not contradicted in the Bible? Why, exactly, should people respect anything we read in the Bible? Please, tell me – I’m dying to know.
Unreliability is such a common problem, we don’t know what to believe: II Samuel 24:1 reads, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” However, I Chronicles 21:1 states, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” Uhhh, which was it? The Lord, or Satan? Both verses describe the same event in history, but one speaks of God and the other of Satan. There is a slight (like, total) difference. If a book of ‘scripture’ can’t differentiate between God and Satan, the only thing we know for sure is that it’s not pure, unadulterated revelation.
There are so many contradictions in the New Testament that authors have devoted books to this subject. For example, Matthew 2:14 and Luke 2:39 differ over whether Jesus’ family fled to Egypt or Nazareth. Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 differ over the wording of the “Lord’s Prayer.” Matthew 11:13-14, 17:11-13 and John 1:21 disagree over whether John the Baptist was Elijah.
Things get worse when we enter the arena of the alleged crucifixion: Who carried the cross—Simon (Luke 23:26, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21) or Jesus (John 19:17)? Was Jesus dressed in a scarlet robe (Matthew 27:28) or a purple robe (John 19:2)? Did the Roman soldiers put gall (Matthew 27:34) or myrrh (Mark 15:23) in his wine? Was Jesus crucified before the third hour (Mark 15:25) or after the sixth hour (John 19:14-15)? Did Jesus ascend the first day (Luke 23:43) or not (John 20:17)?
These are only a few of a long list of scriptural inconsistencies, but they underscore the difficulty in trusting the New Testament as scripture. And if we can’t trust the Bible as a whole, how can we trust any particular part of it, like, oh, I don’t know . . . John 3:16?
I mean, gee whiz (not to be confused with Cheez Whiz) . . . Speaking of which, to which demented genius does this brainchild of a convoluted comestible belong? It probably came from the same guy who made instant noodles out of freeze-dried candle drippings. But I’m betting Cheez Whiz started as a joke. Mr. Kraft saw his prepubescent teenager popping pimples in the mirror one morning. His mental light-bulb flickered and faded, like they do in prison when someone is electrocuted. The thought struck him, “Hey, if I can squeeze cheese out of a ripe zit, why can’t I squirt it out of a can?” From there, it became a joke. He bet the company’s CEO he could emulsify cheese into an ersatz party food the consistency, taste and nutritional value of spray-foam insulation, give it a name that makes people think of elimination more than of assimilation (i.e., peeing more than eating), and people would buy it. I mean, when I was a kid, if I said I needed to take a whiz, I can promise you I wasn’t talking about cheese. So the joke’s on us. We bought it, Mr. Kraft won his bet, and products like Easy Cheese have been farting their contents onto our toast ever since. Let’s not make that mistake twice. Let’s not buy ersatz religious teachings and lose our souls to scriptural corruption.
Yes, they shoot horses. So what should we do with John 3:16?
Copyright © 2012 Laurence B. Brown
Laurence B. Brown is an ophthalmic surgeon, a retired Air Force officer, an ordained interfaith minister, and the author of a number of books of comparative religion and reality-based fiction. His works can be found on his website, www.LevelTruth.com.