John 3:16 – Now what do you say to THAT,
you stupid heathen?
(Part 5 of Dr. Laurence Brown’s refutation of John 3:16)
The lynchpin of John 3:16 and, for that matter, of the entire Christian concept of redemption by faith, is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells us: “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.” But hey, there are a whole bunch of Religious Scholars who tell us this isn’t true. So who should we believe – the Bible, or Them? Well, here’s a clue: first, we know who The Scholars are, whereas we have no idea who authored any of the gospels (as discussed in Part 1 of this series). Secondly, the Bible translators illegitimately capitalized ‘his’ and ‘him’ in John 3:16 to make Jesus look like God (as discussed in Part 2 of this series). If you’re paying attention, you noticed I did the same thing above, capitalizing ‘Religious Scholars,’ ‘Them,’ and ‘The Scholars.’ It makes these scholars look special, doesn’t it? But that’s just one way in which Bible translators deceive their audience. The difference is that I admit the manipulation, having done it only to prove a Point (that is, a special point – not just any old, ordinary point).
Lastly, what I have presented so far conforms both to reason and to common sense, unlike the Bible, which is internally inconsistent and factually unreliable (Parts 3&4 of this series).
So, what am I going to write about in this episode in the series? It’s hard to say. The mental light-bulb blinked on and startled me as I was contemplatively scooping out earwax with a rusty corkscrew. I pushed too hard and blew the fuse on the circuit of my imagination. So I’m back to where I started. In addition, I seem to have pithed away seventh and eighth grades, not to mention a good portion of the best summer vacation of my life.
What was I writing about? Oh, yeah. Sacrifice. Atonement. Redemption. Earwax. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking the importance of redemption. Not at all. What I do criticize is the effortless salvation people seek through the cheap Christian concept of redemption by faith.
The foundation of this concept rests upon the validity of Original Sin, which we know is a scam, because Jesus taught the exact opposite: “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). Now, how can “of such” be “the kingdom of heaven” if the un-baptized are hellbound? Children are either born with original sin or are bound for the kingdom of heaven. The church can’t have it both ways. Ezekiel 18:20 records, “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself,” and Deuteronomy 24:16 repeats the point. This is Old Testament, but it’s not older than Adam! If original sin dated from Adam and Eve, we wouldn’t find the concept disavowed in any scripture of any age!
Okay, so let’s just forget about the concept of Original Sin. Jesus did. Instead, let’s examine the concept of belief being sufficient for salvation. Jesus reportedly said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Wait, wait . . . I mean, whoa, Nellie. Did Jesus Christ just tell us belief is NOT sufficient for salvation? I mean, we have to follow God’s laws? We actually have to work for salvation?
Yup. That’s the picture. And, as a matter of fact, that’s precisely what Jesus is quoted as having said: “But if you want to enter into life (eternal life, that is—i.e., salvation) keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).
Bummer, huh? And that whole idea of an effortless salvation was beginning to sound so easy, so nice. And yet, ‘James’ tells us we actually have to work for it: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).
But where in the New Testament did Jesus counsel his followers that they could relax, for in a few days he would pay the price and they could all go to heaven on nothing more than belief? Nowhere. For that matter, when Jesus was allegedly resurrected after his alleged crucifixion and allegedly returned to his alleged disciples, why didn’t he announce the highly-alleged atonement? Why didn’t he declare that he had paid for the sins of the world, past, present and future, so now it’s time to party atonement-style? But he didn’t, and we should wonder why. Could it be the atonement isn’t true? Could it be that someone scribbled wishful thoughts into the margins of scripture?
It wouldn’t be the first time.
So where did the ‘Atonement’ come from in the first place? And would anyone be surprised to hear the name, “Paul”? Another questionable doctrine coming from the same questionable source? So it would seem. Acts 17:18 reads, “Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him [Paul]. And some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,’ because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.”
Paul directly claims to have conceived the doctrine of resurrection as follows: “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). Sure enough, the concept of Jesus Christ dying for the sins of humankind is found in the epistles of Paul (e.g., Romans 5:8–11 and 6:8–9), and nowhere else. Nowhere else? Not from Jesus? Not from the disciples? Is it possible they neglected the critical details upon which Christian faith rests? Not likely.
So in one corner we have the true prophets, Jesus Christ included, teaching salvation through adhering to God’s laws as conveyed through revelation—that is, salvation through faith and works. In the other corner we have the challenger, Paul, promising an effortless salvation following a life unrestricted by commandments—in other words, salvation through faith alone. And beyond the ropes stand Paul’s managers – the Church heads – rubbing their hands together deviously as they calculate their 10% cut of the action.
What can we imagine Jesus will say, upon his return, when he finds a group of his “followers” preferring Pauline theology to his own? Perhaps he will quote Jeremiah 23:32—“‘Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,’ says the Lord, ‘and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,’ says the Lord.”
When Jesus does return, one thing we can be sure he is not going to do is pat people on the back and say, “Good job – you threw away everything I taught and did the exact opposite. Well done, well done.”
But the point, with regard to the subject under discussion, is that this is one more reason why John 3:16 fails to qualify as sacred scripture: The foundation of its ideology is so full of holes it wouldn’t hold water even if it were a sponge. Which it is, but it doesn’t.
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.