The Flaw in Christianity

John Hammelton

         Christianity is one of the great religious faiths of the world. Its traditions and history reveal innumerable events and revelations that approach the miraculous. There is no doubt of its efficacy as a spiritual force in the believers that call themselves Christians. The inspiration that comes to the faithful can inspire great deeds of selfless courage for the sake of humanity. Jesus is and will always be one of the great religious leaders in the history of the world; he taught the power of Love, and all the good that issues from it. In this there is no question.

         But there are ramifications that have evolved since the Master's teachings in the form of misunderstanding and confusion. This is a problem for a religion whose God is alleged to be the source of ultimate Truth. Herein lies the dilemma: is the Bible literally true, or merely allegorical? If it is the revealed word of God, then how could it be in doubt? For Christians this is not a problem for those with unflagging faith, but for scholars, philosophers, and scientists, it is not only a problem, but a difficult flaw.

         And what is this flaw? Simply, being induced to believe that you are guilty of sin without having sinned, carrying a burden of guilt not of your own doing or making. Having to accept a belief that you are spiritually dead, and denied the right to accept a life of self-worth and freedom from the day of your birth. That is, until you are saved, and only Jesus can save you. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and all non-Christians, even atheists, are considered dead from birth, and destined to spend eternity in Hell, unless they renounce their beliefs and accept Jesus as their savior. It seems chillingly akin to Islam's threat of Allah or the sword.

         I want to shine some light on what this means to everyone everywhere, and let you decide for yourself whether you are the sinner that the Bible has made you out to be. I intend to use the words of two Christian writers, and look at what they're saying. To clarify the Christian position I refer to Bruce McConkie, the author of "A New Witness for the Articles of Faith." Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City, 1985. I'll be taking a closer look at the book written by Hal Lindsey, a very popular Christian writer, titled: "Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth." Zondervan Corporation: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972.

         Even though Lindsey's book has sold more than a million copies, it is full of exaggerations, half-truths, contradictions, and prejudices. He has no qualms in attacking, out of sheer ignorance, such eminent thinkers as Kant, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, among others. Lindsey is quick to point out and denounce anything metaphysical, and lumps them into a category called the occult, which is a term defined simply as what is hidden or out of sight. On page 17 he writes:

         ". . . It alarmed me that the increase in astrology, extrasensory perception, witchcraft, black magic, fortune telling and Satan worship, which you might expect among the youth of the West Coast, was evident in other places. The occult influence went deeper into American life than I had imagined." [Beware the youth of the West Coast!]

         On page 43 we hear: "What began in the 'Higher Critical Schools' of Germany has brought about an almost universal rejection of the Bible as a historically reliable document in the colleges and universities of the world today. The irony is this: the Bible was discredited and discarded because of a general rejection of the supernatural. However, beginning with the late 1960s a new trend began to grow with the acceptance of ESP and other forms of the supernatural. Unfortunately, the Bible has been left out of this acceptance."

         What? Now Lindsey complains that the Bible has been left out of acceptance while ESP [extrasensory perception], and other forms of paranormal phenomena have been accepted. The Bible has been left out because of the supposed 'occult' influence it might have on faithful Christians. He then tells of a professor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology holding seminars for some of the best students. Among others the topics ranged from Asian philosophy, meditation, yoga, Zen, astrology, astral bodies, auras, and guess what? Yes, parapsychology. Lindsey quotes the professor: "And they weren't plebeians. Intellectually they were aristocrats with the highest average math scores in the land. Ivy League verbal scores, and two to three years of saturation in M.I.T. science."

         Ah yes, the nature of a bright intellect is to question, question, question!

         Lindsey is quick to attack anyone that questions the literal truth of the Bible. On page 42 he discusses the issue:

         " . . . from the seminaries of Germany in the 1800s came a group which called itself the 'Higher Critical School.' These liberal biblical scholars began to question the historicity of the Bible. Using subjective literary methods of analysis (not based on the hard facts of history or archeology), they dissected the books of Moses and attributed them to a host of different writers . . . "

         The supposed hard facts of history, even events that happened yesterday can be subject to dispute, no less than thousands of years ago. Also, Lindsey is apparently not aware that the age of ancient artifacts can be determined by the rock beds they are discovered in. The scientific method of carbon dating easily shows that the 'historicity of the Bible' is out of whack with the facts. Lindsey goes on:

         "On this tenuous basis, these men rejected all of the witness of history which attributed the first five books of the Bible to Moses and ignored the fact that all through the books themselves it is repeatedly stated that they are the writings of Moses."

         Well, that should settle the issue. If the Bible says so, then that's that; everyone else is wrong, including scientists and their high tech tools.

         There is one cause and one cause only for this sad state of affairs, especially with the interest and study of such things as parapsychology; you guessed it—Satan. And Satan isn't just a myth or symbol.

          Lindsey says: "The Bible chronicles the origin of Satan with the same factual precision as any other historical event it covers." [We've been here before].

         Satan has always been the scapegoat for Christianity, and for all the evil in the world; it's an easy way to escape personal responsibility and put the blame for our own failures on someone or something else. As we'll see, it is also an easy out for God when He wants to cover up his own actions.

         From the very start we are expected to believe that God is perfect, that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. For a Being that can create a universe and everything in it, we would not expect anything less than perfection in his character, including motives and ideals. In fact, it is what we come to expect of ourselves in nobility and honor as we strive for perfection in our own image.

         I think McConkie gives us the best description of the Christian beginning of everything in what he calls "The Three Pillars of Eternity." (p.81).

         "The three greatest events that ever have occurred or ever will occur in all eternity are these:

1. The creation of the heavens and the earth, of man, and of all forms of life;

2. The fall of man, of all forms of life, and of the earth itself from their primeval and paradisiacal state to their present mortal state;

3. The infinite and eternal atonement, which ransoms man, all living things, and the earth also from their fallen state so that the salvation of the earth and of all living things may be completed."

         McConkie continues: "But had there been no fall, there could have been no atonement. The fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world, and it is from these deaths that man and all forms of life are ransomed through the atonement wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ . . . . The Father's eternal plan called for the creation, for the fall, and for the atonement, all woven together into one united whole. . . . After the creation came the fall; after all things had been created, all things fell. The fall was as universal as the creation." McConkie gives us one other cold hard fact: "If there had been no fall, there would have been no need for a Redeemer or Savior." Very true. This is an important point coming up.

          The question begs: Why did God do things this way, and not some other way that would skip all the grandstanding? It seems logical to assume that most people in the world, those people who are not Christian, must by default not be sinners. Wrong! Only Christians are saved, everyone else is damned. Wars have been fought over this issue; millions of people have perished fighting for and defending this religion or that religion. Tolerance is ignored, rejected, and unacceptable to mindless zealots.

         Lindsey gives us a unique description of the Christian viewpoint of God's plan in this statement:

          "When God created the angelic realm (and apparently Lucifer was the leader of all the angels), He took a calculated risk. He created Lucifer with the greatest intelligence of any created being, endowing him and the other angelic beings with self-determination. God did not want robots. He wanted creatures who could respond to His love and have spontaneous fellowship with Him. God believed it was worth the risk to create these beings with the ability to act independently of His will and have the choice of rejecting or obeying Him." (p.49).

         So, exercising his options, Lucifer broke his relationship with God. In so doing Lucifer "lost the one trait which would make him function correctly, and that was a personal relationship with God."(p.50). Well, you can just imagine how infuriated God was over this, and even though Lucifer was given his choice, he nonetheless was sentenced to eternal banishment, and his name changed to Satan. "In Matthew 25:41 Jesus says that Hell was created for the Devil and his angels." Already we get the picture of God being despotic and ruthless.

         Lindsey on page 51 states: "When God made Planet Earth, He established a giant, complex research and development center where a strange creature called 'man' was going to be tested."

         This seems odd since Adam is already doomed by God's divine plan, but then God seems concerned that everything should be acted out as in a stage play. We get a better picture of God's reasons as Lindsey explains:

         "Doubtless God had many reasons for creating man which we cannot fathom, but I believe the following are primary. God wanted to prove His perfect love and that he had been neither unjust nor unloving to Satan and his followers by sentencing them to eternal banishment . . . another reason was to show the complete folly of choosing to reject God's will. And finally, God wanted to elevate man above the angelic realm and to fellowship with Him." (p.54).

         God is evidently having trouble convincing everyone of his great love, while at the same time banishing Lucifer. And God wants to make it perfectly clear that anyone that rejects his will is in for big trouble. Even though God doesn't want robots to fellowship with, that's all he's going to get, given the level of fear pervading the universe after dealing with that renegade Lucifer.

         Lindsey says: "What a drama in Genesis 3! No clever playwright with all the skills of manipulating characters and providing psychological tricks of suspense could dream up a better plot than the one that happened in the Garden of Eden." (p.57).

          This is probably one of the truest statements Lindsey makes in his book. He goes on to tell of God's decree for Adam and Eve not to eat of the forbidden fruit. This was the test to "determine whether man wanted to stay in perfect fellowship with God or not. The test would set the stage for God to demonstrate His justice and His love to the angelic realm."

          God is still trying to convince the angelic realm of his great love through one demonstration after another.

         An image of God is beginning to stand out. He is egocentric, starved for attention, vindictive, and mean. Now, God has already planned for Adam to fall; his scheme requires it, it's built into the plan of creation, but he doesn't want anyone to know that he is really behind the whole thing, it would destroy his image. So guess who is brought out of banishment to become God's scapegoat? Yup, Satan. Satan was set up so that "God could demonstrate His justice and His love to the infinite degree." God just can't get enough glory for himself, and it's obvious that he doesn't deserve it as he tries to fool everyone around him.

         Naturally Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit as planned, and God proceeds to strip them of spirit and soul, along with all those souls yet to come. But God can glorify himself to even greater heights with his plan of salvation, this is what it is all about--glorifying God; this is the extent to which this poor pitiful God will go.

         Let's remember history for a minute. The Christian God was originally the tribal God of the Hebrews; his name then was Yahweh. The old testament of the Bible is a history of the Jewish people and this was their diety. As the ministry of Jesus Christ began to spread through the land, so did the prominence of this God. Now the Christians have come to believe that this poor excuse for the creator is actually everyone's Divine Maker. Nothing could be further from the truth when one studies world religion. Jesus was born and lived in the land of the Hebrews; Yahweh was the God that he spoke about. Jesus preached that there is life after death, something that was not the accepted belief of orthodox Jews, and the idea was somewhat novel to the local people. Jesus taught that one could reach heaven by repenting of one's sins, but that was as far as it went. Christians now say that one can only go to heaven through Christ because he martyred himself on the cross for our sins. The actual reason Jesus went to the cross is because he irritated the Roman authorities; crucifixion was common practice in dealing with trouble makers during that period of history.

         Lindsey says four things happened when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. One: "The instant man disobeyed God, he lost this spiritual life and severed that direct line of communication with his Maker." Two: "man received a nature of self-centeredness and rebellion against God. We see this result throughout the history of mankind. God describes it this way: 'the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?'" (Jeremiah 17:9)

         What? After being kicked out of the garden, stripped of their souls, blamed for bringing disaster to future humanity, God has the gall to say "the heart is desperately sick," followed by "who can understand it?" This isn't the work of a perfect, loving God; the God of creation. There is something terribly wrong with this picture.

         Three: ". . . according to the Bible, Satan is ruling all those who have rejected God." I think it's the other way around. God rejected His greatest creation, and forced Satan to take them unto himself. "Four, when man rebelled, the world was legally handed over to Satan. Adam actually became the Benedict Arnold of the universe. When he obeyed Satan, he turned the title deed of himself, all his dominion, and all his descendants over to Satan. This is why Jesus called Satan the 'ruler of this world'" (John 12:31)(p.62). See how God turns attention and blame away from himself, and puts the evil deed on Adam [actually Eve] for listening to Satan. Sneaky and conniving.

         Now God has everything set up to place upon himself the ultimate glory. The master stroke of all, the culmination of the perfect plan, He has everyone believing that Satan is the bad guy, and the one responsible for the plight of humanity. Lindsey tells it this way:

         ". . . God immediately launched His plan to redeem man from this helpless situation. What Satan didn't count on was that God would be so just that He wouldn't forgive man unless divine justice was satisfied. And something much more incredible--that God would be so loving that He would be willing to step down from heaven and temporarily lay aside all of his divine rights and become a man. Satan didn't anticipate that God, as a man, would later go to a cross and bear His own righteous judgment against the sin of the whole universe." (p.63).

         What absolute arrogance! This is the epitome of self-adoration and worship. Through this puny God's cunning, connivance, lies, and deceit, he has managed to convince millions of people of this huge conspiracy. Listen as Lindsey sums it up. "God, taking the form of man, poured out upon Himself all of the just wrath that was due the whole human race, so that anyone who gets beneath the cross with Jesus will be shielded from that wrath."

         What a show, now God is going to get really angry at these poor pitiful humans that have been duped into believing they can be saved from something they're not guilty of. Listen to the accolades that God has worked so hard to get: "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since by his blood he did all this for us as sinners, how much more will he do for us now that he has declared us not guilty? Now he will save us from all of God's wrath to come." (p.64).

         Lindsey has apparently forgotten about the nature of the Trinity; that is, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; they are as one and inseparable, yet distinguishable. So when Jesus saves us from all of God's wrath, he is in effect saving us from himself. This is the same as not being saved at all. Odd I know, and difficult to reconcile.

         We can add these characteristics to God's nature, his anger, vengeance, and wrath. If the qualities and characteristics attributed to this creature were to be found in a human being, I would very discreetly remove myself from their presence. People with these traits should be avoided, or referred to competent mental counselors. These are serious character flaws and can be dangerous to us all.

         Let me give you another example of God's great love. Lindsey says on page 75: "One of the most basic parts of the world system is religion. Religion is based on man's pride. It assumes that man can do something to earn Gods acceptance. True faith says you can only be accepted with God through receiving forgiveness as a gift on the basis of a God-provided substitute bearing the penalty for sin. Abel approached God the true way. He brought the appointed animal sacrifice as a substitute to die for his sins. Cain, on the other hand, came the way of the world system. He brought the fruit of his own works. Abel was accepted--Cain wasn't." [Apparently, ritual animal death ended when human sacrifice began on the cross].

         The point here is that God considers an animal sacrifice better than a gift of one's own works. Would you agree? I personally find animal sacrifice repugnant and reprehensible. I too would have failed this God since fruit, wheat, and vegetables grown from my own toil in the earth seems like a perfectly good offering to me.

         Lindsey goes on to say: "God even reasoned with Cain and sought to get him to come the true way. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it'" (Genesis 4:6-7).

         It appears that Cain's rejection by God amounted to an act of sin brought about by a failure to expiate his other sins because of an improper substitute. Lindsey says further: " . . . Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and established a highly-developed society and culture which left God out; he built the first city mentioned in the Bible, called Enoch." (p.75).

         In the generations that followed, agriculture was developed, music, art, and culture were introduced, and industry followed. "These things were not evil in themselves, but there was one glaring problem--they left out God." (p.76). See what's happening here? God rejected Cain, but when Cain went out and accomplished great deeds, God became angry because he was not included. What did God do? Remember, God is vengeful and wrathful, he's already turned Cain out more than once because he failed to shed the blood of an animal sacrifice in exchange for his other sins; God will not allow himself to be excluded, so he just quite simply destroys everyone and everything in the great flood. (Genesis 6-7) I guess we could call this the ultimate tantrum.

         Many Christian theologians will tell you that even though these people—the good and the bad—all drowned, their sins won't be atoned for until Christ dies on the cross. No problem, that is only a few thousand years of torment in Hell waiting for the planned atonement. In any case, this makes God an out and out brutal killer, knowing full well that once Christ atones for them all will be forgiven. Lest we forget, God and son, along with the Holy Ghost, are different aspects of the same thing, so when you hear this often heard phrase: "that God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son," remember the divine nature of the Trinity.

         This brings up a very interesting question. McConkie states in his three pillars of eternity that first there was the creation, then the fall, then the atonement. Why does God go on punishing sinners when the plan of atonement is already in place? Why bother when every sin that has ever been committed is already forgiven through presupposed atonement? Here are a few possibilities: 1. God is not the creator. 2. God is ignoring his plan of atonement. 3. God just wants to go on punishing supposed sinners until Jesus plays out the horrible incident on the cross. I would say that all three are correct, as proven through God's own actions. What Jesus actually taught while he lived is that one can be forgiven and reach heaven by genuinely repenting of one's sins. Shouldn't this be enough?

         Christians can get around much of what has been written here if they accept the idea that the Bible is not literally the word of God. The Bible is the product of stories, myths, and yes fantasies, often handed down, and interpreted with great embellishment by ordinary people whether inspired or not. Yes, you have to accept the fact that the Bible is not the literal truth. You cannot have it any other way without destroying its credibility completely.

         The first thing Christians can give up, in my view, is their insatiable drive to save everyone that is not a Christian. Remember McConkie's words: "If there had been no fall, there would have been no need for a Redeemer or Savior." With our new view that the Bible is based on allegory, we can consider the story of Adam and Eve to be a mythological tale better suited for children. I believed the Garden of Eden story when I was a little boy in Sunday school, but I grew up. Recall what Lindsey says about God's plan: "What a drama in Genesis 3! No clever playwright with all the skills of manipulating characters and providing psychological tricks of suspense could dream up a better plot than the one that happened in the Garden of Eden." — Can't argue about that.

         Christians can come to accept such religions as Hinduism and Buddhism that center their values on the divinity of the individual rather than attempting to placate an angry God. I would like to include Islam here also, but until they give up the cry of "Allah or the sword," No way. Any religion that advocates death of one by another because they don't agree is the worst sin of all. There is no one true religion.

         I believe in a vast universe filled with Life endowed with Spirit flourishing on worlds where living things are the sacred expression and embodiment of their Creator. I also tend to believe that our Maker, having finished the main work, left aspiring humanity to fashion its own version of religion and God, as reflected in the building of temples, churches, shrines, mosques, and synagogues. The followers of every faith have the opportunity of deciding how to worship their God in their own way according to the dictates of their own beliefs. And that's how it should be.

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