Over the last couple of years, I have done a lot of reading, and rather than answering my questions, it has made me think even more - particularly about God and the Bible.
When I was kicked out of the WTBTS, it was because of my personal belief in Jesus. I had these strong convictions in the body and blood of Jesus, and the power of Christ living in us. I also thought that the Bible was indeed inspired, but that Jesus was the “word of God”, rather than the Bible. In a sense, I thought clearly that Jesus would always teach me, not about the “truth” but rather, about himself. I would come to KNOW him, and that would be the greatest thing ever.
However, over the last two years, I have done so much reading, that I have come to have some serious questions about these ideas.
Take the Bible. Whether you believe in the documentary hypothesis, or the fragmentary hypothesis, or the redaction hypothesis, there is strong evidence that Bible is not inspired. It seems to be a clear compilation of myths, legends, and exaggerated stories. The historical truths it does have seem to have been spun so many times that resemblance to the original events is tenuous. It has political biases, and clear signs of tampering, redaction and addition. So how can it ever be relied upon as a guide to Jesus? Which parts of the Bible are “prophecies pointing to Christ”, rather than prophecies pointing to a deliverer for Israel, from whoever was oppressing them at the time?
Isaiah and the suffering servant seems to be referring to Israel. Other parts of Isaiah (and other prophets) seem to be written to provide a rationale for the traumatic events of the exile, a sort of religious catharsis by the exiled scribes and priests in Babylon, to try to redefine worship of YHWH, in the light of the catastrophic events of the exile. They seem to be attempting to provide an explanation, some “reason” that God allowed these events to occur. They also seem to be propaganda documents, where the Yahewhist priests attempted to spin this national tragedy into a promotion of their belief system against the other idol cults that Israel was engaged in. In short, it seems far more like a deliberate attempt to shift blame onto the other cults in Israel on that time, while keeping the temple cult alive. Which part of these events, which part of the writings during the exile can then be spoken of as “inspired”? Are they not all cynical attempts to manipulate the fears and doubts of their fellow exiles?
It seems that other “prophecies” in the Hebrew Bible are clearly misapplied to Jesus by the Christian writers – I’m thinking particularly of Matthew. So how can some Christians, and I’m thinking of some I have read on this forum, say that the parts of the Bible that point to Jesus are inspired, but the others are not? How exactly do they make this judgement? And, even more disturbingly, which parts of the Bible actually point to Jesus?
Another point that has troubled me is the vicious nature of Jehovah. Who exactly is this “God”? Some people on this forum have said he is a vicious tribal God, yet still state Jesus is the Messiah, and that they are Christians. But I ask – the Messiah of what exactly? I mean, Jesus does not condemn “Jehovah’s” actions, does he? Is Jesus not a fervent worshipper of “Jehovah”? He refers to Sodom and Gomorrah, and Noah’s flood, as real events. Yet, one is a case of mass murder, and the other a case of genocide, all by “Jehovah.” How do Christians square these events with Jesus’ compassion? Jesus did not condemn these events. And if Jesus now says “let us all be peaceful” – why the change? Why has the vicious Jehovah been replaced with the loving Jesus? And more to the point, what right does this vicious God have to give us a moral code?
Another question I have is the allowance of suffering. I understand that Christians have various answers – God knows, I have thought about it. But if God is simply “gathering the members of the body of Christ”, how long does he have to wait, and how many are “enough” before he steps in? I mean, how many women need to be raped, and how many children need to die of starvation, before he thinks “that’s enough”? Seriously?
I have many other questions, but I’ll save them for another time. These are all sincere questions, and I’d really appreciate it if some Christians, particularly those who, like I used to, say they have a personal relationship with Christ and believe in the blood and the body of Christ, could answer them. I’m genuinely asking these questions.