Monday, June 21, 2010

289: We Wouldn't Want That

Mark 4-5
"The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' " - Mark 4:11-12

Jesus repeats his parable about the man sowing seeds in different places. He again concludes by saying that only the disciples have been given the secret to understanding his parables (even though they really don't understand his parables). This time, however, he is a little more clear about why the common person is not supposed to understand:
so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'
Right, if people understood Jesus's parables, they might be righteous and be forgiven. And Jesus would be useless if everyone in the world was good. We can't have that. Also, Jesus wouldn't be able to participate in his favorite past time; casting people into eternal hellfire. If you believe that not being forgiven results in eternal torture, then I'm not sure how you can claim Jesus is a "good" person.

The rest of the chapter repeats several parables/stories. One parable about the Kingdom of Heaven starting out like a mustard seed (I still don't know what this implies). And the story about Jesus calming the storm while the disciples cross the lake. The wording of the storm story is different. While the wording in this particular case doesn't change the meaning, shouldn't it be a perfect retelling of the story? Even the smallest contradiction undermines the idea that the bible is perfect.

At the beginning of chapter 5 we have a retelling of the story about Jesus casting demons into a herd of pigs. Up until now I haven't found too many blatant contradictions, but this story is just wrong. First of all, this story is completely asynchronous. This was all supposed to have happened (according to Matthew) before Jesus denied his mother and brothers, before the parable of the sower (previous paragraph), and before Jesus was accused of being in alliance with Satan. Second, in Matthew there were two demon possessed men, in Mark there is only one. Finally, the dialog is only similar enough to tell that it's the same story.

In this story the (one) demon possessed man runs up to Jesus as soon as he sees him, and tells him to swear to God not to torture him. I guess this demon has never heard of running away. For some reason Jesus decides to strike up a conversation and asks the demon what it's name is. The demon replies, "My name is Legion, for we are many". The demon(s) then beg to be sent into a nearby herd of pigs. Jesus gives them permission, and they kill the pigs (by drowning them). Gives them permission? So Jesus didn't even do any exorcism, he just gave them permission to leave. And he wonders why the Pharisees think he's allied with Satan.

The second (and final) story of chapter 5 is another story that we've already heard, but it is again very different. It's the story of the "dead" girl, that Jesus claims is asleep, and the chronically bleeding woman. The first difference is when the man comes up to Jesus, he does not say his daughter is dead, but dying. Big difference. Like Matthew's story, on his way to the man's house, a chronically bleeding woman touches his cloak. Instead of Jesus noticing the touch (as in Matthew), he notices his power drain from him. What, is this a video game now? Did Jesus notice his "magic" bar drop to zero?

Jesus then runs around asking who touched him. Does Jesus have absolutely no control over his power? You only have to touch him and he involuntarily ejaculates (word of the day) his power? Eventually the woman confesses to touching Jesus's cloak. Instead of punishing her, Jesus claims that the woman's faith has healed her, and she should go in peace.

Only upon Jesus's arrival at the man's house are people mourning the death of his daughter. Like the story in Matthew, Jesus goes into the room and claims the girl is just sleeping. He tells her to get up and she walks away. Again, Jesus is either lying (Christians claim this is impossible), or the girl's family can't tell the difference between someone sleeping and someone being dead.

This is a response to a letter (that I unfortunately can't find) that says the bible isn't completely factual.
I am sorry to hear your anger/frustration with God's teaching, the Bible. Your logic is flawed in saying the Bible is "only opinion" and not factual. Do some research. The Bible is a compilation of recorded and substantiated historical facts (see "The New Complete Works of Josephus"), and of accounts of God's people and their successes and failures in following His blueprint for their lives.
I'm not sure that the bible would be considered "opinion". Maybe "delusion" in some cases. While I don't deny all the historical claims in the bible, most of the substantiations I've seen for the supernatural parts (i.e. Josephus) have been worded like "some Christians/Jews claim that Jesus is the messiah". This only confirms that someone was saying it, it's not like it's a corroborating witness. I certainly wouldn't say that's a substantiation.
His "rules" are not meant to be confining but to free us within His parameters.
This is definitely what I'm going to say if I ever kidnap someone. "I'm not 'kidnapping' you, I'm just freeing you within my parameters". Does this semantic bullshit actually work on anyone?
Living only by "logic," as you suggest, is purely subjective - yours against everyone else's. How chaotic that would be!
Right, because everyone in the world ascribes to the one and true religion (Christianity). Nobody has ever, will ever, or is currently debating the claim that Jesus is the messiah. Oh wait, that's not true. Religion is as subjective as you claim logic is, it's your religion against everyone else's. And the world is, as the writer claims, completely chaotic as a result of this subjectivity.
Have you ever read the Bible, Justin?...
Well I've read most of the bible. And it all seems (so far) like a great big pile of...
I mean really read it to know the wisdom and love and life it holds for you? I urge you to do so soon. Meanwhile, I pray for you - that you will find the way, the truth, and the life that is Jesus.
Oh, have I really read it? Are you talking about the kind of really reading it where you pretend that Jesus isn't an ass hole most of the time, and you skip over the nasty parts where God is killing everyone, and you skip over the dietary/sabbath laws that most Christians claim somehow don't apply anymore? No, I guess I haven't really read it.


  1. Well you have to really read it in order to get it. Duh.

  2. Mark 4:10-12. This part (constructed out of Isa 6:9-10, as Matthew makes explicit) was just as offensive in Matt 13:13-15: Jesus wants to keep some people in the dark so that they are not saved.

    As I pointed out yesterday, Matthew is the one who is copying Mark. You'll see this again, when Luke copies him, too. Even John does a little, although more often than not John chooses to disagree with Mark.

    Mark 4:25 "Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." We saw this already in Matthew, but I just want to point out facetiously that if some does not have, how can anything be taken from him?

    Matt 4:35-41. We would not expect independent eyewitness testimony (or even secondhand accounts) to agree exactly, even in quotes. So while this is a (weak) argument for historicity it is also one against inerrancy. OTOH, there are many verses that agree exactly, word for word, between Matt and Mark, which can only be due to a common written source (which in this case is Mark's gospel).

    Mark 4:41. Note that here the disciples are "terrified" of Jesus whereas in Matt 8:27 they are "amazed" by him.

    Mark 5:20. After Jesus tries to keep his identity and activities a secret so far (and afterward as well, cf. below), why does he tell the formerly possessed man to tell everyone about Jesus' exorcism?

    Mark 5:6-13. The story here makes a bit more sense than the truncated version in Matt 8:29-32 in that now you can see why the demon(s) were afraid that Jesus would torture them: He first ordered them to come out. That's why the demon begged to be allowed to go into the pigs, so that they could remain in the area.

    Mark (Mark 5:14-17) has 2 rounds of people coming and going: First the people tending the pigs run off and report what happened to other people. Then those other people come and see Jesus and the formerly demon-possessed man. Next, they then tell other about the man and the pigs. Finally, at some later time, the people asked Jesus to leave. Matthew (Matt 8:33-34) has condensed this story into a much shorter time frame, as he has the pig tenders telling the whole town about what had happened, and they then see Jesus and at that time ask him to leave.

    Mark 5:25-34. Note that again Mark somehow knows what both the woman and Jesus are thinking. Also, Jesus is shown to not be omniscient ("Who touched my clothes?"). Matthew (Matt 9:20-22), of course, was having none of this, so he took that line out. Another significant difference is that in Mark the woman is healed as soon as she touches him, even without his permission, whereas in Matthew, it is not the touching of Jesus that heals her but his explicit pronouncement. Mark has a Jesus who is not in total control of his power, something that other evangelists would be uncomfortable with (and thus they changed it, as usual).

    Mark 5:41. Jesus uses what appears to be a magic incantation ("Talitha koum!"). This gospel is full of examples of his apparent use of magic (such as demanding the names of demons to get power over them , or, as we'll see later, using his spit to cure blindness). As expected, the other gospel authors remove these tells from their accounts.

    Mark 5:43. How did Jesus expect the family to keep secret the fact that she was not dead? Remember, everyone was just in mourning. Did he want them to continue with the funeral? This is an example of what I was talking about earlier, when I said that Jesus takes this whole "messianic secret" (as it is called in NT studies) a little too far.

  3. Bryan, as you read further you'll see why Christians claim dietary/sabbath laws no longer apply: That is what is written in a number of places in the NT. It just so happens that the only place where the opposite is stated falls in the Gospel of Matthew, which is the only one you're read so far. And even in Matthew there are mixed messages, as Jesus has watered down the sabbath and dietary laws to the point of meaninglessness.

  4. Like the verse that says, "I have not come to abolish the law but fulfill it"? And that "not a jot or tittle will pass away from the law," until the end of all things?

  5. You're quoting Matthew (and Q), which I pointed out was the only place in the NT where one sees this point of view. Still, Matthew has retained a few places from Mark where Jesus is seen to be abrogating the law, but Matthew softens them (cf. Matt 12:1-8 vs. Mark 2:23-28 and Matt 15:1-20 vs. Mark 7:2-23).

  6. It is written: A woman shall compass a man and create a new thing in the earth (Jer 31:22), the man is Satan(Isa 14:16), the new thing is now delivered to the world. There is no hell fire for any child of God. God is not a murderer. Satan has deceived the whole world (Rev 12:7), until the heel of time(Gen 3:15). Check out the bruising of Satan by his lies being exposed at

  7. "Heel of time"? Gen 3:15 refers to a heel of (a) man:

    "And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
    he [meaning man, the offspring of the woman] will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel."



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