Monday, July 12, 2010

310: Eat Jesus or Die

John 5-6
"Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me." - John 6:57

The theme of of Jesus healing people by doing (visibly) nothing continues in the beginning of chapter 5. Jesus heals a man that has been paralyzed for 38 years. But he does this by telling the man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk. So Jesus has to spit in people's faces to cure deafness, but healing a paralytic can be done with an offhand comment?

It turns out that carrying a mat is illegal on the sabbath day. Jesus has healed the man, but now the man is risking his life to break the law (you know, the law that Jesus has promised he wasn't changing?) and obey Jesus's command to carry his mat. It turns out that the Jews are more interested in killing Jesus than they are interested in killing the man for breaking the sabbath.

Jesus then goes on a bit of a rant about how he's the son and he only does what his father (God) tells him to. He makes the interesting claim that the father judges no one, because he's passed all his judging powers onto his son. Jesus also changes the requirements to get into heaven (again). Jesus says that whoever believes in God and hears the word of Jesus will have eternal life.

Jesus now has three separate criteria for getting into heaven: Believing in Jesus, being born again, and believing in God and hearing the word of Jesus. Do you have to do all three to get into heaven? Each time he changes it he makes it seem like that's the only thing you need to do. So maybe we just need to do the last one?

The next section is very strange, and I'm really not sure what Jesus is trying to say. First Jesus says that he testifies about himself, but self testimony is not valid. Jesus then says that John has been sent to testify about him. However, Jesus immediately says that he does not accept human testimony. If we don't accept Jesus's testimony (because Jesus tells us not to), and we don't accept the testimony of man (because we're being Christlike), then why the hell should we believe in Jesus? Jesus goes on to claim that God has testified for him (therefore we should believe). But, of course, the words of God are delivered directly through the testimony of man (which Jesus just talked about not trusting).

At the beginning of chapter 6 Jesus feeds the 5000. This is just as vague a retelling as the other 3 times we've heard this story (or 5 times if you count feeding the 4000). We also hear the story of Jesus walking on water. This story omits Peter also walking on water.

Next is an incredibly long section about the "bread of life". Turns out, the bread of life is Jesus's flesh. If you eat this bread of life, you are supposed to never again be hungry or thirsty. The Jews don't believe him. In response, Jesus tells them to stop grumbling, and that only those God chooses can come to Jesus. What? This would imply that God chooses to disallow people from following Jesus. This would further imply that there is a subset of humanity that is destined to be sent to hell. So much for free will. I guess God found a way to be a douchebag even after he sent Jesus.

The last paragraph of the bread of life section is incredibly strange, and deserves a quote:
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me."
Now, any Christian you ask will call this a big metaphor. But why? If I said to someone, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat me I'm going to kill you". What about that sentence implies that I'm speaking in metaphor? Who prefixes metaphors by saying "I tell you the truth"? Even if I can be convinced this is a metaphor, it would certainly be strange enough to have Jesus locked away in the funny farm if he lived in modern times.

As a testament to how strange this paragraph really is, Jesus ends up losing "many" of his disciples over this teaching. I guess I'm not the only one that thinks eating Jesus's flesh and drinking his blood is a little over the line.

A few days ago Mike Adams wrote an article he titled "An Immodest Proposal". Which consisted of him telling Christian students to go join atheist groups, become the majority, and vote themselves to office. This was in response to a recent supreme court ruling that Christian groups can not discriminate against gay people when deciding membership.

First of all, based on the title of the article, it's clear that he meant it as satire. However, it's not beyond comprehension that some Christians wouldn't understand his satire, and would proceed to actually follow his suggestions. Surely following this line of logic, he received several comments saying that this was an inappropriate article for a professor (did I mention he is a professor?) to write. Satire or not, I'm inclined to agree.

This is where it gets interesting. Today he wrote a reply to one of these atheists that responded to his article. The atheist he responded to just so happened to be named Bryan (I honestly assure you that it wasn't me). This is what Bryan had to say:
I understand having a political viewpoint, but (“An Immodest Proposal”) is not just advocating, but stating the intention to marginalize and harass your own students based on religious preference out of some misplaced sense of spite. How is that even remotely acceptable behavior for a Professor?
Mike goes on to spend the rest of his response article calling Bryan an idiot for not understanding his satire. Unfortunately, this response ends up being rather inappropriate for a professor too. He repeatedly calls Bryan a " Dumb Atheist Moralist Not Engaging Debate" (DAMNED, get it?). Not only is this a terrible acronym, but a professor calling someone "dumb" doesn't seem like "acceptable behavior for a professor" (to quote Bryan).

So, Mike, unless you're willing to call this article "satire" too, I'd suggest trying to act your age (or at least act your title). Ad hominem attacks based on someone's legitimate concerns just make you look like an ass hole.

(via Townhall)


  1. Now, any Christian you ask will call this a big metaphor.

    Well, no. Not really. Not any Christian.

    If you ask a Catholic - and if the Catholic you choose to ask actually knows what their religion actually teaches about Transubstantiation - then you'll find out that according to the Catholic Church this isn't a metaphor at all. You really do need to eat the actual flesh and drink the actual blood of Jesus to be accepted into Heaven. During the Catholic sacrament of Communion, the bread and wine used at the altar are ritually transformed into the body and blood of Christ. According to Church teaching this isn't a metaphor - the bread and wine physically become manifestations of Christ's body and blood and are then consumed by the congregation.

    This is actually one of the sticking points between Roman Catholic theology and Protestant theology - Protestants are willing to say that this whole "eat my body/drink my blood" thing is a metaphor for accepting Jesus As Your Personal Savior. Catholics - at least according to Church teaching - are not supposed to believe it's a metaphor. (Though "in the wild" you'll find more Catholics who think of it as a metaphor than otherwise. Because in the 21st century it's hard to believe in a magic ritual that transforms bread into god-body, and no one really wants to think through the whole "ritual cannibalism" angle all that much).

    This is why about a year ago there was a big blow-up on a college campus when a student went through Communion at a Catholic Church and got a piece of host he didn't consume but instead took out of the Church with him. If it were symbolic or a metaphor no one would have cared. Instead the kid got death threats because, well, body of Christ and all that. Once the priest has mumbled the magic words over the bread there are only two acceptable ways to dispose of it - you need to eat it or, if for some reason it can't be eaten, it needs to be buried in the ground. You can't just throw it away. (Catholic Churches have special sinks just for cleaning the plates and cups that communion is served with - the sinks have drains that run directly into the ground rather than into the sewer system precisely for this reason.)

  2. John 5

    John 5:1. Yet another trip to Jerusalem that the Synoptics don't record.

    John 5:6. Jesus: "Do you want to get well?" The guys been an invalid for 38 years - take a wild guess, Jesus. Shouldn't Jesus have known this one already, being omnipotent and everything?

    John 5:7. The guy doesn't answer Jesus' question at all, he just asks for help getting into the pool, and Jesus goes ahead and cures him anyway (if that's what it was). Not even so much as a by-your-leave.

  3. John 6

    John 6:4. Another Passover feast (the 2nd in John), but this time it seems that Jesus will not be going to Jerusalem for it.

    John 6:15. The people intend to make Jesus king by force? So his being King of the Jews was the Jews' idea?

    In 6:15 it says that he again withdrew to a mountain, but it seems that he already was on a mountain (6:3).

    John 6:16. The disciples didn't go down to the lake until the evening, whereas in Mark 6:45-47 they have already rowed out into the lake before evening came.

    John 6:21. Were the disciples going to refuse to let Jesus into the boat until he spoke up?



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