Sunday, August 29, 2010

358: The Antichrist

1 John 1-5
"Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour." - 1 John 2:18

We have yet another mysteriously written letter. It's written in the first person, but the writer never identifies himself or the people he's writing to. I'll call the writer "John" for convenience.

The first chapter (which is very short) is devoted to saying that God is light. John says that we must not "walk in the darkness" if we want fellowship with God. The chapter ends with John saying if anyone claims to not be a sinner, they are liars.

Chapter 2 begins by John saying that he is writing this letter so that the recipients will not sin. Wait, didn't he just say that sinning was inevitable? Indeed, he said that anyone who says they don't sin is a liar. John now says that if we happen to sin, that Jesus is there to give us salvation. John goes on to say that we must all love our brothers.

Midway through chapter 2, John tells us that we must not love the world, or anything in the world. In fact, if anyone loves the world, the "love of the Father is not in him". What? I know a lot of Christians that "love the world". John says that we shouldn't love the world because of all the sinful things that come out of it. Why can't we love the world for the good things that come out of it? By the way, John just told us to love our brothers. Aren't our brothers "in the world".

The rest of the chapter is about the "antichrist". John is another gospel writer that thinks the world is going to end any minute (any minute 2000 years ago). He says that the antichrist is coming, and many have already come. This clearly indicates, says John, that they are in the last hour. John goes on to give a very ambiguous description of the antichrist. He says that the antichrist is "the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ". Right, that narrows it down to about 4 billion people.

Chapter 3 begins with John going on and on about how great the love of God is. And how wonderful it was for him to send his son. However, he goes on to say that "no one who continues to sin has either seen [Jesus] or known him", and "No one who is born of God will continue to sin". So if you're a Christian you are no longer allowed to sin? In fact, if you do sin, you weren't even a Christian in the first place.

The rest of the chapter is about loving you "brother". The term "brother" seems rather ambiguous, but I'm assuming he means a fellow Christian. Which - of course - is nobody, based on John's definition of "Christian" being people who no longer sin. Anyway, John says that we should lay down our lives, like Jesus, for our Christian brothers.

John says that if we see someone in material need, and do nothing, we do not have the "love of God" in us. I find it hard to believe that this concept couldn't be applied to welfare, or universal healthcare. Why is the Christian right so opposed to giving their tax money to others?

Chapter 4 starts with John telling us to "test" spirits to see if they are from God. If these "spirits", whatever they are, tell us that Jesus was from God, then the spirits are trustworthy. If, however, the spirit does not acknowledge this, the spirit is from the antichrist. If you're having this much of an in depth conversation with a spirit you should probably be consulting the nearest mental health facility.

The rest of chapter 4 is about loving people. This time John says you should love your neighbor, not just your brother. He says that, though "no one has ever seen God", if we love each other then God will be in us. No one has ever seen God? If this isn't a biblical contradiction I don't know what is. Practically every character in the bible has "seen God" if you believe the bible's account of the story.

Near the end of the chapter John says "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him". Does this mean we get to skip Jesus? I've been told numerous times we can't have a personal relationship with God without Jesus, but John seems to think that you just have to "live in love". The chapter ends with the command "Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

Chapter 5 is all about carrying out the commands of God. Wait, what are the commands of God? Old Testament law? I thought we weren't bound by that anymore. John then says, absurdly, that the commandments of God "aren't burdensome".

John then slips into some incoherent ranting. He says that there are "three who testify", the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Testify what? Is this the trinity? John also throws in this gem of stupidity: "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God". My testimony is great, because my testimony is great. It makes perfect sense.

The chapter ends with John alluding to the unforgivable sin. John says that if a brother commits a sin that does not "lead to [his] death", then we should pray for him. However, John says, "there is a sin that leads to death". If a brother commits this sin we should not pray for him. I can only assume that this solitary sin is the unforgivable blasphemy.

Just in case you missed it, here's Glenn Beck from yesterday:

This wasn't at all what I was expecting, in that this was a sermon. My favorite part was when the "descendant of the people on the Mayflower" Pastor talked about how America has been forgiven for stealing the Indian's land in front of the descendant of one of those Indians. If anything, shouldn't he turn around and ask that guy for forgiveness?

It's interesting that a large crowd of (presumably) Christians, is perfectly ok receiving a religious lecture from a Mormon. Glenn Beck's delivery style seems to work out much better than the normal M.O.:

1 comment:

  1. 1 John 1:1-3. It's unclear what The Elder is claiming to have touched. He's not posing as the apostle John, and by his time (the last 1st c. at the earliest), there wouldn't have been anyone around from the 1st generation who knew Jesus personally. Besides, this would be a strange way of saying that one had been a associate of Jesus. This paragraph is usually taken as an emphasis of Jesus' physicality, to argue against docetists who claimed that Jesus had only been a phantom.



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