We Can Twist It, Turn It Upsidedown, But Christianity Is Always All About Sin.

Stephen Prothero, God is Not One, started with a brilliant idea.  It was to summarize the focal point of various religions.   His wrote, for example, the Jewish faith is about rules.   When he came to the Christian faith, he said it is about sin.

Various posters on the comment page here have disagreed with Prothero’s simple conclusion saying the Christian faith is about more complex things, including forgiveness.  There was the law, of the Old Testament, then the Jesus character was introduced and died to forgiven violations of laws called sins.

We can pretend legitimate versions of the faith are what seminaries teach, or, what Popes say.  But, the money that comes to the faith, the volunteer work required to keep it going and the people who sit in the pews are where the power and influence of the faith reside.

In other words, the faith is actually about what ordinary people think it is about.  And, ordinary people think it is about sin.

As the link below points out, a constant and powerful reminder is found in the unbiquitos, Lords Prayer.  The phrase, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done”, means, the author says, the individual no longer has sovereignty.  He has voluntarily submitted himself to an invisible ogre because of he he has been told he is a sinner.

There is no good reason any human being should believe he/she was born bad.  Anyone who treats others, those living today and future generations, well need not consider himself a sinner.


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53 Responses

  1. Henry

    Jon: “We Can Twist it, Turn it Upsidedown, But Christianity is Always All About Sin.”

    No, you have it wrong. Satan is sin, of which we on frequent occasion partake.

    Christianity is about the cross, Jesus Christ’s atonement for our sins.

    1. Brad

      Just think, if Jesus had been crucified with an AR-15, then all the Christian churches would have an AR-15 hanging up on the wall rather than a cross.

      1. Henry

        Brad: “if Jesus had been crucified with an AR-15”

        Quite honestly, I am not sure if that is possible with the process of crucifixion. You would need some additional elements to achieve that beyond only an AR-15. I am sketical of your left field idea.

        1. Brad

          I don’t see it that way. Wasn’t it really a fairly simple case of a murder lynching, albeit a gruesome and tortuous one? The same exact result could have been achieved with a gun.

          1. Henry

            Not really. You can’t crucify someone with a gun. The AR-15 is much too short in length. Physically wouldn’t work.

          2. Brad

            Ok, I guess going by the strict definition of “crucify” you are right. But, the ultimate goal was murder, so I guess it was just a deliberately tortuous, graphic, and theatrical murder. But, skipping all the theatrics and torture, an AR-15 would have produced the same end result.

          3. Henry

            Brad: “But, skipping all the theatrics and torture, an AR-15 would have produced the same end result.”

            Not so. To the delight of atheists, portions of Psalm 22 would have been unfulfilled if Jesus Christ had simply been murdered with an AR-15.

          4. entech

            Wonder why Mark was the only one that read that psalm. The other writers had quite different ideas of the (supposed) last words. Perhaps Luke had read 35 instead. Luke was never one to pass up a good story, but giving yourself up to someone who had already forsaken you is a bit weird.
            But the whole thing is a conglomeration of weird and contradictory things.

          5. Henry

            Good question, Ott. Why would an atheist care about any of the Bible? They shouldn’t care. Most do, however. They love what they perceive as the inconsistencies after applying their twist.

        2. Michael Ross

          AR-15s are evil, people are good. Just get rid of the AR-15s or just get them all in the hands of the government and we will have utopia. Urr, well, Hitler, stalin, Mao, and others tried that and it didn’t turn out so good. Until we “beat our Ar-15s into plowshares and our AK-47s into pruning hooks maybe we should keep some of them in the hands of the citizenry.

          1. Brad

            Your post is too ridiculous to respond to in any reasonable way, so here is my equally ridiculous response:

            Let’s get rid of all gun control laws and just have a complete free-for-all with everyone packing some sort of weapon and let’s settle all of our disputes with gun battles. Then we will have utopia.

          2. Michael Ross

            “Let’s get rid of all gun control laws”

            Great post Brad. Now your making sense and agreeing with the Founders.

  2. Brad

    Religion needs some type of fear and guilt mechanism to use to control or at least influence people, and of course the concept of sin is the Christian tool for this. Sin had to be defined as a violation against God (as opposed to ourselves or others) in order for it to be a valid way to scare and shame people.

    Anything that relies on guilt and fear to control people just doesn’t work. If it did, the world would be a much better place by now (after thousands of years). And if this whole Christian thing is mainly about getting to heaven, then why even have this silly little planet and all its forms of life in the first place? Is it just a sadistic experiment for God’s own entertainment?

    1. Jinx

      Chalking behavior up to sin is just an excuse to avoid fixing a social/environmental problem…….for example: ghetto’s, poverty, poor quality education, etc .

  3. .e

    I suppose you are correct Brad. As a Catholic, I wear a cross with a corpus. Pretty gruesome actually.
    God is love, but we have free will. To choose our own will over God’s is sin.

    1. Brad

      Is it always the case that our own will is evil? Isn’t it possible that at least sometimes our own will is good? I understand that we can often take free will and misuse it, but it would seem to me that God would not have given us the gift of free will if all it is for is bad purposes.

    2. Jinx

      Given the influence of environment from the time we are conceived (alcohol and drug intake, nutritional deficiencies), birth and infancy (half way decent care and nutrition), early childhood (home, quality preschool) and etc.: does free will truly exist?

  4. Michael Ross

    “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done”, means, the author says, the individual no longer has sovereignty. He has voluntarily submitted himself to an invisible ogre because of he he has been told he is a sinner. ”

    On the contrary we have individual sovereignty under God’s rule. Just as we have freedom under God’s Law. James calls it the “perfect law of liberty”(James 1:25) We get out from under that Law and we begin to lose out liberty. That is what is happening in our society today. Ben Franklin and William Penn said it best “men will be governed by God or ruled by tyrants. “

  5. entech

    .e, Michael you may have freewill, but you are in for eternal damnation if you don’t freely decide to make the right choice. You may have freewill, but are you free to used it, or do you actually suffer from a bound will, like Henry?

    1. Michael Ross

      I’m not talking about heaven or hell, but about our political situation. You know what the right choice is concerning your freewill but I fear you wont stop scoffing long enough to seriously consider you options.

      1. entech

        What are my options? After due consideration I think they are either capitulation or self respect.

        Was it Franklin who said, “those who would surrender freedom for security deserve neither”?

        1. Michael Ross

          I Swear, I’d have more success if I went out in the woods and matched wits with a tree stump.

          1. entech

            That is not nice. I was only saying you can believe I cannot. The bit about self respect was solely to say that I could not accept Pascal’s wager.

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Our friend entech attributes too much to, and distorts “the bondage of the will”. In that bondage, it relates only to the inability to see the need of the Christ through the Holy Spirit. Reject the Holy Spirit, reject Christ. One is free to reject, but not free to accept. ((( That is the only” binding”.))) In all other matters, one has the free will to choose to be Democrat or Republican, parsnips over peas, blonds over brunettes, Atheist or Agnostic. We have been here before, and I understand why our friend has such a problem with this, as he tries to flip-flop it into something he is “bound” not to grasp. He is “bound” and determined.

      1. Wanna 1:33 “Our friend entech attributes too much to, and distort “the bondage of the will”. In that bondage, it relates only to the inability to see the need of the Christ throught the Holy Spirit.”

        You are incorrect about this definition, unless you are talking only to other Christians who suffer “the bondage of the will”. I looked up the word “bound”. Included in the uses of the word are, “confined by bonds”, and, “predetermined”.

        The word “will” refers to “express determination”, “express determination”, “persistance”, “insistance” and “willfulness”.

        Thus, entech’s use of the term to describe Christians who are bound by a will to retain their their views and an insistance and persistance not to allow the logic of science and observation to enter their reasoning as sufferin from bound will is correct.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Jon; You too turn this around, and miss the point. Wordsmithing without continuity of context. Same old same old. Completely expected.

          1. Wanna 2:39 “Jon, you too turn this around, and miss the point. Wordsmithing without continuity of context.”

            Using established dictionary definitions is not word smithing. Taking established dictionary definitions and using them in a propaganda context is. Your bound will, the inability to apply the same rationality to the Bible and its propaganda as you do to issues in real life, is a red flag of bound will. I hope some day you can escape it.

          2. Wanna 3:32 “Same old-Same old. Twist and turn. Same old.”

            The day is coming, I can feel it, when you will have to conclude, “You know, he has a point there.”

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; look at all those fingers pointing back at you when you stick out your pointie finger. You still have time as long as you’re breathing. Not a judgement call, only an observation.

    3. Jinx

      entech Often wonder that point myself…”You may have freewill, but are you free to use………..” or conversely……….

      to quote my own post above “Given the influence of environment from the time we are conceived (alcohol and drug intake, nutritional deficiencies), birth and infancy (half way decent care and nutrition), early childhood (home, quality preschool) and etc.: does free will truly exist?”

      It is difficult to examine and question everything you have experienced, it can be done but it requires much introspection, no assumptions, and a search for truth.

      1. entech

        Yes it is a difficult one, Freewill, determinism or perhaps some form of compatibilism. There must (confess to weak argument when I need to use the word must) be determinism, the whole story of a life accumulates to the time when the decision, the (free) choice is made, to what extent can it be true to say “I had no choice”. How often is that a cop out?
        Why are Indians mainly Hindi, Saudis muslin and Americans Christian?

        1. Stanta

          Well, it could be because all other religions are forbidden in Saudi Arabia. In the US you aren’t arrested for NOT being Christian.

          1. entech

            Saudi true and a very good point, not only little choice but little choice about which variety.
            India is actually very pluralistic.

            America I don’t know enough about, supposed to be separation but Christianity does , looking in from the outside, appear to be dominant and trying to increase that dominance
            In the US you aren’t arrested for NOT being Christian. one of the many good things about America, but reading Jon I get the impression that you would rarely get elected either (but, that is democracy)

          2. Stanta

            Is it because you aren’t Christian you wouldn’t get elected? Or is it because your political views don’t match the views of the voters who just happen to be highly Christian? Is it causation or correlation?

          3. entech

            Stan, Please note I am speaking strictly as an outsider and in a situation in which I have no right to speak, no right to an opinion, so please take anything as a casual observation, no intention to comment on American affairs (plus any other disclaimers needed).

            From reading this blog and from watching reports of the lead up to your recent elections it is my observation that a religious persona of some kind is a requirement for public office of any kind, this religious face would preferably be Christian and preferably one of more “”main stream”” (double quotes to indicate I am not quite sure how to express myself here) denominations, Mormon may be almost acceptable but not JW or Scientology or even one of the Unitarian denominations.
            I understand you have at least one Muslim parliamentarian ( not familiar with your Congress and Senate system) and probably (relatively) minor religions where a local community exists.

            In Australia what they call the Christian Lobby tries to influence outcomes and issues But the religious sentiment is not as large or strong in general so they have less affect. The current leader is a declared atheist and quite a few religious and ethnic groups are represented.

            Religious groups in Australia and fairly evenly spread over the political spectrum. I am not sure how to attribute causation and relationship.

  6. .e

    Surrender to God is not to a despot. Although it seems like y’all think it is. God loves you, specifically.

    1. entech

      “Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. ” Wikipedia – good a definition as ever.

      Perhaps Tyrant is the word you were looking for.
      “A tyrant (Greek ????????, tyrannos), in its modern English usage, is a ruler of a cruel and oppressive character, who is an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution.” Wikipedia as good a description of the God of the old testament as ever.
      He was free to make or break the law on a whim, and did both. Forever getting angry and doing strange and contradictory things. Take the business of hardening the heart of Pharaoh so that he could demonstrate that he had tyrannical power and would use it.

      This God of yours may exist but do not try to pretend his full of “Justice and Mercy”, Cruel and Capricious” is more like it, if you take the book as being a true account.

    2. Brad

      Yep, God loves us so much he set up a place of eternal fire and damnation where all of us will go unless we meet his demands. That’s love.

  7. Darrel Tungseth

    Jon, Why can’t you make your points without resorting to insulting the beliefs of those of us who disagree with you. Such as referring to God as an “invisible ogre” today, calling Christ’s death a suicide in a previous blog, equating the Apostle Paul to one of today’s televangelists in a blog a while ago. Sometimes your lack of knowledge of the Bible is somewhat sad. You make some valid points occasionally, but the effects are minimized when you resort to the insulting gibes.

    1. Darrel 9:16 Thanks for the first time comment. Comments help make our site interesting.

      Others have agreed with you the observations you made on some of what appears here. When I look through the list you made there, I can see how differently we think. Those views of mine represent efforts by nonbelievers such as myself to put the Biblical narrative in context with contemporary thought.

      The reference to God as an “invisible ogre” is meant to reflect the fact the god (a.) is invisible and (b.) cruel, saddistic and inhuman deeds are attributed to it. Surely, you cannot deny either of these facts.

      The death of the Jesus character of the Bible also is a topic for critical thinking. What did that character think would be the outcome from destroying the property of those who were probably important figures of the time. Did he think they would fall on their knees and worship him for dumping the tables over? He had to know his own death would be the result.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to register your views here.

      1. entech

        Jon, I do think the use of the word “ogre” is a bit extreme
        Definition of OGRE Merriam Webster
        1: a hideous giant of fairy tales and folklore that feeds on human beings : monster
        2: a dreaded person or object

        1. is the bit I found extreme, but looking again he does describe himself in terms of 2 himself.

        Paul I would agree leaves a lot to be desired he took the Jesus Movement and turned it into a whole new deal which eventually became Christianity. Bit like the new evangelists Paul changed things to suit his needs. Started with Moses in numbers and one revelation for ever with nothing to be added or taken away, we get Gospels adding things and Paul taking practically everything away, taking everything away except the newly added trinity, of course.

        You can make the case that the events leading up to the crucifixion were deliberately planned to bring about a certain result, to fulfil prophecies and to bring about the return of the Kingdom of God on earth. That it did not happen, that the crowds rejected him (give us Barabas??) and that he was executed as a common criminal a rebel against the might of Rome would have been a great shock. The apostles got worried for their own safety, they had forsaken him, at the final moment the expected apocalypse never happened – is it any wonder the final act and words were to look to heaven and cry out out “why hast thou forsaken me.”
        Later gospels changed all this from anguish until it became more like the new story they wanted.

        All in all I think you make more valid points than insulting jibes, the difficult part is that so many think that simply failing to agree with them is an insulting jibe.

        1. entech 10:50 “1. a hideous giant of fairy tales and folklore that feeds on human being: monster. 2. a dreaded person or object.’

          You make a good point on the accurate definition of the word, “ogre”. We’ve had animated movies centered on ogres as well as comic books. I always associated the term as a fictional evil character. That the actual definition and some of the movie characterizations were about a human-eating figures I had not remembered.

          On another website I frequent people have added up the number of humans the god killed in the Bible. I’ve forgotten the number just now, but a good example of “ogre-like”, or, evil behavior was drowning all humans except Noah & company. I must agree it does not say the god ate them.

          1. entech

            On the other hand one of the punishment for not obeying the laws is:
            “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.” Leviticus 26:29

  8. Wolfy32

    I find this debate on free will / use of our will interesting. There’s several separate but related issues here:
    1. Is Christianity (or any religion for that matter) a man made method of rationalizing human fears and controlling those fears? (e.g. fears of death– controlled by promise of something better after it… and chaotic society where anyone can do anything they want — controlled by the concept of sin preventing humans from the good “place” or “things” in death.

    2. Free will does it exist?

    3. Sin? What is it and is it simply a tool for control?

    I’m only going to respond to # 3 and submit my own thoughts on this matter.

    Quite simply… All humans sinned through the original sin.. But, God punished all of humanity for that sin, so… is original sin an issue for God? Or is it something that Humanity has to simply live with because we have no choice…

    The punishment for Adam and Eve’s crime was comprised of two things: 1. Never to enter the Garden of Eden again… oops? Now they have to fend for themselves in a chaotic world…. and develop society rules and culture and life… 2. Pain of childbirth.

    Well, no one has found Eden and well, everyone has pain in childbirth unless they have an epidural… So, original sin is well somewhat moot in my opinion and brought up to keep people from being proud of themselves. We have the story of Job in the old testament whom says “I’ve done nothing and I have not sinned to deserve this plague upon my family.” A perfect example that even old testament Christians didn’t fully believe in sin. They knew they could do things morally offensive to God.. Yet, he didn’t express he had sinned at all that he was corrupt at all. So, is sin as big of an issue we make it out to be? There’s one verse that says there’s only one unforgiveable sin. And that sin is to deny the holy spirit… It’s a good thing that’s the only unforgiveable one.. because.. well.. I wouldn’t even know how to perform that one… Is it a ritual? Is it a feeling? Is it a conscious decision? Subconscious decision? I have no clue. Either way, maybe sin isn’t as big as we make it out to be. Respect others, live our own lives, and make our choices based on what life hands us. Isn’t that the best any of us can do?

    Lastly, I wanted to cover sin’s relation to the future. the bible ends with a controversial book – revelations. It says that those who believe in God, and the lamb of God, and are taken by God, are given new bodies, free from disease, illness, and pain. And that those of God will be taken to a new earth.

    People have the right and privelidge to make life choices. I don’t know if there’s a true hell in a physical sense. I think of it this way, have you ever loved someone (a mate, a parent, a sibling, a friend?) so much that it hurt to be away from them and to not talk to them anymore?

    I believe my friends that is hell. No fiery infernos, it will be simply to be away from the one that has maybe loved all of humanity the most. Humanity will go on, on earth, as it always has. Free from all those that truely believed in God. The athiests and others that deny God completely, will most likely be free to live out there lives on earth as they want. Maybe resources will be exhausted by then, and life on earth could be more or less a hell, I don’t know on that.. After all the tribulations of Revelation there may not be much of thise earth left. But, the book makes no mention that humanity dies out, it just says people will wish to enter God’s temple while it’s hear, and they would be denied. Only those that are of God would be allowed to enter.

    Maybe it’s a sinister plan to get willing and voluntary slaves to help mine some precious ore off some other planet for a supreme being. Well, regardless of the irony God only knows..

    I guess I believe that no matter what, or who, God is. It has gone through a lot of trouble to build up the human race. Giving us an awesome planet to take care of, giving us what we need to take care of each other, and help each other out. Allowing us to make our own decisions to do the best we can at life. Allowing us to learn and grow as individuals? Yeah, bad things happy to god fearing and athiests combined. I don’t think God is here to solve every problem. He allowed us to develop medicine, science, and resources to deal with the issues he knew would come up. He allowed us to build up our sciences to build technology to destroy ourselves or improve ourselves with.

    He’s allowing us to tap into our own intellect and expand our brain power. All things can be used for good or evil, for human society or against human society. That’s always been the case.

    The best analogy is that… The earth is God’s aquarium. He doesn’t try to destroy us, but, watches over us, and takes pleasure in seeing us grow and develop. And is hurt when he sees us suffer. Yet, it’s our lives, our world, our path, our accomplishments, our hopes, our dreams, ours to do with as we please. If we blow each other up in a nuclear war… Do you think he’d stop us?? I’ve always wondered… If all of humanity up and gave up and destroyed itself, would God intervene or say well, that’s their fate.. Next planet… Let’s try three legged smurfs on this planet over here..??

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