As a former "born—again", raised—in—the—church, Bible—believing, Bible—preaching Christian, I was taught certain "immutable" truths. Now, that's just a fancy word for unchangeable (i.e. you can't argue with these) fundamental doctrines that had to be accepted if one was to claim to be "saved".
Perhaps the most important was that the Bible WAS the truth; not just contained the truth, it WAS the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. The Bible says things like: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." and "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
Throughout the Bible, including the Old Testament, is the clear instruction (often explicitly so) that what is written therein is directly quoted from God, himself... not the ideas, but the words themselves. Don't be fooled by those who claim that the Bible simply represents the revelation of God; no, it states in no uncertain terms that, "Anyone who adds... or takes away from the words of this book...", which leaves no room for doubt about how to treat its contents. I have written elsewhere about that debate.
The second is presumed within the first, that is that God is the origin of our beliefs, and therefore we have all we need in the Bible to tell us what God wants us to know. I say presumed because, as I have argued in several articles, it is impossible for us to know who actually penned the words that are contained in our modern Bibles, or, for that matter, in the thousands of copies of manuscripts or partial manuscripts from which our Bibles have been derived over the centuries.
And it seems reasonable to me to question these origins since we are being asked to accept unbelievably, outrageous claims that can no more be proven than the date of the Big Bang!
Which brings me to my subject tonight: is Christianity truly God's intended derivative of Judaism? In other words, how and why did Judaism give way to Christianity? And my answer will simply be the reason why Christianity is NOT what it claims to be. According to the alleged writers of the New Testament, it was God's plan all along to bring a "savior" into the world to "fulfill" the OT Law and offer man true redemption that was not possible through that law. The law, it is alleged, was only a vehicle to show us that we could not be righteous before him without his intervention.
Leaving aside the possibility that the Old Testament was actually written in light of the New, I will simply let you assume what you will about where those books originated. But I will make some bold claims about the origin of Christianity itself. I make no bones about my belief that the two testaments are not in agreement in any way, shape, or form. And it is my contention that Christianity is just a Jewish sect, hijacked by a shrewd and zealous man.
I could spend hours reciting whether this man is the alleged Apostle Paul, or some other mysterious figure from the time just after Jesus supposedly established The Way. And I could spend as much time laying the foundation for why I believe that it is more likely that it was a progression of pious individuals who gradually created this new religion. What is abundantly clear, is that countless "authors" wrote volumes of competing messages and doctrines attempting to co—opt God's revelation. And the stakes? Nothing short of domination of the world's religious landscape!
The result was a "tailor—made" replacement for an obscure, ancient religion of a nomadic people that could save an Empire while simultaneously offering a friendlier, though exclusive cult. Gone was the outright curse and condemnation of an angry, vengeful tyrant; in its place, a God offering compassion, forgiveness, and a beautiful reward.
Despite the "teaching" of Jesus the Christ that the law must remain in full effect, this new way presented a God of love who set aside the requirements of the law in favor of "easy-believism". In place of obedience to a code and barbaric punishments, acceptance of the "sacrifice" of the "lamb of God" and the promise of eternal life in a heavenly home. Nothing about "The New" reflects the bald—faced favoritism and cruelty of "The Old".
And it is within this shift in paradigm that the obscure is alleged to transform into the universal; this tribal mythology suddenly "turns the world upside—down." Only a genius could accomplish such a feat... or a group of them.
The Bible claims to hold the key to truth; it boasts an exclusive right to it. And it is this claim and boast that fails under the light of reason, morality, and evidence. The devil is in the details. It is upon minute examination that we see just how incongruous and "ungodly" this "revelation" really is.
And thus we conclude that Christianity was created out of the ash heap of, not only Judaism, but several other world religions, as well. Christianity contains teachings reminiscent of Buddhism, Taoism, and even pagan cults. It is not enough that Judaism shares stories from other tribal religions; but Christianity shares (borrows) equally as many teachings with those systems that came before.
Christianity isn't the "offspring" of Judaism, a mere sect and thorn in the side of an Empire with the power and perhaps good reason to squash it nearly into oblivion.
Christianity isn't the culmination of God's wonderful plan to save the human race from its own curse. How could a loving God condemn every creature he created based on the disobedience of one man? With that kind of justice, what sort of society would we have?
Christianity isn't unique on the world stage. It is much more of an amalgamation of many world religions and philosophies all rolled into a package that could be used once to force compliance with the sword, and yet again to embrace the "come—as—you—are" motif of much of modern day religious practice.
Christianity is, quite simply, whatever you want it to be; how else do we account for A. the stiff competition for recognition and predominance of dozens of warring factions for its first century or more of existence, and B. the countless denominations and endless interpretations of her revered texts? Christianity is the greatest story ever sold. It stands in stark apposition to its supposed predecessor, while both upholding and overturning the requirements for acceptance by "the one true God".
Such contradiction repudiates the very fabric of truth; we can only accept as truth that which is testable and may be confirmed by evidence and observation. In this regard, the Bible does, indeed, contain truth. But what of an empty tomb? What shall we make of raising the dead, walking on water, and speaking in tongues? Are these miraculous events? How could we know? Yet every religion since the dawn of man offers such evidence for its claim to fame.
There is no more truth to the claim that Paul was messaged by God than was David Koresh or Mohamed or the Buddha!
Christianity isn't from God because even the Bible admits that all we must know of God is found in his creation- the world and universe around us, Nature in all her glory, not a book of dubious origin and most certainly the work of men. We know all we need to know of God by observing his amazing works and employing our minds to "reason together".
In the words of Thomas Jefferson: "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."