>It’s All There in Black And White


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Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black where I read white. – William Blake

The more I study the scriptures the more I am convinced that religion, especially Western Christianity, has it all wrong.

I’ve started to write this post a few times but I always abandon it because as I read it back I get too emotional. I tend to get angry but then usually end up just sad and tired when I think about how religion has distorted the plain and simple teachings of Jesus Christ.

I find myself getting drawn into arguments with my fellow Christians over doctrine and politics that when examined in the light of scripture are either irrelevant or plain as day. I also get drawn into arguments with non-Christians that centre on the sins of church history when my response should be one of compassion for the pain my predecessors have caused.

Somewhere in the two millennia since Jesus death his message has been terribly distorted for the political gain of an elite few and the masses have swallowed it hook line and sinker. Sadly the true message is still there in black and white, if we’d just look it up.

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? – Jesus (Luke 6:46)

Many people have tried to explain away some of Jesus more difficult and politically incorrect teachings with arguments about translations and first century context. While it is important to understand what was going on in Israel at the time of Jesus and it is equally important to understand a bit of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew languages the Bible was originally written in we also need to recognize that all English translations of the Bible ever published are remarkably similar and the message remains consistent whether you prefer the King James, New International, Revised Standard or any other of the hundreds of translations that are available to us today.

And what is that core message? Jesus was asked that same question;

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40)

Love, plain and simple, love God first and love your neighbour. Elsewhere Jesus further explained that neighbours also include our enemies and those who persecute us.

The saddest fact of all is that Christianity as a religion has been one of violence, oppression and segregation, yet Jesus, whose intention was to tear down the religious system not build a new one, was a teacher of peace, love and inclusion. There are no caveats in His teaching that allow us to condemn, persecute or oppress those who do not agree with us as Constantine and his brethren would have us believe. There is no wiggle room that can be used to justify witch hunts, crusades or inquisitions like the medieval Catholics invented. And there is no such thing as the redemptive violence or just war that most western evangelicals promote today. Those who would use scripture to justify such things are quite simply stretching the translation beyond all reasonable linguistics and misunderstanding historical context.

I could go on for days but I try to keep my postings as close to 500 words as possible. I will expand upon and back up my position in the coming weeks. For now I just leave you with this parting thought. If Jesus is your Lord re-read his longest sermon found in Matthew 5-7, submit to his authority and do as he says. I promise you, your life will never be the same.

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9 thoughts on “>It’s All There in Black And White

  1. >Thank you so much for inviting me to read your blog. I have enjoyed looking over several of your post.I too have been guilty of getting frustrated with fellow Christians. My daughter said something to me recently that has helped me quite a lot with this. She said "Mom, you know how sometimes when we meet drug addicts, alcoholics, or beggars we allow them and extra dose of mercy & grace?" She said, "well sometimes we have to measure out that same dose of mercy & grace to our fellow christians who just get under our skin somtimes".I've remembered this and it has helped me quite a bit in my Christian walk.Blessings of peace & all that is good,Debra

  2. >PS: You said it's all there in black & white. In my bible what Jesus said is in red. It's those "red lettered" words I tend to focus on the most!

  3. >I;ve never owned a Red Letter bible but you're right. Jesus is the central character of the whole thing and we have to read the rest of it, both Old and New Testament through the lens of his teaching.

  4. >8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9While we need to watch out for false teachers, we can also gain peace through our Lord.

  5. >Thanks for inviting me to your blog. I agree . . . it is upsetting. And while agree with you on many points there are some that I disagree with. You said, "While it is important to understand what was going on in Israel at the time of Jesus and it is equally important to understand a bit of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew languages the Bible was originally written in we also need to recognize that all English translations of the Bible ever published are remarkably similar and the message remains consistent whether you prefer the King James, New International, Revised Standard or any other of the hundreds of translations that are available to us today." As someone who has studied the historical context and ancient culture of the Bible as well as Hebrew and Greek, it is extremely important to know these languages. I myself, and others, have been persecuted because of 1) my race and 2) my sexual orientation. Is it really that black and white as you suggest? What about the Good Samaritan? I don't think anyone can understand FULLY the message of loving neighbor, especially an enemy, if one does not understand the context of the conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews. Also, actually, Jesus is not the only one to preach the commandment of "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'" Many Jews proclaimed this commandment and it is recorded in the Talmud. Also, you really do need to understand Judaism and its historical context if you want to understand what injustices Jesus is fighting against (in order to put it in to today's context . . . for example the Jubilee, the Prophets, Torah, etc…).

  6. >The Good Samaritan is a perfect example of what I'm saying. True you can't fully understand it without knowing the context but you don't need to understand the depth of the context for the simplicity of the message to change your life. One of the beauties of scripture is that you can return to it time and again with new understanding and get more out of it but that doesn't mean you have to understand all of the details right from the start. Of course Jesus wasn't the only preacher to comand these things and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. He said these words in response to the question, "what is the greatest commandment" and was quoting from their ancient scriptures, Deut 6:5 and Lev. 19:18. We're on a similar page here, I look forward to continuing the dialogue with you.

  7. >Hi Lauren,Thanks for the gmail invite to check out your blog. I have read a few blogs and found them very insightful and interesting.I would like to invite you to explore Hinduism, which is the oldest religion of the world. In fact, Hinduism is not really a religion but only a way of life. The purpose of all religions is to help mankind reach salvation or the final desitination and Hinduism is perhaps one of the rare religions that does not believe in 'forcing' its thoughts on others.I have been covering the essense of Hindu thoughts and way of living in my blogspot called "Values for Life" which you may browse at your leisure.www.vishsesh.blogspot.comsicerelyVishwanathMumbai, India

  8. >I don't like to refer to Christianity as a religion either. Jesus didn't come to set up a new set of rules for people to follow but to show them the way to God without all the trappings of the traditional Jewish system. True Christianity shouldn't force it's thoughts on others either although the history of the last 1500 years or so makes that a very difficult claim to make. Unfortunately Christianity as a religion has hurt a lot of people and I have to spend more time distancing myself from history than I do showing people what Jesus truly meant and said. That's why I prefer to call myself a Christ Follower rather than a Christian.

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