Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


JESUS LIVED IN ANCIENT TIMES ACCORDING TO PAUL

Paul the first Christian writer seems to take up the whole New Testament directly and indirectly.  The gospel Jesus keeps saying his teaching will be preserved through the apostles.  He says their doctrine will be his.  Paul identifies his word with Jesus' too but makes no historically concrete assertion about Jesus. We do not even know from him when the crucifixion happened.
 
In 1 Thessalonians 2:15,16 states that the Jews killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, hinder his message and have received the wrath of God. It is not known what this punishment is. The best suggestion is that it means Roman oppression. But the wrath of God must have taken place after the Jews killed Jesus. So it would follow that the epistle is declaring that Jesus died before the Roman occupation of Palestine which oppressed the Jews. This occupation was in place several decades before the time Jesus supposedly lived.
 
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tried to prove the resurrection of Jesus to Christian heretics who denied it.
 
He started by saying about the apparition appearances. But he did not use them as evidence but to prepare for the discussion. He didnít go into any detail. He canít use them as evidence for if people were denying that Paul was right that Jesus rose then Paul saying things like, ďHe appeared to meĒ, isnít going to help for that is what they are disputing.
 
Then he started saying things like that if Jesus is dead the witnesses are liars and we are still in our sins and the dead are lost and believers are to be pitied above all people.
 
But that is like arguing, ďIf Jesus is dead that is terrible therefore Jesus is alive.Ē It shows he was desperate. There was no evidence for the resurrection or Jesus apart from visions of a resurrected Jesus. This points to a Jesus who lived in obscurity before his death or who lived centuries before or both. When a man uses bad evidence it shows there was no good evidence. He was unable to say that Jesus was a good man and a miracle-worker therefore he rose. This shows that the later gospel portrait of Jesus was untrue. If you drop the good works and miracles of Jesus from the gospel there is nothing left.
 
If Jesus is dead, that doesnít mean somebody else couldnít have saved us. And Jesus could have saved us without rising again. A resurrection with everybody else in the future would do.
 
Paul thinks that people cannot be saved unless the resurrection of Jesus has already taken place. It must precede. If Jesus hasnít risen yet it will not do. Paul spoke of people being saved in Old Testament times centuries before. Therefore his Jesus was thought to have lived centuries ago and not in the first century AD.
 
GALATIANS 3

Galatians 3 seems to say that Jesus came sometime after the Law of Moses was given and that the Law came to an end in Jesusí death.

Paul declared that Jesus was crucified before the eyes of the Galatians (3:1) though they never saw the actual crucifixion. He believed in visions and supernatural experiences so it is simplest to take this as meaning he induced visions of the cross in the Christians. This makes it less likely that Jesus lived recently for he was anxious to create evidence for him. There are other ways to have visions apart from sight. Sometimes you feel your spirit is having a vision though you donít see anything visual but you see it other ways and sometimes it is clearer than visual. You would express it as a vision for it is impossible to put into words. Liberal Christians have realised there is a problem in determining what kind of visions exactly these resurrection appearances were.

The Galatians were going back to the belief that they had to keep the Law to deserve eternal salvation and Paul informed them that they couldnít receive the Spirit by doing that but by hearing with faith. He told them that miracles were being done by them through faith not the Law. Instead of proving that Jesus did away with the Law, he asked them to follow what he arrogantly thought their subjective feelings should be saying to them. He ignored the fact that their new religious stance was a product of their feelings too. He could not control them with a saying from Jesus for Jesus never lived recently, but long ago, to be of any use. When a man uses a bad argument instead of a good one and is as experienced a missionary as Paul it says a lot. It says to us that Jesus did not live near his time.

Paul informs us that Abraham was saved because God preached the gospel of faith to him before the apostles came. He stated that the Old Testament teaches salvation by faith and that the Law brings a curse and that Jesusí goal by dying was to bring salvation to the Gentiles. He then says we were bound under the burden of the Law until Jesus would come to teach us better about faith. The trouble is that even the Jesus of the gospels does not teach the Pauline gospel or stress faith like Paul does so Paul is referring to Jesus coming to him in visions as a teacher of this faith and not a physical coming. Paul may say that we were in bondage until the faith came but he stated that faith was possible even before then meaning that rather than it being a matter of the faith having come it was a matter of the faith being promoted better. That silences those who say the reference to the faith having come refers to Jesus coming to make faith effective for salvation by his death. Since Paul sees faith as having drawn power from the cross to save even before the cross happened nothing in the entire epistle to the Galatians tells us when Jesus is supposed to have lived.

When he says the Law was our custodian until Jesus came he does not mean just his own generation by our but all the generations that were under the Law in the past as well. They are all in the same boat so he can talk in terms of being one of them. Paul believed the Law always existed and was not started with Moses but only revealed to him. He said that the Gentiles had the Law too but in a different way from the Jews. It was in their conscience. Paul could still say the law is the custodian until Jesus if Jesus lived one thousand years before. The law was the custodian until Jesus came in apparitions to convert people and give them the saving gospel.
 
Paul stated that the promise God made to give the land of Israel to the offspring of Abraham referred to Jesus only. Then he argues that if this gift is by the Law it is no longer a promise. ďIf the inheritance of the land depends on the Law, then it no longer depends on a promise but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promiseĒ (Galatians 3:18).
 
It seems that Paul then here is putting Jesus in the time after Abraham. But it doesnít mean Jesus necessarily lived on earth.
 
He thinks that the promise to give the land would not be fulfilled if it depended on the Law for people would break the Law and lose the entitlement to the land. So the promise is unconditional.
 
But that is not what the Law says. It says the land will be taken from the people if they disobey enough. Though Paul explicitly denies that the Law of God is against the promises of God, it is clear from all this that it is.
 
Galatians denies that Jesus lived in the first century and that anybody knew him when he was alive.
 
AT HIS APPOINTED MOMENT CHRIST DIED
 
Paul wrote in Romans 5 that our confidence that we are going to be saved forever is not deceptive for the Holy Spirit poured love for God into our hearts. He said then that we were still helpless when at his appointed time, Christ died for sinners. Then he declared that what proves Godís love for us is that Christ died when we were still sinners. He said then that we can count on being saved by Jesus not just because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God.
 
Paul knew that many groups claimed that their gods made them more loving by coming to dwell in their hearts and that to infer as he did that we know the cross of Jesus saved us because we are more loving and trusting of God is to use a very bad proof. This is a clear admission of empty-handedness when it came to providing evidence for the cross. Paul declared frequently that people believing in their own goodness and virtue was dangerous and deceptive so there is no way he would have invoked such subjective evidence only he knew there was no evidence for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus except visions reported by the apostles and himself.
 
Paul wrote that it is much easier to die for the just than or the wicked but still Christ died for us when we were bad.
 
God could hate sinners and still send his Son to die on the cross for them so that they might become lovable and that would make dying for evil people easier. Paul disagreed. Paul did see this point for he taught that God hated Esau and abandoned people to sin so when God hated Esau he would hate all sinners and yet he saved them. So why did he say that Jesus dying for sinners proved that God loved sinners before they stopped being sinners? The answer is that Paul thought that since Christians experienced salvation from sin that the saviour must have died on the cross for them in their place to get them off the hook and inject them with Godís life-transforming power. He did not argue that the cross happened therefore sin was forgiven but that sin was forgiven therefore the cross happened. Paul had to tell a little white lie to invent an argument for the reality of the crucifixion. To recap, the white lie was that Jesus died to save Christians because Christians experienced salvation which means that somebody must have died to atone for their sins. The lie was told to provide evidence that the crucifixion happened for there was no material or historic evidence for it and for no other reason. The only other reason could have been was to show that Jesus saved which rested on a subjective feeling of self-righteousness which was against Paulís own hypercritical theology and so was not the reason.
 
I must add that Paul saying that Jesus dying when we were sinners refers to sinners in general. There would have been sinners having his letter read to them who had been born after Jesus died assuming Jesus died in the thirties AD. It gives no hint if Jesus died in Paulís day or not. When Paul wrote that when we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son that we were still enemies of God up to then that could still be referring to a saviour who was thought to have lived at the beginning of the human race or long ago when there were lots of people on earth. This we refers to all people who sinned and were saved by the death of Jesus. It means that nobody accepted his grace until after the cross.
 
Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 15 that the Christians had hope for their loved ones who passed away which would make no sense unless it meant a lot of people had died. Paul taught that there were no saved people before the death of Jesus. There was nobody accepting of salvation for all were enemies of God until Jesus brought faith. Not many would have died if Jesus really died in the thirties AD which was too recent. He goes out of his way to comfort his readers implying a lot of deaths had taken place. He says if Jesus hasnít died and risen we are extremely badly off meaning our loved ones are lost in big numbers. He is thinking of ancestors and all.
 
All that would mean that Christ had saved the world long long ago because Paul couldnít write that way if he believed that it was only a few years since Jesus supposedly died. There wouldnít have been enough deaths.
 
So the comfort Paul gave can only work if Jesus did NOT die in the recent past.
 
If Jesus did die in the recent past it would follow that most of their dead would have been dead before 30 AD or the time of the crucifixion according to the standard chronology and so his words would be no comfort to them.
 
The Jews had many saints who Paul acknowledged as such and as saved who lived before the gospels version of Jesus reportedly lived. It follows then that Jesus died at some time there was no saints or possibility of them which would mean centuries before Paulís birth.
 
Paul holds that there is no salvation if Jesus has not been raised and we can despair about our dead. He clearly suggests that nobody else will do as saviour and we should not wait for the real saviour if Jesus was the false one for that is no help. It canít be of any help for there was to be no salvation until the saviour died and rose. Time is the key thought now. Now if Jesus is that absolutely essential it follows that since Paul was writing this epistle in about 56 AD which was about 26 years at the most after the alleged crucifixion according to the standard chronology, that most of the dead the Corinthians had to think of would have died before Jesus and so his salvation would be of no comfort to them. And Paul was trying to comfort them which shows that the dead were those who had died since Jesus. It is clear then that Paul talks as if Jesus died long before the first century and rose on the third day and only started appearing in the mid-thirties of the first century.
 
Paul said that the proof that God loves us is that Christ died for us when we were still sinners.
 
Paul agrees with mainstream Christianity that Jesus and God know one another and what one another is planning. Incidentally, if God giving his Son to die for sinners proved his love for nobody wants to die for evil men but would prefer to die for good men as Paul said, then it follows that God was not sure if the death would be any good or not! If he was sure then it is like dying for good people for you are trying to make good people of the bad so the illustration fails for you wouldnít be doing it unless you knew it was going to be worth it for yourself. That would put both Jesus and the God who put him up to it in a bad light. Also how could a God or a Son of God who finds it a hard sacrifice to die for the evil people to convert them and an easier one to die for the good who donít need it be good? So that is the kind of God that Paul got from listening to the resurrected Jesus who supposedly appeared to him and the apostles! It does nothing to help Jesusí credibility or rather the credibility of their visions.

PAUL IN 2ND CORINTHIANS
 
Paul had serious problems with the Christians in Corinth. In his first Letter to the Corinthians he castigated them for running after new apostles who were claiming visions of Jesus and new revelations that contradicted his and Christians who couldnít believe that Jesus really rose from the dead and that the dead rise. In his second letter to them at the beginning of the third chapter he wrote that unlike other messengers who need IDs and letters of recommendation, he and the preachers of Jesus didnít. What recommended them was the conversion of the believers. So they were claiming to have a new message from God without any written credentials. He says the letters arenít needed. Christians might say he didnít say they actually had no such letters. But he definitely did say that even if he had them they didnít matter. What mattered was the success of the message in converting people. But given the trouble in Corinth among believers the fact that he had to forget about the disasters and paint a rosy picture as evidence for God backing his message it shows there were none. He had to make do with pretend evidence. That Jesus didnít set up his apostles with documentation and that the apostles werenít using documentation indicates that they had to do without it for their message had nothing to do with a flesh and blood man they worked with but an apparition of some form. Perhaps they worked out from the Old Testament that there was a saviour who died and rose again and then took what their imagination and instincts told them as revelations from God or visions. The imagination can be a vehicle for seeing visions, according to many mystics. Paul then said that they were qualified to preach by God to teach a new covenant which is not one of written letters but the Spirit for written letters bring death but the Spirit of God brings life. The new covenant is not based on words but on the Holy Spirit. Christians say that even the words of the Bible though Godís word bring death if you donít let the Holy Spirit speak to you through them and accept him into your heart but that doesnít mean that words donít come into it. But the way Paul speaks makes it clear that it does mean that no words come into it. After all he said that the Corinthians were his credential and not any written document because of the Holy Spirit in them.
 
Paul wrote that when he does something he does it and it is not a yes with him and then a no. This led him to express a thought about Jesus. Paul wrote that the Son of God the Christ Jesus that we proclaimed I mean myself and Silvanus and Timothy (2 Corinthians 1) was not yes and no but was always yes. He then wrote that no matter how many promises God made the yes to them all is in Christ which is why we praise God through Christ. Why does he say who he means here? Certainly it was to indicate that the Christs of other preachers might be a caricature and only those three had the right Christ and the right view of him. It is a hint that there were lots of self-styled apostles in those days. No doubt their Christs were all yes to the promises of God as well so why does Paul indicate that they couldnít have been? The promises refer to the Christ allegedly promised in the Old Testament by prophets to whom God revealed the future. Paul is plainly stating that there were many different versions of Christ being preached but only his version fitted the prophecies. The Christ then is not learned about by delving into history but through prophecy. This can be only true if the story that Jesus lived in Paulís time is false and he lived aeons before. The other versions indicate that everybody was making up his own Christ in the absence of any history. That is what happens when the subject is unreal or lived long ago.
 
The Gospel Jesus was not always yes. He refused to help a pagan woman and called her a dog. Then he changed his mind when she told him that dogs deserve scraps off the table.

CONCLUSION

Paul gives no hint that he thought Jesus lived shortly before he wrote.  This is extraordinary but it explains why nobody was asking him for Jesus stories and he never had to deal with stories about Jesus that were not true.