John E. Remsberg
[HTML and editing by Cliff Walker, 2000]
His Character and Teachings
Who was Jesus Christ?
Mark: He was the son of man.
Matthew and Luke: He was the Son of God.
John: He was God himself.
In the Four Gospels are presented three entirely different conceptions of the Christ. In Mark he is represented as the son of human parents -- the Messiah -- but simply a man. In Matthew and Luke we have the story of the miraculous conception -- he is represented as the Son of God. In John he is declared to be God himself. "In the beginning was the Word [Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (i, 1).
According to Mark Christ is a man; according to Matthew and Luke, a demi-god; according to John, a God.
Voltaire thus harmonizes these discordant conceptions: "The son of God is the same as the son of man; the son of man is the same as the son of God. God, the father, is the same as Christ, the son; Christ, the son, is the same as God, the father. This language may appear confused to unbelievers, but Christians will readily understand it."
This is quite as intelligible as the Christian Confession of Faith, Article II of which reads as follows: "The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man."
"The theological Christ is the impossible union of the human and divine -- man with the attributes of God, and God with the limitations and weaknesses of man." -- Ingersoll.
Is God a visible Being?
Jacob: "I have seen God face to face" (Genesis xxxii, 30).
John: "No man hath seen God at any time" (i, 18).
How many Gods are there?
Mark teaches the doctrine of Unitarianism (Monotheism), or one God. John teaches, not the doctrine of Unitarianism or one God, nor yet the doctrine of Trinitarianism or three Gods in one, but the doctrine of Tritheism or three distinct Gods, separate and independent of each other.
Is the doctrine of the Trinity taught in the New Testament?
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (I John v, 7).
This is the only passage in the New Testament which clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, and this passage is admitted by all Christian scholars to be an interpolation.
When the modern version of the New Testament was first published by Erasmus it was criticized because it contained no text teaching the doctrine of the Trinity. Erasmus promised his critics that if a manuscript could be found containing such a text he would insert it. The manuscript was "found," and the text quoted appeared in a later edition. Concerning this interpolation Sir Isaac Newton, in a letter to a friend, which was afterward published by Bishop Horsley, says: "When the adversaries of Erasmus had got the Trinity into his edition, they threw by their manuscript as an old almanac out of date."
Alluding to the doctrine of the Trinity, Thomas Jefferson says: "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism that three are one and one is three, and yet, that the one is not three, and the three not one.... But this constitutes the craft, the power, and profits of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion, and they would catch no more flies" (Jefferson s Works, Vol. IV, p. 205, Randolph's ed.).
Again Jefferson says: "The hocus-pocus phantasy of a God, like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs" (ibid., p. 360).
Was Christ the only begotten Son of God?
John: He was "the only begotten Son of God" (iii, 18).
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children unto them" (Genesis vi, 4).
By what agency and when was the Christ begotten?
Matthew and Luke: By the Holy Ghost at the time of his conception by the Virgin Mary.
According to Justin the Holy Ghost begat the Christ, not at the conception of Jesus, as claimed by these Evangelists, but at his baptism. At his baptism the voice from heaven said. "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee" (Dialogues, 88).
The correctness of Justin's statement is corroborated by Hebrews: "Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee" (v, 5). Christ's priesthood began at his baptism.
Of what gender is the Holy Ghost?
Matthew (Greek Ver.): Masculine gender.
Matthew (Hebrew Ver.): Feminine gender.
The Holy Ghost (Spirit), as was noted in a previous chapter, was with the Greeks of masculine gender, with the Jews of feminine gender. The Gospel According to the Hebrews, which, it is claimed, was the original Gospel of Matthew, represented Jesus as saying, "Just now my mother, the Holy Ghost, laid hold on me."
If the Holy Ghost was the mother of Jesus did he have two mothers? According to our Greek version of Matthew, as well as that of Luke, he had one mother and three reputed fathers -- God, the Holy Ghost, and Joseph.
Christ, it is affirmed, was born of Mary. If so, what relation did she bear to him?
1. If he was born of Mary, she was his mother.
2. She "being with child by the Holy Ghost," and Father, Son and Holy Ghost being one, she bore to him the relation of wife.
3. God being the Father of all mankind, and God and Christ being one, she was his daughter.
4. She being the daughter of God, and Christ being the Son of God, she was therefore his sister.
Consequently Mary bore to him the relation of mother, wife, daughter and sister.
The greater portion of the Christian church affirms the perpetual virginity of Mary. It is claimed that Jesus was her only child and that the conception and birth of him did not destroy her virginity. Is this confirmed by the Evangelists?
It is not. Matthew and Mark say: "Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? and his sisters, are they not all with us?" (Matt. xiii, 55, 56; Mark vi, 3). Luke (viii, 19) and John (vii, 3) both declare that he had brothers.
To maintain this dogma it is affirmed that by "brethren and sisters" is meant cousins. Dr. Farrar, who in regard to this as in regard to most disputed points, assumes a non-committal or conciliatory attitude, concedes that "the natural supposition that, after the miraculous conception of our Lord, Joseph and Mary lived together in the married state, and that James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon, with daughters, whose names are not recorded, were subsequently born to them," is "in accordance certainly with the prima facie evidence of the Gospels" (Life of Christ, p. 51).
Who did Mary say was the father of Jesus?
Luke: When he remained behind in Jerusalem, and they found him in the temple, "his mother said unto him, son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold thy father [Joseph] and I have sought thee sorrowing" (ii, 48).
To believe that a Jewish virgin was overshadowed by a spirit, and miraculously conceived and bore a child, requires more convincing proof than the dream of a credulous lover. We ought at least to have the testimony of the mother. But we have it not. She testifies that Joseph is his father.
What did Jesus's neighbors say regarding his paternity?
Matthew: They said, "Is not this the carpenter's [Joseph's] son?" (xiii, 55.)
Luke: "They said, Is not this Joseph's son?" (iv, 22.)
John: "They said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph?" (vi, 42.)
The Rev. Dr. Crapsey, of the Episcopal church, in his work on Religion and Politics (p. 289), makes this significant admission regarding the divine origin of Jesus: "The fact of his miraculous birth was unknown to himself, unknown to his mother, and unknown to the whole Christian community of the first generations."
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, wrote: "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" (Jefferson's Works, Vol. IV, p. 365, Randolph's ed.).
Who did Peter declare him to be?
"Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God" (Acts ii, 22).
Who did Paul declare him to be?
"There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy ii, 5).
The Christ of Peter and Paul was not a God, but a man -- a man upon whom had been bestowed divine gifts -- but yet a man.
What testimony is ascribed to Paul?
"Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy iii, 6).
This is a gross perversion of Scripture for the purpose of making Paul a witness to Christ's divinity. Regarding this text and the Trinitarian text inserted in 1 John, Sir Isaac Newton, in his letter previously quoted from, says:
"What the Latins have done in this text (1 John v, 7) the Greeks have done to Paul (1 Tim. iii, 16). They now read, 'Great is the mystery of godliness; God manifest in the flesh'; whereas all the churches for the first four or five hundred years, and the authors of all the ancient versions, Jerome as well as the rest, read, 'Great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifest in the flesh.' Our English version makes it yet a little stronger. It reads, 'Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.'"
In conclusion Newton says: "If the ancient churches, in debating and deciding the greatest mysteries of religion, knew nothing of these two texts, I understand not why we should be so fond of them now the debate is over."
Christ is declared by the Christian creed to be "the very and eternal God." God, it is claimed, is omnipotent. Was Christ omnipotent?
"The Son can do nothing of himself" (John v, 9).
"I can of mine own self do nothing" (30).
God is omniscient. Was Christ omniscient?
Referring to his second advent he says: "Of that day and hour knoweth no man,...neither the Son" (Mark xiii, 32)
God is omnipresent. Was Christ omnipresent?
"I am glad for your sakes that I was not there" (John xi, 15).
"Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come" (vii, 36).
"And now I am no more in the world" (xvii, 11).
God is self-existent. Was Christ self-existent?
"I live by the Father" (John vi, 57)
"He liveth by the power of God" (2 Corinthians xiii, 4).
Did Christ have a preexistence?
"Before Abraham was, I am" (John viii, 52).
According to the Synoptics his existence began with his life on earth.
Was he infinite in wisdom?
Luke: He "increased in wisdom" (ii, 52).
If he increased in wisdom his knowledge was limited, and limitation of knowledge is not an attribute of an infinite God.
Was he infinite in goodness?
"Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God" (Mark x, 18).
Was he infinite in mercy?
"He that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark xvi, 16).
"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire" (Matthew xxv, 41).
"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida!...It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell" (Matthew xi, 20 23).
His resurrection is adduced as the chief argument in proof of his divinity.
Did he raise himself from the dead?
Peter: He did not. God raised him. "Jesus Christ of Nazareth,...whom God raised from the dead" (Acts iv, 10).
If Christ, then, did not rise from the dead by his own volition, was his resurrection any proof of his divinity? No more than the resurrection of Lazarus was proof of Lazarus's divinity.
His miraculous conception is adduced as another proof of his divinity. Is this the only miraculous conception claimed in the Bible?
It is not. Isaac, Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist are all claimed to have been miraculously conceived (Genesis xviii, 10, 11; xxi, 1-3; Judges xiii, 2, 3, 24; 1 Samuel i, 9-11, 20; Luke i, 7-13).
His miracles, it is claimed, attest his divinity. Were he and his disciples the only ones who performed miracles?
These alleged miracles were performed before his time -- the Old Testament abounds with them -- and they have been performed since his time. They were performed by others in his own time -- were performed by those who ignored and rejected him -- were performed by the disciples of Satan himself (Matthew vii, 22; xii, 27; Mark ix, 38; xiii, 22; Luke ix, 49).
Supernatural Religion says: "The supposed miraculous evidence for the divine revelation, moreover, is without any special divine character, being avowedly common also to Satanic agency, but it is not original either in conception or details. Similar miracles to those which are supposed to attest it are reported long antecedent to the promulgation of Christianity, and continued to be performed for centuries after it. A stream of miraculous pretension, in fact, has flowed through all human history, deep and broad as it has passed through the darker ages, but dwindling down to a thread as it has entered days of enlightenment. The evidence was too hackneyed and commonplace to place any impression upon those before whom the Christian miracles are said to have been performed, and it altogether failed to convince the people to whom the revelation was primarily addressed. The selection of such evidence, for such a purpose, is much more characteristic of human weakness than of divine power" (p. 699).
Archbishop Trench says: "Side by side with the miracles which serve for the furthering of the kingdom of God runs another line of wonders, the counter-workings of him who is ever the ape of the Most High.... This fact that the kingdom of lies has its wonders no less than the kingdom of truth, is itself sufficient evidence that miracles cannot be appealed to absolutely and finally, in proof of the doctrine which the worker of them proclaims" (Miracles of Our Lord, p. 22).
The miracles of Christ, like the miracles of Satan, existed only in the minds of his credulous and deluded followers.
Ye shall have miracles, aye, sound ones too,
Prophecy is appealed to in support of his divinity. It is claimed that the writers of the Old Testament predicted his coming. Do such predictions exist?
In his work on The Bible, as well as in a previous chapter of this work, the writer has shown that there is not a single passage in the Old Testament that, in the original text, refers in the remotest degree to Jesus Christ.
Greg shows that much of Old Testament history, like Deuteronomy, is presented in the form of anticipatory narrative. To the Christian argument that the Messianic predictions, at least, were written long anterior to the time of Christ, he replies: "This is true, and the argument would have all the force which is attributed to it, were the objectors able to lay their fingers on a single Old Testament prediction clearly referring to Jesus Christ, intended by the utterers of it to relate to him, prefiguring his character and career, and manifestly fulfilled in his appearance on earth. This they cannot do. Most of the passages usually adduced as complying with these conditions, referred, and were clearly intended to refer, to eminent individuals in Israelitish history; many are not prophecies at all; the Messiah, the anointed deliverer expected by the Jews, hoped for and called for by their poets and prophets, was of a character so different, and a career so opposite, to those of the meek, lowly, long-suffering Jesus, that the passages describing the one never could have been applied to the other, without a perversion of ingenuity, and a disloyal treatment of their obvious signification, which, if employed in any other field than that of theology, would have met with the prompt discredit and derision they deserve" (Creed of Christendom, pp. 135, 136).
His own prescience is cited in proof of his divinity. The destruction of the temple by the Romans, it is claimed, was a wonderful instance of the fulfillment of prophecy. But did his so-called prophecy have reference to this event?
No one can read this prophecy (Matthew xxiv, 1-3) and then honestly contend that it did. He clearly refers to his second coming and the end of the world when the temple, in common with all sublunary things, shall be destroyed. In the verse immediately following this prediction, his disciples say: 'Yell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
But even if this so called prophecy had referred to this event it is rendered nugatory by the fact that the book containing it was not composed until a hundred years after the destruction of the temple.
When was Christ's second coming and the end of terrestrial things to take place?
"There be some standing here that shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew xvi, 28).
"This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled" (Luke xxi, 32).
Seventy-five generations have passed, and still the world rolls on, unmoved by Christ's and Mother Shipton's prophecies.
Did the Apostles believe that the second coming of Christ and the end of the world were at hand?
Peter: "The end of all things is at hand" (I Peter iv, 7).
James: "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James v, 8).
John: "Ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time" (I John ii, 18).
Paul: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thessalonians iv, 16, 17).
Renan, ever ready to palliate or overlook the errors of his hero, frankly admits that the predictions concerning his second advent and the end of the world were a dismal failure. "It is evident, indeed," he says, "that such a doctrine, taken by itself in a literal manner, had no future. The world, in continuing to exist, caused it to crumble. One generation of man at the most was the limit of its endurance. The faith of the first Christian generation is intelligible, but the faith of the second generation is no longer so. After the death of John, or of the last survivor, whoever he might be, of the group which had seen the master, the word of Jesus was convicted of falsehood" (Life of Jesus, pp. 203, 204).
To what extent was the gospel to be preached before his second coming?
"Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come" (Matthew x, 23).
"The gospel must first be published among all nations" (Mark xiii, 10).
Did Jesus claim to be the Christ or Messiah from the first?
John: He did. Early in his ministry "The woman [of Samaria] saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he" (iv, 25, 26).
Synoptics: He did not announce his Messiahship until late in his ministry.
Who were the first to recognize his divinity?
Synoptics: Devils and unclean spirits (Matthew viii, 28, 29; Mark iii, 11, 12; Luke iv, 41).
What is said of Jesus in Hebrews?
"Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels" (ii, 9).
"Being made so much better than the angels" a 4)
What did he say respecting his identity with God?
"My Father and I are one" (John x, 30).
"My Father is greater than I" (xiv, 28).
How did he attempt to establish his claims?
"It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me" (John viii, 17, 18).
But if "I and my Father are one," how does that fulfill the law?
What did he say regarding the truthfulness of his testimony concerning himself?
"Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true" (John viii, 14).
"If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true" (v. 31).
Did Jesus's neighbors believe in his divinity?
Matthew: "When he was come into his own country," and to his own home, "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (xiii, 54, 58).
What opinion did his friends entertain of him?
Mark: "And when his friends heard of it [his work], they went out to lay hold on him; for they said, He is beside himself" (iii, 21).
Did even his brothers believe in him?
John: "Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him" (vii, 2-5).
These three passages are fatal to the claim of Christ's divinity. If he was unable to convince his neighbors, his friends or even his own family of his divinity he was not divine. Much less was he the "very God," as claimed.
According to the Christian scheme, man by his disobedience fell -- was lost. God desired to save him. Christ -- God manifest in the flesh -- came on earth for this purpose. What was required of man to secure salvation? Simply to believe that Jesus was the Christ. In order for him to believe this, what was necessary? That Jesus should convince him that he was divine. If he was all-powerful, he could have done this; if he was all-just, he would have done this. Did he do this? His own race rejected him. Disbelief in Christ's divinity disproves his divinity.
The writings of the New Testament are adduced as the evidences of Christ's divinity and the divine character of Christianity. Do the writers of the New Testament claim to be inspired?
With the possible exception of the author of Revelation, they do not. Paul says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." But the "scripture" of Paul was the scripture of the Old Testament. His words have no reference whatever to the writings of the New which did not exist in his time.
If the New Testament is not inspired and infallible, what follows?
"If the New Testament is defective the church itself is in error, and must be given up as a deception." -- Dr. Tischendorf.
"It is not a word too much to say that the New Testament abounds with errors." -- Dean Alford.
What is said of the Apocryphal Gospels which appeared in the early ages of the church?
"Several histories of his [Christ's] life and doctrines, full of pious frauds and fabulous wonders, were composed by persons whose intentions perhaps were not bad, but whose writings discovered the greatest superstition and ignorance. Nor was this all; productions appeared which were imposed upon the world by fraudulent men, as the writings of the holy Apostles." -- Mosheim.
Is the above less true of the books we are reviewing? Are not these writings 'full of pious frauds and fabulous wonders"? Do not these writings display "the greatest superstition and ignorance"? Have not these writings been "imposed upon the world by fraudulent men, as the writings of the holy (?) Apostles"?
If some of these apocryphal Gospels had been accepted as canonical, and the canonical Gospels had been rejected as apocryphal, these canonical Gospels would appear as untruthful and foolish to Christians as the apocryphal Gospels do.
Let us examine the religious teachings ascribed to Christ. For what purpose was his blood shed?
"This is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many" (Mark xiv, 24).
"This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Luke xxii, 20).
"This is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS" (Matthew xxvi, 28).
The above is one of the most significant discrepancies in the Bible. The Atonement is the chief doctrine connected with Christ and orthodox Christianity. The text quoted from Matthew is the only text in the Four Gospels which clearly teaches this doctrine. "Two other texts (Matthew xx, 28; John i, 29) are adduced in support of it, but do not clearly teach it. Now Matthew has falsely ascribed to Jesus the revelation of the Atonement, or Mark and Luke have either ignorantly or intentionally omitted this greatest of Christian doctrines. They contain no mention of the Atonement as understood by orthodox Christians.
For whom did he say his blood was shed?
"This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many [interpreted by the church to mean all mankind]" (Mark xiv, 24).
"This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you [addressed to his disciples alone]" (Luke xxii, 20).
Was his blood really shed?
The crucifixion was not a bloody death, and aside from the self-confuted story of John about blood and water flowing from his corpse, the Evangelists do not state that a drop of blood was shed.
Christ, it is affirmed, was both God and man. Was it the human, or the divine part of him that suffered death?
If only the human, this sacrifice was not an exceptional one, for thousands have died for their fellow men. If the divine part was sacrificed, does God cease to exist?
His death is called an infinite sacrifice. If only the man died, can this be true?
The offering of a finite being, it must be admitted, would not constitute an infinite sacrifice.
If the God was crucified, does he suffer endless pain?
If not, then his suffering was not infinite, and the sacrifice in this case was not an infinite one.
If God died, but subsequently rose from the dead, was there not an interregnum when the universe was without a ruler?
If so, then it must he conceded that the existence of the universe is not dependent upon the existence of God.
Are all mankind to be saved by Christ?
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me" (John xii, 32).
"Many be called but few chosen" (Matthew xx, l6).
What does Paul affirm concerning the Atonement?
"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians xv, 3).
By "scriptures" Paul means the Old Testament, and according to the scriptures of the Old Testament, "Every man shall be put to death for his own sins" (Deuteronomy xxiv, l6).
Like nearly all the doctrines ascribed to Christ, the atonement is in the highest degree unjust and absurd. Referring to this doctrine, Lord Byron says: "The basis of your religion is injustice. The Son of God the pure, the immaculate, the innocent, is sacrificed for the guilty. This proves his heroism, but no more does away with man's sin than a schoolboy's volunteering to be flogged for another would exculpate a dunce from negligence."
Greg justly charges Christians with "holding the strangely inconsistent doctrine that God is so just that he could not let sin go unpunished, yet so unjust that he could punish it in the person of the innocent." "It is for orthodox dialectics," he says, "to explain how divine justice can be impugned by pardoning the guilty, and yet vindicated by punishing the innocent!" (Creed of Christendom, pp. 338, 339.)
It is claimed that the sacrifice of Jesus was necessary for our salvation. Through whom was this sacrifice secured?
All Judas Iscariot procurred it, and Pilate and the Jews offered it.
Are not Christians, then, in condemning these men, ungrateful to their greatest benefactors? A man is dangerously ill. The druggist provides a remedy, the physician administers it and saves his life. When restored does he show his gratitude by praising the drug and damning the doctor?
In permitting the crucifixion of Jesus, who committed the greater sin, Pilate or God?
John: "Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he [God] that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin" (xix, 11).
Hon. Allan L. McDermott, in his memorable speech in Congress in 1906, protesting against the persecution of Jews by Christians, said: "If an omnipotent God orders anything done, the human instruments selected to carry out his orders cannot be charged with the acts commanded. The doctrine of repondeat superior applies. If what happened could have been prevented by the Romans or by the Jews, then the New Testament is worthless. Let us assume that the Jews crucified Christ. Could they have done otherwise? Were they greater than God? According to the Bible, the crucifixion was arranged for by the Father. Why blame the Jews or the Romans or any other mortals? They did not know what they were doing. The Roman soldiers did not believe that they were crucifying the son of God; they did not know they were crucifying God himself. Why blame the instruments? Why persecute the descendants? According to the Synoptic Gospels and according to John, the arrangements for the crucifixion -- every detail -- were made by Almighty God, and were known to Christ."
What was the character of his death?
Homicide. "Jesus of Nazareth, a man ... ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts ii, 22, 23).
Regicide. "The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David" (Luke i, 32). "This is the King of the Jews" (xxiii, 38). "There they crucified him" (33).
Deicide. "The Word [Christ] was God" (John i, 1). "I and my Father are one" (x, 30). "They crucified him" (xix, 18).
Suicide: "I [Christ] lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself" (John x, 17, 18).
What did Jesus teach respecting the resurrection of the dead and the doctrine of immortality?
"For the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth" (John v, 28, 29).
"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life" (39).
"As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more." -- Job (vii, 9).
"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." -- Psalms (cxlvi, 4).
"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts.... As one dieth, so dieth the other, yea, they have all one breath, so that man hath no preeminence over a beast." -- Ecclesiastes (iii, 19).
His resurrection is accepted by Christians as a proof and type of man's resurrection and immortality. What was the nature of his resurrection?
According to all of the Evangelists it was merely a reanimation of his undecayed body. Other bodies supposedly dead have been revived, but neither these resuscitations nor the supposed reanimation of Jesus' corpse affords proof that bodies which ages ago crumbled into dust and whose particles subsequently entered into the composition of myriads of other bodies will be reunited into the original beings. And as Jesus almost immediately disappeared after his alleged resurrection and has never since been seen this resurrection did not evince his own immortality, much less that of mankind in general.
Did Christ descend into hell?
Peter: He did (Acts ii, 31; 1 Peter iii, 19).
Peter states that "his soul was not left in hell," which necessitates the assumption of his having gone there. He also declares that after his death he "went and preached unto the spirits in prison [hell]."
The Confession of Faith (Art. III) says: "As Christ died for us, and was buried; so also is it to be believed that he went down into hell."
For what purpose did Christ descend into hell and preach to its inhabitants? If it was to redeem them, his mission was fruitless; if it was not to redeem them, his mission was useless. Early Christian writers almost uniformly spelled the name of Christ, not "Christos" (the Anointed), but "Chrestos." Chrestos was a Pagan name given to the judge of Hades or the lower world.
What is taught regarding justification by faith and justification by works?
Paul: "A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ,...for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Galatians ii, 16). "If righteousness come by the law then Christ is dead in vain" (21). "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans iv, S). "Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (iii, 28).
James: "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (ii, 20). "Ye see then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (24).
The church accepts the teachings of Paul and condemns or ignores the teachings of James. Martin Luther in his "Table Talk," thus defines the position of the Protestant church. "He that says the gospel requires works for salvation, I say flat and plain he is a liar." "Every doer of the law and every moral worker is accursed, for he walketh in the presumption of his own righteousness." "If men only believe enough in Christ they can commit adultery and murder a thousand times a day without periling their salvation." Luther rejected and denounced the book of James because it teaches the efficacy of good works.
The English Confession of Faith affirms the following "That we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort" (Art. XI). "Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of the Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ.... Yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin" (Art. XIII).
Morality! thou deadly bane,
What does Christ teach regarding salvation?
"Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John xi, 26). "He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already" (iii, 18).
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life" (36).
A demand so preposterous could have been made only in support of claims that were realized to be untenable. Credulity was appealed to because convincing evidence could not be adduced. Claims which reason rejects are manifestly false, and it is only by a renunciation of reason that they can be accepted as true.
The absurdity of this requirement of Christ is thus exposed by the poet Shelley: "This is the pivot upon which all religions turn; they all assume that it is in our power to believe or not to believe: whereas the mind can only believe that which it thinks true. A human being can only be supposed accountable for those actions which are influenced by his will. But belief is utterly distinct from and unconnected with volition it is the apprehension of the agreement or disagreement of the ideas that compose any proposition. Belief is a passion or involuntary operation of the mind, and, like other passions, its intensity is precisely proportionate to the degree of excitement. Volition is essential to merit or demerit. But the Christian religion attaches the highest possible degree of merit and demerit to that which is worthy of neither, and which is totally unconnected with the peculiar faculty of the mind whose presence is essential to their being" (Notes to Queen Mab).
Did Christ abrogate the Mosaic law?
"Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law" (Matthew v, 18).
"The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom of God is preached" (Luke xvi, 16).
Paul: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Galatians iii, 24, 25). "But now we are delivered from the law" (Romans vii, 6).
"Christ certainly did come to destroy the law and the prophets." -- Henry Ward Beecher.
What is taught regarding the forgiveness of sin?
"He [God] is faithful and just to forgive sins" (1 John i, 9)
"The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins" (Mark ii, 10).
"Today I offer you the pardon of the gospel -- full pardon, free pardon. I do not care what your crime has been. Though you say you have committed a crime against God, against your own soul, against your fellow-man, against your family, against the day of judgment, against the cross of Christ -- whatever your crime has been, here is pardon, full pardon, and the very moment you take that pardon your heavenly Father throws his arms about you and says: 'My son, I forgive you. It is all right. You are as much in my favor now as if you never had sinned.' " -- Dr. Talmage.
This doctrine of forgiveness of sin is a premium on crime. "Forgive us our sins" means "Let us continue in our iniquity." It is one of the most pernicious of doctrines, and one of the most fruitful sources of immorality. It has been the chief cause of making Christian nations the most immoral of nations. In teaching this doctrine Christ committed a sin for which his death did not atone, and which can never be forgiven. There is no forgiveness of sin. Every cause has its effect; every sinner must suffer the consequences of his sins.
What is taught regarding future rewards and punishments?
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark xvi, 16).
These words, while appearing in the unauthentic appendix to Mark, yet express clearly the alleged teachings of Jesus. Above all they have formed the key note of orthodox Christianity in all ages of the church.
Between the lines of this passage the eye of the unfettered mind discerns in large capitals the word FRAUD. These words are the words of an impostor. Had Jesus been divine he would not have been compelled to resort to bribes and threats to secure the world's adherence. Had he even been a sincere man he would not have desired converts on such terms. These words are either the utterance of a false Messiah, conscious of his impotency, or the invention of priests who intended them to frighten the ignorant and credulous into an acceptance of their faith.
Concerning this teaching Col. Ingersoll says: "Redden your hands with human blood; blast by slander the fair fame of the innocent; strangle the smiling child upon its mother's knees; deceive, ruin, and desert the beautiful girl who loves and trusts you, and your case is not hopeless. For all this, and for all these, you may be forgiven. For all this, and for all these, that bankrupt court established by the gospel will give you a discharge; but deny the existence of these divine ghosts, of these gods, and the sweet and tearful face of Mercy becomes livid with eternal hate. Heaven's golden gates are shut, and you, with an infinite curse ringing in your ears, with the brand of infamy upon your brow, commence your endless wanderings in the lurid gloom of hell -- an immortal vagrant, an eternal outcast, a deathless convict."
"A gloomy heaven above opening its jealous gates to the nineteen-thousandth part of the tithe of mankind! And below an inexorable Hell expanding its leviathan jaws for the vast residue of mortals! O doctrine comfortable and healing to weary wounded soul of man!" -- Robert Burns.
Did he teach the doctrine of endless punishment?
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment" (Matthew xxv, 46).
That is the most infamous passage in all literature. It is the language, not of an incarnate God but of an incarnate devil. The being who gave utterance to those words deserves not the worship, but the execration of mankind. The priests who preach this doctrine of eternal pain are fiends. There is misery enough in this world without adding to it the mental anguish of this monstrous lie.
Less than a hundred years ago, when Christ was yet believed to be divine, in nearly every pulpit, to frighten timid and confiding mothers, dimpled babes were consigned to the red flames of this eternal hell. Then came the preachers of humanity -- the Ballous, the Channings, the Parkers and the Beechers -- preachers with hearts and brains, who sought to humanize this heavenly demon, to make of him a decent man, and civilize his fiendish priests. To these men is due the debt of everlasting gratitude. With the return of every spring the emancipated of the race should build above their sacred dust a pyramid of flowers.
Not by the sects known as Universalists and Unitarians, small in numbers, though in the character of their adherents the greatest of the Christian sects, must we estimate the importance of the work of Ballou and Channing and other Liberal ministers. The influence of their teachings has permeated every Christian sect, and quickened every humane conscience. In the minds of all intelligent Christians, largely as the result of their labors, this heartless demon and this cruel dogma are dead. In their creeds they still survive. They are ashamed of the dogma; they abhor it. They should abhor its author, and banish both.
What! I should call on that Infinite Love that
Is it possible to fall from grace?
Peter: "If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2 Peter ii, 20).
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John x, 27, 28).
"There is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized." -- Confession of Faith, Art. IX.
Is baptism essential to salvation?
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark xvi, 16).
"Except a man be born of the water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God" (John iii, 5).
"Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them" (Matthew xxviii, 19).
Was the penitent thief baptized?
Paul says: "I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius.... For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Corinthians i, 14, 17).
What constitutes Christian baptism, immersion or sprinkling?
With millions of Bibles in circulation, the Christian does not know. If he affirms, as many scholars affirm, that immersion is the mode authorized by the Bible, then he must admit that the greater portion of Christendom has rejected this mode and adopted one not authorized by the Scriptures.
To whom is this rite to be administered, to both adults and infants, or to adults alone?
After eighteen centuries of controversy, after employing millions of priests to interpret the Scriptures; after Anabaptists and Pedobaptists have baptised their swords in each others' blood, the church is not prepared to answer.
Did Christ command his disciples to repeat and perpetuate the observance of the Eucharist?
Luke: He did. "This do in remembrance of me."
Matthew, Mark and John: He did not.
It is admitted by Dr. Westcott and others that the earlier versions of Luke did not contain the injunction quoted. Christ, then, according to the Four Gospels did not institute the Eucharist as a sacrament to be observed by his disciples and the church. Referring to the Twelve Apostles, the Rev. Dr. Minot J. Savage says: "They knew nothing about any sacraments; they had not been instituted" (What is Christianity?).
What did he teach in regard to the efficacy of prayer?
"All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew xxi, 22).
This is one of the cardinal doctrines of his religion. He is continually impressing upon the minds of his hearers the necessity and the efficacy of prayer. Referring to this doctrine, Greg says:
"This doctrine has in all ages been a stumbling block to the thoughtful. It is obviously irreconcilable with all that reason and revelation teach us of the divine nature; and the inconsistency has been felt by the ablest of the Scripture writers themselves. Various and desperate have been the expedients and suppositions resorted to, in order to reconcile the conception of an immutable, all-wise, all-foreseeing God, with that of a father who is turned from his course by the prayers of his creatures. But all such efforts are, and are felt to be, hopeless failures. They involve the assertion and negation of the same proposition in one breath. The problem remains still insoluble; and we must either be content to leave it so, or we must abandon one or other of the hostile premises.
"The religious man, who believes that all events, mental as well as physical, are pre-ordered and arranged according to the decrees of infinite wisdom, and the philosopher, who knows that, by the wise and eternal laws of the universe cause and effect are indissolubly chained together, and that one follows the other in inevitable succession -- equally feel that this ordination -- this chain -- cannot he changed at the cry of man. To suppose that it can is to place the whole harmonious system of nature at the mercy of the weak reason and the selfish wishes of humanity. If the purposes of God were not wise, they would not be formed: if wise, they cannot be changed, for then they would become unwise. To suppose that an all-wise Being would alter his designs and modes of proceeding at the entreaty of an unknowing creature, is to believe that compassion would change his wisdom into foolishness.... If the universe is governed by fixed laws, or (which is the same proposition in different language), if all events are pre-ordained by the foreseeing wisdom of an infinite God, then the prayers of thousands of years and generations of martyrs and saints cannot change or modify one iota of our destiny. The proposition is unassailable by the subtlest logic. The weak, fond affections of humanity struggle in vain against the unwelcome conclusion" (Creed of Christendom, pp. 322, 323).
Where are we commanded to pray?
"When thou prayest enter into thy closet" (Matthew vi, 6).
How long ought we to continue in prayer?
"Men ought always to pray" (Luke xviii, 1).
Did Christ assume for himself the power of answering petitions?
"Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do" (John xiv, 13). But soon realizing that his capital was too small to conduct a business of such magnitude, he was compelled to announce that, "Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you" (xv, 16).
Does God know our wants?
"Your father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him" (Matthew vi, 8).
Then what is the use of prayer? Is God a mischievous urchin taunting his hungry dog with a morsel of bread, and shouting, "Beg, Tray, beg!"?
What portion of their goods did he require the rich to give the poor to obtain salvation?
Rich Ruler, No. 1: "Good Master what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke xviii, 18.)
Jesus: "Sell all that thou hast and distribute unto the poor" (22).
Rich Ruler, No. 2: "Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor" (Luke xix, 8).
Jesus: "This day is salvation come to this house" (9).
What did he teach respecting the publicity of good works?
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works" (Matthew v, 16).
"Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men to be seen of then," (vi, 1, New Ver.).
What original rules of table observance did he teach his disciples?
Matthew: To abstain from washing their hands before eating. "They wash not their hands when they eat bread" (xv, 2).
John: To wash their feet after eating. "He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded" (xiii, 4, 5).
The proneness of Christ's followers to neglect his ordinances and precepts which require some sacrifice or effort to obey, and the readiness with which they observe those which do not, find a fitting illustration in the reception accorded these teachings. While the early Christians, many of them, accepted the first as a religious obligation not to be violated, the second was ignored. Writing of Christian monks and nuns, Lecky says: "The cleanliness of the body was regarded as a pollution of the soul and the saints who were most admired had become one hideous mass of clotted filth St. Athanasius relates with enthusiasm how St. Antony, the patriarch of monachism, had never, to extreme old age, been guilty of washing his feet.... St. Abraham the hermit, however, who lived for fifty years after his conversion, rigidly refused from that date to wash either his face or feet.... St. Euphraxia joined a convent of one hundred and thirty nuns, who never washed their feet, and who shuddered at the mention of a bath" (European Morals, Vol. II, pp. 109, 110).
What religious formula is to be found in the New Testament?
"In the name of Jesus."
"In the name of Jesus" the disciples cast out devils and performed other miracles; "In the name of Jesus" they baptised their converts; "In the name of Jesus" salvation was secured. This formula, with various modifications, is in general use in the church today. It betrays the heathen origin of Christianity. Referring to its use Prof. Meinhold of Bonn University says: "Name and person were at one time closely combined, and elementary religious ideas were connected with the words. He who knew the name of a divinity and could pronounce it was in this way able to secure a blessing. It was the use of the name of Jesus in the sacraments that made them effective, in the spirit of sorcery."
This idea came from the lowest type of religious thought, reflected in religious mysteries in the days of Jesus, and was embodied in the earliest Christianity."
What is taught respecting the use of oaths?
God: "Swear by my name" (Jeremiah xii, 16).
Christ: "Swear not at all" (Matthew v, 34).
What opposing rules of proselytism did Christ promulgate?
"He that is not with me is against me" (Luke xi, 23).
"He that is not against us is for us" (Luke ix, 50).
What is to befall him that hath nothing?
"Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (Matthew xiii, 12).
Ex nihilo nihil fit.
What did he say would be the fate of those who took up the sword?
"They that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matthew xxvi, 52).
He evidently considered this commendable, for he immediately issued the following command to his disciples:
"He that hath no sword let him sell his garments and buy one" (Luke xxii, 36).
What did he say regarding the fear of death?
"Be not afraid of them that kill the body" (Luke xii, 4).
"After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him" (John vii, 1).
What is to be the earthly reward of those that follow Christ?
"There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive a hundred fold now in this time" (Mark x, 29, 30).
"Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" (1 Peter iii, 13.)
"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew xi, 30).
"In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John xvi, 33).
"Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake" (Luke xxi, 17).
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. iii, 12).
"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Hebrews xii, 6).
What promise did Christ make to Paul at the commencement of his ministry?
"I am with thee and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee" (Acts xviii, 10).
"Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned" (2 Corinthians xi, 24, 25).
How are Christ's true followers to be distinguished from those of the devil?
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (1 John iii, 9).
"He that committeth sin is of the devil" (8). Judged by this standard what is the comparative strength of these sovereigns' subjects?
"There is no man that sinneth not" (1 Kings viii, 46).
"There is not a just man upon earth" (Ecclesiastes vii, 20).
"There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans iii, 10).
Great stress is placed upon the moral teachings of Jesus. What did he teach? Did he advocate industry and frugality?
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth" (Matthew vi, 19).
"Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on" (25).
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow" (34).
What were the early Christians?
Acts: They were Communists. "They had all things common.... For as many as were possessors of land or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need" (iv, 32-35).
Most Christians condemn Communism; but was the Communism of nineteen hundred years ago better than the Communism of today? To condemn Communism is to condemn primitive Christianity. Yet, Christians profess to abhor the Communistic ideas of modern teachers, while they worship as a God the founder of this Communistic sect of Palestine.
What did he teach respecting poverty and wealth?
"Blessed be ye poor" (Luke vi, 20).
"Woe unto you that are rich" (24).
Poverty is a curse; wealth, honestly acquired and wisely used is a blessing. "The rich man's wealth is his strong city the destruction of the poor is their poverty" (Proverbs x, l5).
In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, what befell the representatives of vagrancy and respectability?
"The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom" (Luke xvi, 22).
"The rich man also died,...and in hell he lifted up his eyes" (22, 23).
See the red flames around him twine
While round the saint so poor below,
Jesus, my Lord, let me appear
Why was Dives' request that his brothers be informed of their impending fate refused?
"They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (Luke xvi, 29).
Moses and the prophets do not teach the doctrine of endless punishment, nor even that of a future existence, much less that the mere possession of wealth, acquired perhaps by honest industry, is a crime which can be expiated only by the sufferings of an endless hell.
Christ's Kingdom was a kingdom of vagrants and paupers. "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew xix, 23). "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (24).
While at the temple with his disciples what act did he commend?
Mark and Luke: That of the poor widow who threw two mites into the treasury (Mark xii, 43; Luke xxi, 3).
This widow's offering illustrates the characteristic generosity of the poor and the heartless greed of the church. This text has enabled a horde of indolent priests to prey upon widows and orphans; to filch the scanty earnings of the poor, and live like parasites upon the weak and sickly calves of humanity.
Did he practice the virtue of temperance?
"The Son of Man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, behold a gluttonous man and a winebibber" (Luke vii, 34).
What was his first miracle?
John: "There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee.... And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.... And there were set there six water pots of stone,...containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim" (ii, 1-7). This water he turned into wine.
Here is Christ supplying a party already "well drunk" with more than one hundred gallons of wine. As they were intoxicated when he performed the miracle, would it not have been better for them and better for the millions who have accepted him as a moral guide, if at the beginning of the feast he had turned the wine into water?
The morality taught by Jesus suffers in comparison with that taught by Mohammed. Mohammed prohibited the use of intoxicating drink, and the Mohammedans are a temperate people; Jesus sanctioned the use of intoxicating drink, and the Christian world abounds with drunkenness.
Referring to the miracle at Cana, Strauss says: "Not only, however, has the miracle been impeached in relation to possibility, but also in relation to utility and fitness. It has been urged both in ancient and modern times, that it was unworthy of Jesus that he should not only remain in the society of drunkards, but even further their intemperance by an exercise of his miraculous power" (Leben Jesu, p. 584).
Did he oppose slavery?
All: He did not.
"Slavery was incorporated into the civil institutions of Moses; it was recognized accordingly by Christ and his apostles." -- Rev. Dr. Nathan Lord, President of Dartmouth College.
"At the time of the advent of Jesus Christ, slavery in its worst forms prevailed over the world. The Savior found it around him in Judea; the apostles met with it in Asia, Greece and Italy. How did they treat it? Not by denunciation of slave-holding as necessarily sinful." -- Prof. Hodge of Princeton.
"I have no doubt if Jesus Christ were now on earth that he would, under certain circumstances, become a slaveholder." -- Rev. Dr. Taylor of Yale.
Rousseau says: "Christ preaches only servitude and dependence.... True Christians are made to be slaves."
What did the apostles teach?
Peter: "Servants [slaves], be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward" (1 Peter ii, 18).
Paul: "Let as many servants [slaves] as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor" (1 Timothy vi, 1). "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling" (Ephesians vi, 5).
The Rev. Dr. Wilbur Fisk, president of Wesleyan University, says: "The New Testament enjoins obedience upon the slave as an obligation due to a present rightful authority."
Did he favor marriage?
Matthew: He advocated celibacy, and even self-mutilation as preferable to marriage (xix, 10-12).
Following this teaching of their Master, Christians, many of them, have condemned marriage. A Christian pope, Siricius, branded it as "a pollution of the flesh." St. Jerome taught that the duty of the saint was to "cut down by the axe of Virginity the wood of Marriage." Pascal says: "Marriage is the lowest and most dangerous condition of the Christian."
G. W. Foote of England says: "Jesus appears to have despised the union of the sexes, therefore marriage, and therefore the home. He taught that in Heaven, where all is perfect, there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage."
"Monks and nuns innumerable owe to this evil teaching their shriveled lives and withered hearts." -- Mrs. Besant.
What did he encourage women to do?
Luke: To leave their husbands and homes, and follow and associate with him and his roving apostles -- "Mary, called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance" (viii, 2, 3).
What did he say respecting children?
"Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not."
But it was only the children of Jews he welcomed. The afflicted child of a Gentile he spurned as a dog. When the woman of Canaan desired him to heal her daughter, he brutally replied: "It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs" (Matthew xv, 26). The soldiers who spit on Jesus in Pilate's hall did not do a meaner thing than Jesus did that day. And if he afterwards consented to cure the child it was not as an act of humanity to the sufferer, but as a reward for the mother's faith in him.
Concerning this brutal act of Jesus, Helen Gardener says: "Do you think that was kind? Do you think it was godlike? What would you think of a physician, if a woman came to him distressed and said, 'Doctor, come to my daughter, she is very ill. She has lost her reason, and she is all I have!' What would you think of the doctor who would not reply at all at first, and then, when she fell at his feet and worshiped him, answered that he did not spend his time doctoring dogs? Would you like him as a family physician? Do you think that, even if he were to cure the child then, he would have done a noble thing? Is it evidence of a perfect character to accompany a service with an insult? Do you think that a man who could offer such an indignity to a sorrowing mother has a perfect character, is an ideal God?"
He enjoined the observance of the commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother." Did he respect it himself?
More striking examples of filial ingratitude are not to be found than are exhibited in the Gospel history of Jesus Christ. When visiting Jerusalem with his parents, he allows them to depart for home without him, thinking that he is with another part of the company, and when they return to search for him and find him, he manifests no concern for the trouble he has caused; when during his ministry his mother and brothers are announced, he receives them with a sneer, at the marriage feast, when his mother kindly speaks to him, he brutally exclaims, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Throughout the Four Gospels not one respectful word to that devoted mother is recorded. Even in his last hours, when the mental anguish of that mother must have equaled his own physical suffering, not one word of comfort or farewell greeting escapes from his lips; but the same studied disrespect that has characterized him all his life is exhibited here.
Did he not promote domestic strife?
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father against the son, and the son against the father, the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Luke xii, 51-53).
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matthew x, 34, 35).
What did he require of his disciples?
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke xiv, 26).
It is scarcely possible in this age of enlightenment and unbelief to realize what sorrows and miseries these accursed teachings of Christ once caused. The eminent historian Lecky, in his History of European Morals, has attempted to describe some of their awful consequences. From his pages I quote the following:
"To break by his ingratitude the heart of the mother who had borne him, to persuade the wife who adored him that it was her duty to separate from him forever, to abandon his children, uncared for and beggars, to the mercies of the world, was regarded by the true hermit as the most acceptable offering he could make to his God. His business was to save his own soul. The serenity of his devotion would be impaired by the discharge of the simplest duties to his family. Evagrius, when a hermit in the desert, received, after a long interval, letters from his father and mother. He could not bear that the equable tenor of his thought should be disturbed by the recollection of those who loved him, so he cast the letters unread into the fire. A man named Mutius, accompanied by his only child, a little boy of eight years old, abandoned his possessions and demanded admission into a monastery. The monks received him, but they proceeded to discipline his heart. 'He had already forgotten that he was rich; he must next be taught to forget that he was a father' His little child was separated from him, clothed in dirty rags, subjected to every form of gross and wanton hardship, beaten, spurned and ill-treated. Day after day the father was compelled to look upon his boy wasting away with sorrow, his once happy countenance forever stained with tears, distorted by sobs of anguish. But yet, says the admiring biographer, 'though he saw this day by day, such was his love for Christ, and for the virtue of obedience, that the father's heart was rigid and unmoved' (Vol. II, 125, 126).
"He [St. Simeon Stylites] had been passionately loved by his parents, and, if we may believe his eulogist and biographer, he began his saintly career by breaking the heart of his father, who died of grief at his flight. His mother, however, lingered on. Twenty-seven years after his disappearance, at a period when his austerities had made him famous, she heard for the first time where he was and hastened to visit him. But all her labor was in vain. No woman was admitted within the precincts of his dwelling, and he refused to permit her even to look upon his face. Her entreaties and tears were mingled with words of bitter and eloquent reproach 'My son,' she is represented as having said 'why have you done this? I bore you in my womb, and you have wrung my soul with grief. I gave you milk from my breast, you have filled my eyes with tears. For the kisses I gave you, you have given me the anguish of a broken heart; for all that I have done and suffered for you, you have repaid me by the most cruel wrongs.' At last the saint sent a message to her to tell her that she would soon see him. Three days and three nights she had wept and entreated in vain, and now, exhausted with grief and age and privation, she sank feebly to the ground and breathed her last sigh before that inhospitable door. Then for the first time the saint, accompanied by his followers, came out. He shed some pious tears over the corpse of his murdered mother, and offered up a prayer consigning her soul to heaven" (ibid., 130).
Did he not indulge in vituperation and abuse?
"Ye fools and blind" (Matthew xxiii, 17).
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites" (14).
"All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers" (John x, 8).
"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matthew xxiii, 33.)
Regarding these abusive epithets of Christ, Prof. Newman says: "The Jewish nation may well complain that they have been cruelly slandered by the gospels. The invectives have been burnt into the heart of Christendom, so that the innocent Jews, children of the dispersion, have felt in millennial misery -- yes, and to this day feel -- the deadly sting of these fierce and haughty utterances" (Jesus Christ, p. 25).
Relate his treatment of the Pharisee who invited him to dine with him.
Luke: "And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him; and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness, Ye fools ... hypocrites!" (xi, 37-44.)
Was such insolence of manners on the part of Jesus calculated to promote the interest of the cause he professed to hold so dear at heart? Supposing a Freethinker were to receive an invitation to dine with a Christian friend and were to repay the hospitality of his host with rudeness and abuse, interrupting the ceremony of "grace" with an oath or a sneer, and showering upon the head of his friend such epithets as "hypocrite" and "fool." Would such insolent behavior have a tendency to gain for him the world's esteem or aid the cause he represents? And are we to approve in a God conduct that we regard as detestable in a man? It may be urged that God is not subject to the rules of human conduct. Grant it; but is it necessary for him in order to exhibit his divine character to assume the manners of a brute?
Do the Pharisees deserve the sweeping condemnation heaped upon them by Christ and his followers?
In marked contrast to the diatribes of Jesus is the testimony of Josephus: "Now, for the Pharisees, they live meanly [plainly] and despise delicacies in diet, and they follow the conduct of reason; and what that prescribes to them as good for them, they do; and they think they ought earnestly to strive to observe reason's dictates for practice.... The cities give great attestations to them on account of their entire virtuous conduct, both in the actions of their lives, and their discourses also" (Antiquities, Book xviii, chap. i, sec. 3).
Paul, the Christian, when arraigned before Agrippa, believed that no loftier testimonial to his character could be adduced than the fact that he had been a Pharisee (Acts xxvi, 4, 5).
What is said in regard to his purging the temple?
John: "And the Jews' Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables" (ii, 13-15).
No currency but the Jewish was accepted in the temple while doves, lambs, and other animals were required for offerings. These persons performed the very necessary office of supplying the Jews with offerings and exchanging Jewish coins for the Roman money then in general circulation. What right he had to interfere with the lawful business of these men, and especially in the manner in which he did, it is difficult to understand.
Describe the cursing of the fig tree.
Matthew: "Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away" (xxi, 18, 19).
Jesus cursed a living tree and it died; Mohammed blessed a dead tree and it lived. The alleged conduct of Jesus on many occasions, notably his harsh treatment of his mother, his abuse of the Pharisees, his purging the temple and his cursing the fig tree, is not the conduct of a rational being, but rather that of a madman. If these stories be historical they would indicate that he was not wholly responsible for his words and acts. Dr. Jules Soury, of the University of France, believes that he was the victim of an incurable mental disorder. In a work on morbid psychology, entitled Studies on Jesus and The Gospels, Dr. Soury cites a long array of seemingly indisputable facts in support of his theory. From his preface to the work, I quote the following:
"Jesus the God, gone down in his glory, like a star sunk beneath the horizon but still shedding a few faint rays on the world, threw a halo round the brow of Jesus the Prophet. In the dull glow of that twilight, in the melancholy but charming hour when everything seemed wrapped in vague, ethereal tints, Jesus appeared to Strauss and Renan such as he had shown himself to his first disciples, the Master par-excellence, a man truly divine. Then came the night; and as darkness descended on those flickering gospel beginnings there remained nought to be descried through the obscurity of dubious history, but dimly looming, the portentous outline of the gibbet and its victim.
"In the present work Jesus makes his appearance, perhaps for the first time, as a sufferer from a grave malady, the course of which we have attempted to trace.
"The nervous, or cerebral disorder, at first congestive and then inflammatory, under which he labored, was not only deep-seated and dangerous -- it was incurable. Among us at the present time that affection may be seen daily making kings, millionaires, popes, prophets, saints, and even divinities of poor fellows who have lost their balance; it has produced more than one Messiah.
"If we be right in the interpretation of data which has been followed in the study of morbid psychology, Jesus, at the time of his death, was in a somewhat advanced stage of this disorder. He was, to all appearance, cut off opportunely; the gibbet saved him from actual madness.
"The diagnosis which we have ventured to draw is based on three sets of facts which are attested by the most ancient and trustworthy of the witnesses of his career.
"1. Religious excitement, then general in Palestine, drove Jesus to the wilderness, where he lived some time the life of a recluse, as those who considered themselves to have the prophetic mission often did. Carried away with the idea that he was divinely inspired to proclaim the coming of the Messiah he left his own people and his native place, and, attended by a following of fishermen and others of the same class, went about among the towns and villages of Galilee announcing the speedy approach of the Kingdom of Heaven.
"2. After having proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, like other contemporary Jewish prophets, Jesus gradually came to look upon himself as the Messiah, the Christ. He allowed himself to be called the Son of David, the Son of God, and had among his followers one, if not more, of those fanatical Sicarii, so graphically described by Josephus, who were waiting for the deliverance of Israel from the yoke of Rome. Progressive obliteration of the consciousness of his personal identity marks the interval between the somewhat vague revelation which he made to his disciples at the foot of Mount Hermon and the day when, before Caiaphas and before Pilate, he openly declared that he was the Messiah, and by that token the King of the Jews.
"3. The cursing of the fig tree whereon there were no figs, because 'the time of figs was not yet,' the violent conduct toward the dealers and changers at the temple, were manifestly foolish acts. Jesus had come to believe that everything was permitted him, that all things belonged to him, that nothing was too hard for him to do. For a long time he had given evident signs of perversion of the natural affections, especially with respect to his mother and brethren. To the fits of anger against the priests and religious ministers of his nation, to the ambitious extravagance of his words and acts, to the wild dream of his Messianic grandeur, there rapidly supervened a characteristic depression of the mental faculties and strength, a giving way of the intellectual and muscular flowers.
"Each of those periods in the career of Jesus corresponds to a certain pathological state of his nervous system.
"By reacting on the heart, the religious excitement he labored under and the attendant functional exacerbations had the immediate effect of accelerating the circulation, unduly dilating the blood vessels, and producing cerebral congestion.
"Chronic congestion of the brain, subjectively considered, is always attended in the initial stage with great increase of the moral consciousness, extraordinary activity of the imagination, often leading to hallucinations, and later on with absurdly exaggerated, frequently delirious ideas of power and greatness. That stage is also usually characterized by irritability and fits of passion.
"Objectively considered what is observable is hypertrophy of the cellules and nerve-tubes, excessive cerebral plethora and vascularity due to the great efflux of blood and superabundant nutrition of the encephalon. Inflammation of the meningeal covering, and of the brain itself, is, sooner or later, a further result of the chronic congestion. The vessels, turgid and loaded with blood, permit the transudation of the blood globules; the circulation becomes impeded, then arrested, with the result of depriving the cortical cerebral substance of arterial blood, which is its life; the histological elements undergo alteration, degenerate, become softened, and as the disorganization proceeds are finally reduced to inert detritus.
"The brain may remain capable more or less well of performing its functions when deprived to a large extent of its necessary food, but not so when the cerebral cellules are disorganized. Dementia consequently is the rational sequel of the congestive stage. To the destruction of the cortical substance supervenes partial or total loss of consciousness, according to the extent of the lesion. Such portions of the encephalon as continue capable of performing any duty being in a state of hyperaemia, there is often delirium more or less intense up to the last.
"The process of the disorder is irregular; remissions occur during which the reasoning faculties seem to be recovered. But whether the duration extends only to a few months or to several years, the increasing weakness of the patient, the intellectual and muscular decay, the cachetic state into which he falls, the lesions of other organs performing essential functions which ensue, bring life to a close, and frequently without suffering.
"This is how Jesus would have ended had he been spared the violent death of the cross."
Nearly all the religious founders have been affected to a greater or less extent, with insanity. Genius itself is closely allied to insanity -- is indeed, in many cases, a form of insanity. Moreau de Tours in his La Psychologie Morbide (p. 234) says: "The mental disposition which causes a man to be distinguished from his fellows by the originality of his mind and conceptions, by his eccentricity, and the energy of his affective faculties, or by the transcendence of his intelligence, take their rise in the very same organic conditions which are the source of the various mental perturbations whereof insanity and idiocy are the most complete expressions." Buddha, Mohammed, and probably Jesus, united with certain strong mental and moral characteristics, a form of insanity which manifested itself in a sort of religious madness -- a madness that was contagious and which has attacked and afflicted the greater portion of the human race.
Did he not teach the doctrine of demoniacal possession and exorcism?
Synoptics: He did.
After alluding to the prevalency of superstition among the Jews of this period, Renan says: "Jesus on this point differed in no respect from his companions. He believed in the devil, whom he regarded as a kind of evil genius, and he imagined, like all the world, that nervous maladies were produced by demons who possessed the patient and agitated him" (Life of Jesus, p. 59). Dr. Geikie says: "The New Testament leaves us in no doubt of the belief, on the part of Jesus and the Evangelists, in the reality of these demoniacal possessions" (Life of Christ, Vol. II, p. 573).
Demonology was born of ignorance and superstition. In this debasing superstition Jesus believed. It was a part of his religion, and has remained a part of Christianity, for while the more intelligent of his professed disciples have outgrown this superstition they have to the same extent outgrown Christianity. The more ignorant, the more depraved, and, at the same time, the more devout of his followers, still accept it.
Regarding this superstition, the author of Supernatural Religion says: "The diseases referred to by the gospels, and by the Jews of that time, to the action of devils, exist now, but they are known to proceed from purely physical causes. The same superstition and medical ignorance would enunciate the same diagnosis at the present day. The superstition and ignorance, however, have passed away, and, with them, the demoniacal theory. In that day the theory was as baseless as in this. It is obvious that, with the necessary abandonment of the theory of 'possession' and demoniacal origin of disease, the largest class of miracles recorded in the gospels is at once exploded. The asserted cause of the diseases of this class, said to have been miraculously healed, must be recognized to be a mere vulgar superstition" (p. 159).
Prof. Huxley, in one of his essays, discussing the Gadarene miracle, says: "When such a story as that about the Gadarene swine is placed before us, the importance of the decision, whether it be accepted or rejected, cannot be overestimated. If the demonological part of it is to be accepted, the authority of Jesus is unmistakably pledged to the demonological system current in Judea in the first century. The belief in devils who possess men and can be transferred from men to pigs becomes as much a part of Christian dogma as any article of the creeds."
What became of the swine into which Jesus ordered the devils to go?
Matthew. "And behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters" (viii, 32).
It may be pertinent to inquire what these inoffensive animals had done that they should merit such cruelty, or what their owner had done that his property should be thus wantonly destroyed.
In his narrative of this miracle Fleetwood says: "The spectators beheld, at a distance, the torments these poor creatures suffered; with what amazing rapidity they ran to the confines of the lake, leaped from the precipices into the sea, and perished in the waters" (Life of Christ, p. 121).
In striking contrast to the religion of Buddha, the religion of Christ has made its adherents cruel and unmerciful. To this Christian writer the torture and destruction of these domestic animals is no more than the burning of a field of stubble. In this miracle he sees only a manifestation of love and kindness on the part of his Savior. Referring to the request of the inhabitants that he depart from their country, he says: "The stupid request of the Gadarenes was complied with by the blessed Jesus, who, entering the ship, returned to the country from whence he came, leaving them a valuable pledge of his love, and us a noble pattern of perseverance in well-doing, even when our kindnesses are condemned or requited with injuries" (ibid., p. 122).
What did Jesus say to the strange Samaritan woman whom he met at the well?
"Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband" (John iv, 18).
"Christ here makes himself a wandering gypsy, or Bohemian fortune teller, and I much wonder that our gypsies do not account themselves the genuine disciples of Jesus, being endowed with like gifts, and exercising no worse arts than he himself practiced." -- Woolston.
Was he not an egotist and given to vulgar boasting?
Speaking of himself he said: "Behold a greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew xii, 41, 42).
Did he not practice dissimulation?
John: "And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always, but because of the people which stand by I said it" (xi, 41, 42).
Luke: After his resurrection when he intended to stop at Emmaus with his companions, "He made as though he would have gone further" (xxiv, 28).
After performing one of his miraculous cures, what charge did he make to those who witnessed it?
Mark: "He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it" (vii, 36).
Did he desire them to disregard his commands? If he did, he was a hypocrite; if he did not, he was an impotent -- in either case a fallible man instead of an omnipotent God.
On the approach of the Passover what did he say to his brethren?
"Go ye up unto this feast; I go not up yet unto this feast" (John vii, 8).
The correct reading of the last clause is, "I go not up unto the feast." The American revisers, to their credit, urged the adoption of this reading, but the Oxford revisers retained the error. In uttering these words, Jesus, if omniscient, uttered an untruth; for John says: "But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret" (10).
Why did he teach in parables?
"That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them" (Mark iv, 12).
He deceived the people that he might have the pleasure of seeing them damned.
What immoral lesson is inculcated in the Parable of the Steward?
He commends as wise and prudent the action of the steward, who, to provide for his future welfare, causes his master's creditors to defraud him. "There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he unto another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely; for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations" (Luke xvi, l-9).
In the parable of the Laborers what unjust doctrine is taught?
The assignment of equal rewards for unequal burdens. He justifies the dishonest bargaining of the householder who received twelve hours of labor for a penny, when he paid the same amount for one (Matthew xx, 1-16).
Regarding the parables of Jesus, W. P. Ball, an English writer, says:
"With one single exception, the parables attributed to Jesus are thoroughly religious and decidedly inferior in their moral tone, besides possessing minor faults. The God who is to be the object of our adoration and imitation is depicted to us as a judge who will grant vengeance in answer to incessant prayer, as a father who loves and honors the favorite prodigal and neglects the faithful and obedient worker, as an employer who pays no more for a life-time than for the nominal service of a death-bed repentance, as an unreasonable master who reaps where he has not sown and punishes men because he made them defective and gave them no instructions, as a harsh despot who delivers disobedient servants to tormentors and massacres those who object to his rule, as a judge who is merciful to harlots and relentless towards unbelievers, as a petulant king who drives beggars and outcasts into the heaven which is ignored by the wise and worthy, as a ruler of the universe who freely permits his enemy the devil to sow evil and then punishes his victims, as a God who plunges men in the flames of hell and calmly philosophizes over the reward of the blest who from Abraham's bosom behold the sight and are not permitted to bestow even so much as a drop of cold water to cool the parched tongues of their fellow-creatures amidst hopeless and unending agonies, in comparison with which all earthly sufferings are but momentary dreams."
What did he teach regarding submission to theft and robbery?
"Of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again" (Luke vi, 30).
Why was the woman taken in adultery released without punishment?
John: Because those having her in custody were not without sin themselves (viii, 3-11).
The adoption of this principle would require the liberation of every criminal, because all men are fallible. If man cannot punish crime because not free from sin himself, is it just in God, the author of all sin, to punish man for his sins?
Whom did he pronounce blessed?
"Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew v, 3).
"Is poverty of spirit a blessing? Surely not. Manliness of spirit, honesty of spirit, fulness of rightful purpose, these are virtues; but poverty of spirit is a crime." -- Bradlaugh.
Did he teach resistance to wrong?
"Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other" (Luke vi, 29).
"He who courts oppression shares the crime." Lord Amberley, referring to this teaching of Jesus, says: "A doctrine more convenient for the purposes of tyrants and malefactors of every description it would be difficult to invent" (Analysis of Religious Belief; p. 355).
He taught his hearers to return good for evil. Did he do this himself?
"I pray for them [his followers], I pray not for the world" (John xvii, 9).
"Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father" (Matthew x, 33).
The Golden Rule has been ascribed to Christ. Was he its author?
Five hundred years before the time of Christ Confucius taught "What you do not like when done to yourself do not to others." Centuries before the Christian era Pittacus, Thales, Sextus, Isocrates and Aristotle taught the same.
What maxim does Paul attribute to Jesus?
"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts xx, 35).
These are not "the words of the Lord Jesus," but of the Pagan Epicurus, a man whose character Christians have for centuries defamed.
Concerning the teachings of Jesus, Col. Thomas W. Higginson says: "When they tell me that Jesus taught a gospel of love, I say I believe it. Plato taught a gospel of love before him, and you deny it. If they say, Jesus taught that it is better to bear an injury than to retaliate, I say, yes, but so did Aristotle before Jesus was born. I will accept it as the statement of Jesus if you will admit that Aristotle said it too. I am willing that any man should come before us and say, Jesus taught that you must love your enemies, it is written in the Bible; but, if he will open the old manuscript of Diogenes Laertus, he may there read in texts that have never been disputed, that the Greek philosophers, half a dozen of them, said the same before Jesus was born."
Buckle says: "That the system of morals propounded in the New Testament contained no maxim which had not been previously enunciated, and that some of the most beautiful passages in the apostolic writings are quotations from Pagan authors, is well known to every scholar.... To assert that Christianity communicated to man moral truths previously unknown, argues on the part of the asserted either gross ignorance or wilful fraud" (History of Civilization, Vol. I, p. 129).
John Stuart Mill says: "It can do truth no service to blind the fact, known to all who have the most ordinary acquaintance with literary history, that a large portion of the noblest and most valuable moral teaching has been the work not only of men who did not know, but of men who knew and rejected the Christian faith" (Liberty).
We are told that Christ manifested "a strong and enduring courage which never shrank or quailed before any danger however formidable." Is this true?
It is not. When he heard that John was imprisoned, he retreated to the Sea of Galilee (Matthew iv, 12, 13); when John was beheaded, he took a ship and retired to a desert (xiv, 13); in going from Galilee to Judea, he went beyond the Jordan to avoid the Samaritans; when his brethren went up to Jerusalem he refused to accompany them for fear of the Jews (John vii, 8, 9); when the Jews took up stones to stone him he "hid himself" (viii, 59); when the Pharisees took council against him he fled (Matthew xii, 14, 16); at Gethsemane, in the agonies of fear, he prayed that the cup might pass from him; at Calvary, he frantically exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"
Commenting on this dying exclamation of Christ, Dr. Conway says: "That cry could never be wrung from the lips of a man who saw in his own death a prearranged plan for the world's salvation, and his own return to divine glory temporarily renounced for transient misery on earth. The fictitious theology of a thousand years shrivels beneath the awful anguish of that cry."
What was the character of Christ's male ancestors?
Assuming Matthew's genealogy to be correct, nearly all of those whose histories are recorded in the Old Testament were guilty of infamous crimes or gross immoralities. Abraham married his sister and seduced her handmaid; Jacob, after committing bigamy, seduced two of his housemaids; Judah committed incest with his daughter-in-law; David was a polygamist, an adulterer, a robber and a murderer, Solomon had a thousand wives and concubines; Rehoboam Abijam, Joram, Ahaziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon and Jehoiachin, are all represented as monsters of iniquity, while others are declared to have been too vile to even name in his genealogy.
What female ancestors are named in his genealogy?
Matthew: Thamar, Rachab, Ruth and Bathsheba.
Regarding these women the Rev. Dr. Alexander Walker says: "It is remarkable that in the genealogy of Christ, only four women have been named: Thamar who seduced the father of her late husband; Rachab, a common prostitute; Ruth, who, instead of marrying one of her cousins, went to bed with another of them; and Bathsheba, an adulteress, who espoused David, the murderer of her first husband" (Woman, p. 330).
Matthew Henry, a noted Christian commentator, says: "There are four women, and but four, named in this genealogy,...Rachab, a Canaanitess, and a harlot besides, and Ruth, the Moabitess.... The other two were adulteresses, Tamar and Bathsheba" (Commentary, Vol. V).
Who was his favorite female attendant?
Luke: "Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils" (viii, 2).
Referring to this woman, Dr. Farrar says: "This exorcism is not elsewhere alluded to, and it would be perfectly in accordance with the genius of Hebrew phraseology if the expression had been applied to her in consequence of a passionate nature and an abandoned life. The Talmudists have much to say respecting her -- her wealth, her extreme beauty, her braided locks, her shameless profligacy, her husband Pappus, and her paramour, Pandera" (Life of Christ, p. 162).
In a chapter on "Sanctified Prostitution," Dr. Soury writes: "The Jewess is full of naive immodesty, her lip red with desire, her eye moist and singularly luminous in the shade. Yearning with voluptuousness, superb in her triumphs, or merely feline and caressing, she is ever the 'insatiable,' the woman 'with seven devils' of whom the scripture speaks, a kind of burning furnace in which the blond Teuton melts like wax. So far as in her lay, the Syrian woman, with her supple and nervous arms, drew into the tomb the last exhausted sons of Greece and Rome. But who can describe the grace and the soft languor of these daughters of Syria, their large black eyes, the warm bistre tints of their skin? All the poets of the decadence, Catullus, Tibullus, Propercius, have sung this wondrous being With soft and humble voice, languid and as though crushed by some hidden ill, dragging her limbs over the tiles of a gynaecium, she might have been regarded as a stupid slave. Often, her gaze lost in long reveries, she seemed dead, save that her bosom began to swell, her eye lighted up, her breath quickened, her cheeks became covered with crimson. The reverie becoming a reality by a matchless power of innovation and desire, such is the sacred disease which, thanks to Mary Magdalene, gave birth to Christianity" (Religion of Israel, pp. 70, 71)
Who were his apostles?
"A dozen knaves, as ignorant as owls and as poor as church mice." -- Voltaire.
"Palestine was one of the most backward of countries; the Galileans were the most ignorant of the inhabitants of Palestine; and the disciples might be counted among the most simple people of Galilee." -- Renan.
"His followers were 'unlearned and ignorant men,' chosen from the humblest of the people." -- Farrar.
What power is Christ said to have bestowed on Peter?
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew xvi, 19).
On this remarkable bestowal of power, which has exerted such a mighty influence in the government of the church, but of which Mark, Luke and John know nothing, Greg comments as follows: "Not only do we know Peter's utter unfitness to be the depositary of such a fearful power, from his impetuosity and instability of character, and Christ's thorough perception of this unfitness, but we find immediately after it is said to have been conferred upon him, his Lord addresses him indignantly by the epithet of Satan, and rebukes him for his presumption and unspirituality, and shortly afterwards this very man thrice denied his master. Can any one maintain it to be conceivable that Jesus should have conferred the awful power of deciding the salvation or damnation of his fellow-men upon one so frail, so faulty, and so fallible? Does any one believe that he did?" (Creed of Christendom, p. 189).
When Peter discovered that Jesus was the Christ what did he do?
Mark: "And Peter took him [Christ] and began to rebuke him" (viii, 32).
What did Jesus do in turn?
Mark: "He rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me Satan" (33).
What a spectacle! The incarnate God of the universe and his vicegerent on earth indulging in a petty quarrel!
Give an account of Peter's denial of his Master.
Matthew: "Now when Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came up to him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man" (xxvi, 69-74).
What did Peter say to Jesus in regard to compensation for his services?
"Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" (Matthew xix, 27).
What request was made by James and John?
Mark: "They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory" (x, 37).
This shows that self-aggrandizement inspired the actions of his followers then as it does today.
What is said of John in the Gospel of John?
"There was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples whom he loved" (xiii, 23).
"The disciple standing by whom he [Jesus] loved" (xix, 26).
"The other disciple whom Jesus loved" (xx, 2).
"Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following, which also leaned on his breast at supper.... This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things" (xxi, 20, 24).
If the Apostle John wrote this Gospel, as claimed by Christians and as declared in the Gospel, he was a vulgar egotist.
What is said regarding the conduct of his Apostles on the evening preceding the crucifixion?
Luke: "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest" (xxii, 24).
This was immediately after he had announced his speedy betrayal and death and when his disciples, if sincere, must have manifested the deepest sadness and humility. If the Evangelist is not a base calumniator the Apostles were a set of heartless knaves.
When the Jews came to arrest Jesus what did the disciples do?
Matthew: "Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled" (xxvi, 56).
Mark: "And they all forsook him, and fled" (xiv, 50).
Justin says: "All his friends [the Apostles] stood aloof from him, having denied him" (Apology, i, 50).
One scarcely knows which to detest the more, the treachery of Judas in betraying his Master, or the imbecility and cowardice of the other apostles who took no measures to prevent it and who forsook him in the hour of danger.
What became of the Twelve Apostles?
The New Testament, a portion of which is admitted to have been written as late as the latter part of the first century and nearly all of which was really written in the second century, is silent regarding them. Christian martyrology records their fates as follows:
St. Peter was crucified, at his own request head downward, and buried in the Vatican at Rome.
St. Andrew, after having been scourged seven times upon his naked body, was crucified by the proconsul of Achaia.
St. James was beheaded by Herod Antipas in Palestine.
St. John was "thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil" by Domitian, but God "delivered him."
St. Philip was scourged and crucified or hanged by the magistrates of Hierapolis.
St. Bartholomew was put to death by a Roman governor in Armenia.
St. Matthew suffered martyrdom at Naddabar in Ethiopia.
St. Thomas was shot to death with arrows by the Brahmans in India.
St. James the Less was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple at Jerusalem and dispatched with a club where he fell.
St. Simon was "crucified and buried" in Britain.
St. Jude was "cruelly put to death" by the Magi of Persia.
St. Matthias, the successor of Judas Iscariot, if Christian tradition is to be credited, was put to death three times, crucified, stoned, and beheaded.
Nothing can be more incredible than these so called traditions regarding the martyrdom of the Twelve Apostles, the most of them occurring in an empire where all religious sects enjoyed as perfect religious freedom as the different sects do in America today. Whatever opinion may be entertained respecting the existence of Jesus, the Twelve Apostles belong to the realm of mythology, and their alleged martyrdoms are pure inventions. Had these men really existed Christian history at least would contain some reliable notice of them, yet all the stories relating to them, like the story of Peter at Rome, and John at Ephesus, are self-evident fictions. In the significant words of the eminent Dutch theologians, Dr. Kuenen, Dr. Oort and Dr. Hooykaas, "All the Apostles disappear without a trace."
What are Paul's teachings regarding woman and marriage?
"It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (1 Corinthians vii, 1).
"I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn" (8, 9).
"Art thou loose from a wife? seek not a wife" (27).
"He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and spirit; but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband" (32-34).
"So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth not in marriage doeth better" (38).
"This coarse and insulting way of regarding woman, as though they existed merely to be the safety-valves of men's passions, and that the best men were above the temptation of loving them, has been the source of unnumbered evils." -- Annie Besant.
"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands" (Colossians iii, 18).
"As the church is subject unto Christ so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (Ephesians v, 24).
"Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church" (I Corinthians xiv, 34, 35).
"Let women learn in silence with all subjection" (1 Timothy ii, 11).
"That she [woman] does not crouch today where St. Paul tried to bind her, she owes to the men who are grand and brave enough to ignore St. Paul, and rise superior to his God." -- Helen Gardener.
Did Paul encourage learning?
"The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Corinthians iii, 19).
"Knowledge puffeth up" (viii, 1).
"If any man be ignorant let him be ignorant" (xiv, 38).
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy" (Colossians ii, 8).
"The clergy, with a few honorable exceptions, have in all modern countries been the avowed enemies of the diffusion of knowledge, the danger of which to their own profession they, by a certain instinct, seem always to have perceived." -- Buckle.
"We know the clerical party; it is an old party. This it is which has found for the truth those two marvelous supporters, ignorance and error. This it is which forbids to science and genius the going beyond the Missal and which wishes to cloister thought in dogmas. Every step which the intelligence of Europe has taken has been in spite of it. Its history is written in the history of human progress, but it is written on the back of the leaf. It is opposed to it all. This it is which caused Prinelli to be scourged for having said that the stars would not fall. This it is which put Campanella seven times to torture for saying that the number of worlds was infinite and for having caught a glimpse of the secret of creation. This it is which persecuted Harvey for having proved the circulation of the blood. In the name of Jesus it shut up Galileo. In the name of St. Paul it imprisoned Christopher Columbus. To discover a law of the heavens was an impiety, to find a world was a heresy. This it is which anathematized Pascal in the name of religion, Montaigne in the name of morality, Moliere in the name of both morality and religion. There is not a poet, not an author, not a thinker, not a philosopher, that you accept. All that has been written, found, dreamed, deduced, inspired, imagined, invented by genius, the treasures of civilization, the venerable inheritance of generations, you reject." -- Victor Hugo.
"There is in every village a lighted torch, the schoolmaster, and a mouth to blow it out, the parson." -- ibid.
What admissions are made by Paul regarding his want of candor and honesty?
"Being crafty, I caught you with guile" (2 Corinthians xii, 16).
"Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews" (1 Corinthians ix, 20).
"I am made all things to all men" (22).
"For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?" (Romans iii, 7.)
"I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do your service" (2 Corinthians xi, 8).
What is said of the persecutions of Paul?
"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem" (Acts ix, 1, 2).
This was Paul the Jew.
"But there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.... If any man preach any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians i, 7, 9)
"I would they were even cut off which trouble you" (v, 12).
This was Paul the Christian. The leopard changed his name but did not change his spots.
The alleged cause of Paul's sudden conversion and the transference of his hatred from Christianity to Judaism may well be questioned. The story of the apparition will not account for it. A genuine change of belief is not usually effected suddenly. Men sometimes change their religion for gain or revenge. It has been charged that Paul twice changed his, the first time for the hope of gain, the second from a desire for revenge. The Ebionites, one of the earliest of the Christian sects, claimed that Paul was originally a Gentile, that becoming infatuated with the daughter of the high priest he became a convert to Judaism for the purpose of winning her for a wife, but being rejected, he renounced the Jewish faith and became a vehement opponent of the law, the Sabbath, and circumcision (Epiphanius Against Heresies, chapter xxx, sec. 16).
What was Christ's final command to his disciples?
"Love one another" (John xiii, 34).
Christian writers prate about brotherly love, and yet from the very beginning the church of Christ has been filled with dissensions. Christ himself quarreled with his apostles. Paul opposed the teachings of James (Galatians ii, 16-21); James condemned the teachings of Paul (ii, 20). Paul proclaimed himself the divinely appointed apostle to the Gentiles. "The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me" (Galatians ii, 7). Peter contended that the mission had been assigned to him "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel" (Acts xv, 7).
Paul declared Peter to be a dissembler. "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him face to face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him" (Galatians ii, 11-13).
John denounced Paul as a liar. "Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars" (Revelation ii, 2).
From these seeds of dissension death has reaped a bloody harvest. Dr. Talmage says: "A red line runs through church history for nearly nineteen hundred years -- a line of blood; not by hundreds, but millions we count the slain."
Lord Byron says, "I am no Platonist; I am nothing at all. But I would sooner be a Paulician, Manichean, Spinozist, Gentile, Pyrrhonian, Zoroastrian, than one of the seventy-two villainous sects who are tearing each other to pieces for the love of the Lord and hatred of each other."
Quote Paul's characterization of Christians.
"Not many wise ... not many noble are called" (1 Corinthians i, 26).
"Base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen" (28).
"We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things" (iv, 13).
"We are fools for Christ's sake" (10).
What did Christ say respecting the intellectual character of his converts?
"I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matthew xi, 25; Luke x, 21).
Commenting on this expression of thanks, Celsus, who lived at the time the Four Gospels made their appearance, says: "This is one of their [the Christians'] rules. Let no man that is learned, wise, or prudent come among us: but if they be unlearned, or a child, or an idiot, let him freely come. So they openly declare that none but the ignorant, and those devoid of understanding, slaves, women, and children, are fit disciples for the God they worship."
Concerning the Christian teachers of that age Celsus writes as follows: "You may see weavers, tailors, fullers, and the most illiterate of rustic fellows, who dare not speak a word before wise men, when they can get a company of children and silly women together, set up to teach strange paradoxes among them."
Whom did Christ declare to be among the first to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
Harlots and thieves.
"The harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you" (Matthew xxi, 43).
"Today shalt thou [the thief] be with me in paradise" (Luke xxiii, 43).
What promise did he make to his followers?
"In my Father's house are many mansions.... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself" (John xiv, 2, 3).
"Christians believe themselves to be the aristocracy of heaven upon earth, they are admitted to the spiritual court, while millions of men in foreign lands have never been presented. They bow their knees and say they are 'miserable sinners,' and their hearts rankle with abominable pride. Poor infatuated fools! Their servility is real and their insolence is real but their king is a phantom and their palace is a dream." -- Winwood Reade.
The Christ is a myth. The Holy Ghost Priestcraft overshadowed the harlot Superstition; this Christ was born; and the Joseph of humanity, beguiled by the Gabriel of credulity, was induced to support the family. But the soldiers of Reason have crucified the illegitimate impostor, he is dead; and the ignorant disciples and hysterical women who still linger about the cross should take his body down and bury it.