Were the Gnostics the Original Christians : Part Two Sin
The doctrine of sin is so irrational when considered as a philosophy, riven with internal contradictions, that it must have been that case that such an unworthy doctrine was ever accepted in the first place is a testament to just how difficult it was to obscure the political meaning of the cross symbol, and just how desperate was the attempt to obscure this meaning, in that a philosophy so irrational and inconsistent was the final resort, apparently nothing better ever having come along that would do the job.|
The irrationality of the doctrine of sinAll religion is merely politics concealed. The cross symbol, like all religious symbols, incorporated a political message (we can summarize this message as 'Caesar crucifies slaves, but God raises his victims from the dead.'). Any religion which emerged one would expect to preach an egalitarian message whose principle purpose was the abolishment of inequality, resistance to state sponsored terrorism in the service of elitism, and the establishment of what today we might call 'human rights.' A good argument can be made that the Gnostic philosophy of ignorance and enlightenment remained true to the spirit of the cross symbol while the doctrine of 'sin and redemption' was counter-revolutionary in that its purpose was to redefine the meaning of the cross symbol, draining it of its political significance, in the end turning it into a weapon to be used against the sinful flesh of sinful slaves who born defective due to original sin. The target then changed, and the focus was placed on 'saving individual sinners, one sinner at a time' rather than challenging the injustice of society, which was ignored, and even supported by this new doctrine.
The doctrine of sin is so irrational when considered as a philosophy, riven with internal contradictions, that it must have been that case that such an unworthy doctrine was ever accepted in the first place is a testament to just how difficult it was to obscure the political meaning of the cross symbol, and just how desperate was the attempt to obscure this meaning, in that a philosophy so irrational and inconsistent was the final resort, apparently nothing better ever having come along that would do the job.
It is convenient for us that a document was produced that, it was claimed, contained within its pages the penultimate expression of the philosophy of 'original sin', a book known as Paul's Letter to the Romans. The document is often referred to as 'Paul's masterpiece' and if this book was as good as it was going to get, then truly there is not much to be said in favor of the doctrine of original sin. Should there be another document, another 'masterpiece' that actually explains the doctrine of sin in such a way as to make any sense then perhaps there may yet be a future for this particular half baked philosophy, but given how this book of Romans is supposed to be 'the masterpiece' and the penultimate description of that 'philosophy' there seems to be little chance that such an obsolete doctrine will ever be able to enjoy a revival.
According to Paul, every human being on earth is born in sin, having inherited 'original sin' from some supposed ancestor named Adam. You see, Adam sinned and thus got both himself and any descendants he might have damned as well. Such a conception of 'justice' would be considered valid nowhere except one must expect in heaven.
It is worth noting here, before exploring the compounding problems we will encounter in this document, that the whole argument falls apart on first glance, if we reject the existence of this Adam fellow. For if humanity did not have just one ancestor (Adam) then it would be the case that not everyone had sin, but just some people, those who had this Adam as an ancestor. Therefore, it is required that some Christians fight doggedly to refute science, insist that the world is six thousand years old, and introduce something then called 'Creation Science' into the schools, all to hold together the doctrine of sin, since it will fall apart without Adam. And when Adam falls and the doctrine of 'hereditary sin' fails, then the entire superstructure of centuries of Christian doctrine will also collapse into a ruinous heap of rubble, having been based upon this erroneous 'fact' since being formalized in the third and the fourth centuries. (And that explains why they are always so busy pestering school boards and text book publishers, because this battle is really for all or for nothing for the proponents of the sin doctrine...this really is their Waterloo, it really is Custer's Last Stand).
Now we can know that everyone came from this one guy, Adam, because we can follow the genealogies in the Bible, finding out who was related to who, working our way all the way back to Adam in just this fashion. Or can we? This argument for the six thousand year old universe might have some internal consistency if it was a fact that the Bible had some consistency on this point, but it doesn't. Strangely enough the fact that the Bible is riven with contradictory histories does not stop people from just picking up one strand and following that one back to Adam and ignoring all the big problems you encounter should you decide to follow a different history. Just the fact that there is a different history is problematic enough, but the fact that the different history also gives a different time line introduces even more problems, in that it could be the case that the universe is actually 5,200 years old, not 6,000 years old, which would mean that Biblical Creation Text Books would have to be recalled, and reprinted with the corrected information. How people decided to go with 6,000 years, and just ignore the alternate time lines is a mystery to me, but let's just say that it happened. (For a look at the problems here, visit the page Co ntradictions in the time line of the Bible where I discuss the problems and then summarize it all in the form of a chart, which I am sure will leave everyone scratching their heads. But then that is the point...Let's just say that the only way you can use the Bible to trace your way back to some guy named Adam is to just pick a route and then stick with it and not tell anyone that there is in fact another road you can take to get to the same place, which is either shorter or longer than 6,000 years, depending on which alternate route you take.
Now it has been said that Paul was a great scholar of the Bible, and a real expert at explaining it all, but this I have never been able to see myself, since apparently he, like the religious people who have taken up his cause, just ignored those problems with actually tracing a line back to Adam. I am not a great scholar, and I didn't have to much trouble finding all the different ways to go back to Adam, and I have also found all the other contradictions and problems in the Bible. Back in those days Greek critics found them as well (I mean its not like you need to be 'modern' to use your ability to think) and for that reason Paul is completely without excuse.
It must have been the case that this Paul was some kind of fundamentalist who quoted from the Bible as though its mythology was literal truth and since his entire argument is based upon the supposed historicity of what he regards as certain key events in Biblical mythology, his entire argument is invalid. It is enough to establish that his argument collapses because the history he relies upon is not historical, and his entire philosophy depends upon these events actually happening in the real world (there is no point in trying to mythologize Paul, since if there was no Adam, there was no sinful sperm, the flesh therefore is not the vehicle for inherited sin, and his doctrine is invalid and pointless, based on a fantasy, and none of this is real).. It is for the reason that Paul's doctrine is actually an unhistorical fantasy based upon nothing real that the resulting philosophy is riddled through with as many holes as a piece of Swiss cheese. It is both irrational and internally inconsistent. Intractable problems come to light when we start where he begins and examine the theology of sinful flesh he attempts to construct, using Bible verses as what must assume are supposed to be conclusive proof texts that establish that his strange ideas are the singular truth.
Paul's imaginative interpretations of Bible verses are not the issue here, and there is no need for one of those quarrels regarding who is and who is not interpreting the Bible verse the right way. Paul could be proof texting using a cookbook, and his philosophy would be just as irrational and inconsistent as it is when he quotes Biblical mythology.
Paul tells us that some guy named Adam sinned and thus he got both himself and everyone else damned. Now those familiar with Jewish Law in the Bible will recall that it is a principle of the law which states that 'the son shall not be punished for the sins of his father.' It has been said that Paul was a great Bible scholar, but I have my doubts. It is the requirement of Paul's argument that the son be damned to hell along with all his sons and his the sons of those sons and so on, and so they are damned. Since everyone had been transformed into a sinner because Adam sinned, it then became necessary for God to send Moses to bring down the Law of God. The purpose of the law, Paul tells us, 'was to increase law breaking'. The idea seems to be that God would send the law to sinners, who, being sinners, would break the law, thus increasing law breaking. God knew this would happen, but it was done anyway to 'increase Grace all the more.'
Sin Paul tells us is found in the flesh. It is inherited through sinful flesh. Somehow, we are not told exactly how this happened, but by one act of 'disobedience' and 'one man's sin' the flesh became totally sinful and corrupted, so much so that Paul could say 'I know that there is nothing good that dwells in my flesh.' It also followed that sex was a very bad thing, and it would be better for everyone to remain celibate virgins and so avoid the spread of more sin.
The only solution to this problem was for God to send a divine being who had never sinned, and then punish and kill that divine being through a judicial action. This resulted in 'act of redemption' which Paul never really explains, but Christians have imaginatively filled in the blanks by explaining that God is holy, and cannot tolerate sin, therefore God must damn everyone to hell for sin, since justice demands that sin be punished. Only by punishing someone innocent, who had never sinned, could the requirements of the law be satisfied. So then if John commits murder, but Harry is given the electric chair, we could argue then that the requirements of justice were satisfied, in that someone got punished. The fact that Harry was innocent of the sin could then become the basis of having 'Harry die for John's sins', since if Harry had sinned he would dying for his own sins, instead of dying for the sins of John. So then we must accept the fact that God cannot simply forgive someone, but that God is vengeful, and thus someone had to punished.
This explains the crucifixion. The fact that Caesar crucified an innocent person is irrelevant, and therefore there is no need to do an analysis of state terrorism, of the corruption of justice and the oppression of Roman society, since really we can even forget that Caesar was committing political murder since the important thing is this supposed divine drama of salvation from sin that was playing out and that takes center stage. Caesar was actually doing God a favor, and besides what happened was not Caesar's doing, since Caesar was only the unwitting Pawn of God, and besides it was the sinful mob, especially the Jews who killed Jesus, and really Caesar wanted to let him go but the mob wouldn't let him, or so we are told. In any case, at the end of it all, we need not concern ourselves with any 'political interpretation' of the meaning of what under ordinary circumstances would be recognizable as a political murder and an act of state sponsored terrorism, since what was actually happening was a divine drama, and a key moment in the story of the salvation of humanity from the sin of some guy named Adam. Christians like to emphasize that Caesar had nothing to do with this death (as they have been trained to think) and that in fact Jesus went willingly to the calvary's sacred cross. It wasn't like he dragged away by force but rather he volunteered in full awareness of his part in the cosmic story line of salvation as he willingly and lovingly paid the price for the sin of some guy named Adam, and everyone else who inherited Adam's sinful flesh through the corrupted DNA code which somehow became coded for sinful flesh after Adam 'disobeyed a direct order' in Paul's words. Just how that was supposed to work is never explained, nor could such a thing ever be explained, but that is not important. What is important is that someone came up with a way of white washing Caesar's role in the crucifixion, which was then a way to co-opt and eventually corrupt the Christian movement.
Now why would Paul come up with such a weird sounding explanation as the meaning of what happened on the day of the crucifixion? At the end of Roman's Paul delivers a peon to the power of Caesar, and just like Adam's sin was disobeying a direct order, so the sin of the church would be to disobey a direct order from Caesar. In the end the church elite wound up sharing Caesar's throne, and the fact that the book of Roman's reaches its climax in the form of a praise of Caesar and his political murders (for Caesar kills people with his sword on God's command, Paul explains) is not a coincidence. All religion is merely politics concealed, and all theology is merely political propaganda dressed up in the language of myth and legend. Paul's theology centers around the notion of 'disobeying a direct order' (the famous 'original sin') and concludes with a demand that everyone obey a direct order from Caesar, with Paul reminding everyone that anyone who disobeys Caesar will get whacked by Caesar's sword because that is what God told Caesar to do. Or they could get crucified. Paul doesn't actually mention Caesar's hammer and nails, only the sword of Caesar, since to mention that hammer and nails, and then tell people that Caesar nailed people up on God's orders because they bloody well deserved it, well that would undermine his previous argument. Of course there is very little difference between chopping someone with a sword and nailing them up, but this fact seems to escape Paul's notice, so loyal is he to Caesar, and he has such respect and admiration for Caesar's sword, and one can only assume that he also admires Caesar's cross just as much (since there is no difference, other than that you would probably die a little quicker on the receiving end of Caesar's sword).
Here we find the first contradiction in Paul's theology. There is a gross inconsistency, a conflict between Paul's doctrine of obeying the authorities, in particular Caesar, and his pro-death penalty position, which is the climax of his theology (his concealed politics finally becoming visible) and the insolent revolutionary political message of the crucifixion symbol, which is clearly apparent, if we throw out Paul's theology of inherited sin and redemption. That his theology hides the political significance of the cross symbol, and that he is also a big admirer of both the death penalty and Caesar, suggests that the fact that his theology hides the cross was not an accident but rather is intentional (even if it was the case that Paul unconsciously set about to destroy Christianity and its revolutionary doctrine which I think could be the case, given his peculiar blindness to the obvious and the weirdness of his thinking...he probably rationalized his actions by convincing himself that he was interpreting a great divine cosmic mystery which then allowed him to actually destroy the Christian movement and support Caesar and the Roman aristocracy instead).
Now Paul is an authoritarian. Therefore his God and his sinless Christ God figure, must become proxies for authoritarian rulers, in particular Caesar and the Roman rulers, since it was Caesar Paul admired the most. All theology is merely politics concealed, although it is interesting that Paul's politics are explicitly revealed at the very climax of the book of Romans. This is useful, for it means that one can reveal Paul's politics (very right wing and authoritarian) and then helpfully one can quote Paul to confirm that this analysis of that piece of political propaganda known as the book of Romans was in fact correct. Once we understand Paul's masterpiece (as theology it is worthless, but as political propaganda it was a masterpiece after all, since for thousands of years it has successfully hidden the cross) we can then understand those other works of political propaganda known as 'the letters of Paul', and find that they too are authoritarian and pro- Caesar, and pro-Roman, which is no surprise, since it is all made pretty clear in that masterpiece of his known as the book of Romans.
Since Paul is right wing authoritarian, his sinless God figure is also the same. Now one cannot write a political apologetic for the right wing authoritarian system if it could be possible to question authority. This would be counter intuitive, so naturally the authority must be unquestionable, and the duty of the individual therefore is to obey authority. After all it was one man's act of disobeying a direct order that got everyone damned to hell in the first place so it follows that after the sinless divine being accepted the judicial punishment in the unfolding divine drama of salvation the Christian life should from that point on should become one of obedience to the unquestioned authority. The Christ authority figure, before whom all knees must bow and confess his Lordship, then becomes the proxy for Caesar and the state authorities, as Paul helpfully spells out for us in the final summary conclusion to this piece of political propaganda.
Not everyone is created equal. Some people are worth more than others. For example it goes without saying that sinless god beings are worth more than others, and thus deserve our slavish obedience. I use the term 'slavish obedience' because Paul describes the life of the believer by describing them as slaves to this Jesus figure, since this means that people will become slaves of righteousness, this being achieved when they blindly follow the orders of Jesus, instead of acting disobedient as Adam did and thus got himself damned. Similarly it follows that those who do not surrender to the Lordship of Jesus are also damned, just as Adam was damned for being disobedient, and as Christians will so often remind people, this act of disobedience is still the highway to hell, so it is important to note here that nothing has fundamentally change in that regard, as people are still being damned straight to hell for disobedience to Jesus just as Adam was damned and all his descendants were damned for disobeying Jesus before Jesus ever came (as Paul tells us in one of those letters of his, that was Jesus in the burning bush before Moses, and Jesus also appeared in the cloud over the Red Sea and so on, so even back then, as John Calvin pointed out, people went to hell for not accepting Jesus even before there was a Jesus. Such an argument proves to be necessary if we are to deal with that tricky problem of how people got saved before the crucifixion, one of the problems we encounter with Paul's doctrine of salvation, but which can be solved if we make that Jesus into a cosmic Christ and then start interpreting a bunch of bible verses to actually be about Jesus, in disguise as it were, but still, people didn't have any excuse for not getting saved even back in those days. This then leads to that Christian doctrine you sometimes hear which states that there are over 6,000 verses about Jesus in the Old Testament alone, when actually, there isn't, since those stories were about something else, and are only about Jesus now so that such people as Paul and John Calvin could damn people to hell for not accepting Jesus before Jesus was born. Difficult problem with our theology solved...)
Unquestionable authority figures are perfect by definition, and thus Paul's cosmic Christ was 'without sin.' He was also, we can assume without fault, and perfect in just about every way in which a being could be perfect...just flawless then and completely without any defect. It then follows that such a being would also have perfect knowledge, and thus it must be the case that such a creature would understand full well what was going to happen, before it ever took place. If such a being was all powerful, and thus an unchallenged authority, then we say that this being was omnipotent. If such a being was all knowing, and this entails knowing even the future as well as everything else that goes on now, then we say that such a being is omniscient. If there was something beyond the understanding of this being, such as the future for example, then such a being would not by definition be omniscient, since there was something this being did not know, thus this being was not by definition all knowing.
So then to summarize what we are told in the book of Romans, we are told that this being is both 'without sin', therefore perfect in holiness, goodness and justice, and also omnipotent and omniscient. A perfect authority figure, and thus a perfect proxy for the authoritarian political system which Paul supports and for which he is writing the book of Romans.
It then logically follows that the source of original sin and all the evil the resulted was this cosmic Christ, :Paul's god like being. If evil existed and caught this being by surprise then it was the case that there was something that could come into existence apart from the power of this divine christ, and thus this being was not omnipotent. Furthermore if this being was sinless, and as Paul states, 'he knew no evil', it must have been the case that he was not all knowing, since evil must have been something he did not know, and indeed Paul tells us he 'knew no evil'. Therefore it was possible to surprise him, and therefore he could not have been all knowing, and indeed Paul tells us that he knew no evil. But Paul also tells us that he knew everything since before the world even began. Which means that he must have known evil, and that he was in fact the real source of original sin, since no created creature can create anything. Furthermore, no created creature can choose sin unless sin had already been invented and was therefore available as an option. The original sinner and the creator of all evil was therefore God, and also Jesus, who was sinful and knew evil, since Jesus lived forever with God we are told, since he was a timeless god being himself, and thus must have thoughts of evil since before the world began.
This is a little game I am playing here. I call it having fun with the book of Romans. Its actually pretty easy to play this game since the document is one of the poorest examples of a supposed philosophy I have ever read, and there is no way anyone would declare such a book to be a masterpiece which is as inconsistent and contradictory as that attempted political assassination of revolutionary Christianity if it were not for the fact that this book of Romans was canonized and thus put into the Bible, which thus required it to be praised to high heaven for thousands of years as a matter of unthinking habit.
Paul is not unaware of the conflict that exists between his doctrine of infallibility and his doctrine of sin. For God cannot be both omnipotent and omniscient while at the same time being good, just, holy, and thus 'without sin' and 'knowing no evil.' And if the Christ god figure 'knew evil' and in fact was the one who first thought of sin, thus making it available to Adam as an option, then Paul's doctrine of redemption through the sacrificial judicial death of the supposedly 'sinless Christ' falls to pieces since there was no sinless Christ to sacrifice.
Paul deals with the contradiction in the classic style of the right wing authoritarian. He comes down hard on the side of omnipotence and omniscience, and as for justice and goodness, well he just ignores those and if anyone tries to give him a problem by pointing out to him that therefore his doctrine of the sacrifice of a sinless god must be invalid, well he bullies them, tells them to shut their mouths, demands that they obey the authority figure, pulls rhetorical stunts and just basically flips people off, just as flippantly treats justice and righteousness, since really his concern is with authority, just as is the case with all right wing authoritarians, and he really is not concerned with justice. Sometimes an authority has to do bad things but that is alright because they are the authority. For example the state can commit acts of terrorism and violence, and its alright, but it would wrong if someone did it without the proper authorization. In fact, it would be a crime. (This reminds me of the right wing support given to Washington, back in the days when Washington was giving lots of money and training to Al Queda and Bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghantistan so that they could learn to practice terrorism and guerilla war fare against the Russians. Now before someone starts bitching, I realize that Bin Laden didn't come up with the name 'Al Queda' for that organization of his until the 90s, so technically speaking the United States government was funding Bin laden and the Taliban and those fellows who later would, after they picked a name for their group, be called Al Queda, although agreed, they didn't pick out the name 'al Queda' at that time (thus allowing us to send that down the memory hole, and forget that it was Washington that created, trained and financed Al Queda and the Taliban...but it was okay that time, and had the strong support of the right wing authoritarians because it was all being done by the proper authorities...the justice issues, and questions about whether or not Washington had any busy setting up terrorist organizations, were shoved aside, just the way Paul shoved them aside in the book of Romans, since right wing authoritarians don't care about justice issues, they only care about authoritarianism, our government right or wrong being one of their slogans, and so of course they support Washington, now that Washington is having a big fight with Al Queda, not to mention a fight with Saddam who they also funded and supported in the past. At the time Ronald Reagan praised the Taliban and Al Queda and compared them to George Washington and the founding fathers of America, comparing their activities to those of the American Revolution, and even declared an official Afghanistan day by presidential decree, a day when all Americans were to admire the courage of the Taliban, Bin Laden and Al Queda - sorry that I forgot this year but next year I plan to deck the halls..and yes I know that bin Laden didn't come up with the name Al Queda for him and his boys until the 90s but as Shakespeare so rightly pointed out a rose by any other name is still a rose, and the same principle applies to Bin Laden and Al Queda in Afghanistan, and certainly if they changed their name tomorrow to Al Taco it wouldn't make a hell of a lot of difference now would it....Now today Al Queda is naughty, because the authorities say they are naughty, but the authorities are not naughty, and you don't hear anything at all about how Washington actually was pals with bin Laden, the Taliban, al Queda and Saddam although we are told that a commission supposedly just finished investigating Washington, and the funny thing is that they missed that part about how Washington was working for years with Al Queda back in those days when bin Laden and his buddies were getting armed to the teeth and fed billions of dollars to terrorize Russians in Afghanistan...down the memory hole...you know I think that 9-11 commission needs another extension, and instead of trying to start something with Iran, they might want to dig a little deeper into that history of Al Queda thing and trace it right back to where it started, which not be Iran, but rather it started in Washington, during the Carter and Reagan administrations (which helpfully means that they can be bipartisan once again in their criticisms, just like they were last week)...but I digress...)
Now where was I...oh yes, I was going on about how Paul never gave a damn about justice but rather every time a hole was exposed in his philosophy he came down squarely on the side of the authorities, typical behavior for a true right wing authoritarian, which was what Paul was...
It just logically follows that a perfect authority who was all powerful and all knowing was also completely in control of all evil, and in fact also created all the evil people of the world. If this was not true then the authority was not in control.
Romans 9:11 Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose might stand firm, which is a matter of God's choice,, depending not on human deeds but on the calling of God) she was told, "The elder shall serve the younger." As it is written, "I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau."
According to Paul's weird interpretation of the Bible, it was Esau who was evil, and thus hated, although if you read the books you find that it was Jacob who was the real skunk, but never mind. Jacob was chosen, and that is all that matters. You will also noted that God decided to hate Esau for being evil, before Esau was born, and before Esau had gotten around to doing evil (even though it was Jacob who did all the evil things, but never mind). The reason for this is that if Esau decided to do evil outside of the 'will of God' then the absolute authority of God has been challenged and this is a doctrine Paul cannot accept.
It turns out that those who 'get saved' only get saved because that was decided before they were born. Therefore we know that nothing ever happened that caught God by surprise, and God remains all knowing and all powerful.
Romans 8:28 Everything turns out for the good for those whom God has called according to God's purpose. For those whom God knew before ever they were born, he also ordained to share in the likeness of his son ... and those whom he foreordained, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Everything is going according to plan, as you would expect. However this seems unfair to those whom God decided to hate and damn before they were ever born. But never mind, for God is authority and that means that God can do anything he damn well pleases. God makes some people good because he chooses to make them good, and he also makes some people evil because that was his divine will.
Romans 9:14 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So it depends not on human will or human effort, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.
Some Christians like to then bring up the doctrine of 'free will' and attempt to suggest that somehow people have a choice in their salvation but this a red herring, and it also not what Paul was saying here. For example how could Adam, through his own 'free will' have chosen evil and sin if God, the original sinner, had not already invented evil, making the choice available. It is suggested that Pharoah had already decided of his own 'free will' to be evil, and thus God just hardened his heart even more, but this is not what Paul is saying here. What Paul is saying is that before Pharoah was ever born, and thus before he ever had a chance to do evil, God took away Pharoah's free will. It was the divine will of God that Pharoah should rise to power, and that was already decided before hand, in order that God could make a demonstration of power by thrashing Pharoah. If it was Pharoah who decided to 'rise to power' and hurl evil into the face of God as his own 'free will' choice, then it must be true that God is not all powerful and if God did not know that this would happen, then it must be the case that God is not all knowing. However if it was God who decided that Pharaoh would be evil before Pharaoh was ever born, then the authority of God is unchallenged, but God then becomes cruel and an unjust persecutor of helpless creatures. Paul prefers the former.
In the following passage Paul explicitly states that God created evil people on purpose as part of some divine performance in a cosmic drama, and that evil people were created by God for the purpose of destroying them as a 'demonstration of justice' as he describes this drama in the opening chapters of his book. Thus all the world's a stage and God is giving a performance to show people what justice would be like if such a thing as evil existed and is starring as the angry, outraged God who destroys them, all of this being part of the demonstration of what that would be like if it ever actually happened. Of course it is not really happening, and its not really justice either, because God is just being malignant and cruelly manipulative, but if it did happen for real, well then that would be what it would look like.
Romans 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath that are created for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory? including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
Now you might want to complain that God is being cruel and manipulative, and you might also want to point out that this is nothing but an empty performance, and given how God, who is an absolute authority and knows everything, even the future, there is no justice in creating people evil on purpose and then burning them in hell forever as part of some performance. This is not justice for who can resist the power of God. It is simply cruel, and thus makes the point of the preformance (to 'demonstrate justice) completely pointless. Paul's response to such obvious criticism of his weird ideas is to become a bully, demand that his critics shut their mouth, for they have no right to question the divine order or to talk back to the authorities. This is hardly an answer from philosophy but is merely some dogmatic rant. God is complete control of everything, a perfect authority figure, and thus has every right to create both good and evil people and then to do whatever God damn well wants with them after that...
Romans 9: 19 You will say to me then, "Why then does God still find fault? For who can resist God's will?" But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use?
You will notice here that Paul equates disputing with Paul over his inconsistent doctrine to be equivalent to 'talking back to God.' He is rather full of himself.
Paul also resorts to rhetorical stunts, in the following example answering a question by simply repeating the question, which hardly qualifies as an answer.
Romans 3:5 Is i t unjust of God to bring damnation upon us? Certainly not for if God were unjust how could God judge the world?
Now Paul's doctrine is unjust, since he insists that God first creates evil people and then damns them for being evil, when the one actually responsible for the evil is God, making the damnation unjust. So then if we were to ask Paul how God can be so unjust and then have the gall to 'judge the world' Paul's answer is that God cannot be unjust because God is judging the world, but that was the question. Apparently he just didn't want to answer that question and so he came up with something as useless as that non answer of his.
The central problem with the book of Romans is the conflict which exists between the doctrine of infallibility and the doctrine of the 'sinless god who knew no evil' who then died a sacrificial death 'for our sins.' As Paul's doctrine admits, no such sinless god existed. The doctrine therefore serves only to hide the political symbolism of the Christian cross, by forcing onto the discredited animal sacrificing dogma of the earlier scriptures.
"Thus says YAHWEH of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh yourselves. For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Jeremiah 7:21)
"Hiow can you say, 'We are wise, for we have the Torah', when actually, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie." (Jeremiah 8:8)
It is revealing that Paul should dredge up the animal sacrificing doctrine of the Jewish Scriptures, when it was well known that this doctrine was damned repeatedly as being fraudulent by the Jewish prophets. Indeed many Christians understand the connection between Paul's dogma of 'the sacrifice of Jesus for sin' and the doctrine of sacrificing animals for sin, since the two are the same, and thus such Christians, much like Paul, just hypocritically ignore what the Bible says and insist that the animal sacrifice stories are some of those 6,000 bible verses that supposedly talk about Jesus. They feel justified in doing this, since the great authority Paul ignored the prophets, and so they can as well, while at the same time referring to the Bible as God's infallible word, which it cannot be, as the above demonstrates so clearly, and in doing this they emulate Paul, since that was the type of person he was as well.
The doctrine of damnation, which is also so important to classic Christianity also proves to be ridiculous. Any being which is said to be both omnipotent and omniscient (thus the perfect proxy for the authoritarian state) must therefore be completely responsible (and this is exactly the argument Paul makes). It must be the case that it is God who should be judged for being sinful and evil. Certainly it was God who was the 'original sinner' and not some guy named Adam. God 'fell from grace' long before Adam ever existed, and there is not one evil thing, no matter how filthy and foul, that was not swimming around in the mind of God, as part of that 'plan of creation' long before it ever really existed, and God then preceded to create every filthy and disgusting thing you could ever imagine, no matter how foul, and who knows if things ever dirtier and fouler are yet stewing away in the imagination of Paul's God, things so evil that no human has ever yet imagined them. Just as it would be hypocritical to judge and damn an ant eater for eating ants so it would be the height of hypocrisy to damn 'sinners' for 'sinning' and as Paul knew himself, the practice is even more odious when you force people to be sinners and then damn them, in order to draw attention to yourself as some kind of superstar in some cosmic dramatic performance. To treat human beings like stage props is pretty shabby, and thus in the end Paul winds up preaching a shabby little God, while a chorus of angels sings hallelujah and his sorry book is praised to high heaven as being a masterpiece.
Paul's love affair with Rome and all things Romans continues in his other letters. We know from frescoes that it was patriarchal Roman custom to veil women, to keep them silent in the temple. Roman women were subject to their husbands, and Roman society was sexually prudish and prim long before such things ever became associated with Christianity. Thus we find Paul bullying women into wearing the veil, telling them to shut up, talk to no one but their husbands doing that at home, to cook and clean house. He forbids them to appear without their head coverings, banishes them from the professions, will not allow them to teach, and certainly wouldn't allow them to be schooled, and he preaches the same prudish attitudes about sex that characterized the weirdness of Roman society (which was extremely cruel and violent, and yet was sexually prudish and easily shocked by what they considered disgraceful sexual conduct...go figure). Paul was such an extreme right winger, so rabid in his backwardness, that the remarkable truth is that he is to far to the right for even the fundamentalists and the religious right, who allow their women not to keep covered up under veils, allow them to teach, to have jobs, to talk to men other than their husbands, to speak and yes even to teach in churches, with the only place on earth that I can think of that has still been backwards enough to create the type of society preferred by that apostle Paul was Afghanistan under Osama bin Laden and the Taliban (a society so extremely fundamentalist that it was modeled Paul's teachings, which are about as fundamentalist as you can get, and about as far to the extreme right as you can go, for it is from Paul that Muslims got all that behavior in the first place, since they regarded Paul's letters as among the writings of the prophets). So those wondering what the political implications of Paul's doctrines would be and how they would be expressed if anyone actually had the stomach to tolerate them any more you need look no farther than Osama bin Laden, his biggest supporter today, out doing even the religious right in America, and Afghanistan under the Taliban.
And all this happened because Paul had such a love affair with Caesar, and with the status quo, and thus with all things Roman, since the source of these things was not Paul, but rather the surrounding Roman culture. It is a common mistake, often repeated even by historians, which teaches that Rome became Christian, when under the influence of Paul, what actually happened is that Christianity became Roman.
Paul might seem today like some harmless crank, infatuated with Caesar and slavishly subservient to authorities, if it were not for the fact a desperate Roman Empire required some doctrine to use to co-opt and subvert the Christian movement, and helpfully Paul had already made his services available for that very purpose, and just as he forced women under the veil in the service of Rome, he forced the cross under the veil for the very same reason.
In the process he created a Christ figure that epitomizes the classic Mediterranean despot, a cruel domineering tyrant who demands slavish obedience, and who is swift to impose the death penalty or to inflict torture on those who resist or dissent. Christians will often insist that the most important question you will ever answer is 'Who is Jesus.' The correct answer, although not the one they were looking for, is that Jesus is Caesar, since this theological construct was created to justify the actions of Caesar who Paul insisted was behaving like that under the direct orders of God, and who would have approved of the Taliban, because they were doing the same thing for the same reason.
In the end the political purpose of this obfustication, this recycling of that discredited animal sacrifice doctrine as the supposed explanation for the meaning of the execution of Jesus, is spelled out explicitly by Paul himself when he ranted, "Slaves, obey your masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched." Here we see the Caesar Christ, as proxy for the slave drivers of Rome, instilling fear and obedience into formerly insolent and rebellious slaves. Once again theology is exposed as just a form of political propaganda, the religion of Paul being clearly revealed for what it was, a weapon forged against the rising slave revolution in ancient Rome, and those who benefitted from his Romanization of Christianity were not the slaves, but rather the masters, the elite powers of Rome in whose service the doctrine of sin was created to veil the cross which was the revolutionary symbol of the slave, and it the interests of Caesar and the elites that this doctrine was clearly designed to serve.
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