General Question

jlm11f's avatar

What are some of the more controversial and perhaps illogical sayings from the New Testament?

Asked by jlm11f (12335 points ) October 31st, 2009 from IM

I was having a discussion with a friend about religion (rarely a good idea) and when I mentioned some of the stranger notions from the bible such as stoning misbehaving children etc, he reminded me that these are all from the Old Testament. I’ve been trying to research if the New Testament has something similar and the best way to do that would be to read it myself. But since I don’t have the time for that at this moment, I thought I’d throw the Q out to you guys. Also, does the New Testament prohibit marriage between homosexuals? Or something to that effect? If so, could you provide me with the concerning quote?

Also, this is purely an intellectual discussion to try to think of possible flaws in the new testament manuscript. There don’t HAVE to be flaws or illogical sayings. We are just wondering if there are any. Please please please don’t turn this into a hate/religion discussion. The point of this is to see how fair it is to closely follow the new testament based on its consistency/logic.

Oh and I am aware that similar Qs have been asked in the past but I was unable to find any answers discussing the new testament. If you know that there are some like that, please don’t hesitate to link me! Thanks

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43 Answers

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

Jesus spoke of hating ones parents and family, and to abandon them in order to follow him. In fact, one man wanted to go bury his dead family,and Jesus ridiculed him for it.

As a counterpoint to your friend, Jesus said he did not come to usurp the OT, but to uphold every law of that older book. So when the religious say the OT does not apply, they should remember that Jesus said that it does.

jlm11f's avatar

To answer part of my own Q, I did some more googling and have the answer to the part of my Q asking about marriage between homosexuals. Apparently, the new testament does condemn it according to this:

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Romans 1

source

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

for some real fun, read Thomas Aquinas’ writings, that boy was uptight about everything, including having sex with your spouse to produce offspring.

oratio's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra =) The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.

Fyrius's avatar

I apologise in advance if this triggers a pro-/anti-bible shit storm. I still think this is a just and helpful answer to the question.

As for illogical things, there was one guy who was executed and came back to life three days later. Weird stuff. :/
The guy also lamented on the cross why god had forsaken him (Matthew 27:46), but everyone says he had meant to get nailed to the thing all along and his whole life was one big suicide mission. Because almighty Jehovah could not forgive the people of the world for not being created perfect unless they killed his son first. Mysterious ways indeed.
And there was water that changed into wine, blind and lame people who were healed, dead people rising from their graves (but not eating people’s brains), and the aforementioned fellow walking on water.
People always focus on the minor scientific inaccuracies and contradictions and just gloss over the glaringly obvious ones. Apparently rabbits being said to chew cud is more unscientific than blatant magic.

Outside the miracle department, it was said Jesus’ second coming would occur within the current generation (Matthew 24:29–34, 16:27–28). And it was said Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8). Even the ones on the other side of the GLOBE.

And that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Fortunately, the internet knows everything.

fundevogel's avatar

@Fyrius Mysterious ways indeed.

lol. If I worked in sorts of mysterious ways God did I be trying not to drop the soap until I could get back in my orange jumper.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

1 Corinthians 6:9 says homosexuals will not be in heaven.

I think the biggest problem with the New Testament (and the old, I don’t really see a separation here) is that it promotes the ridiculous notion that there is a God who:
1. Imposes a law that is part of his own character (extreme narcissism and intolerance).
2. Punishes people for breaking this law (cannot allow dissent).
3. Places himself as a substitute, but only for those who will subsequently align themselves with him (reminds me of parents who say “I’m not forcing you to make x decision, but if you choose the wrong thing I may have to overrule you.”)
4. Expects us to see that as love.

The reasonable approach, in my opinion, would be to allow differences of opinion but only help those that agree.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh the OT also says that those people that are mutilated in the genitals won’t get to heaven either. I suppose Ernie Hemingway must be in the other place, eh?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra sorry, I had to look up who he was. What do you mean?

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

Earnest Hemingway received a wounding in his privates during his stint in the war. He used that little fact about himself as fodder for several of the characters in many of his books, including The Sun Also Rises.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra Ahh wow. Not sure if that’s better or worse than PTSD…. or death.

Harp's avatar

St. Paul had some views about the position of women in the church that have been a source of much controversy even within the church.

1 Timothy 2:11–15 (American Standard Version):

11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.

12 But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.

13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve;

14 and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression:

15 but she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.

And 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 (American Standard Version):

34 let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law.

35 And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Harp
Ahh to be so blessed. Why can’t I meet these women?
But we all know that Satan created The View..

hearthetruth's avatar

I have no idea how I wound up this website, but here I am. I will testify to the miracle that Jesus is the son of God and came in the flesh and purshased the price of our sins so that we may be free of sin as He that gave His life for us. I pray that these posters and readers will be forgiven of the transgressions against the True God of the Holy Bible.

There is a coming new world order, that such arrogance as demonstrated on this thread will lead to your doom. Please accept the price of Jesus purchased for your redemption. Biggest decision you will you ever make.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@hearthetruth I hope your post is as well intentioned as it is ignorant. I cannot accept that logical reasoning can be a ‘transgression against the true God of the holy Bible’, when the Bible itself tells us to search the scriptures like the Bereans. Surely if there was a god, he would want us to use our intellect to come to a logical conclusion.

“Please accept the price of Jesus purchased for your redemption.”
He paid the price demanded by himself, which is a horrendous law – fancy putting a death warrant on every human who disagrees with you! If his death meant anything at all, he was only satisfying himself, and we are a third party that is hardly involved.

Qingu's avatar

Paul said, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

Jesus was also a fan of slavery. He compares us to God’s slaves, and basically threatens us with violence if we are not “alert” enough to join his cult: “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he* would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’” —Luke 12:35

Lots of Jesus’ parables are like this. Jesus was not a hippie. He was a cult leader who got people to join his cult by threatening them with “my imaginary sky-daddy is going to hurt you if you don’t,” no different than scientologists who claim you need to join their cult or your evil thetan souls will destroy you.

Then there’s all the fun contradictions between the gospels but I don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for.

Qingu's avatar

By the way, @PnL, Jesus was not against the Old Testament laws. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 5:17,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Paul also says, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.” (Romans 7:12).

Talking to lots of Christians about the OT, you’d get the idea that they’d think it’s wrong to follow the OT commandments. Obviously Jesus and Paul think differently. You don’t have to follow all the commandments (in fact Paul argues that it’s impossible to do so) but that’s quite different from saying it would be wrong to try.

Qingu's avatar

@hearthetruth, I’m curious as to how you can “testify” to the miracle of Jesus Christ when the guy died 2,000 years ago. How old are you?

SeventhSense's avatar

@Qingu
You don’t understand the nature of a teacher disciple relationship until you are in that position so don’t misunderstand. This relationship is closer than any on earth but one must be willing to even sacrifice his life for his teacher at one point because the teacher loves the student more than the student even loves himself because he is not yet awakened. Far from being lorded over by master, the student actually embraces the role of slave to the Master like a child clings to his Mother’s breast. There is nothing but life abundant there. This is the foundation of many traditions dating back thousands of years and not only Christianity but can’t be grasped with worldly cynicism.

SeventhSense's avatar

Some of you posters don’t want to understand spiritual things so don’t pretend that you do. Suddenly you become extremely dumb and assume that a thing written simply is simplistic but when reading other parables, metaphors or alliterations you become sophisticated. Please just admit that you are hypocritical and want to remain atheist and will not attempt to understand things which are far deeper than you are willing to go lest you find some truth there which might upset your apple cart.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@SeventhSense “Some of you posters don’t want to understand spiritual things so don’t pretend that you do.”
What great insight allows you to judge the intentions of others? Personally, I understand classical Christian arguments down to the finest detail, having been a vigorous defender of Christianity in the past. Now I accept that many of these are either based on unsubstantiated claims or poor reasoning. My search for truth was long and painful, but it led me to the realisation that Christianity in its most common forms is false. I only want to remain an atheist because I am convinced that it is the stance that best reflects the truth. If I were convinced otherwise, my beliefs would change.

Fyrius's avatar

@SeventhSense
“the student actually embraces the role of slave to the Master like a child clings to his Mother’s breast.”
What an apt analogy. But these “children” clinging to their religion as to their mothers’ breasts are way too old to still be emotionally dependent on a spiritual daddy.

I also find it curious how you flinch away from what the bible actually says, use the old metaphoric reading excuse to read something more comfortable into it, and then tell us that we’re hypocrites.

Taking the bible literally is not an atheist thing to do. It’s what everyone’s been doing throughout the history of Christianity. The people of earlier times actually believed in god. They honestly believed praying or sacrificing cattle to him would get them what they want. They honestly believed the earth was literally mounted on pillars, outer space was literally filled with water that the sky kept out, the garden of Eden had literally existed and there had literally been a talking snake there who had told Eve to eat a magical apple, carnivorous animals literally didn’t eat meat before the original sin, Noah had literally single-handedly built a giant boat and had literally taken two of every single animal in the world, Jonah had literally lived inside a giant fish for three days.
If you’d presented them with some objective way to test whether any of these concrete beliefs were right, they wouldn’t feel threatened. They would welcome it, and expect to be proven right.

That mind-set is mostly gone now. Hardly anyone actually believes their religion any more. Past tests have proven many religious assertions wrong – lightning isn’t hurled by the gods, the sun isn’t pulled through the sky by a chariot, the earth wasn’t created on the same day as the universe, life didn’t suddenly start existing in the forms we see now – and even the religious seem to think future tests would only eliminate even more of their beliefs. So nowadays, everything in the bible that’s concrete enough that it could be wrong is supposed to be just a metaphor for some immensely deep spiritual wisdom that you can’t understand unless you give the bible over-the-top benefits of doubt and deliberately go looking for ways to make sense of it.

But there is no deep spiritual wisdom in the bible. Only the speculation and the bigotry of bronze age shepherds.

And there I go again. Now I’ve written another long-winded religion thread reply.

Qingu's avatar

@SeventhSense, this “teacher-disciple” relationship doesn’t sound like something I want to understand, thanks.

Though it sounds pretty much exactly like every other cult leader-cult follower relationship in the history of cults.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Fyrius
Again this is more of the same approach. You assume that the spiritual is unlocked by a reasoning approach and will give up its secrets to this. It is contrary to the wisdom of the world. The wisdom of the world is no wisdom. The wisdom of the world is a separation of the religious, the non religious, the sacred the profane and a schism which makes relative all things one to another. This is not the nature of the spiritual. The sacred, profane, the sage and the fool, the violent and the gentle occupy the same space. Because they do in fact occupy the same space. The contradiction is only a contradiction in the relative divisive mind. It’s all here at once.

The understanding of the spiritual is based on a direct experience of principles such as commitment, discipleship, a perception of that which is beyond the temporal, material or sensual experience of man. And it will only give up its secrets to this approach. You can’t con the Buddha or bargain with God. There is no way around the conundrum other than entering into it and discovering. It’s like being in love in theory or engaging in intercourse and interplay with your partner. They are not even remotely the same and a lover who would address one such as this could only smile.

And no people have not been operating from literal translations for many years else there would be countless blind people through the ages.
“And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out: it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell”
Mark 9:47

Millions throughout the ages have obviously discerned this with perhaps an understanding that causes you consternation. I think the bias that you start from is that there is an inherent ignorance in people not understanding without the proper “elucidation” which is just as arrogant as any Fundamentalist. But rather than split hairs about a “camel passing through the eye of a needle” or hellfire maybe just “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
~Psalm 43:8

@Qingu
And if you don’t trust someone with a deeper insight than oneself then
“and all your touch and all you see
is all your life will ever be.”

Qingu's avatar

And what brilliant teachings by this particular ancient Roman-era Judean cult leader have led you to believe he possessed particularly great insight?

Because I’ve read the New Testament and, you know, he wasn’t the first person to come up with the golden rule. Most Greek philosophers have more interesting things to say than Jesus, and they don’t even threaten you with imaginary afterlife torture for not believing in them.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Qingu
And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant.
he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’
~Luke 8:8–10

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@SeventhSense Is that really your reasoning for your elitist assumption that you can understand these things and we can’t? Surely your god wouldn’t be so foolish as to communicate his important instructions in a way that most people cannot understand.

Most people with a high school education are capable of understanding the imagery in parables. They were only obtuse for the primitive culture being addressed.

Qingu's avatar

@SeventhSense, let me get this straight. the reason you think Jesus is so wise is because he

1. Compared advertising to farming
2. Claimed this metaphor was so impenetrable that only some people would get it

?

SeventhSense's avatar

Look I’m not trying to be elitist and I’m not going to engage in a fruitless exchange. If you have honestly read the bible and you can’t see that the basis of Western ethics and morality have been adapted from books like this and other sacred texts then I don’t know what to tell you.
@Qingu
No he was just simply stating a truth. Any zen teacher would be even more obscure and impenetrable. You imagine the finger pointing at the moon is the moon.
@FireMadeFlesh
And if that is the case then why do you and others insist on using literal interpretation when it suits your agenda of discrediting the value of some writings? You have an agenda plain and simple. An axe to grind..but it’s not with me.

Qingu's avatar

Western ethics and morality have much more to do with ancient Greek and Roman thought—and especially 1800’s enlightenment philosophy—than the Bible. The Bible, for example, says nothing about democracy; the ideal form of government, according to the Bible, is an Iran-style theocracy.

It also says slavery should be legal and that women should be treated as second class citizens.

Fyrius's avatar

@SeventhSense
My prefrontal cortex was already screaming for mercy before I got to the end of your first paragraph.

Woo woo.
Dismissing a whole list of examples with one counterexample that’s in fact about a completely different sort of thing.
Accusations of bias and comparisons to fundamentalism.
Bible quotes with nothing but faith-dependent assertions. In a thread full of reasons not to trust the bible.

Yep.

Operating on the assumption that you’re probably not going to make a cognitive 180 degree turn and end up having anything sane to say, I think we’re done talking.

You stumbled upon one thing that’s not utterly wrong, though – I am biased. Against irrational people. If I know a given person can’t tell what is likely to be true from what they really want to be true, I am going to be extra suspicious of anything they say.
And this is also the reason why I am going to stop talking to you now.

Have a good life and enjoy your beliefs. (It’s the only thing they’ll ever be good for.)

SeventhSense's avatar

@Qingu
The Bible, for example, says nothing about democracy; the ideal form of government, according to the Bible, is an Iran-style theocracy.
Really?

All who believed were together and had all things in common;
they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.
Acts Ch3: 44–45

So the Ayatollah of Christianity is a fear or prejudice that you harbor based on something else. This may be the case with some Orthodox Jewish sects but the true Christian’s authority was the Spirit of God living within each person.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Fyrius
My perspective is different than your own and my cognitive reasoning takes into account the nature of cognition itself. And you call that insane? Yes complete insanity to the dividing mind.

P.S.- The prefrontal cortex is useful for many things except for self reflection on its own limitations..

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@SeventhSense “And if that is the case then why do you and others insist on using literal interpretation when it suits your agenda of discrediting the value of some writings? You have an agenda plain and simple. An axe to grind..but it’s not with me.”

Until modern times, people interpreted the Bible literally word for word. Currently, there are as many interpretations as there are people, and until I know which parts you consider metaphorical and which are literal, I will make assumptions that fit my reading of it. I won’t deny having an agenda, but that doesn’t make me unreasonable. If you would like to take issue with any specific interpretation I have taken, I will be more than happy to discuss it with you, but making sweeping generalisations about my interpretations is a little pointless.

SeventhSense's avatar

No it is simply not true that until modern times that people interpreted the entire bible literally. Some parts yes but other parts no. There were always parables and metaphors and they were always seen as such. No one thought that wisdom was a literal jewel or that Jesus was a farmer. No one thought they should pluck out their eye or cut off their hand if it offended them. Some just glossed over these for they didn’t grasp their message. As for the scientific yes some thought there were literal descriptions in the words but that was simply due to their lack of education..

Qingu's avatar

I honestly have no idea what you are talking about at this point.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Qingu
How convenient. OK I’ll spell it out. You let loose with a blatant prejudice based on a modern day interpretation of what you imagine all “Abrahamic religions” look like in Government form and I pointed out how clearly the first churches were quite Communist and communal in function.
The other posts yes you don’t understand because you can’t understand them. They are not meant to be understood. They are tools to dispel ignorance.
You have to get out more. Put down the books and smell the roses.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@SeventhSense Fair enough, no one ever took parables or the symbolism in prophecy literally, but that is not what I am talking about. People used to think the creation myth was a historical account, as well as Adam and Eve, Noah’s Flood, Lazarus’ resurrection, the parting of the Red Sea, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The point is, until you specify whether or not you believe they are literal we are free to assume either way since we don’t believe either alternative. Shaking your head and saying we don’t understand won’t do anything to help us understand or believe. You define the scope of the discussion, and I will address your posts in response to your unique beliefs.

Qingu's avatar

The early churches were not a model of ideal governance; they had no political power (Rome did). Are you saying the organization of the early churches would trump God’s perfect laws for governance as given in the Old Testament?

Fyrius's avatar

@SeventhSense
I’ll say this much: if you seriously reason about the nature of your cognition, you must be aware that the human mind is by nature a highly fallible piece of equipment, and you must know of at least a few of all the fallacies and biases that naturally distort people’s reasoning. You must also realise that with effort, practise and introspection, you can do something about these things, correct for your biases, avoid the fallacies, and stop being so humanly stupid.

If you know the first things about the nature of cognition, you must know all of this.
And yet you come up with this.
And yet you talk about your pet speculations as if they are facts, you quote the bible at an atheist in the middle of a thread full of reasons why the bible is not to be trusted, you dismiss an elaborately supported argument with a weak counterargument that should lead you at most to a middle ground conclusion, you praise the irrationality of the experiences you base your beliefs on, and you talk about correcting for your biases as if it’s something lowly that only applies to mundane earthly things, as if “spiritual” experiences cannot equally be messed with by the very same flaws.

You have a lot to learn about cognition. And that’s still a very optimistic conclusion.

I for one am quite aware of my limitations, thank you, and I for one do what I can to repair my flaws.

Wait a second, what am I still doing here?

SeventhSense's avatar

@Fyrius
Maybe because you realize the nature of your own cognition is also fallible?
Who said I had to respect your slant? You fail to recognize the nature of my argument as well as my quite logical points. I don’t play in your arena. The deck is stacked towards lose/lose. I left the arena. The bit players, principle actors. directors, producers, camera people and audience left the building. The theater collapsed in a pile of rubble and I was left with the peace of nothingness. Dismissing the greater part of existence for a foray through the quite limited realms of human reasoning is just as ludicrous in my estimation as entering into another theater. I seek what Buddha sought and found, what Christ elucidated, what Gandhi manifested, the Tao te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, the Emersonian path through contemplative silence.
I shun the law of religion and debate. None of these ever made my raspberry tart taste tangier or the sun on my face feel better. They only distracted me from the moment. I wish direct experience. All else is simply words. Likewise asking for questionable quotes from the bible is no desire for truth. It’s a child’s game of trying to best the competition for the illusion of superiority

No one knows all the answers but at least I admit that. And if belief makes me have a richer, happier and longer life then that seems like a pretty good reason to me.

I never wonder about a baby’s smile or his eyes as being a construct of iris, cornea and pupil with refracting lens that reflects an inverted image to his brain. I never consider a puppy who licks my face as a genetically produced byproduct of man’s innovation to reproduce desirable traits in a species. I just feel joy and wonder at the miracle of life while holding this helpless infant or fuzzy bundle and know that it’s all perfect. This is no accident. This desire we have to join in collective response to one another is no fluke. We are part of a greater design and much of what is seen is through a dark lens we call words. Yet they will never be adequate to feed the greater part of our being whether that be scientific accounting of phenomenon or an expression of our soul. So I’ll be a child and you can call me a fool but I’ll be happy as I smile in the sun with the other fools.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Qingu
The religion was never about political power and besides some of the greatest movements have no central leader and are motivated intrinsically from the individuals motivations of personal and collective well being. Alcoholics Anonymous is a perfect example.

This is an entirely self supporting organization that has no leaders but trusted servants. There is no authority save for a loving God as he may express himself/herself through group conscience. There are no dues or fees but people contribute as they see fit in very minimal amounts to keep the organization operational-keep the lights on, make coffee, etc. There is a prudent reserve kept at the group, national and international level to fund operations. It works brilliantly and basically because there are people willing to be honest and accountable to principles before personalities.

Likewise I think that any government which is motivated not by authorities but by individuals ruled by conscience would prove superior. People would simply perform duties in their natural capacity/career without the motivation of greed, power or position. And those who would manipulate this would be simply overwhelmed by the power of popular consensus ruled by conscience.

fundevogel's avatar

This isnt’ really a logic thing. A Christian recently told me that I was a perfect case of, “cast not your pearls before swine”. I’d never put much thought into the passage before, but when he delivered it the superiority and condescention of the statement was obvious. It isn’t the only one in the Bible, but it is a clear case of ridicule and dehumanization of people for no reason other than their failure to accept the Christian religion as the truth. The same is true (though less insulting) in the passage that says “the fools says in his heart there is no god”. Both statements automatically malign people that are not part of the group, not for some ethical or intellectual failing, just because they aren’t part of the group.

That is in direct conflict with the oft touted “message of love”, a more accurate message would be of “love so long as you do what I say and don’t ever question me”.

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