"Religion has wrought untold misery in human affairs. For the most part, it has been a squalid tale of bigotry, superstition, wishful thinking, and oppressive ideology. I therefore have a good deal of sympathy with its rationalist and humanist critics. But it is also the case… that most such critics buy their rejection of religion on the cheap. When it comes to the New Testament, at least, what they usually write off is a worthless caricature of the real thing, rooted in a degree of ignorance and prejudice to match religion’s own. It is as though one were to dismiss feminism on the basis of Clint Eastwood’s opinion of it."
Now, I might be rejecting the New Testament as I have only got a caricature of the real thing, but I don't think so. I have actually read the New Testament (not all of the Old. It's rather heavy going), and with the help of The Brick Testament, will explain why you can reject the New Testament too. (Yes, the Brick Testament is the Bible in Lego). Here we go:
In the New Testament, Jesus explicitely endorses the Laws of the Old Testament. If you're uncomfortable with any of the following...
- Killing men for the "crime" of having sex with men.
- The forced marriage of a rapist to the virgin girl he raped.
- Being racist.
- The utter destruction of a town, and it's inhabitants and property (including pets), if there are men there telling people to worship other gods.
...then you are disobeying Jesus, and are quite clearly following your own heart when it comes to morality, and not blindly following the Bible. I applaud you for this. Alas, your God does not, he will burn and curse you.
Now, these are actual parts of the Bible. If we are allowed to reject them, why not other bits? What is the basis for choosing which bits of the Bible are good and which are totally abhorrant?
You may see this as a caricature of the real thing, but this stuff is actually *in the Bible*. Are we to follow it or not? If not, why should we follow the other stuff? There are good bits in the Bible, to be sure, but then there are good bits in Bill and Ted (Be excellent with each other), and many other works of fiction (and non-fiction).
I hope we've already established that parts of the Bible can be taken out. Just to make sure though, here's a Jesus Original (TM) from the New Testament:
Luke 14:26 'If anyone does not hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.'
If you are reading this; you are a Christian; and you want to follow all of Jesus' teachings, then I ask that you give me half of your wages. You must give them to me, and you can't have them back.
If we are not going to accept these passages, why should we accept the miracles, and the rest? From a non-believing perspective, these miracles make no sense. Indeed, the Archbishop of Centerbury thinks the Magi are just legend, and that the Star of Bethlehem wasn't a star, as stars don't behave like that. Well, women don't get pregnant without having sex.
This may be a cheap caricature (that's been illustrated by passages from the Bible), but until someone can tell me why certain bits of the Bible can be rejected, and others not, then I shall continue to reject the New Testament, and the Bible (apart from the bits I like).