A challenge for Christians: If you’re so sure Jesus existed, then you have some explaining to do. A major frustration is that, while believers are indignant at all the talk about Jesus not existing, they don’t know the issues that fuel the skepticism—and are unwilling to inform themselves.
For the sake of argument, I’m willing to say, okay, Jesus was real and, yes, we have gospels that tell the story. But Christians are in just as much trouble. An observation by Dr. Jaco Gericke should snap them to attention:
“If you read the scriptures and are not shocked out of all your religious beliefs, you have not understood them.” (The End of Christianity, John W. Loftus, editor)
And so many of the words of Jesus are genuinely shocking. These words aren’t proclaimed much from the pulpit, and, indeed, for some 1,500 years laypeople didn’t have access to the Bible (not until Guttenberg and translators came along). Hence the folks in the pews have absorbed and adored an idealized Jesus. Christian apologists make their livings refiguring so many of the things Jesus supposedly said.
Supposedly. An issue that I mention frequently in these videos is Jesus-script authenticity. If the Jesus Fan Club is alarmed at the proposal that Jesus is a fictional character, it can take little comfort from the work of devout scholars who do believe in Jesus. These scholars have not yet discovered a methodology for figuring out the authentic words of Jesus. In the case of John’s gospel especially, Jesus-script was invented with wild abandon. So it’s the gospel writers who are to blame.
Hence this series of Flash Podcasts; there will be at least 25 episodes. Here are the links to the first twelve. One or two may be slightly over five minutes, the rest are between four and five minutes.
Episode 1: (On Luke 14:26, hating family to qualify as a disciple of Jesus)
Episode 2: (On Mark 16:16-18, on the five things baptized Christians ought to be able to do)
Episode 3: (On Matthew 24:37-39, on Jesus’ prediction of suffering—as at the time of Noah—when the Son of Man comes)
Episode 4: (On Mark 10:9, Jesus’ disastrous teaching about divorce)
Episode 5: (On Mark 10:29-30, on Jesus’ promise of a hundred-fold return if people give up families and houses)
Episode 6: (On Mark 12:30, Jesus’ command to love God at the all-all-all level)
Episode 7: (On Mark 4:11-12: Jesus taught in parables to keep people from repenting and being forgiven)
Episode 8: (On John 6:53-57, eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood are the key to eternal life)
Episode 9: (On Matthew 10:14-15, towns that reject the message of the Kingdom of God will be destroyed)
Episode 10: (On Mark 11:22-24, Jesus gets demerits for saying this about prayer)
Episode 11: (On Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus came to bring a sword, and to set family members against one another)
Episode 12: (On Luke 9:59-62, Jesus’ rude retort, “Let the dead bury their dead”)
The audios of all these episodes are here.
David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was reissued last year by Tellectual Press with a new Foreword by John Loftus.
The Cure-for-Christianity Library© is here. An explanation of the library is here.