Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said

Text of my presentation at e-Conference on Atheism

[Here is the script of my presentation on Saturday, 5 September 2020, with a few small additions. The video should be available soon. The event was sponsored by the Global Center for Religious Research.]

We pose this challenge to theists: please tell us where we can find reliable, verifiable data about God—and all theists must agree: Yes, that’s where to find it. This never happens because theists don’t agree. For example, they usually claim that scripture is a source of data about God…but whose scripture? We see no effort on the part of Christians to expand the Bible to include the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon. They refuse to acknowledge that these books qualify as scripture.

Naturally, Christians adore the gospels. But these documents themselves present major problems, just in trying to figure out what Jesus did and said. Rembrandt has given us a portrait of a friendly, amiably Jesus. So my apologies to Rembrandt for puncturing this image in what I’m about to say.

* * * * *

By one estimate I read years ago, by 2025 there will be one billion Pentecostals in the world, with most of the growth south of the equator—at the expense of the Catholic Church. Right now, there are about 2.4 billion Christians.

So Jesus has quite a fan base. We can be sure that many of them are lukewarm followers; I was pastor of two churches, and there were a lot of members who showed up only once or twice a year. But many Jesus fans are really into it. They identify as Belonging to Jesus. This terminology probably derives from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, 5:24, although many Christians would resist Paul’s strident interpretation: “…those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

For a long time, we’ve heard Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?” There seems to be no doubt whatever among the faithful that Jesus was the greatest moral teacher ever, so of course, we should follow his guidance. What more could we want than the Sermon on the Mount? How could the Lord and Savior be anything but the best?

But we do have to wonder how much Christians are focused on finding out about Jesus. Three years ago (25 April 2017) a Christian research organization, LifeWay Research published an article titled:

Americans Are Fond of the Bible, But Don’t Actually Read It

The accompanying pie chart showed that more than half those surveyed didn’t read the Bible much at all.

Occasionally I find this confirmed by personal experience. I once fell into casual conversation with a devout Catholic woman—it was clear she adored Jesus—and after a while I decided a little mischief was in order. I asked her how she felt about Luke 14:26. This must be the Bible verse Christians hate the most. Here Jesus says that you have to hate your family to be a disciple—yes, the Greek word for hate is right there—and I’ll return to this text later.

She became very angry. Why would I make up such a lie? There is no such Bible verse, she was sure. I believe it was Bart Ehrman who referred to “the ideal Jesus of the imagination” that priests and preachers have been promoting for centuries. And they get away with it because Bible reading—let alone Bible study—is not a common Christian preoccupation.

Luke 14:26 is perhaps the biggest challenge for Christian apologists, but there are many more texts that are alarming—and at the very least disappointing. When I began working on my next book, 50 Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said, I needed to find out the scope of the problem. So I reread the gospels carefully, and built an Excel spreadsheet of the bad or mediocre Jesus quotes. The total came to 259. Some are duplicates, near duplicates, or parallels since Matthew and Luke copied big chunks of Mark. Luke copied (and modified) Matthew, or both Matthew and Luke used the hypothetical Q document. Scholars are still arguing about whether or not Q was a real thing.

The ideal Jesus of the imagination would take a big hit if the faithful explored the four gospels. In fact, there’s a shocking contrary assessment offered by Richard Carrier, one of the top Jesus scholars of our time. In an article published 10 September 2018, What’s the Harm? Why Religious Belief is Always Bad, Carrier said this:

“No, the character of Jesus in the gospels was not the wisest and kindest of beings—he is actually quite loathsome and rarely gives anything but really bad advice.”

How can that be? The wonderful Jesus—the faithful want to belong to him, they want to know what he would do—how can he be as disappointing as Carrier suggests? To demonstrate this alternative view, we’ll look at FOUR categories of Jesus sayings; I’ve sorted many of the 259 bad Jesus sayings into these categories.

But first we need to address a fundamental issue.

Did Jesus say these things?

So far on my YouTube channel I have posted 37 videos in the series, Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said, and I receive occasional pushback from skeptics and atheists.

This pushback comes in two forms:

(1) How can you be so naïve? The gospel can’t be trusted. And indeed, most mainstream New Testament scholars know very well the problems that the gospels present. It’s impossible to point to any Jesus saying or deed that can be verified.

(2) Jesus didn’t say anything because Jesus didn’t even exist.

But my approach in this book is strategic. Most of the laity don’t grasp the difficulty of trying to distill history from the gospels, and they are repulsed at the suggestion that Jesus didn’t exist—that he was a mythical character from the get-go.

My approach is to engage them on their field of play: the gospels tell the truth about Jesus. For the sake of argument, let’s run with that. If the gospel writers didn’t make mistakes, then come all ye faithful, you’re stuck with these words.

It would be almost impossible to engage the faithful on the issue of Jesus’ existence—that’s stabbing at the very heart of their faith. And atheists would do well not to go about gleefully chanting, “Jesus didn’t exist, Jesus didn’t exist”—historians are by no means in agreement about that. I have noticed, by the way, that many atheists who take up this chant don’t know the issues that prompt doubt about the existence of Jesus, any more than believers do.

If we can get church folks to finally see the bad things the gospels tell us about Jesus, maybe then there will be a window of opportunity: for education about why the gospels fail to deliver. They fail to deliver because there are four Gospel Brick Walls. We hit these and we see that verifiable information about Jesus does not exist.

In other words, there is virtually no chance that authentic words of Jesus can be identified in the gospels.

Brick Wall # 1: The requirements for writing history are absent.

Historians want documents that are contemporaneous with events. That is, letters, diaries, newspaper accounts that are written as soon as possible after an event.

• Helen Langdon’s biography of Caravaggio includes 30 pages—in fine print—presenting her sources, i.e., the contemporaneous documents she used to write her story.
• A. Scott Berg’s biography of Woodrow Wilson includes 38 pages—in fine print—presenting his sources, i.e., the contemporaneous documents he used to write his story.

That’s how historians do their job. They are able to describe what happened on 19 November 1863, when Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, by reading letters, diaries, newspaper accounts. There is no contemporaneous documentation whatever for anything Jesus said or did.

Bart Ehrman has stated the problem: “In the entire first century Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet. His name never occurs in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence. Zero! Zip references!”

There is broad consensus among New Testament scholars that the gospels were written decades later, and there is little confidence in Luke’s claim (Luke 1:2) that events were

“…handed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses.” We would need hard evidence for that, not his say-so. Especially since he then goes on to give us two chapters of fantasy, with angels having speaking roles. He doesn’t cite his sources.

And this is embarrassing: he plagiarized. He copied great chunks of Mark without saying so. Did he think he was passing on eyewitness accounts by copying Mark? Mark doesn’t cite any sources either.

We have no idea when the words of Jesus might have been written down for the first time. By some estimates, 95 percent of the people who heard Jesus preach were illiterate. No one carried around pads of paper and pencils. There were no stenographers, no recording machines.

Just as aside: there has been much debate in scholarly circles about the so-called Criteria of Authenticity. Some claim that these criteria allow us to figure out the real Jesus stuff. But they don’t do the job they’re supposed to do. See David Fitzgerald’s Jesus: Mything in Action, Vol. 1, pp. 134-149, and Richard Carrier, Proving History, chapter 5.

Brick Wall # 2: The intent to write history seems to be missing.

The gospel writers wrote theology, actually, propaganda for the early Jesus cult. They were trying to get people to believe. They created Jesus episodes by using Old Testament stories, for which see Robert Price, The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems, and David Chumney, Eclipsing Jesus: How Searching Scriptures Got in the Way of Recounting the Facts.

And the gospel writers used their imaginations. Mark described the temptation of Jesus in two verses. Matthew expanded this to eleven verses and added dialogue between Satan and Jesus. This was in the wilderness; no one was there taking notes. Satan whisked Jesus (à la Superman?) to the pinnacle of the Jerusalem temple, and to a high mountaintop.

Historians don’t take this seriously.

Brick Wall # 3: Reliable oral tradition cannot be verified.

This is the fond hope of New Testament scholars, that words of Jesus were remembered with dead accuracy, being told and retold and retold for several decades. Randel Helms has pointed out in his book, Gospel Fictions, that oral tradition “…is by definition unstable, notoriously open to mythical, legendary, and fictional embellishment.”

Is it possible that authentic words of Jesus have been preserved? How would we know? How would we know which ones?

Brick Wall # 4: All of the original gospel manuscripts were lost.

There will always be dispute about the gospels—what is the blend of history, folklore, mythology, allegory, theology?—but there’s another problem: we no longer have what they wrote. The original manuscripts were lost. The earliest gospel fragment we have dates from the second century, and it a scrap of John 18, about the size of a credit card, now in a library in the UK.

For centuries second-third-fourth generation manuscripts were copied by hand, by scribes who didn’t have eyeglasses or electric lighting. They might not have understood the Greek they were copying. We know that thousands of errors were made, and there was a lot of tampering. The supposed words of Jesus were not exempt.

The most famous example is Mark 16:9-20. These verses were not in the original manuscript of Mark. Who knows when they got tacked on. Maybe that’s a good thing, since here we find the prediction of the resurrected Jesus that baptized Christians will be able to cast out demons, pick up snakes, drink poison, speak in tongues and heal by laying on of hands.

If you get a chance, ask Christians how they’re doing on this list.

But then there’s John 8, the famous story of the woman taken in adultery, and dragged before Jesus. “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” It’s a great story, but it wasn’t in the original gospel. It even got added in some manuscripts to Luke 21. We have no idea where this story came from—or if it even started out as a Jesus story.

Finally, let me scold translators who print the words of Jesus in red. This is pious deception: they’re trying to assure readers that these are the very words of Jesus. Most of the scholars involved in editing and translating know very well the problems I’ve just described. By printing the words of Jesus in red, they trade on the gullibility of the faithful.

Four Categories of Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said

1. Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said: Apocalypticism

This is theology that dreams of the day when God will intervene in history to set things right, to get even. It can come in many guises, and in the New Testament we find that Jesus plays the leading role. We’re all used to the end-of-the world preachers, such as Harold Camping, who kept resetting the date for the arrival of Jesus—but Camping and many others don't pay attention to the timing as specified in the texts.

In Mark 14:62, Jesus at his trial tells the high priest: “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” At the very beginning of his ministry, in Mark 1, he declared, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near [or is at hand] repent, and believe in the good news.”

In the earliest document in the New Testament, I Thessalonians, the apostle Paul assured people that their dead relatives—those who had converted to Christ—would rise to meet Jesus in the air. He himself would be joining them there. The arrival SOON of Jesus was a constant theme in Paul’s letters and it’s likely that the gospel authors were influenced by this.

For more on this see Tom Dykstra’s book: Mark, Canonizer of Paul.

Here are more words of Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet:

In Matthew 10, when Jesus sends his disciples out to preach, he tells them: “…for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Luke 9:27: “But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 12:40: “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

The coming kingdom will mean that earthly governments will be eliminated. Matthew 19: “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Twelve? I guess Jesus hadn’t figured out yet that Judas wasn’t really on the team.

The arrival of the apocalypse will be catastrophic for most humans.

Matthew 24:21: “For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”

Matthew 24:37-39: “For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.” This is another genocide. Endorsed by Jesus.

Luke 12:49-52: “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three…”

Luke 21:26: “People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Luke 21:27: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Luke 21:36: “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

This one sneaks up on us because we’re so familiar with it:

Matthew 6:10: “Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come.” Jesus wanted his followers to ask God to bring it on.

Matthew 12:36-37: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

This is scary stuff, and it’s bad theology. There are extremist Christians who are locked into this apocalypticism—such as Harold Camping. But I suspect this is foreign to most Christians who are fairly well adjusted to a modern worldview. They probably don’t give much thought to it—even when they come across these texts—because they don’t want to admit that Jesus was simply wrong…and maybe crazy.

I recommend John W. Loftus’ essay, “At Best Jesus Was a Failed Apocalyptic Prophet” in his anthology, The Christian Delusion.

2. Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said: Cult fanaticism

Now we come back to Luke 14:26 that I mentioned at the outset:

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

A common Christian reaction might be, “Well, Jesus didn’t mean that—he couldn’t have.” Unless the person saying this is an expert on ancient Greek and Aramaic, I can’t take this objection seriously. I direct your attention to Hector Avalos’ book, The Bad Jesus. There’s a 39-page chapter on this verse. It means what it seems to mean.

Those who object that Jesus wouldn’t have said this, then must explain why Luke would have SAID that Jesus said it. Luke apparently wanted this Jesus script. This verse comes after the parable of the Great Banquet. All the invitees to a banquet beg off at the last minute, so the host sends his servants to bring in whomever they might find, the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame. That’s a wonderful lesson.

But Luke was promoting the early Jesus cult, and perhaps he wanted to say, “Well, not so fast. You may be welcome, no matter what your status, but we don’t want anyone with divided loyalties. Family no longer matters as much as the cult, our in-group, does.” This fits with Jesus’ rude reply, in Luke 9:60, to the man who wanted to follow him, but first wanted to go home to bury his father: “Let the dead bury their dead.”

Sometimes translators conspire to tone down the hate-your-family verse. The Message Bible presents this rewording: “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple.”

Matthew’s presentation of this text, 10:37, isn’t quite so severe, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Here’s another text that qualifies as cult fanaticism, but we find it on Christian greeting cards and stained glass; Mark 12:30:

“…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

There are Christians who withdraw to monasteries and convents to try to achieve this ALL ALL ALL level of cult commitment—God needs it and wants it—but most Christians have their lives to lead and aren’t interested.

There is a narrative version of this ALL ALL ALL cult theme. In the 5th chapter of Acts, we read about the apostle Peter in a bad mood, having a bad day. A couple, Ananias and Sapphira, sold a field, but didn’t give all the money to the church. Peter scolded Ananias severely. He dropped dead and was buried right away. A few hours later, Peter gave the same scolding to Sapphira, and she dropped dead. And this was the result: “And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.”

Do Christians today read this and say, “Wow, that’s cool”? No, this is from the cult playbook.

A couple more texts from Luke demonstrate the cult mindset; Luke 14:33: “…therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

In Luke 16, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees: “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.”

I also want to mention an extreme example of cult craziness in John’s gospel. John doesn’t have the Last Supper reported in the synoptic gospels, i.e., Jesus handing out bread and wine. But in his sixth chapter he has the feeding of the five thousand, and the famous “I am the bread of life” quote. But then we encounter these ghoulish verses, vv. 53-57:

“Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.”

Other mystery cults in the ancient world had sacred meals too. Maybe Jesus wanted to be in this club?

By the way, this text is a good example of belief in magic potions: eat something, drink something, and you’ll get eternal life.

There’s a good analysis of this is Robert Conner’s essay, “Miracles of the Christian Magicians” in John Loftus’ anthology, The Case Against Miracles. There’s good news about this book by the way. The audio version has just been released.

3. Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said: Bad Advice and Bad Theology

Few Jesus sayings have caused more damage that this one, Matthew 19:4-6:

“Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’”

Of course, if you believe that God established the order of creation, then the male-female setup makes good sense. The two join together and become one flesh. So far so good, but then this: “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Wait a minute: Every single marriage since the first couple has been arranged by God? He has had his hand in all the bad, mistaken marriages? That seems to be why Jesus comes down so hard on divorce:

Mark 10:11: He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Matthew modified this: “…anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

This became embedded in Christian doctrine—especially in Catholicism, of course. But evangelicals have divorce rates as high as anyone else. So are they admitting, when they get divorced, that God joining them together was a mistake? This must be a case where they don’t care what Jesus would do.

And this is one of the worst Jesus sayings: Matthew 5:28: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Come on Jesus, lighten up: getting horny is as bad as adultery?

There’s more bad advice in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:19-20:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up treasures for yourself in heaven.”

Christians who have pension plans—and who save for a rainy day—know this is not the way the world works. This is also a fragment of cult-think: “Keep your eye only on the heavenly reward.”

Matthew 6:25-26:

“…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

This is not the way the world works, and Christians know it.

Matthew 6:28-30:

“And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”

Notice the insult at the end. But this is not the way the world works, and Christians know it.

And here’s even more bad advice in just four verses, Matthew 5:39-42:

“Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” Didn’t Martin Luther King put this to good use? No: he was resisting evil.

“…if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well.”

“…and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”

“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”

If you get a chance, ask Christians how they’re doing on this list.

4. Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said: The Arrogant Jesus of John’s Gospel

I sometimes suggest this challenge to Christians: Read the gospel of Mark, straight through, without stopping. It takes about as much time as watching a movie. Then take a break, have a big glass of wine, then do the same thing with John’s gospel. That’ll take longer. It’s a shock. These are two different Jesuses. There are huge monologues in John found nowhere else. How did Mark miss all these words of Jesus?

In John’s gospel Jesus brags a lot. He is egregiously egotistical.

It’s awfully hard to see what’s going on in John’s gospel IF you’ve been raised to believe that Jesus is part of the Trinity: father, son, holy ghost. That is, if you’ve been raised in the Jesus cult. Then the extreme egotism of Jesus seems okay, right? He’s part of God, right?

I want to mention three categories of bad Jesus sayings in John.

1. Here Jesus is the prototype, the blueprint for the Cult Con Man. If Christians came across this kind of cult-speak in other contexts, they would see how shocking it is.

In Mark, Jesus was a Galilean peasant preacher who showed up at the River Jordan to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. But John would have none of that. The author of this gospel set up a different scheme by placing Jesus at creation. “In the beginning was the word. The word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

And Jesus is aware of his place in the divine realm:

John 10:30: “The father and I are one.” This is the claim of the con man.

John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Christian arrogance received huge boost from this verse. How much damage has been caused by this text alone?

John 8:28: “I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.”

John 8:56: “Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.”

John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 5:46: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

John 16:27: “…the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”

John 16:23: “Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”

John 17:5: “So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.”

John 17:21: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Cult con men also use threats:

John 15:6: “Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

My favorite: John 16:33: “But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

2. The eternal life gimmick is pressed relentlessly by John’s Jesus. Other religions, other cults, claim to have this product.

There are two elements of wishful/magical thinking here:

• First, that human consciousness survives the death of the brain.
• Second, that eternal life can be achieved by magic spells or potions: say something, think something, eat something, drink something—for example the body and blood of Jesus—and you’ve won the prize.

John 5:24: “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

John 5:28: “…for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice.”

John 6:40: “…that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

3. In John’s Jesus-script we find the roots of anti-Semitism that has brought so much suffering and destruction.

These words are addressed to Jews:

John 8:44: “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires.” Hector Avalos has pointed out that this verse ended up on Nazi street signs.

John 8:19: “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

John 8:24: “…you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.”

There are other similar Jesus sayings, as well as many narrative verses in John that slander the Jews.

Brief Conclusion

I want to close with one of the good sayings of Jesus, Matthew 5:23-24:

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.”

I mention this because it is one of the Jesus sayings that Christians ignore the most. I was minister of two parishes, and I soon found out the parishioners who couldn’t stand each other. And, of course there are more than 30,000 Christian denominations, sects, factions, divisions, and cults. Christians have been fighting each other—even to the point of bloodshed—for centuries.

They act like this too is something they wish Jesus hadn’t said.

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 published by Tellectual Press in 2016. It was reissued in 2018 with a new Foreword by John Loftus.

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