A Handy Concise Guide, Part 2: Why the New Testament Is a Disaster

Two major things it got really wrong

By really wrong I mean that these New Testament errors have caused unspeakable horrors, so much suffering and death. The authors had no clue that their texts would have such disastrous impact on history. After all, they expected history would soon end, upon the arrival of Jesus on the clouds: the new kingdom of their god would prevail, the Romans would be vanquished. As the apostle Paul put it in I Thessalonians 4:17: after the dead are raised, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever.
A generous helping of fantasy, indeed.
But that’s not how things worked out. Human history—with no god(s) in sight—has rolled along for centuries. And we have faced the consequences of New Testament biases and arrogance. This new sect, based on the worship of Jesus, was very sure of itself: It knew it was the one true faith, and the parent religion from which it sprang was defective. These attitudes, in writing, have caused so much damage.

[My first article on Why the New Testament Is a Disaster, is here.]
Major Wrong Thing ONEAnti-Semitism  
One of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus—as described by Mark, Matthew, and Luke—is Pilate yielding to the roar of the crowd to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. Since Barabbas was a hardened criminal, a dangerous insurrectionist, historians have questioned how this story could possibly be true: no Roman official would have done any such thing. Matthew was prone to fantasy, adding elements that no doubt emerged from his vivid imagination: he depicted an earthquake and an angel descending from heaven to roll the stone from the Empty Tomb on Easter morning; he claimed that many dead people came alive in their tombs the moment Jesus died on the cross, and then these newly-alive folks toured Jerusalem after Jesus had arisen.    
Hence these verses that Matthew alone added to the Pilate/Barabbas episode; they are missing from the Mark and Luke versions:
“So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood, see to it yourselves.’  Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So he released Barabbas for them, and after flogging Jesus he handed him over to be crucified.”  (Matthew 27:24-26)
His blood be on us and on our children. We are justified in assuming that these words were imagined by Matthew—they are missing from the other gospel accounts. How would he have known what this mob was chanting? His gospel was probably written more than fifty years after the supposed event, well after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE. It’s a big stretch to argue that the author had access to an archive. But, of course, the church promoted the gospels as divinely inspired, and as time passed without the arrival of Jesus on the clouds, his blood be on us and on our children became the grounds for hatred of “the Jews” for their supposed crime. 
There are other texts as well that provide a deadly foundation for anti-Semitism. One of the most obvious in John 8:44, when Jesus is arguing with Jewish leaders: You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 
In Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, we find this passage, 2:14-16:
“For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone by hindering us from speaking to the gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins, but wrath has overtaken them at last.”
Frankly, such a statement is out of character for Paul, and there’s been considerable scholarly debate that this text might be an interpolation. That’s a matter of interest to modern scholars, but for hundreds of years it influenced Christian thinking about “the Jews.” 
There is much more detail about anti-Semitism in the New Testament in a long Wikipedia article on the topic.
Martin Luther was savage in his ranting against the Jews, advocating extreme violence, e.g., burning their homes, possessions, synagogues. Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), 9-10 November 1938, a Nazi night of terror for Jews in Germany—their homes, businesses, and synagogues were vandalized and torched—seems patterned on Luther’s rage. Germany was one of the centers of Protestantism, with its fanatical devotion to the Bible, so there can be little doubt that justification for the Holocaust was based, to a major extent, on New

Testament condemnations of the Jews. Scholar Hector Avalos has pointed out that John 8:44 (“You are from your father the devil”) ended up on Nazi street signs (in his essay, “Atheism Was Not the Cause of the Holocaust,” in John Loftus’ 2010 anthology, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, p. 368) 
Anti-Semitism is a big item that allows us to describe the New Testament as a disaster. 
Major Wrong Thing TWOIt’s Our Way or the Highway, So You’d Better Convert
Once religious fanatics have become convinced they’ve discovered the one true faith, their arrogance takes over. In the final chapter of Mark’s gospel, we find this Jesus-script, vv. 15-16: “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.” Only in modern times was it discovered that vv. 9-20 in Mark 16 are a fake ending, that is, they were not in the original manuscript. But they’ve been there for centuries, contributing to Christian arrogance: you’ll be condemned if you don’t get baptized and believe as we do. 
There’s also Jesus-script at the end of Matthew’s gospel, the so-called Great Commission (28:18-20): “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.’” 
Religions in the ancient world commonly claimed to worship sons or daughters of god(s), and the gospel authors stressed that their son of god was the real thing. At the opening of Mark (1:11), at the baptism of Jesus, a voice boomed from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Matthew (1:1-18) traced Jesus’ ancestry back to Abraham, while Luke presented a genealogy (3:23-38) that goes all the way back to Adam. What credentials! The author of John’s gospel, a true champion of theological inflation, boasts that the Galilean peasant preacher was present at creation. Moreover, John’s author pressed the point that the Christian son of god was the only one who mattered; he imagined this Jesus-script (14:6-7): “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” The author of John also suggested ghoulish magic potions. In his gospel, strangely, there is no Eucharist at the Last Supper, but in his chapter 6 he claims that eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of Jesus will assure eternal life. 
When the major Christian European powers set off on their campaigns for empire and colonies, no doubt one of their justifications was the Jesus-script at the end of Matthew, “…make disciples of all nations, and baptize them…” The invasion of the Americas was brutal indeed, and included forced belief. “Following Columbus, each time the Spanish encountered a native individual or group in the course of their travels they were ordered to read to the Indians a statement informing them of the truth of Christianity and the necessity to swear immediate allegiance to the Pope and to the Spanish crown.” (David Stannard, American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World, p. 65, Kindle)
Christian missionaries of all brands have set off for foreign lands determined to “bring people to Christ”—knowing for sure that he is the only way to salvation. They don’t notice their own arrogance. We all sense, however, that this arrogance is not welcome, if we are subjected to it ourselves. Protestants would be outraged if teams of nuns and priests invaded their Sunday services to proclaim the truth of Catholicism. Or if Mormons or Muslims did the same thing. Indeed, when we find Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons knocking at our doors, we wish they’d mind their own business. These days too, hardline Christian nationalists are pushing hard for theocracy: “We want to impose our business on you” has been a core Christian ideal from the beginning. When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach in villages, we find this Jesus-script in Matthew 10:14-15: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” In other words, they’ll be burned to the ground.
This is terrorism, major wrong thing Two: It’s Our Way or the Highway, So You’d Better Convert. More disaster, firmly grounded in the New Testament. 
David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. He is the author of two books, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, now being reissued in several volumes, the first of which is Guessing About God (2023) and Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (2021). The Spanish translation of this book is also now available. 
His YouTube channel is here. At the invitation of John Loftus, he has written for the Debunking Christianity Blog since 2016.
The Cure-for-Christianity Library©, now with more than 500 titles, is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here