Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part I: Acts, Chapter 1

  • Verse 9: "...he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." This Jesus works only in a culture where the sky was completely unknown territory. A cloud hid him from their sight, and because they assumed that he was up in heaven, it never occurred to them to wonder where he went. If they'd known half as much as we do about the way the universe works, they would not have automatically assumed that being hidden behind a cloud meant that he was no longer in the same plane of existence as they were. My point being that this kind of story impresses only the ignorant. Further, if it really happened, then where's the detail? He was taken up? What does that mean? What did it look like? Was there a great wind? A Star-Trek-style tractor beam? Did he happen to be wearing a jet pack? I've heard plenty of Christians go on about how the descriptions of monsters by John of Patmos are uncannily similar to modern-day jet fighters. And that was just in a vision. Why couldn't actual eye witnesses of Jesus' disappearing trick give some details of what they saw? Because it didn't happen, and benighted, first-century Palestinians, hearing the story after myriad rounds of Chinese Whispers, were perfectly willing to accept that being hidden by a cloud meant that he was somewhere else.
  • Verse 12: "...a Sabbath day's walk from the city." Sounds like Luke had his own brand of Christianity. Jesus seems to have abrogated the Sabbath rules, and if he didn't, then Paul certainly did.
  • Verse 18: Judas bought a field, then did some sort of suicide-bomber trick there. I've already discussed here the fact that this is in complete disagreement with Matthew 27:5.
  • Verse 21 - 26: Peter decides that Judas must be replaced, as his disemboweled body probably wouldn't be much good as an evangelizing prop. Joseph and Matthias are nominated as candidates, and everyone prays to Yahweh-Jesus, asking it to indicate which of these two men shall be Judas' replacement. Now go back to Verse 3: "[Jesus] appeared to [the apostles] over a period of forty days..." Why couldn't this matter have been settled during that long period? Why wait until Jesus is gone, then pray to him about it? And why was it Peter's idea? Why didn't Jesus discuss it with them before his departure? Further, if it was ok for the brothers to ask Yahweh-Jesus for a clear sign in this manner, even going so far as to cast lots to determine its will, then why isn't this practice widespread among Christians today? Why didn't we see President Bush at a press conference casting lots to make sure that Yahweh-Jesus really wanted us to invade Iraq?

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