- Verse 1: On the day of Stephen's stoning, "a great persecution broke out against the church at Jersalem". Jesusianismists seem to read this and interpret it as though most of the world is--and has been from the beginning--rabidly anti-Jesusianismist, a load of baby-killers who hate Yahweh because it wants us all to stop masturbating to gay porn. I have to challenge this nonsensical, childish view. The Jews who attacked the Jesusianismists, Saul of Tarsus included, did so for at least two very good reasons:
- First, Jesus' teachings sounded heretical, spiritually dangerous for Israel. Sure, he probably did piss off a few corrupt officials, but it's stupid to believe that the entire generation was wicked and adulterous. Probably a large fraction of Jesus' enemies were devout people who concluded that his teaching was based on a bad interpretation of Scripture, just as most Catholics might conclude about Mormon doctrine. Many Mormons do act as though they're being persecuted, and they do seem to believe that Catholics have chosen, due to unrepentant enjoyment of gay porn, to ignore the obviously true message that came from God through Joseph Smith. So when you imagine first-century Jews "persecuting" the early Jesusianismists, don't think in terms of some crazed emperor who just likes to see people burn and finds that public opinion allows him to choose a certain religious sect. Think instead in terms of being really worried that the Mormons are dangerously in error, and that their doctrines could condemn millions of people who would otherwise go to heaven.
- Second, the Jews had a tendency to cause trouble for their Roman overlords. Those with an interest in keeping their lives on an even keel (and an interest in simply keeping their lives) would have opposed any rabble-rousers, hoping to stay off of Rome's radar and avoid unpleasant episodes like the one that started in the year 66.
- Verse 1 again: "...all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria." Going back to Chapter 4, Verse 4, we see that there were some 5000 male Jesusianismists, and in 5:14 we see that "more and more men and women...were added to their number." Let's just take a conservative guess that half of these men are married, and on average each married couple has one child. That's probably very conservative. That's a total of at least 10000 people. How is it that an event that causes 10000 people to disperse in a single day gets nor more description than "a great persecution"?
- Verse 2: "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him." This is simple, pure propaganda. There were plenty of "godly" people of all religions, just as there are now. Implying that only the followers of one's own religion are "godly" is a standard Yahwismist-Jesusianismist-Mohammadanismist tactic.
- Verse 8: There was great joy in the city where Philip drove out evil spirits and healed sick people. I guess he somehow managed to contain his temper and refrain from capriciously causing any sudden deaths; otherwise there would have been great fear, as in Peter's territory.
- Verse 15: Peter and John went to Samaria to pray for the new believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. I guess by this time they had forgotten Jesus' words from Matthew 6:8, "...your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Actually, it seems that the Father had forgotten these words too, given that he held off on granting the Holy Spirit until his special deputies could get there and fill out all that required paperwork.
- Verses 18 - 22: Simon the Sorcerer offers to pay cash to Peter and John in exchange for the ability to administer the Holy Spirit to people. Sounds like a good arrangement to me: if they were too busy to wait tables, then they were probably too busy to be schlepping off to Samaria all the time to requisition the Holy Spirit. Peter seems not to like this idea, but he is so gentle that I want to convert to Jesusianism right now. He says, "Simon, Simon, you poor, confused man. You want love just like everyone else does, but you feel that you must earn it by being useful to people. God loves you and you are loved whether you're useful or not. Also, God doesn't care about money, he cares about mercy and love. Just seek his ways and let go of materialism, and you'll be fine." Not. "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent...and pray...perhaps he will forgive you." Peter has definitely learned Jesus' ways by now. No wonder Jesus decided to build his church upon this rock.
- Verse 25: Poor Simon, now humiliated and terrified, asks Peter to pray for him. Luke records no response from kind-hearted Peter.
- Verses 39 - 40: Philip is beamed away from his new convert, arriving in Azotus. Too bad Philip couldn't have written down, or at least dictated, some of the details of this amazing experience. How is it that these guys are blown away by a dude walking on water, but they don't seem to give a second thought to teleportation?
Friday, July 23, 2010
Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part V: Acts, Chapter 8
Part V of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.