Monday, August 2, 2010

Minutiae, Mutation, Marana tha: I Corinthians

This is my analysis of the New Testament book known as I Corinthians. On reading this epistle to the congregation at Corinth from the Apostle Paul, I am struck by the mundanity of the issues discussed. Jesusianismists have spent centuries poring over this epistle, extracting all kinds of rich, complex theology from it. I find the subjects discussed by Paul to be rather small, considering that God obviously intended for this letter to inform the lives of its children for at least 2000 years. I am also struck by how much of this letter, in the form of direct, unambiguous orders from Paul to the Corinthians, is contemptuously ignored by almost all modern Jesusianismists. Seems that they would rather take something ambiguous and turn it into rigid doctrine that ends up creating division rather than obey clear commands from the very inventor of their religion.

Rather than going through the book verse by verse as I have in my other posts, this time I'll play some word games as Paul did in Romans, and as he does quite a bit in this epistle too. Note that I'm leaving out the one word that everyone thinks of when they think of I Corinthians: love. I'll cover that one in its own separate video.
  • Credibility
  • Chapter 3, Verse 20: “…the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” So, Jesusianismists, let’s see some power. All I know about is your talk.
  • Health
  • Chapter 11, Verses 29 - 30: A number of your congregation have died by eating and drinking judgment onto themselves, by eating and drinking without recognizing the body of the lord. I wish that Paul had elaborated on this; surely this is one of the leading causes of death among Jesusianismists, but just as surely we don’t know exactly what the dead have done wrong.
  • Insubordination
    • Chapter 5, Verses 1 - 12: Expel the immoral brother. Amazing. I don’t know of any Jesusianismist church that follows these instructions. My guess is that any church that does this sort of thing is thought of as a fringe group. Someone please let me know if this perception of mine is way off.
    • Check this out: in Verse 5, “hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed”. This is a bit ambiguous; my NIV has footnotes indicating two possible alternate translations for “sinful nature”: it could mean “that his body may be destroyed”, or “that the flesh may be destroyed”. Now we know that Peter had no problem executing Ananias and Saphira, whose worst possible crime was a watered-down form of embezzlement, but let’s give Paul the benefit of the doubt, letting Verse 2 inform our interpretation: the Corinthians should have “put out of [their] fellowship the man who did this”. Ok, so maybe Paul wasn’t suggesting that the man be executed, but he’s definitely and unequivocally telling the Corinthians to kick the guy out of the church.
    • Who does this? Which denominations? And why not all denominations? In Verse 11 he goes even further: “…you must not associate with anyone who [claims to be a Christian] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a swindler.” Given Jesus’ unequivocal pronouncements, I have to assume that divorce is included in “sexual immorality”, not to mention Paul’s reinforcement just a few verses further on, in Chapter 7, Verse 11: “A wife must not separate from her husband, but if she does, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”
    • You guys are in such big trouble. Back here in Chapter 5, Verses 12 - 13 Paul explicitly commands the believers to judge other believers and expel the wicked. Quite a bit different from the milquetoast “it’s not my place to judge” that I hear from Jesusianismists almost unanimously. And I guess these harsh instructions are the nail in the coffin for John 7:53 – 8:11, the apocryphal story of Jesus intoning, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone”. Paul unequivocally commands you to throw stones.
    • Chapter 6, Verses 1 - 11: You guys are commanded not to take each other to a secular court. Which bible are you reading?
    • Chapter 11
      • Verses 5 - 15: Women should cover their heads, or be disgraced by having their hair cut off. I expect to see a lot of covered or bald heads by the time you guys get out of church next Sunday.
      • Verses 9 and 27: Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you’re saying? You will just be speaking into the air. If anyone speaks a tongue, two—or three at the most—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.
      • Verses 34 - 35: “…women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak…it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” If she wants to inquire about something, she should ask her own husband at home.
    • The Occult
      • Conscience
      • Chapter 8, Verses 1 - 13: If I commit an act that I feel ok about, but it causes a brother who isn’t ok with it to follow my example, but with a guilty conscience, then my brother is destroyed? I wish that Paul had elaborated on this one. It sounds plain weird.
      • Marriage
      • Chapter 7, Verse 14 has some strange ideas: the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by his/her believing spouse, thus the children of such a union are holy. I would think that sanctified and holy were synonyms for saved, but in Verse 16 he implies at least that sanctified is not the same as saved. He doesn’t elaborate on holy. But given Jesus pronouncement of doom back in John 3:5, “…no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit,” holy must also not mean saved. So, what do sanctified and holy mean, and why are they important enough for him to mention, yet common enough, at least in that culture, for him not to have to define them?
      • Salvation
      • Chapter 15, Verse 2: For all of you who believe in the doctrine, “Once saved, always saved,” this one’s for you: “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” Busted. None of you except the most insane comes even close to holding firmly to Paul’s words.
      • Trinity
        • Chapter 3, Verse 23: “…you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” I don’t see how Paul could have stated any more clearly that Jesus is not Yahweh, unless he meant to say that each Jesusianismist is Jesus in the same way.
        • Chapter 10, Verses 1 - 13: The Israelites of Moses’ day drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Paul seems almost to be saying that Jesus was there with the Israelites, but note that he still doesn’t say that Jesus is Yahweh. This would have been an excellent place for him to say so.
        • Chapter 15, Verse 28: “…the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him…” Another opportunity to say that the Son is God, whiffed.
      • Revisionism
      • Chapter 9, Verses 9 - 10: “’Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.’ Is it about oxen that God is concerned?...this was written for us”. I guess if I survive the New Testament I’ll have to go back and review Exodus and Leviticus with this principle in mind.
      • Sanction
      • Chapter 11, Verse 19: “…there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” I wish that he had elaborated on this one; it would have been nice to have a clear indicator of God’s approval, especially when war occurs and both sides say, “God is on our side.”
      • Scandal
      • Chapter 12, Verse 23: I love this: “…the parts [of one’s body] that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty”. Perhaps you guys should apply this principle to some of your leaders. You might be embarrassed less often.
      • Sectarianism
      • Chapter 1, Verses 10 - 12: “I follow Paul/Peter/Christ”. Exactly: as soon as Jesus turned his disciples loose, his house was divided. It is therefore doomed to ruin, per his own prognostication. He should have instructed them to keep their mouths shut. He should have come back sooner, before his church had a chance to splinter into millions of ridiculous pieces.
      • Sexism
        • Chapter 7, Verses 36 - 38: A sickening display of the lowly status of women in that culture. Paul advises men on how to decide on getting married to some virgin, having to do with the virgin getting on in years and needing a husband, but he has nothing to say to the women. My NIV has a footnote that suggests that this disgusting bit of sexism could have been directed to the fathers of the virgins, mutatis mutandis, rather than the fiancĂ©es of the virgins. So the women are just property. Were you chattel when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you.
        • Chapter 11, Verses 1 - 16: Man is clearly superior to woman, who was "created for man". So disgustingly sexist that I can hardly think clearly to say anything about it. But apparently it’s disgusting to modern Jesusianismists too, as none of you seems to do this except the women on the fringes. One strange passage here, about which I've never heard anyone comment: because woman came from man and was created for man, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. What the hell? The angels?
        • Slavery
        • Chapter 7, Verse 21: “Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you”. Paul talks like a typical, overfed Westerner. Obviously he had no idea what a slave’s life might be like. He does tell slaves to gain their freedom if they can, but he has already indicated in Romans that they should do so only by legal means. Therefore, they’re not allowed to escape their masters, because the law makes them the property of their masters. The Jesusianismists who helped with the underground railroad were sinners, traitors to their faith.
        • Shame
          • Chapter 1, Verse 27: He goes on about shame, yet another one of those concepts without which we’d be better off. He also mentions boasting, which would be considerably reduced in the world if it weren’t for all the shame and self-loathing, two major foundation blocks of Jesusianismistism.
          • Chapter 4, Verse 5: God “will expose the motives of men’s hearts.” See, this is a crusty old deity with crusty old ways. This is just more shame. Why would we need to expose everyone’s motives? It’s obvious: everyone wants to be loved. Some of us are more damaged than others and we manifest the lack of love in our lives in unpleasant ways, but that is no reason to cruelly expose people’s souls.
          • Timetables
          • Chapter 7, Verses 26 and 29: “Because of the present crisis…remain as you are…time is short.” Paul obviously believed that his Christ would return soon, as Jesus himself seemed to believe also.
          • Voluntary Stupidity
          • Chapter 1, Verse 17 - Chapter 2, Verse 16: The gospel is to be preached, “not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” Well said, Brother Paul! Jesusianismists reject all forms of education, reason, and logic, in order to puff up the cross, which was already empty except for its cargo of hot air. Paul crows and crows about how Jesusianismists put no stock in wisdom. This is where Jesusianismists get their justification for rejecting science and reason, for their suspicion of education and knowledge. The core of the idea is in Chapter 1, Verse 21, “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” I’m not impressed with a religion that celebrates the abdication of rational thought.

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