Making Up Belief(s) – Christian Doctrine

Here is a great question:

If what you are saying is true (about atonement and Jesus’ blood covering us all) and is what is being taught by Jesus (or the disciples) – how come the gospels never lay the story out the way churches teach it? How come the theology is always a patchwork of teachings (from various letters and books) that make an interpretive deliverable that benefits the church doctrine/belief?

Reason I bring this up is because there are a variety of Christian beliefs, codified by church belief statements and dogma, that support the very grounding and integrity of that church. I find most of them developed belief systems that are supported by patchwork theological beliefs from various places in letters and books, and in some cases, are not verifiably true of the total 27 texts of the NT or 66 texts of the whole bible. In essence, an interpretation is serving as truth.

Some examples:

  • Virgin birth – misinterpretation of Hebrew from Isaiah 7:14 to Greek – about ‘young woman‘ and ‘virgin‘. Only found in 2 of 4 gospels, not in Acts, nor in the letters (Paul skips over this crucial idea all the time for some reason). In fact, the evidence is so scant for this belief yet it makes for good narrative so the uses in Matthew and Luke (likely both additions from a myth) that it’s inclusion makes all the sense in the world – makes Jesus ‘sensational‘.
  • Trinity – not found in the gospels (except for the one mention in John 8) and not a belief Jesus even followed (according to Mark’s gospel and his Jewish tradition). This is a patchwork of passages from a variety of places and sewn together to make it seem like a key and easy belief to follow – maybe mentioned a handful of times making up maybe .005% of total passages in the NT. How this became a key element of faith is beyond – oh right – church voting made it legit (‘rolls eyes to back of his skull‘).
  • Atonement – the idea that Jesus shed his blood to pay for the sins of all humanity – found in the letter of Hebrews (which may not have been written by Paul and has a huge Gentile slant to it). This idea seems to be read backwards from that letter (date uncertain – some think 60’s – some think 100’s+) into the gospel texts, letters, and Tanakh. It’s a scapegoat theory that leads to the idea you can be forgiven for everything you’ve ever done – past, present, future – just by accepting this blood sacrifice to ‘wash your sins away‘ (or like Carrie – be bathed in blood). In fact, it lets the sinner off the hook and runs counter to much of what Jesus taught concerning ‘accountability‘ for one’s actions.

Juss saying – if any of this is true – how come no one in the disciples or Paul don’t just ‘lay it out there’ for all to see clearly.

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6 thoughts on “Making Up Belief(s) – Christian Doctrine

  1. I think I am going to re-examine Hebrews next – just to see what that book is getting at since it seems to hint these ideas were not all that popular and faced resistance – from Jews for sure – but maybe within the Christian community.

  2. I might be wrong here, but are you taking into consideration that the letters were written to people who already knew the stories about Jesus and what the common belief was? Paul wrote to people who were already practicing “Christianity” so there was no need to relay the foundations.

  3. “Paul wrote to people who were already practicing “Christianity” so there was no need to relay the foundations.” (Xander)

    Considered it but we can tell from Acts and the letters themselves that this is for sure not the case – based on a few things:

    (a) Jesus never taught outside of Israel – so there was no way for the Gentiles in the regions Paul visited to have any clue about those stories

    (b) The early disciples, the actual eyewitnesses of Jesus, are found in Jerusalem and Israel – and never left as far as we know. Acts confirms this is the case – now maybe Peter went to Rome and various places (to visit) – but again these were visits and not extended stays (like Paul in these communities).

    (c) Paul was not an eyewitness of Jesus. Most people tend to forget this and he never wrote a gospel – it is almost clear by his writings he did not even know about them. Read him over and over – how much does he quote Jesus? Rare to never. The issue this raises, is did Paul ever see a gospel writing? Did they even exist? If they did, why didn’t he use them?

    (d) The gospels are local products from what can be ascertained. Local in the sense they only existed in various communities and pockets of Christianity. They did not have the printing press nor a way to make these public very quickly – and regions seemed to have their own versions of Jesus teachings (which became gospels). Thus why there are differences in each of them – they were not written together – nor may have they known of the others – and have a narrative agenda attached to them (which seems to place them later as that agenda is Gentile focused).

    There is great reason to believe that in Paul’s lifetime and amongst his communities they did not have a gospel since they likely had not made it to Gentile territories and only the earliest followers had kept pieces of teachings on Jesus – like the disciples (who spent little to no time in Gentile territory).

  4. In some sense, all the letters we read of Paul are his own theological leanings placed upon the early Christian community and may not actually have been taught by Jesus himself (since we do know Paul disagreed with the Jerusalem Council and few times – in Acts and Galatians we see this).

    What’s funny about Paul is his teachings are not in the gospels either, they are his own inventions about Gentile inclusion and stopping the law from controlling them (since that was needless). This is not an issue Jesus takes up – since he had no concern about the Gentile communities so he never taught on them.

    Weird part is, in current Christian theology, Paul is taught over Jesus – and interpreted over top of what Jesus taught. If you really look at Christian beliefs very closely, we are Paulites and not Jesusites.

  5. Every group goes through the same sociological trend: initial spark/origin, growth, stability, bureaucratic, loss of vitality/death.

    Diversity was quick to spring up in the understanding of the Christian story. That’s cool, yet it can cause lots of problems. There’s no common story or understanding within the group. So Paul went out and gave the movement an early rallying point (let the gentiles in with no circumcision, accepted behavior and belief) and lead to stability which is where the doctrine gets refined and stated the most.

    That can easily slip to bureaucracy. Which is how the East and West church split.

    Yet, without a common language and understanding of the story (doctrine/dogma), how strong can the movement be? Just think of English without the KJV or Shakespeare. Or Germany without the Gutternberg Bible. No common tongue. No sense of unification. Just continual tribalism.

    In a sense, for every Jesus, we need a Paul. We need the spark, and we need the understanding of how that spark is lived out.

  6. “In a sense, for every Jesus, we need a Paul. We need the spark, and we need the understanding of how that spark is lived out.” (Luke)

    I agree, I don’t dislike Paul’s works – just think he is quite misunderstood and misinterpreted a lot.

    I like the point, from Jesus to Paul – both innovators and took the movement into new grounds. Reminds me of music. Music can get stale if you keep writing the same pattern over and over (even when its working). In some sense, you need to innovate and move beyond the starting point to bigger and better things – more wholeness. I see Paul in that light actually.

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