Reposted from the Sillwater Gazette
by Lee Salisbury
 
As a former bible-believing evangelical pastor, I empathize with Pastor Mark Becker's feelings of offense with Andrew Carnegie comment - calling God a "fiend." Independent thinkers like Carnegie, especially when demonstrative of indispensable magnanimity to society, threaten commonly embraced views that atheists are evil.

Pastor Becker correctly observes that Carnegie was a responsible steward of his fortune. However, Carnegie's philanthropic motivation differed from the Christian motivation. Carnegie was motivated solely by what was the "right thing to do here and now" with no thought of pleasing an imaginary God who intimidates unbelievers with hell and rewards believers with heaven.
Christian theology dictates that Carnegie burn eternally in an imaginary hell. Yet, every time we enter the Stillwater Public Library - or one of the thousands of other libraries he funded - Carnegie's generosity and wisdom are contrasted with the harsh vindictiveness of the Christian God.



I applaud Pastor Becker's acceptance of evolutionary theory as fact. Pastor Becker separates himself from the self-serving, narrow-minded fundamentalist clergy who oppose our young people's understanding science for the sake of perpetuating the mythical creation story. This sad promotion of the Genesis account as historical fact has become an obstacle to young minds searching out the biological realities that evolution so marvelously explains.

Carnegie's rejection of an "angry God" who must "punish somebody" is understandable for those able to reason outside the box of man-made tradition. The bible's God knew in advance that Adam and Eve would sin. Nevertheless, this God created them, allowed for their temptation, and then contrary to the basics of any parent's love becomes angry at the very event He planned. This God then blames His newly created ignorant victim alleging "free will." Today's civil law describes God's horrendous act as "entrapment." Carnegie rejected this convoluted irrational God as the theological manipulation of an authoritarian priesthood who fabricated a scenario to justify their own existence in order to foist it upon fearful gullible humans.

I suspect Carnegie would also reject Pastor Becker's reasoning of "a virgin will be with child and bear a son and she will call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14) as being fulfilled in "God is with us" (Matthew 1:23). This is one of many Old Testament scriptures lifted out of context to justify the claim that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.

The popular claim that Jesus was born of a virgin based on Isaiah 7:14 is a gross misrepresentation of Isaiah's words. Christian theology required a savior of divine seed untainted by Adam's sin. In addition, Matthew was competing with other Greek, Egyptian, Persian and Roman savior-god stories whose saviors were born of virgins. Thus, Isaiah's so-called virgin birth solved this duel-faceted challenge.

Isaiah told Israel's King Ahaz: "The Lord will give you a sign: Behold an almah will conceive" (Isaiah 7:14). The Hebrew word meaning "maiden" was mistranslated in the third century BC Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible as "virgin." Isaiah acknowledges he approached this almah; she conceived and gave birth to a son (Isaiah 8:3). Isaiah's almah conceived without any intervention by God. There was no virgin birth prophesied. Immanuel meaning "god is with us" received the credit for Ahaz's victory over the King of Syria.

The Jewish people were not dumb. As expected of any rational people they rejected Matthew's fabrication. This proved calamitous for the Jews. The Gentile Christian victors who generations later wrote the crucifixion story purposely blamed the Jews so the Romans would look like innocent law-abiding citizens. Hence, Martin Luther and multitudes of Christians had an excuse for the centuries of heinous anti-Semite atrocities culminating in the Roman Catholic-aligned Hitler's extermination of six million Jews.

To add further to the Christian theological cauldron of make-believe and the chagrin of Christian theologians, there are no original manuscripts of the gospels or epistles. No one knows who actually wrote them. The number of gospels and their alleged eyewitness accounts are, at best, half-truths. All that scholars have are copies of copies of copies edited and re-edited over many centuries in order to accommodate the continuously unfolding doctrinal requirements of church hierarchy.

This should come as no surprise. Christianity's evolution parallels the development of every religion - whether Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish. Doctrinal requirements dictate the eventual interpretation required, whether it be a revered Mullah or Bishop, all so the respective sect could claim to have "the truth."

Nevertheless, myth in every culture has always provided powerful examples for us hero-loving humans. Myths illustrative of heroic sacrifice, selfless love and commitment to a cause greater than us have proven inspirational. To the extent that they inspire us to reach beyond our all too oft uneventful lives, they are beneficial.

Thus, our Christmas holidays (that actually originated from the secular solstice celebrations) inspire gift giving and joyful celebrations by virtue of the mystical story of Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and the Magi.

I hope all our Gazette readers had a very Merry Christmas, and I wish them a happy New Year!




Lee Salisbury lives in Stillwater and appreciates reader responses at leesal@comcast.net.

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