30 November 2006

New Brick Testament Stories

If you haven't seen the Brick Testament before, you should.

It's just the Bible, plain and simple, illustrated with Legos. One of the latest additions is also one of my favorites. Here's a link.

God Commands Amalekite Genocide

And be sure to see the follow-up story.

Saul Rejected for Incomplete Genocide

These Bible stories are a great opportunity for Pope Benedict and the Vatican, who encourage all "faiths to say 'no' to violence in the name of God."

Why not begin by removing 1 Samuel 15 from the Bible? Since that chapter claims that God ordered the genocide of the Amalekites, it couldn't have been inspired by God, right? Get it the hell out of the Bible, I say.

Just say no to violence in the name of God (and thereby reject the violence in the Bible, Quran, and Book of Mormon).

28 November 2006

Jesus will search your kidneys

I [Jesus] am he which searcheth the reins [kidneys] and hearts. Revelation 2:23

Yes, it's true. Jesus is going to search through your kidneys. And if he doesn't like what he finds there, he's going to send you to hell.

You see, according to the Bible, your conscience is in your kidneys (called "reins" in the King James Version). So by inspecting them, Jesus can tell if you've been naughty or nice.

Here are some other verses that give a God's eye view of kidneys.

Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. Psalm 7:9
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. Pslam 16:7
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. Psalm 26:2
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. Psalm 73:21
Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. Proverbs 23:16
But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart. Jeremiah 11:20
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:10
But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart. Jeremiah 20:12

27 November 2006

The seven spirits of God (including the Holy Spirit?)

I beheld ... a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God. Revelation 5:6

The book of Revelation is obsessed with the number seven. God's magic number is used 52 times in 30 verses, with 19 things grouped into sevens.

But the most interesting grouping is the number of God's spirits. Who knew that he had seven of them?

Here's the whole crazy list, with links to the verses so you can read them in context (like that would help or something).

1churches of asia 1:4, 1:11, 1:20(2)
2spirits before God's throne 1:4
3golden candlesticks 1:12, 1:13, 1:20(2), 2:1
4stars in the Jesus' right hand 1:16, 1:20, 2:1, 3:1
5angels 8:2, 8:6, 15:1, 15:6, 15:7, 15:8, 16:1, 17:1, 21:9
6spirits of God 3:1, 4:5, 5:6
7lamps 4:5
8seals 5:1
10eyes 5:6
11trumpets 8:2, 8:6
12thunders 10:3, 10:4(2)
13thousand people killed in an earthquake 11:13
14heads 12:3, 13:1, 17:3, 17:7, 17:9
15crowns 12:3
16plagues 15:1, 15:6, 15:8, 21:9
17golden vials filled with the wrath of God 15:7, 16:1, 17:1, 21:9
18mountains 17:9
19kings 17:10

26 November 2006

Carlton Pearson: No Hell below us

Carlton Pearson is an Evangelical preacher from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He had a large church and a huge following until a few years ago when he publicly renounced his belief in Hell.

The story of his changing views on Hell is the topic of an excellent episode of This American Life. Here's what Bishop Pearson had to say about Hell.

The God we've been preaching is a monster. He's worse than Saddam; he's worse than Osama ben Laden; he's worse than Hitler. Because Hitler just burned 6 million Jews, but God is going to burn at least 6 billion people. And burn them forever. He has this customized torture chamber called Hell were he's going to torment and torture people, not for a few minutes, hours, days, or weeks, but forever.
Here are two of the verses that he uses to justify his belief (or lack of belief) in Hell. (I've added them to Does Hell exist? at the SAB.)
We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

25 November 2006

Where the worms never die

Where are immortal worms mentioned in the Bible?
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. Isaiah 66:24
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:43-44
And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:45-46
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:47-48
It's not clear (to me at least) what Jesus and Isaiah meant by these verses. Do worms live forever in hell? Is human hell worm heaven? Do nonbelievers suffer and die so that worms may live forever?

22 November 2006

Do moderate Muslims believe in hell?

Christians are divided on hell. Some believe in it, some don't. And those that do aren't sure what it's like or who goes there. That's not surprising since the Bible has no clear, consistent teaching about hell (or anything else).

But the Quran has no such problem. If you believe in the Quran, you believe in hell. You know what it's like and who is going there.

I counted 98 passages in the Quran that mention hell. Here's a summary.

Who is going to hell?

  1. Those who deny the existence of hell

    This is hell which the guilty deny. They go circling round between it and fierce, boiling water. 55:43-44

  2. All non-muslims

    They who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, such are rightful owners of hell. 5:10

    But those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, they are owners of hell-fire. 5:86

    Those who disbelieve will be gathered unto hell. 8:36

    Lo! hell verily is all around the disbelievers. 9:49

    We have appointed hell a dungeon for the disbelievers. 17:8

    Lo! We have prepared hell as a welcome for the disbelievers. 18:102

    That is their reward: hell, because they disbelieved, and made a jest of Our revelations and Our messengers. 18:106

    Hell verily will encompass the disbelievers 29:54

    But as for those who disbelieve, for them is fire of hell; it taketh not complete effect upon them so that they can die, nor is its torment lightened for them. 35:36

    This is hell which ye were promised (if ye followed him). Burn therein this day for that ye disbelieved. 36:63-64

    Those who disbelieve are driven unto hell in troops. 39:71

    Those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, they are owners of hell-fire. 57:19

  3. Anyone who kills a Muslim

    Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is hell for ever. 4:93

  4. Muslims that refuse to serve and fight for Allah

    When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless manoeuvring for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey's end. 8:15-16

    Those who scorn My service, they will enter hell, disgraced. 40:60

  5. Muslims that oppose or disobey Allah, Muhammad, or the Quran

    Whoso opposeth the messenger after the guidance (of Allah) hath been manifested unto him, and followeth other than the believer's way, We appoint for him that unto which he himself hath turned, and expose him unto hell - a hapless journey's end! 4:115

    Know they not that whoso opposeth Allah and His messenger, his verily is fire of hell, to abide therein? 9:63

    Whoso disobeyeth Allah and His messenger, lo! his is fire of hell, wherein such dwell for ever. 72:23

What's it like in hell?

On the day when it will (all) be heated in the fire of hell, and their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded therewith. 9:35

Hell is before him, and he is made to drink a festering water, Which he sippeth but can hardly swallow, and death cometh unto him from every side while yet he cannot die, and before him is a harsh doom. 14:16-17

Hell, where they will burn, an evil resting-place. Here is a boiling and an ice-cold draught, so let them taste it. 38:56-57

Lo! the guilty are immortal in hell's torment. It is not relaxed for them, and they despair therein. 43:74-75

Take him and drag him to the midst of hell, Then pour upon his head the torment of boiling water. 44:47-48

On the day when they are dragged into the Fire upon their faces (it is said unto them): Feel the touch of hell. 54:48

Then the welcome will be boiling water And roasting at hell-fire. 56:92-94

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are some moderate Muslims (like Cat Stevens?) that don't believe in hell. If so, I'd love to hear about it.

20 November 2006

Muslim feminists to interpret the Quran

Muslim feminists from around the world vowed to create the first women’s council to interpret the holy Quran and overcome two stereotypes about their religion: Muslims are terrorists and Islam oppresses women.
"Two misconceptions about Islam are that it is associated with terrorism and that Islam is an oppressor of women. These are two myths that we seek to demolish."

Well, I wish them luck. The Quran is pretty consistent when it comes to terrorism and women's rights.

How will the Muslim Feminist Council interpret these verses, for example?

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. 4:34

We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. 3:151

I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger. 8:12

Behold them, staring wide (in terror), the eyes of those who disbelieve! 21:97

I suspect the council will treat these verses like liberal Christians treat similar verses in the Bible: either ignore them entirely or claim that they don't really mean what they very clearly say.


11 November 2006

The Goon Bible Project - Book of Job

The Book of Job gets way more respect than it deserves.

It is, after all, Howard Dean's favorite New Testament book. (I don't know whether he just misspoke during the interview, or whether he really didn't know which testament Job is in. But it was probably the latter. If he's like most American politicians, he's never read the Bible, but he has to pretend that it's one of his favorite books.)

The Goon Bible Project gives the Book of Job a fair and balanced treatment.

It is easy for Allah

We shall cast him into Fire, and that is ever easy for Allah. Quran 4:30

In a previous post, I mentioned the more than 200 times that the Quran threatens unbelievers (non-Muslims) with a painful (shameful, dreadful, etc.) doom. But that didn't count the Quran's references to "the Fire". So I thought I'd better look into that.

The Quran mentions "the Fire" 140 times. Here is just a sampling from the short list.

Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. 4:56

And the dwellers of the Fire cry out unto the dwellers of the Garden: Pour on us some water or some wherewith Allah hath provided you. They say: Lo! Allah hath forbidden both to disbelievers (in His guidance). 7:50

We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. 18:29

If those who disbelieved but knew the time when they will not be able to drive off the fire from their faces and from their backs, and they will not be helped! 21:39

But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads. 22:19

The fire burneth their faces, and they are glum therein. 23:104

Their retreat is the Fire. Whenever they desire to issue forth from thence, they are brought back thither. Unto them it is said: Taste the torment of the Fire which ye used to deny. 32:20

But as for those who disbelieve, for them is fire of hell; it taketh not complete effect upon them so that they can die, nor is its torment lightened for them. 35:36

Those who are immortal in the Fire and are given boiling water to drink so that it teareth their bowels. 47:15

04 November 2006

Ted Haggard: It's written in the Bible

Pastor Ted had this to say in the Jesus Camp movie:
We've decided the Bible is the Word of God. We don't have to have a general assembly about what we believe. It's written in the Bible. So we don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible.

And he's right about that, too. It is written in the Bible. It not only condemns homosexual activity, but it defines the punishment for it.

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

Since it is so clearly written in the Bible, Bible believers have only three choices: kill Pastor Ted (assuming he had sex with a male prostitute), remove Leviticus 20:13 from the Bible, or reject the Bible entirely.

I recommend the third option.

01 November 2006

Test your faith: Is it as great as Abraham's?

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and ... offer him there for a burnt offering.... And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Genesis 22:2, 10

Kill the Afterlife has a great test for believers of the Abrahamic faiths (Jews, Muslims, Christians -- heck, I suppose that'd even include Mormons). What would Abraham do? Would you, could you, should you do likewise?
Are you a Christian? Muslim? Jew? Good, because I want to ask you a question.
Remember the old story about Abraham being commanded by God to kill his son in the land of Moriah? Remember how Abraham was about to faithfully commit infanticide on his own offspring in the name of God, but then at the last second God stopped him?
This is a thought/faith experiment. First, we acknowledge that you are an Abrahamic theist (Christian, Muslim, or Jew). Second we assume that you have a child (if you don't have one in real life, let's pretend that you do for the sake of argument). Third, let's imagine that God came to you and told you to sacrifice your child on the peak of the nearest mountain, a la Abraham at Moriah.
Of course, in the story, God stopped Abraham at the last minute and allowed Abraham to kill a ram instead. But Abraham didn't know that God would stop him. And more importantly, Abraham was about to carry out the infanticidal act with total faith and conviction.
So the question to you, dear theist, is: Would you do it?
Seriously! Don't dodge the question. According to your faith, God did it before, so put yourself in Abraham's shoes. This is a test of your faith and conviction. This is a test to see if you put God first in your life!
If God asked you to kill your child, would you do it with total faith and conviction? Would you pass the test as Abraham did?