Adapted from When God Speaks for Himself: The Words of God You’ll NEVER Hear in Church or Sunday School, by Mark Tier and George Forrai (Inverse Books, 2016). Reprinted with permission from Mark Tier.
When God Speaks for Himself
Have you read the Bible?
From cover to cover? From Genesis to Revelation?
It would seem that few of us have.
Even those you’d think would be required to read the whole Bible haven’t — as I discovered, to my surprise, when a nun happened to see a proof copy of the back WARNING! cover of this book. Horrified, she burst out:
“That’s not true!
Those verses aren’t in the Bible!”
To prove it, she opened the Bible — only to discover that she was wrong.
How can this be?
As kids in Sunday School, we hear the stories of Adam and Eve and the creation of the world, Jesus in the Manger and the Three Wise Men, Jonah and the Whale, and how Noah saved the animals from the flood.
These are, naturally enough, edited into an engaging style appropriate to five and ten year olds. Eve ate the apple, Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and Noah took the animals “two by two. ”
But how many of us have actually opened the Bible to read the original texts of these stories and found that:
— We don’t know what kind of fruit Eve ate. Genesis 2:16-17 merely says: “…the LORD God commanded the man [Adam], saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
— The kind of fish that swallowed Jonah is not specified: “the LORD had prepared a great fish [a whale, of course, is not a fish but a mammal] to swallow up Jonah” [Jonah 1:17].
— “Noah took the animals, two by two,…” is actually not what God instructed: “Of every clean beast [that can be eaten according to Jewish dietary laws] thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female;… ” [Genesis 7:2-3].
These innocuous edits improve the story value but don’t change the meaning. But even if we’ve read the Bible, it’s the edited versions of the stories that stick in our minds — which we treat as the “Word of God. ”
This does not explain why, as adults, few of us know that Moses does command:
“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” (Got your Bible handy? It’s in Numbers 31, verses 17-18.)
Quite understandably, that’s a passage you’ll never hear in a sermon, any more than you’ll be instructed in the finer points of boiling and eating your children (Deuteronomy 28:53), the God-given procedures for selling your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7-8) or His recommended treatment for stubborn or rebellious sons (death by stoning: Deuteronomy 21:18-21) — though, come to think of it, they’re pretty good threats for keeping unruly kids in line!
How come even devout Christians, like the nun I mentioned above, are mortified to learn that these and, hundreds of similar passages, are the “Word of God”?
Because such passages are almost never heard in church!
Of the three to four Bible passages to be read in Catholic Church services each day, just one every other week contains a few verses, like those above, that the average person will find offensive.
Those verses are, for the most part, buried in the middle of the reading: unless you’re paying close attention, you’ll miss them completely.
In politics this is called “spin”: exaggerate the positive, downplay the negative — or ignore it and hope no one notices.
While politicians may be telling you the truth (a proposition that should automatically be doubted), you can be sure they aren’t telling you the whole truth.
Similarly, what most people “know” about God, Jesus and what the Bible says is the abridged, saccharine version of the “Word of God.”
No wonder, then, that most Christians are astonished to learn that, “When God Speaks for Himself, ” he uses words you’ll never hear in church or Sunday School — as you can discover for yourself in the following pages which contain:
— Gruesome, bloodthirsty massacres ordered by God — Bible passages that will make your stomach churn;
— Bible passages that say the exact opposite of another Bible passage, sometimes in two consecutive verses!
— Bible passages that contradict what you “know”: was Jesus born in Bethlehem? And he gave his Sermon on the Mount on the mount, right?;
— Obvious inconsistencies about the Virgin Birth, Original Sin, and other central tenets of Christianity — to which the churches’ only possible answer is: “have faith”;
— Simple questions about such Bible favorites as the Creation, the Flood and Noah’s Ark that make Cinderella and The Three Little Pigs seem far more realistic;
Plus: extracts from official church documents — some kept hidden for centuries — including the actual words of the Inquisition’s reasoning and verdict on Galileo, a collection of pointed and often hilarious quotes and comments from skeptics and believers from all over the world…and much more.
In sum, in your hands you hold the answers to dozens of questions you simply would not have been allowed to ask in church or Sunday School.
Excerpted from When God Speaks for Himself by Mark Tier and George Forrai. Copyright © Mark Tier and Pronto Express, 2010. All rights reserved.
— Church and State (@ChurchAndStateN) January 23, 2018
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