John 3:16 – Now what do you say to THAT,
you stupid heathen?
(Part 6 of Dr. Laurence Brown’s refutation of John 3:16)
Okay, I get it; John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”) – it’s a practical joke, isn’t it? On the Day of Judgment, Iblees (Satan) will greet the unfortunate Christians who trust their salvation to John 3:16. Then he’ll slap them on their backs with a big guffaw and tell them they’ve been Punk’d out of Paradise.
To recap, in the last five episodes of this series, we have discussed the following:
1) Episode 1: The gospel known as ‘John’ almost certainly was not written by the disciple John;
2) Episode 2: In John 3:16, as with elsewhere in the Bible, translators illegitimately capitalized ‘his’ and ‘him’ to make Jesus look like God;
3) Episodes 3&4: Because the Bible is internally inconsistent and factually unreliable, it does not fulfill the basic requirements expected of sacred scripture;
4) Episode 5: The foundational ideology (the alleged Crucifixion, Resurrection and Atoning sacrifice) is so flawed we cannot reasonably rely upon John 3:16 (or, for that matter, upon the Bible as a whole) for salvation.
We’ve also discussed candle wax, ear wax, and waxing nose-hairs, although not in that order. What we haven’t discussed, and what I refuse to discuss, is why we should believe John 3:16 to be true. Why won’t I discuss it? Simple. I get paid by word count, and if I write an article about the evidence that supports John 3:16, guess what? That’s right . . . the article is over. There are no good reasons, so you don’t get an article, I don’t get paid, and that leaves me with nothing to do but contemplate new and inventive uses of my stainless steel soup ladle. And if you’ve been following this column, you know I can’t do that without the risk of serious personal injury.
But perhaps that isn’t fair. There is one very seductive reason why people believe John 3:16, and that is because it sounds so good. Then again, the 60’s song “Louie, Louie” sounds good, but it doesn’t make any sense either, does it? As a matter of fact, when J. Edgar Hoover – the head of the FBI back then – ordered an investigation of the song because he thought it might be subversive, even they couldn’t make sense of it (true story). I think there is a moral to this tale, and it has something to do with the old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” In this case, Christian love of the absent prophet, Jesus, grew to the point they made him into a god. It doesn’t matter that Jesus professed to be a man and a prophet, and denied divinity. No, they want him to be God, and they love him enough to elevate him to that status, even if it isn’t true. So maybe it’s less a case of “absence making the heart grow fonder” and more a case of “absinthe making the heart go yonder.” Which might be one more reason why alcohol is forbidden – those who become drunk on an ideology of wishful thinking let their hearts wander off to some pretty peculiar places. Kindof like me with my soup ladle. I stare into the mesmerizing depths of its mirror polish and wonder, “If twitters twit and chatters chat, what do scuppers do?” I digress, but admit it; you’re not exactly reading this column for scholastic content, are you?
Anyhoo. We’re on to something here, and if anyone can remind me what it is, I’ll expand on the idea. Oh, yeah. Why we should believe John 3:16. We shouldn’t, okay? End of story. Last episode in this series, I discussed some of the fallacies of the concept of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. I left the best for last, and it is this: according to the Bible, God doesn’t even want a sacrifice. Now, let’s just leave aside the common-sense arguments (that forgiveness doesn’t have a price; that one person cannot atone for another; that if God had wanted, He would have forgiven mankind on that basis alone; etc.) and just dwell upon the fact that the Bible tells us God doesn’t want sacrifice in the first place: Hosea 6:6 reads, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” Sure, this is Old Testament, but Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 both reference this verse, so it applies to the New Testament as well. So, what is the argument again? That God needed a sacrifice that He doesn’t even want? Uh . . . don’t think so.
There are plenty of other reasons why we shouldn’t believe John 3:16, and one of the best is not that we can’t believe John 3:16, but that we can’t believe anything in the ‘Gospel according to John.’ Despite the fact that nobody even knows who authored ‘John,’ the Jesus Seminar analyzed the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John and “were unable to find a single saying they could with certainty trace back to the historical Jesus. . . . The words attributed to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel are the creation of the evangelist for the most part.”[i] Now, why would ‘the evangelist’ do such a thing? Because, “Jesus’ followers were inclined to adopt and adapt his words to their own needs. This led them to invent narrative contexts based on their own experience, into which they imported Jesus as the authority figure.”[ii] The Jesus Seminar documents hundreds of examples in the gospels, including cases where “the followers of Jesus borrowed freely from common wisdom and coined their own sayings and parables, which they then attributed to Jesus.”[iii]
So much for ‘John’ – not just 3:16, but all of it.
Anyway, for all most people know, John 3:17 says John 3:16 was scratched in the sand by a rainbow-bottomed mandrill after a three-day binge on fermented fruit with swamp water chasers. I’m exaggerating, of course, but all that most people remember about Peter in the Bible is that Jesus said Peter was the “rock” upon which he would build his church (Matthew 16:18–19). They conveniently forget that Jesus denounced his “rock” as “Satan” and “an offense” a scant five verses later. Point being that the Bible is filled with contradictions, so how can we know what is true and what isn’t?
We are left scratching our heads, wondering why anybody trusts John 3:16 enough to promote the verse. Someone in this equation is misguided, and I don’t think it is necessarily the people who are pointing their fingers and politely suppressing a snigger. Or not – suppressing their scorn, that is. As the old saying goes, the whistle does not pull the train. Christians might like how John 3:16 sounds, but that does not mean the verse is true, or that it should draw others to their beliefs. In fact, the more we examine the verse, the more reasons we find to discredit it.
If I have one voice I would like to echo, it is Voltaire’s: Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty in the face of contrary evidence is an absolutely absurd one. Not everyone will agree, and those who don’t can send me a Twit or join my chat. I’ll scup them back, and explain exactly what they can do with their soup ladle.
[i] Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. p. 10.
[ii] Funk, Robert W., p. 21.
[iii] Funk, Robert W., p. 22.