John 3:16 – Now what do you say to THAT,
you stupid heathen?
(Part 7 of Dr. Laurence Brown’s refutation of John 3:16)
Okay, you’ve got the format of these articles by now, right? Here’s 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.” Here’s what we’ve covered so far:
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.
5) Episode 6: The ‘Gospel according to John’ is so unreliable that even Christian scholars discredit its validity.
And here’s the pitch: Everything we’ve discussed so far has been just a postcard discussion of the subject. If you want more detail, feel free to visit my website, LevelTruth.com. Feel especially free to buy my cheapie e-books, The First and Final Commandment, MisGod’ed and God’ed. And feel really, really especially free to purchase the more expensive royalty . . . oh, excuse me, I meant hardcopy versions. Yup, that’s what I meant . . . hardcopy. All kidding aside, dua for the author (that would be me) is worth more than money. I wish I could sell the books on that basis, but I couldn’t find that as a payment option on Amazon.com or Itunes. Bummer, but the dunia must go on. And so must this series, although only for this one last episode.
Yup, that’s right, this is the last episode of this series *sniffle*. Look, it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that I feel a need to write on other subjects. In addition to which, you don’t call, you don’t write . . . heck, I’m losing interest. Now, don’t call me lazy. Sure, all of my houseplants are dead, but I’m pretty sure there’s something growing in the refrigerator. No, the main issue is that I’m running out of material. You can only discredit a religious teaching so much before you become convinced that if people haven’t gotten the point yet, they never will.
Back to the subject. There is an old saying: The bait hides the hook. John 3:16 is the bait, through which evangelists hope to hook and reel people into their smug, and entirely illegitimate, conclusions. They tell us God gave His “only begotten Son,” without critically analyzing this concept (“critically analysis” = “think”, for the evangelists out there). Now, I’m not going to dwell on this. It’s impossible for me to cram thirty pages from my book into a two page article. So I’m just going to throw a couple of body blows followed by a knockout punch. If that isn’t good enough for you, then maybe you’re one of those peculiar individuals who think they can make sense of Christianity’s (in)famous Athanasian Creed – a creed so convoluted and nonsensical that Gennadius, the patriarch of Constantinople, “was so much amazed by this extraordinary composition, that he frankly pronounced it to be the work of a drunken man.”[i] And he was the patriarch of the city that was the seat of Trinitarian Christianity. But what does he know, right?
In the words of Edith Sitwell, “I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.” I mean, really. Every dogma has its day, and the day of John 3:16 is done. If Jesus is the “only begotten Son of God,” why does Psalms 2:7 say this about David: “The LORD has said to me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten you.” Jesus the “only begotten son of God,” with David a “son,” “begotten” by God a scant forty generations earlier? The Bible can have one “only” of something, but not two. Oops, I forgot the body blows and went straight to the knockout punch. Look, John 3:16 is down and . . . 8 . . . 9 . . . 10 . . . and out. It’s over in the first round. Is there any mystery here? Certainly not if you’re a free‑thinker. But unfortunately, religious debates with evangelical Christians rarely follow logic. They tend to go more like this:
Non-Christian: “Your dogma is manmade, your Bible is unreliable, and you’re parroting self-serving concepts that make no sense.”
Christian: “That’s true, but hear me out.”
Enh, don’t think so. As Arthur Stringer said:
It’s the lunacy linked with sanity
Makes up, and mocks, humanity!
Want to kick a dogma when it’s down? In the Bible, “only begotten” is translated from the ancient Greek monogenes.[ii] And yet, “Isaac is monogenes in Heb. 11:17.”[iii] Ho, boy. Explain that little scripture slip-ature. Ishmael was born fourteen years before Isaac, and both were alive when their father, Abraham, passed on. At no time was Isaac ever Abraham’s “only begotten” son. So is “only begotten” a mistranslation of monogenes, or is Heb. 11:17 a mistake? If it’s a mistranslation, then John 3:16 must be mistranslated as well. If it’s a mistake, we can’t trust the Bible as a whole (a repeating refrain in these discussions). Body blow, body blow.
Do you know the difference between smart people and fools? Smart people sometimes change their minds, but fools never do. George Pettie once amended the old proverb, “To err is human, to forgive is divine . . .” by adding, “and to persist in error, beastly.” The self-righteous, “I’ve got the Holy Spirit inside me and can do no wrong” attitude of the John 3:16’ers is offensive for as many reasons as it is wrong. For one thing, it sounds too much like the lawyer’s maxim to argue facts and law when they serve the purpose, and holler when they don’t. Remind you of anybody?
The Bible describes many people, Israel and Adam included, as “sons of God.” Both 2 Samuel 7:13–14 and 1 Chronicles 22:10 read, “He (Solomon) shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.” Body blow, body blow. But look, people keep trying to pull John 3:16 back to its feet. Regardless of the strength of the evidence against them, they refuse to acknowledge defeat and throw in the towel. And maybe we should accept that.
Matthew 5:9 reports Jesus as having said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Tell you what: Let’s forget about trying to win this argument, and make peace over it. If we can’t unite on creeds, let’s at least unite on kind and charitable deeds. Let’s become “blessed peacemakers” who are called “sons of God.” Then, let’s point out that this is just one more biblical verse that contradicts John 3:16’s exclusive “Son of God” concept. Nothing says we can’t make peace, and continue to politely press our point at the same time. But that, to me, is an important element to any religious dialogue: Keep it light, polite, and maintain focus.
[i] Gibbon, Edward, Esq. 1854. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. 4. London: Henry G. Bohn. Chapter XXXVII, p. 146.
[ii] Kittel, Gerhard and Gerhard Friedrich (editors). 1985. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Paternoster Press Ltd. p. 607.