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The Historical Library is provided for those doing research into the history of nontheism. It is not intended to be--and should not be used as--a source of modern, up-to-date information regarding atheistic issues. DO NOT CONTACT US ABOUT THESE DOCUMENTS. Please read the full Historical Library Disclaimer

Chapter 16

Joseph Wheless

                38 page printout, page 339 - 376
                           CHAPTER XVI

              THE SACRED DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY

     THE creeds, says a poet, are in number some seventy-three. Of
Christian sects or denominations, each founded upon chosen texts,
there are in fact a much greater number, some hundreds, each quite
out of harmony with all the others. Each by its sectarian votaries
is fondly held to be the sole inheritor of saving truth, and can
point with pride to the inerrant texts where the legacy of truth is
made to it alone. But every other sect disputes this reading, and
with equal assurance and no less pride can point to yet other texts
of the true Testament which nullify the pretensions of all the
others and leave itself the sole and universal heir to saving
truth.

     For are not the Christian sects, seventy-three though be their
conflicting creeds, one and all of them founded upon the
"impregnable rock of the Holy Scripture," as Mr. Gladstone termed
it, and the belief that this book is divinely inspired in its every
word; that it is the "living Word of God," the faithful revelation
of his divine will to man? Outside the sacred tome itself, no
higher authority can be invoked for the inerrant truth of Holy Writ
and the utter unity of that truth than the recent (A.D. 1870)
spirit-illumined declaration of the sacred Vatican Council:

          "These books are sacred and canonical because they
     contain revelation without error, and because, written by the
     inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their
     author."

     Yet we have in the foregoing pages seen great parts of this
God-written book sadly lacking in inspiration and truth; and to
explain or attenuate this, one might suspect that such parts of it
may be excepted from the general rule of inspiration and inerrancy.
But in this they err, to believe the Holy Ghost speaking lately
through Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Provid. Deus, where this
error is roundly refuted:

          "It will never be lawful to restrict inspiration merely
     to certain parts of the Holy Scripture, or to grant that the
     sacred writers could have made a mistake. ... They render in
     exact language, with infallible truth, all that God commanded
     and nothing else; without that, God would not be the Author of
     the Scripture in its entirety."

     This settles it; "Roma locuta est, causa finita est." And to
this dogma of infallibly inspired truth in toto, all the otherwise
dissentient members of the Body of Christ chorus unanimously amen.

     The trouble with the dogma of inspired infallible truth is in
the utter riot of diversity of truth in the sacred book, each truth
inferentially and necessarily discounting or discrediting all the
others. For is it not true that of two or more contradictory dogmas
or doctrines, while none may be true, not more than one can
possibly be? "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim.
iii, 16). The truth of this inspired dogma, and of the papal
complements to it, above quoted, is so easily tested and proved -- 

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                        IS IT GOD'S WORD?

or disproved -- by the simplest and most infallible of tests, that
an honest mind can but candidly apply the test. The simple
expedient of pairing off Bible texts one against another, or, as it
were, "matching inspirations," is an infallible way of testing the
truth and harmony of inerrant inspiration -- and its revelations
will be found astounding. No single dogmatic doctrine or inspired
truth will be found in all the New Testament which is not
contradicted, denied, refuted, repudiated, and made ridiculous by
some equally inspired truth uttered by the same, or by some other
equally inspired, dogmatist.

     The fault lies not in the reader and searcher, but in the
book. We shall simply turn the pages of the inspired and inerrant
Word and note the principal dogmas and doctrines of the Christian
creeds -- and leave the result to speak for itself.

                      THE FORMULA OF FAITH

     The inspired formula of the faith is Paul's own confession of
faith: "This I confess unto thee, that after the way which they
call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all
things which are written in the law and in the prophets" (Acts
xxiv, 14). Faith cares not for facts or proofs, but boasts that it
"believeth all things, hopeth all things" (1 Cor. xiii, 7). Faith
is all-sufficient, in lieu of fact -- "the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. xi, 1), not
known, and altogether unknowable.

     In this confessed absence of certain knowledge, we shall see
what the inspired dogmatists and doctrinaires solemnly posit for
our belief. First let us have well in mind the confessed
mendacities and frauds which were so potent a factor in carrying on
the good work of Salvation from mythical perdition.

                    LYING AND FRAUD ADMITTED

     Paul, in his zealot exaltation, admits and justifies, on
Jesuitical principles, the preaching of falsehood, and feels really
aggrieved that honest men should take exceptions to such mendacious
propaganda:

          "For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my
     lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?"
     (Rom. iii, 7)

     In a spirit of good-humored naivete he winks at the flock of
Corinthians whom he has hooked into the fold, and admits that he
had tricked them:

          "Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be
     loved. But be it so: ... nevertheless, being crafty, I caught
     you with guile." (2 Cor. xii, 15, 16)

     As a "man that striveth for the mastery" (1 Cor. ix, 25), he
expounds to the church leaders the modus operandi of the successful
propagandist:

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          "I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the
     more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain
     the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law,
     that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that
     are without law, as without law, that I might gain them that
     are without law. ... I am made all things to all men, that I
     might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's
     sake" (1 Cor. ix, 19-23). And he admits to the church of
     Corinth: "I robbed other churches ... to do you service" (2
     Cor. xi, 8).

                    REDEMPTION FROM THE CURSE

     The dogma of death and damnation through the "sin of Adam" is
variously stated and elaborated by its protagonist Paul; first as
follows:

          "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and
     death by sin; and so death passed upon all men; ... therefore,
     as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to
     condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free
     gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Rom. v,
     12, 18)

     Thus Paul propounds the doctrine of death and damnation to all
by the sin of one, Adam, and of salvation by the "free gift unto
all men" by the atonement of another One. More simply and
positively he repeats this:

          "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be
     made alive." (i Cor. xv, 22)

     And with the utmost assurance he avers:

          "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse." (Gal. iii, 13)

     These texts carry the positive assurance, perfectly logical
and just if true, that as the fearful "original sin" of Adam
entailed the "curse" of inevitable involuntary sin and damnation
upon all mankind ever since, the great sacrifice and propitiation
of Jesus Christ has the effect of wiping out that old score
utterly, and redeeming all mankind without more ado. Indeed, the
nearest and dearest to Jesus of his four biographers several times
in his first epistle justifies this interpretation and confirms
this reasonable expectation:

          "God ... sent his Son to be the propitiation for our
     sins." (i John iv, 10; iii, 5)

     He repeats and amplifies this assurance of free redemption:

          "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for
     our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (I John
     ii, 2)

     The same is likewise asserted by Peter:

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          "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just
     for the unjust, that be might bring us to God" (1 Peter iii,
     18)

     And he asserts the complete efficacy of the vicarious
atonement once and for all:

          "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the
     tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto
     righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter ii,
     24)

     These plain texts surely seem to mean what they with such
reiteration say -- that, as all were damned nolens volens through
the Old Adam, willy-nilly all should have free and unconditional
redemption through the expiation of the New Adam "for the sins of
the whole world." But our well justified confidence is by a variety
of limitations disappointed: redemption and salvation are found to
be quite partial, precarious, and then impossible.

                     FREE FOR ALL OR LIMITED

     The universality of free redemption is assured in gracious
terms by the Master's own words:

          "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."
     (Matt. xviii, 11)

     And again, in appealing, soothing words assuring free grace
and salvation to all, believer or not:

          "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and
     I will give you rest." (Matt. xi, 28)

     Even broader and freer is the offer of the Apocalypse:

          "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life
     freely." (Rev. xxii, 17)

     Surely these repeated passages prove free "redemption from the
curse" and salvation from sin for all mankind, without condition
and without price the "free gift of grace." All were cursed and
damned; all are redeemed and saved.

     But the Beloved Disciple strikes a chord whose fatal
dissonance alarms the hopeful soul even under the beautiful words
in which it is clothed -- it is the Believer only for whom the
supreme propitiation is made, who only is thus "redeemed from the
curse":

          "For God [i.e., Yahveh] so loved the world that he gave
     his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should
     not perish, but have everlasting life." (John iii, 16)

     The Christ himself proclaimed the universal efficacy of his
sacrifice:

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          "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all
     men unto me." (John xii, 32)

     though this he denies in his cryptic assertion:

          "For many be called, but few chosen." (Matt. xx, 16)

                   "SALVATION IS OF THE JEWS"

     Even this limitation of salvation to "whosoever believeth" has
yet another limitation: Christ did not come to redeem all mankind
damned in the curse that is to be redeemed, but the Jew only -- if
the Jew believed. The Christ himself positively asserts so:

          "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the
     lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. xv, 24,)

     This was the divine commission given by the Master to the
Twelve upon their very first mission.

          "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them,
     saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city
     of the Samaritans enter ye not; But go rather to the lost
     sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. x, 5, 6)

     The Christ told the woman of Samaria, --

          "Salvation is of the Jews." (John iv, 22)

     Thus, by his own iterated assertion, the Christ gainsays all
the assurances of free and universal redemption "for the sins of
the whole world" and the assurance that God sent his Son that
"whosoever believeth" should be saved. The believer must be a "lost
sheep" of Israel; all others still remained under the universal
curse. But Jewry was safe and that too without condition of belief:

          "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written,
     There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn
     away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto
     them, when I shall take away their sins." (Rom. xi, 26, 27)

     This prophecy, however, is known to have not yet been wholly
verified, and besides is expressly repudiated by the chief apostle
after the total failure of the Christ to realize his special
mission to the "lost sheep" of Israel. The Jews had been so often
deceived by "false Christs," self-proclaimed Messiahs -- by the
fatuous cry, "Lo, here is Christ, or there" (Matt. xxiv, 23) --
that they were not in a receptive mood towards this One. So Paul,
who had taken up the propaganda of the faith that failed at the
cross, hopeless of the sophisticated "lost sheep of Israel,"
denounced them as "unworthy of everlasting life" (Acts xiii, 46);
and he proclaimed: "Lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (xiii, 46) -- who
were not so schooled in Hebrew traditions, and might thus more
readily be taken into the fold. Paul thus assures them:

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          "For so hath the Lord [Yahveh] commanded us, saying, I
     have set thee, to be a light of the Gentiles. ... And when the
     Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of
     Yahveh." (Acts xiii, 47, 48)

     But it is the Hebrew God Yahveh who is quoted (Isa. xlix, 6)
as saying this: it was no part of the mission or purpose of the
Christ to redeem or save any but the Jews -- "I am not sent but to
the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Consequently the mission of
the Christ had been a confessed failure; and the gentiles, to whom
the "free gift" was now promised, and who were glad, were yet to
learn the conditions and limitations of the gift.

             BELIEVE AND BE SAVED -- OR STAY DAMNED

     God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but should be
redeemed from the curse, and have everlasting life; but

          "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but
     the wrath of God abideth on him." (John iii, 36)

     The sine qua non of belief as the alternative to continued
eternal damnation is reiterated throughout the gospels and the
epistles of the God of Love, who came "that the world through him
might be saved." In his last recorded words after the resurrection,
the crucified Christ thus challenges the unredeemed:

          "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he
     that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark xvi, 16)

     All repudiations of the doctrine of unconditioned free grace
and salvation culminate, however, in this statement of Paul:

          "He that doubteth is damned." (Rom. xiv, 23)

                    REPENTANCE AS A CONDITION

     To the requirement of belief the Master has just added that of
"and is baptized"; otherwise the soul is damned and the wrath of
Yahveh God abideth on him as since Adam's time. Following this
fearful intimation come Peter's words of exhortation, adding yet
another condition to the "free" gift:

          "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins
     may be blotted out." (Acts iii, 19)

     Paul, however, flatly denies the need for repentance:

          "For the gifts and calling of God are without
     repentance." (Rom. xi, 29)

     Paul's statement is also a flat contradiction of the explicit
words of his Master:

          "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke
     xiii, 3)

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     The need of repentance, or of any other act on the part of the
individual damned through Adam seems to be entirely obviated by the
explicit avowal of divine responsibility for unbelief -- which
seems hard to believe of a good God:

          "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he
     might have mercy upon all." (Rom. xi, 32)

     But the assurance of gratuitous mercy to all, even
unbelievers, is contradicted by the same inspired dogmatist in the
selfsame epistle; he imputes to God the wilful turning of human
souls to damnation, destroying their power of escape:

          "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and
     whom he will he hardeneth." (ROM. ix, 18)

                      ELECTED OR ECLECTIC?

     The text last quoted contains the hint of what may be termed
election to involuntary damnation, which is the effect of God's
"hardening" of a predamned soul which may desire to believe and be
saved. But the fatal doctrine, which is the total repudiation of
"propitiation for the sins of the whole world," finds many more
explicit assertions -- as well as bald denials -- in the inspired
texts. When Paul "turned to the Gentiles," and the Gentiles were
glad, and glorified, and apparently were all zealous to accept the
new faith, it is recorded:

          "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
     (Acts xiii, 48)

     This fatal phrase "ordained to eternal life," limiting the
possibility of belief, and hence of salvation, to an unknowable
select number of the gentiles, seems like the explosion of a
sapper's mine under hope in the promise of "whosoever will." But
hope is raised by the apostolic assurance:

          "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord
     [Yahveh] shall be saved." (Rom. x, 13)

     This hope, however, is dashed by the counter-assurance of the
same inspired author:

          "According as he hath chosen us in him before the
     foundation of the world, ... having predestinated us unto the
     adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to
     the good pleasure of his will." (Epb. i, 4, 5)

     And the doctrine of free-will to choose to be saved -- if not
saved without choice, as damned without choice -- is denied by the
stone on which the Church is founded:

          "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
     through sanctification of the Spirit." (1 Peter i, 2)

     These words of renewed hope greet us:

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          "For when we were yet without strength, in due time
     Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. v, 6)

     But the hope is sadly jarred by these others of the same
dogmatist:

          "Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to
     salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of
     the truth." (2 Thess. ii, 13)

     The colloquy between the jailer of Philippi and his prisoners
Paul and Silas raises again the hope of salvation to all who will
believe:

          "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe
     on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy
     house." (Acts xvi, 30, 31)

     The jailer, however, would seem to have been "elect" and the
reasonable hopes of other willing believers seem rudely curtailed
by the discouraging ipse dixit of the Master:

          "Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be
     saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait
     gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and
     shall not be able." (Luke xiii, 23, 24)

     This seems strangely at variance with the inspired assurance,
often repeated:

          "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [Yahveh]
     shall be saved." (Romans xv, 13; Acts ii, 21)

     All hope of free choice of salvation is quite upset, and only
those foreordained by Divine Providence are given any chance to
escape the wrath of God, by these other words of his Son:

          "All that the Father [Yahveh] giveth me shall come to me;
     and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John
     vi, 37)

     The dismal doctrine of "election" to redemption from the curse
and of salvation for those only whom the Father Yahveh giveth to be
saved (of the lost sheep of Israel only) is reaffirmed in the very
words of the Father of Life, as quoted by Paul:

          "For the children being not yet born, neither having done
     any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to
     election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.
     ... For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will
     have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have
     compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him
     that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. ... Therefore
     hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he
     hardeneth." (Rom. ix, 11, 15, 16, 18)

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     The doom of election to salvation and damnation by Yahveh
himself, regardless of human striving, receives solemn confirmation
in the record of the early operations of the plan:

          "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be
     saved." (Acts ii, 47)

     Those who have never taken the pains to compare doctrinal
texts must naturally prick up their ears in curiosity at the
discordant notes of the sacred texts of salvation. One doctrine is
flatly denied by the other; therefore, both alike are discredited,
or at least inextricably confused. So that no man can guess whether
"salvation" was for the Jew Only; or to the Jew first and then,
upon his rejection of it, to the gentile, to keep the legacy of the
"free gift" from failing entirely; or whether Jew or gentile might
be saved by believing and willingly seeking salvation; or whether
only those "elected" by Yahveh in heaven before the foundation of
the world might ever attain to heaven. And if only the "elect" are
to be saved, and these willy-nilly, what is the use for anyone, who
cannot possibly know whether he is of the "elect" or not, to make
any effort or worry at all about salvation? His efforts are either
quite unnecessary or wholly unavailing.

                         FAITH OR WORKS?

     However we may solve or leave the foregoing problem, we are at
once met with another series of conflicting passages on the
interesting subject of salvation by grace through faith or by works
-- both doctrines contrary to the theory of salvation through
election. Paul asserts:

          "For by grace are ye saved through faith; ... not of
     works." (Eph. ii, 8, 9)

And again;

          "As it is written; The just shall live by faith." (Rom.
     i, 17)

     But James, the brother of Jesus, flatly contradicts Paul:

          "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he
     hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? ... Even
     so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James
     ii, 14, 17)

     And he offers an array of ancient instances -- with a
contemptuous slur at his antagonist Paul:

          "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works
     is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when
     he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" (James ii, 20,
     21)

     The status of Father Abraham himself, however, is not quite so
free from uncertainty in view of the labored retort of Paul:

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          "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as
     pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were
     justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before
     God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and
     it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Rom. iv, 1-3)

     The bone of apostolic contention over the good old patriarch
is not yet gnawed bare, as appears by the next bit of inspiration:

          "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to
     him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are
     of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." (Gal, iii, 6,
     7)

     James plays off faith against works and makes a combination of
both essential to the free grace of salvation, or a prerequisite to
election, as the case may be:

          "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by
     works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled
     which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him
     for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see
     then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith
     only. ... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith
     without works is dead also." (James ii, 22-24, 26)

     The contradictory doctrine of justification by faith alone is
argued laboriously by Paul:

          "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the
     law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed
     in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of
     Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of
     the law shall no flesh be justified." (Gal. ii, 16)

          "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith
     without the deeds of the law. ... Do we then make void the law
     through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." (Rom.
     iii, 28, 31)

     The same high authority contradicts himself, however, and
harks back to the "deeds of the law":

          "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but
     the doers of the law shall be justified." (Rom. ii, 13)

which would seem to negative the hope of reward to the believer:

          "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of
     your souls." (1 Peter i, 9)

     The whole muddled disputation seems left in a bewilderment of
nonsensical puzzle, both for the inspired dogmatist and for the
perplexed seeker after truth, by the confused ratiocinations of
Paul:

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          "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise
     grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no
     more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Rom. xi, 6)

     All this produces in the mind a certain querulous state which
finds apt expression in the query of the chief apostle:

          "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the
     ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter iv, 18)

                         LAW OR NOT LAW?

     The effect of this jumble of ideas may be heightened by
considering this:

          "And by him all that believe are justified from all
     things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of
     Moses." (Acts xiii, 39)

     The unequivocal words of the Master would seem to be in
express denial of the text last quoted, as well as of several of
those cited just previously, for he said:

          "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
     prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily
     I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one
     tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be
     fulfilled." (Matt. v, 17, 18)

     This positive assurance the Master, however, repudiates by his
assertion that the law has been fulfilled:

          "The law and the prophets were until John; since that
     time the kingdom of God is preached." (Luke xvi, 16)

     One of these divine utterances of policy and purpose is quite
negatived, the other confirmed, by the assertion of the apostle of
grace:

          "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not
     under the law, but under grace." (Rom. vi, 14; cf. Gal. iii,
     24, 25)

     Paul, however, in one of his next breaths contradicts himself
most egregiously:

          "The law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth."
     (Rom. vii, 1)

though almost immediately be asserts the contrary:

     "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead
wherein we were held."(Rom. vii, 6)

     He reaffirms the permanency of the law and the obligation to
do its full works:

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          "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the
     curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth
     not in all things which are written in the book of the law to
     do them." (Gal. iii, 10)

and again contradicts his own words:

          "For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made
     void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law
     worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no
     transgression." (Rom. iv, 14, 15)

     But Paul seems to make a curious refutation of the declaration
that in the absence of law there can be no violation or
transgression of law, by making out the law to be dependent upon
and a consequence of previous transgression:

          "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of
     transgressions." (Gal. iii, 19)

     John takes issue with Paul, and states the rule more
reasonably:

          "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for
     sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John iii, 4)

     Paul lauds the law in his Epistle to the Romans:

          "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and
     just, and good. ... For we know that the law is spiritual."
     (Rom. vii, 12, 14)

and asserts that Yahveh God of Israel gave the law for the express
purpose of working the ruin of all those subject to that law:

          "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it
     saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be
     stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
     (Rom. iii, 19)

     And yet he assures the Galatians that the law has them all
bound in sin, from which they may be relieved by faith, which has
done away with the law, heedless that this is a flagrant denial of
the words of the Master, previously quoted, as well as of his own
to the Romans:

          "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the
     promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that
     believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law,
     shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed."
     (Gal. iii, 22, 23)

     The effect of these bits of inspired text can be but to
increase the wonder of the "hearers of the Word," a feeling much
akin to that produced by the snake in Hudibras, which

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               "Wriggled in and wriggled out,
                Leaving the people much in doubt,
                Wether the snake that made the track
                Was going east or coming back."

                 CIRCUMCISION OR UNCIRCUMCISION?

     The confusion is heightened by the hotly debated question
raised, but adroitly dodged, in Acts xv:

          "Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become
     uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be
     circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is
     nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God." (i Cor.
     vii, 18, 19)

     Paul himself denied this assertion:

          "For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the
     law." (Rom. ii, 25)

and also flatly contradicted both the preceding statements:

          "Behold, I Paul say unto yon, that if ye be circumcised,
     Christ shall profit you nothing." (Gal. V, 2)

And the selfsame Paul flings a denial into the very teeth of his
immediately preceding inspired assertion:

          "What profit is there of circumcision? Much every way."
     (Rom. iii, 1, 2)

though this too he gainsays:

          "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any
     thing, nor uncircumcision." (Gal. v, 6)

     And in spite of Paul's assuming to preach on every side of the
question, which did or did not matter, according to whom he was
addressing, whether Jew or gentile, he claims a special revelation
of Yahveh to himself and to his partner Peter to split the question
and take opposite sides of it:

          "The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me,
     as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter." (Gal. ii,
     7)

                     BAPTISM AND BACKSLIDING

     That baptism is essential to salvation is a positive assertion
of the Christ, who enjoined the ceremonial on his disciples, to be
imposed on all their converts:

          "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark
     xvi, 16)

     Unless the ceremony was submitted to, it was declared
impossible to go to heaven:

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          "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of
     water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
     God." (John iii, 5)

     The parting command given by the risen Lord to his disciples
-- but which we have seen he never gave -- was this:

          "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them."
     (Matt. xxviii, 19)

     The repentant thief on the cross was not baptized, and his
belief must have been very embryonic, yet he entered forthright
into the kingdom. Baptism then would seem not to be so essential to
salvation as is sometimes thought; and Paul takes credit to himself
for omitting the watery initiation, and asserts that Christ did not
enjoin the performance of the rite on him:

          "I thank God that I baptized none of yon, but Crispus and
     Gaius. ... For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach
     the gospel." (1 Cor. i, 14,, 17)

     The ceremonial once performed, is its efficacy permanent? The
act of faith is of lasting effect unto eternal life, says the
Christ:

          "My sheep hear my voice, ... and they follow me: and I
     give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,
     neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John X, 27,
     28)

     Here the genial doctrine of "backsliding" is confirmed; the
backslider may enjoy the earthy fruits of his lapse and yet enter
into the joys of his Lord. But in this he will find himself greatly
mistaken, notwithstanding the assurance of the Comforter; his
latter end will be worse than the first, asserts the keeper of the
keys:

          "If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world
     through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
     they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end
     is worse with them than the beginning." (2 Peter ii, 20)

     The creed, however, harks back to the Christ and affirms the
right of backsliding ad libitum:

          "There is no condemnation for them that believe and are
     baptized" (Confession of Faith, Art. IX).

                       FORGIVENESS OF SIN

     The Master said:

          "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if
     he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven
     times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee,
     saving, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." (Luke xvii, 3, 4)

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     This is supplemented by an even more liberal version of the
same divine injunction, never known to have been acted upon since:

          "Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven
     times: but, Until seventy times seven." (Matt. xviii, 22)

     But this beautiful precept of conduct between man and man
finds no place in the stricter dealings of Yahveh with man, if we
are to believe Paul:

          "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the
     knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for
     sins." (Heb. x, 26)

     This harsh denial of the comfortable principle of backsliding
is reaffirmed by the same dogmatist:

          "For it is impossible for those who were once
     enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, ... If they
     shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." (Heb.
     vi, 4, 6)

     The proper depository of the divine power of forgiveness of
sin is left in serious doubt. First Christ claimed the power in
himself:

          "The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins."
     (Mark ii, 10)

     Then he is said to have delegated plenary power to Peter:

          Thou art Peter. ... And I will give unto thee the keys of
     the kingdom of heaven: ... and whatsoever thou shalt loose on
     earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. xvi, 18, 19; xviii,
     18)

     Though the Christ thus promised "I will give the keys," the
record of the actual investiture is missing; this has not hindered
the successors of the fisherman, however, from displaying models of
the celestial keys and claiming constant use of them.

     But later it is asserted that the power is the prerogative of
the heavenly King:

          "He [Yahveh] is faithful and just to forgive sins" (1
     John, i, 9).

                          RESURRECTION

     We now cite a series of conflicting texts touching upon the
subject of the resurrection of the body, a doctrine much in dispute
in the early days, which appears to be stated by Paul rather as a
pious hope than as a dogma:

          "And [I] have hope toward God, which they themselves also
     allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of
     the just and unjust." (Acts xxiv, 15)

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     But at another place the apostle seems to put the matter even
more in doubt, as possibly an unattainable aspiration:

          "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection
     from the dead." (Phil. iii, 11)

     Jesus told the Sadducees:

          "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are
     given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."
     (Matt. xxii, 30)

     A sentiment worthy of the woman-hating Paul, who says in a
typical vein:

          "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and
     with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest
     is not quickened, except it die." (1 Cor. xv, 35, 36)

     Besides exposing himself to the "danger of hell fire," with
which the Master himself threatened whoever calls his brother a
fool (Matt. v, 22), and making a rather unbecoming exhibition of
apostolic spleen, the apostle seems, to any one who has done
gardening or otherwise acquired the rudiments of agricultural
biology, to show himself entitled to the appellation, for a tyro in
farming knows that the inspired argument is fallacious: the seed
which dies is not "quickened," but rots and is lost; only the seeds
which live in the ground and germinate are "quickened" and grow up
to reproduce their kind. If the inspired author was so ignorant of
natural things, he might be in error with respect to things
supernatural. The next verse is from the same ill-inspired source:

          "It is sown by a natural body; it is raised a spiritual
     body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
     (1 Cor. xv, 44)

     The argument is laboriously resumed:

          "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot
     inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit
     incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all
     sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the
     twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall
     sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we
     shall be changed." (i Cor. xv, 50-52)

     These last verses seem to assert that the resurrection is not
of the body as it is laid in the grave, but of something quite
different which is manufactured "in the twinkling of an eye at the
last trump," out of nothing, for in many instances the material
body would be quite destroyed. And certainly, as would occur to any
one versed in theological lore, this theory is wholly opposed to
the proposition of the "Apostles' Creed" (of origin several
centuries after the apostles) concerning the material "resurrection
of the body." This creed, however, finds some support in the gospel
of the Beloved Disciple:

 
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          "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which
     all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall
     come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of
     life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of
     damnation." (John v, 28, 29)

                       THE FINAL JUDGMENT

     These texts may appear to any thoughtful person to raise the
curious question of what becomes of the human soul between the time
of death the body and the magical blasts of the resurrection
trumpet, countless ages in the future, at the Day of Judgment. In
popular concept, as in scriptural representation, the soul goes to
its final reward or punishment immediately after it leaves the body
at death. Lazarus died, and quite shortly Dives, and both souls
sped at once to their respective eternal billets; for we are told
that upon the death of Lazarus, he "was carried by the angels into
Abraham's bosom"; and "in hell [Dives], lift up his eyes, being in
tonuent," and engaged in an instructive dialogue with Lazarus
across the immeasurably great gulf fixed between their habitats.
The repentant thief on the cross was on the same day transported to
paradise, and there are other instances of the same sort.

     If this be true, what then, one may curiously ask, is the use
or need of a general final judgment, which could not alter the
status of the souls already for unnumbered ages basking in heaven
or broiling in hell? On the other hand, if this be not true, it
appears very incongruous that souls, after leaving the body, should
flit around in a sort of limbo of empty space for untold time
awaiting the playing of the last trump. Yet this is the situation
described by one who was snatched up into the third heaven, and
verily "saw the vision of the future and the wonders that would
be"; for he says, in rapt clairvoyance:

          "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death
     and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they
     were judged every man according to their works." (Rev. xx, 13)

But why -- in hell -- judge one who already has been for ages in
hell? a reversal of his sentence would be like reversing that of a
man already hanged.

     Another gospel text seems to represent both soul and body as
lying moldering in the grave, not until a trumpet-call, but the
voice of the Master, should awaken such only as were "elected" to
awake to a new life:

          "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and
     now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God:
     and they that hear shall live." (John v, 25)

     But what seems a plain contradiction of this theory and an
assertion that the dead are raised to life at once without waiting
for any general resurrection day comes in the Master's own words
(misquoting his source):

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          "Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the
     bush, when he calleth the Lord [Yahveh] the God of Abraham,
     and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a
     God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto him."
     (Luke xx, 37, 38)

     As this argument is, however, based on the "burning bush"
incident, which no one believes ever happened, and is also a mis-
statement of the alleged fact, since it was Yahveh himself, not
Moses, who made use of the words quoted (Ex. iii, 6), it may not be
very persuasive. But the Master himself contradicts this theory and
postpones to his "second coming" the adjudication of rewards and
punishment, during the interval preceding which both body and soul
are apparently quiescent in the common grave:

          "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father
     with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according
     to his works." (Matt. xvi, 27)

     The next verse is in a tone of dubious argumentation,
suggesting a possible negation of the major premises of its final
sentence, as well as begging the whole resurrection question:

          "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead,
     how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the
     dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is
     Christ not risen." (i Cor. xv, 12) 13)

     Yet a deeper note of potential despair echoes in another text
of the great dogmatist:

          "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are
     yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in
     Christ are perished." (1 Cor. xv, 17, 18)

     So the questions of the resurrection of the body and the final
judgment of the soul, and the why and wherefore of both, are left
in a nebulous state. The Lord only knows just exactly how it will
all happen, as it has not been very clearly revealed yet.

                       THE "SECOND COMING"

     The most unequivocal and positive of the teachings of Jesus
and of his several apostles alike is the immediate visible "second
coming" of Christ, the end of the world, the final judgement, and
the prompt establishment of the Messianic Kingdom of Yahveh and
David on the new earth -- all this being the most potent propaganda
of the new religion. The Master commanded:

          "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is
     at hand." (Matt. x, 7)

     The immediacy of the coming is proclaimed by him in the most
positive and unmistakable terms repeatedly:

          "Verily, I say unto you, There be some standing here,
     which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man
     coming in his kingdom." (Matt. xxvi, 28)

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     He adds reassurance to make assurance of the coming and the
kingdom doubly sure:

          "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass,
     till all these things be fulfilled." (Matt. xxiv, 34; Mark
     xiii, 80)

     The same doctrine, in almost identical words, is repeated in
Mark ix, 1 and Luke ix, 27, and is implied in the remark of Jesus
after the jealous altercation between Peter and John:

          "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I
     come, what is that to thee? follow thou me." (John xxi, 22)

     The end should come so quickly that the disciples should not
have covered even the little territory of Palestine:

          "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till
     the Son of man be come." (Matt. x, 23)

     But why, then, one wonders, should they be again commanded:

          "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every
     creature." (Mark xvi, 1.5)

     The assurance of the speedy fulfillment of the prophesied end
of all things is reaffirmed, somewhat tardily, in the Revelation --
written some 100 years after Christ:

          "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him,
     to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to
     pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his
     servant John: ... for the time is at hand." (Rev. i, 1, 3)

And again:

          "Behold, I come quickly." (Rev. iii, 11)

     The notion is repeated by Paul:

          "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will
     come, and will not tarry." (Heb. x, 37)

     And reiterated by John:

          "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have
     heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many
     antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." (i
     John ii, 18)

     Paul declares that the great day is so close at hand that he
enjoins total carnal abstinence as a sort of preparatory
purification:

          "But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it
     remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they
     had none," etc. (1 Cor. vii, 29)

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     And he tells the same Corinthians, who were evidently getting
impatient, that the coming was to be during the very lives of
themselves; that they would not die, but should hear the fateful
trump sound in their living ears; that those already dead should be
promptly resurrected, and the yet living would be "changed":

          "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep,
     but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of
     an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and
     the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the yet
     living] shall be changed." (1 Cor. xv, 51, 52)

     The Master again preaches preparedness for his early advent:

          "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at
     an hour when ye think not." (Luke xii, 40)

     Peter joins in the refrain of watchful waiting:

          "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore
     sober, and watch unto prayer." (1 Peter iv, 7)

     He paints a lurid picture of how it is to happen:

          "But the day of Yahveh will come as a thief in the night;
     in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,
     and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also
     and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter
     iii, 10)

     Paul, with his chronic cocksureness about everything which he
is totally ignorant of, also tells us explicitly and fully just how
it is going to happen:

          "For the Lord [Yahveh] shall descend from heaven with a
     shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of
     God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which
     are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in
     the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever
     be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these
     words." (1 Thess. iv, 16-18)

     But as the brethren, despite all these assurances of quick
dividends of glory, were apparently getting restless for the grand
catastrophe and spectacle which was so tardy, James, own brother of
Jesus, cajoles them:

          "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the
     Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of
     the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the
     early and latter rain. Be ye also patient, for the coming of
     the Lord draweth nigh." (James v, 7, 8)

     Paul also finds himself under the necessity of preaching
patience in order to save his own reputation as an inspired
prophet:

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          "And the Lord direct your hearts ... into the patient
     waiting for Christ." (2 Thess. iii, 5)

     And yet again, he coaxes those of the Hebrews who had fallen
into the faith and were chafing at its unfulfilled promises:

          "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done
     the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a
     little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not
     tarry." (Heb. x, 36, 37)

     But the clamor for fulfillment of these promises of the
"second coming" became louder and more insistent, threatening the
total discredit of the inspired promisers; the disappointment of
the saints over the non-fulfillment of the reiterated assurances,
promises, and prophecies, and the nature of their taunts, being
voiced with very pertinent directness by those whom the crafty
Peter dubs "scoffers":

          "And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for
     since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they
     were from the beginning of the creation." (2 Peter iii, 4)

     This same crafty Peter, first pope of the new faith, himself
makes a shifty pretended answer to these "scoffers," whereby he
tries to squirm out of the situation created by the palpable
failure of all the inspired predictions by himself and his
confreres of the immediate end of all things:

          "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that
     one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand
     years as one day." (2 Peter iii, 8)

     This, however, does not seem at all disingenuous and honest,
and hardly meets the positive repeated assurances that "some
standing here shall not taste of death" before the "second coming"
-- that "this generation shall not pass away till all these things
be accomplished," when "we that are alive" shall be "caught up"
into glory. There seems to be a sad want of inspired truth, and
even of common honesty, in solemnly declaring such awful events,
which scared thousands into belief, and then deceived their
terrified expectation. And it may be wondered how any of them ever
persisted in their new faith after such patent deception. If
inspiration is so out of joint with truth in this most positive of
the declarations of Christ and his propagandists, the whole of
their preachings and predictions may well be subject to some
discount, if not entire discredit.

                           DEVILOLOGY

     A flood of inspired texts illustrates one of the most
persistent superstitions of the whole Scriptures: the belief in
devils and demoniac possession, in hell and its malign ruler Satan,
almost if not quite equal in power, and in some respects even
superior, to Yahveh Almighty, (the English rendering of the Hebrew
El Shaddai, "God of Demons.") The Devil appears early and holds
fast:

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          "And Jesus ... was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
     Being forty days tempted of the devil. ... And the devil,
     taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the
     kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said
     unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of
     them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will
     I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be
     thine." (Luke iv, 1-7)

     These verses clearly recognize the Devil as a divine being,
with full power of possession and dominion over this world, having
miraculous powers quite equal to those of Yahveh's. Indeed, Paul
gives him this exalted title:

          "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them
     which believed not." (2 Cor. iv, 4)

a designation of rank and power confirmed by the Master himself:

          "For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in
     me." (John xiv, 30)

     And repeated, among many others, by Paul:

          "According to the prince of the power of the air, the
     spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."
     (Eph. ii, 2)

     The Master himself admits the divine origin of the princely
Devil:

          "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall
     from heaven." (Luke x, 18)

     In the nightmare visions of the Apocalypse a fearful and
wonderful pen picture is drawn of this great potentate of heaven,
rebel against Yahveh his King, conquered by the great Michael
Archangel, and ousted from the realms of light:

          "And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent,
     called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:
     he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out
     with him." (Rev. xii, 9)

     So great was the awe in which the Satanic power was held by
even the highest in the hierarchy of heaven that it is declared:

          "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the
     devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring
     against him a railing accusation, but said, Yahveh rebuke
     thee." (Jude 9)

     The miraculous power of Satan and his minor devils is attested
by the apostle in chief:

          "The working of Satan with all power and signs and lying
     wonders." (2 Thes. ii, 9)

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and also in the Apocalypse:

          "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles."
     (Rev. xvi, 14)

     And their powers are quite equal to Yahveh's and defiant of
his Almightiness:

          "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an
     angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his
     ministers also be transformed as the ministers of
     righteousness." (2 Cor. xi, 14, 15)

     The Master himself accredits the doctrines of Zoroaster
touching the two great powers who disputed the government of the
universe, one the creator and purveyor of good, the other of evil:

     "Ye are of your father the devil. ... He was a murderer from
the beginning. ... He is a liar, and the father of it." (John viii,
44)

     The following verse recognizes the same principle, but
impresses one with a feeling of disappointment that the purpose
expressed in its second sentence has seemingly as yet failed of
complete success:

          "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil
     sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God
     was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
     (1 John iii, 8)

     Again this divinely purposed triumph over the evil one is
expressly declared, with an admission at the same time of the
extraordinary powers possessed by His Satanic Majesty:

          "That through death he might destroy him that had the
     power of death, that is, the devil." (Heb. ii, 14)

     And the success of the project is assured by the Christ in
person:

          "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince
     of this world be cast out." (John xii, 31)

     But Paul trims down the promise of destruction of the Devil
and his works, substituting a milder form of discipline, which,
though its prompt accomplishment is promised, does not appear to
have been yet brought about:

          "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet
     shortly." (Rom. xvi, 20)

     Considerable puzzlement is caused after all the foregoing
texts descriptive of the activities of the prince of devils and his
legions, and the divine assurances of his early capture and
destruction, or at least bruising, by the official keeper of the 

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keys of hell, by the surprising revealed assurance that His Satanic
Majesty and his devil hosts were already in chains in hell, and had
indeed always been so since they were first cast out of Heaven:

          "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them
     down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to
     be reserved unto judgment." (2 Peter ii, 4)

though such captivity is again revealed as being simply an
apocalyptic vision, and for a term which with Yahveh is, as we are
elsewhere told, but as one day:

          "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which
     is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years."
     (Rev. xx, 2)

     And even this millennial period, so confidently assured, not
only has not come about in these two thousand years, but is
expressly admitted to be but a temporary makeshift of restraint,
after which the Devil was to be freed to resume his operations:

          "And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up
     and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no
     more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after
     that he must be loosed a little season." (Rev. xx, 3)

     This causes the thought that it was odd for the almighty
Yahveh of heaven to permit the release of the arch-fiend to prey
upon his creatures, after once he had him safely chained down and
sealed up in the bottomless pit; Yahveh even seems by this act to
make himself accomplice in the malignant works of the Devil. And
one wonders upon what compulsion "he must be loosed" from hell,
which seems to imply a serious limitation upon the almightiness of
Yahveh. In any event, the confused and conflicting texts about the
Devil and his status, past, present, and prospective, leads to the
thought that the inspired writers did not really know what they
were talking about; that the Devil was a myth, or at least that the
revelations made concerning him were altogether mythical.

     Paul himself admits the besetting activities of the Devil, and
acknowledges himself, despite all his boasted power over devils, to
be a victim of the powers of their chief:

          "We would have come unto you; but Satan hindered us." (i
     Thess. ii, 18)

     Peter, evidently despairing of the promised victory over the
Devil and of effective restraint of him, from which he was broken
loose, issues a warning to the faithful against his continued
activities:

          "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,
     as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
     (i Peter v, 8)

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                       FIGHTING THE DEVILS

     That a very active campaign was, however, waged against the 
hosts of devils, who were evidently as plentiful as blackberries in
those days, and very mischievous, is made apparent by scores of
texts of devilology, which make up so large a part of gospel truth
that only a few can be here presented. The fight against devils was
apparently the principal occupation of the Master, and the highest
patent of his divine personality and mission:

          "And he preached ... throughout all Galilee, and cast out
     devils." (Mark i, 39)

     He cites this gift as the first and most potent proof of his
divine mission:

          "And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold,
     I cast out devils." (Luke xiii, 32)

     Likewise it was the badge of commission of the Twelve:

          "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave
     them power and authority over all devils, and to cure
     diseases." (Luke ix, 1)

as also of the Seventy:

          "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord,
     even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." (Luke
     x, 17)

     This devil-exorcism was also the badge and working tool of all
true believer:

          "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my
     name shall they cast out devils." (Mark xvi, 17)

     Paul reaches the apex of the superstition in the startling
assertion not only that devils galore exist, but (in accordance
with the Vulgate Version of Psalm xcvi, 5, that "all the gods of
the heathen are devils") asserts their divinity with his usual
omniscient assurance:

          "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice,
     they sacrifice to devils, and not to God [Yahveh]: and I would
     not that ye should have fellowship with devils." (i Cor. x,
     20)

     The inspired historian of the Acts makes Paul the hero of an
episode which attributes to these devils the divine faculties of
foreknowledge and prediction, the same as to the acknowledged
prophets of Yahveh:

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          "And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain
     damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which
     brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: ... and this did
     she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the
     spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out
     of her. And he came out in the same hour." (Acts xvi, 16, 18)

     The Great Physician graciously busied himself in healing all
kinds of diseases, but made a specialty of casting out devils,
which in those days, before medicine was well developed, were
regarded, even by the Son of Yahveh, as being the active agents of
all the ills to which human flesh was heir:

          "Jesus of Nazareth ... went about doing good, and healing
     all that were oppressed of the devil." (Acts x, 38)

     Some texts seem to distinguish between ordinary diseases, and
those caused by the possession of devils, and lunacy:

          "And they brought unto him all sick people that were
     taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were
     possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those
     that had the palsy; and he healed them." (Matt. iv, 24)

     But the devils were evidently the efficient cause of even sore
cases of mental alienation, according to the Master Physician's own
diagnosis:

          "Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and
     sore vexed. ... And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed
     out of him." (Matt xvii, 15, 18)

     As likewise of sundry female troubles:

          "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same
     coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord,
     thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a
     devil." (Matt. xv, 22)

     And again:

          "And ought not this woman, whom Satan hath bound, lo,
     these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath
     day?" (Luke xiii, 16)

     And especially in the celebrated case of Mary Magdalene:

          "Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils"
     (Luke viii, 2).

     Also of dumbness:

          "As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man
     possessed with a devil, and when the devil was cast out, the
     dumb spake." (Matt. ix, 32)

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     These devils had a way, in Bible days, of entering into people
and causing them a devil of a time, to their great suffering and 
distress; and the devils were intelligent in their way:

          "And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases,
     and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to
     speak, because they knew him." (Mark i, 34)

     The perversity of the devils is indicated by the fact that
they did not at all heed the command of the Master not to speak:

          "And devils also came out of many, crying out, and
     saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them
     suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ."
     (Luke, iv, 41)

     The devils were even saucy and talked back:

          "Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou
     Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee
     who thou art; the Holy One of God." (Luke iv, 34)

     This, if the devils ever really said it, proves that they
themselves are children of Yahveh and joint heirs of salvation with
the best of believers -- for:

     "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the
flesh is of God." (John iv, 2)

and by every principle of the gospel promises, are entitled to
share in the joys of the Lord Yahveh:

          "That through his name whosoever believeth in him shall
     receive remission of sins." (Acts x, 43)

     That the devils had a firm Christian faith, evidenced by their
unanimous confessions, is avowed in express terms:

          "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:
     the devils also believe, and tremble." (James ii, 19)

     But they are seemingly doomed to a disappointment of their
just hopes as true believers:

          "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand,
     Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for
     the devil and his angels." (Matt. xxv, 41)

     All the devils were apparently not of Satan; some seem to have
been celestial, a point to be tested by some means not explained:

          "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits
     whether they are of God." (i John, iv, 1)

     These and a hundred or more other verses dealing with various
phases of devilology establish the high record for inspired Bible
texts on a single subject, it being apparent that no other name or
subject in all the Bible, hardly excepting the Divine Father Yahveh

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and his Son, is more often mentioned, or held in higher faith or
fear than that of the Devil and the teeming hosts of devils. Belief
in devils and in demoniac possession was an article of the
profoundest credulity of all the inspired writers as of the
uninspired ignorant masses, and in none stronger than in the Son of
Yahveh. We can but wonder how belief in such an ignorant myth and
superstition was possible to one who claimed to be the very Son of
Yahveh, God of truth, and to those claiming to be divinely inspired
by Yahveh to be the apostles of truth on earth.

                    THE PENALTIES OF UNBELIEF

     Let those who may be tempted to question the eternal verity of
it all take warning from the fearful threat against unbelief which
the chief apostle hurls at the incredulous:

          "That they all might be damned who believed not the
     truth." (2 Thess. ii, 12)

     The same dire fate is pronounced against him who even
hesitates in his faith:

          "And he that doubteth is damned"' (Rom. xiv, 28)

     This is that to which they are damned:

          "Are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of
     eternal fire." (Jude 7)

to which is added the Master's fearful admonition:

          "Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in
     hell." (Matt. x, 28)

and the fulmination of the ex-persecutor of the faithful,
persecutor now of the faithless:

          "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy: ... Of
     how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought
     worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?" (Heb. X,
     28, 29)

followed by the warning of the horrible example of the past:

          "The Lord, having saved the people out of the land of
     Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." (Jude 6)

and the very pertinent warning for the future:

          "For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the
     children of disobedience." (Col. iii, 6)

and the yet more terrifying threat in the gentle Jesus' own words:

          "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape
     the damnation of hell?" (Matt. xxiii, 33)

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     Paul again says:

          "For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." (1
     Thess. ii, 16)

and John:

          "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be
     able to stand? (Rev. vi, 17)

     This is augmented by the apostolic prophesy of yet more wrath
to come:

          "But a certain fearful looking for of judgment ana fiery
     indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." (Heb. x, 27)

     The argument of terror and its efficiency is again urged by
Paul, who admits he uses it for the moral suasion of converts:

          "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of
     Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his
     body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or
     bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade
     men." (2 Cor. v, 10, 11)

and who brings it to this climax of terrorism:

          "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense
     tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are
     troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed
     from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking
     vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the
     gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with
     everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and
     from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be
     glorified in his saints." (2 Thess. i, 6-10)

     All this tends to induce the mind to yield a very ready assent
to the total truth of the same apostle's warning:

          "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
     living God." (Heb. x,31)

     Many may well wonder how a kind and loving heavenly Father of
us all should make such terrible threats or inflict such fearful
penalties upon his human children for simply not believing things
so contrary to the most godlike faculty he had endowed them with,
divine reason -- threats and penalties more consonant with the
practices of Apache Indians than with the principles of a just and
merciful God.

                   INTOLERANCE AND DESTRUCTION

     Evidently, from what follows, there was not sufficient
sanction for the new religion in the awful things that the wrathful
Yahveh was said to have in store for the hapless unbeliever after
death. His apostolic vicars and vicegerents here on earth hold
divine commission to anticipate upon the body here and now the 

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fearful tortures which their Yahveh should inflict upon the soul
hereafter and eternally. The principle of priestly intolerance and
the torch which lit the hellish fires of the Holy Inquisition have
both their certain warrant and divine command in inspired texts.

     Everyone who did not accept the Nazarene as the Christ he
declared to be his enemy: "He that is not with me is against me"
(Matt. xii, 80); and upon all such he calls down destruction and
death:

          "Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign
     over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke xix,
     27)

     The Christ himself, to say nothing of numerous impostors who
had preceded him, declared that others after him should claim to be
Messiah, and should have miraculous powers like himself, so that
even the chosen could hardly tell the difference between the
genuine and the spurious Christs:

          "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets,
     and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it
     were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matt.
     xxiv, 24)

     Paul pictures "Satan with all power and signs and lying
wonders, And with all deceivableness" enticing those who "received
not the love of the truth, that they might be saved"; though it was
impossible that they should believe the truth:

          "For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that
     they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who
     believed not the truth." (2 Theso. ii, 9-12)

     Peter, the rock upon which the Church persecutrix was founded,
true to his traditions of violence, breathed deadly vengeances
against all who presumed to differ from his dogmas. Peter cites
Moses as predicting Jesus Christ as the prophet to be raised up
"like unto me," and quotes Yahveh as threatening with death all who
would not heed his word:

          "Every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be
     destroyed from among the people." (Acts iii, 23)

And he devotes to swift destruction all who do not think as he
thinks -- a murderous program followed by his apostolic successors
for as long as they dared and could:

          "There shall be false teachers among you, who privily
     shall bring in damnable heresies, and bring upon themselves
     swift destruction." (2 Peter ii, 1)

     Even the Beloved Disciple preaches denunciation and
intolerance:

          "Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the
     Christ? He is antichrist." (i John ii, 22)

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     But then we recall the admission that this is the bluster of
ignoramuses:

          "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and
     perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they
     marveled." (Acts iv, 18)

     On those who were indisposed to receive the ministrations of
the zealous crusaders of the new religion, summary destruction is
invoked of Heaven:

          "And when his disciples James and John saw this, they
     said, Lord, wilt thou that we commend fire to come down from
     heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" (Luke ix, 54)

     The earliest and a very characteristic glimpse of him who
became the chief of the apostles is this:

          "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter
     against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest."
     (Acts ix, 1)

     Paul thus vents his apostolic intolerance of free speech and
liberty of discussion -- the cardinal polity ever since followed by
the Holy Church which he founded:

          "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and
     deceivers, whose mouths must be stopped." (Titus i, 10, 11)

     Ostracism and the boycott are proclaimed as the first steps in
the ascending scale of suppression of those who disagree with the
new doctrines:

          "Now, I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause
     divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have
     learned; and avoid them." (Rom. xvi, 17)

     He then boldly preaches the gospel of priestly anathema
against man or angel who should presume to contradict the apostolic
dogmas:

          "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
     gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let
     him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any
     man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have
     received, let him be accursed." (Gal. i, 8,, 9)

and caps the climax of consecrated bigotry with a pious exhortation
to the annihilation of all who dare disbelieve his inspired
pretensions of truth:

          "He that troubleth you shall hear his judgment, whosoever
     he be. ... I would they were even cut off which trouble you."
     (Gal. V, 10, 12)

     To the credulous he even adopts a tone of terroristic
authority to hold them in their credulity:

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          For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority,
     which the Lord hath given us, ... I should not be ashamed:
     That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters." (2
     Cor. x, 83 9)

and modestly claims for his self-assumed authority no limitations
of law, human or divine, except sacerdotal notions of expediency:

          "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not
     expedient." (i Cor. x, 23)

                  INSPIRED PRIESTLY PRESUMPTION

     The bigot Paul hedges himself about with autocratic near-
divinity and warns away presumptuous mortals from all profane
contact or interference with his awful personality, while he vain-
glories in the mutilation of person which changes him into a
celibate zealot:

          "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my
     body the marks of the Lord Jesus." (Gal. vi, 17)

     Heedless of the infinite contradictions of his dogmas, he
asserts in their behalf and for himself the infallible verity of
direct inspiration, not, however, from Father Yahveh, but from his
Son Jesus:

          "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was
     preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of
     man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus
     Christ." (Gal. i, 11, 12)

     This inspired veracity he lays claim to in the fullest
measure:

          "As the truth of Christ is in me." (2 Cor. xi, 10)

     He vaunts his self-assumed title and claims all the credit for
the results of his pious propaganda:

          "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen
     Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye me work in the Lord? (1 Cor.
     ix, 1)

though he admits that he is not a free agent in this propaganda,
but claims to be under some sort of mysterious "control," or maybe
under the spell of his own terroristic doctrines:

          "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory
     of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I
     preach not the gospel!" (1 Cor. 16)

     He claims precedence over all other propagandists of the new
faith, making (parenthetically) an interesting personal though
braggart admission:

          "Are they, ministers of Christ? (I speak as a Fool) I am
     more." (2 Cor. xi, 28)

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     This gospel truth he reaffirms, claiming to be proud of the
fact:

          "I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me."
     (2 Cor. xii, 11)

     He displays it so patently and publicly that Festus declares:

          "Paul, thou are beside thyself; much learning doth make
     thee mad." (Acts xxvi, 24)

     But Paul justifies himself by the special plea that it is for
the good of the cause:

          "For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or
     whether we be sober, it in for your cause." (2 Cor. v, 13)

     With pretended plenary inspiration he assures us of his
perfect knowledge of all the divine mysteries, which, however, he
does not very plenarily reveal to the rest of us:

          "Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in
     the mystery of Christ." (Eph. iii, 4)

He reaches the superlative of obsessed egoism by boldly claiming
Jesus Christ's gospel as his own:

          "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was
     raised from the dead according to my gospel." (2 Tim. ii, 8)

even setting up his own notions as the ratio decidendi of the Last
Judgment:

          "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by
     Jesus Christ according to my gospel." (Rom. ii, 16)

     He would even supplant his old friend and partner Peter as the
purveyor general of pardons, in a childish tangle of tautology:

          "To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I
     forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes
     forgave I it in the person of Christ." (2 Cor. ii, 10)

and boastingly claims commission as the true adjutant of the
Almighty Yahveh to give human utterance to his holy will, and makes
acceptance of this pretence the one test of the true prophet and of
the genuine gift of spirit -- whatever that is:

          "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual,
     let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are
     the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor. xiv, 37)

claiming again that the Deity speaks directly through him:

          "I command, yet not I, but the Lord." (i Cor. vii, 10)

     He pretends to rely upon moral suasion rather than to impose 
belief by Yahveh's divine authority:

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          "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are
     helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand." (2 Cor. i, 24)

although he certainly had the divine right and authority to command
boldly and to impose his own will as that of the Lord Yahveh:

          "Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to
     enjoin thee that which is convenient." (Philem. 8)

     And again he returns to a warning against any who may not even
yet be quite persuaded by all his strained arguments and terrifying
threats:

          "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil
     heart of unbelief." (Heb. iii, 12)

                     AN INFAMOUS ACCUSATION

     But aside from the difficulty, or stark impossibility, of
knowing what to believe of all the contradictions and conflicts of
dogma, or of believing any of it under such conditions, our
inspired dogmatist, with very odd logic, tells us that it is
impossible to believe at all, as his God Yahveh has himself closed
the human heart to belief, so that he could save men whether they
believed or not:

          "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he
     might have mercy upon all." (Rom. xi, 32)

     Yet he contradicts himself in this by his dogmatic assertion
that the promise of salvation is only to those who do believe:

          "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the
     promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that
     believe." (Gal. iii, 22)

     Again the same apostle denies both of his former bald
assertions, and asserts that we are to be saved actually through
others not believing at all:

          "For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have
     now obtained mercy through their unbelief." (Rom. xi, 30)

     Straightway he contradicts this medley of contradictions, and
with amazing assurance imputes to the God of truth and mercy the
total depravity of making men believe lies in order that they might
be damned for their God-imposed unbelief:

          "And for this cause God shall send them a strong
     delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might
     be damned who believed not the (2 Thess. ii, 11, 12)

     And then, as if conscious of being adjudged into this class
himself. before any one has time to accuse him of it, he hastens to
deny it and to proclaim his own inspired veracity -- though with
respect to which of his manifold contradictions he does not
explain, leaving us in the darkness of doubt as to them all:

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          "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not." (Rom. ix, 7; Gal.
     i, 20; 2 Cor. xi, 31.)

though he has just a little before confessed to the Romans, with a
show of pious pride in his adroitness of mendacity, that he was
accused and "judged as a sinner" because of his abounding lies "to
the glory of God" (Rom. iii, 7).

                THE APOSTLES' VIEWS OF EACH OTHER

     A new and final commandment the Christ gave to his holy
apostles: "That ye love one another" (John xiii, 34). We have
already seen their constant quarrelling as to which should be the
greatest among them, even at the Last Supper in the shadow of the
martyrdom of their Master. When, after his death, they were free
from constraint and rebuke, vent was given to their rivalries and
animosities, which they indulged in true clerical style; they
called each other liars and knaves, and denied and impeached each
other's teachings. Many instances of this we have noted in matching
their contradictory doctrines and dogmas.

     Paul denied the teachings of James as to faith (Gal. ii,
16-21); James condemned the teachings of Paul (James ii, 20). Paul
proclaimed himself the divinely appointed sole apostle to the
gentiles:

          "The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me,
     as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter." (Gal. ii,
     7)

     Peter flatly denied this and claimed that the commission was
assigned to him:

          "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up,
     and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good
     while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my
     mouth should hear the word of the gospel." (Acts xv, 7)

     A quarrel had prevailed among the holy ones of Christ, Paul
and Barnabas on the one side; and Peter, James, and John, who, says
Paul, only "seemed to be pillars," on the other; but they patched
it up apparently and gave each other in token "the right hands of
fellowship."

          "But when Peter was come to Amtioch, I withstood him to
     the face, because he was to be blamed. ... And the other Jews
     dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was
     carried away with their dissimulation. (Gal. ii, 9, 11, 18)

     John of Patmos, from the third heaven, illumined by the great
white light of Yahveh"s throne, caught a good bird's-eye view of
the whole apostolic crew, and at the command of the enthroned
Christ declared:

          "Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and
     hast found them liars." (Rev. ii, 2)

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                        IS IT GOD'S WORD?

             KNOWLEDGE SCORNED -- IGNORANCE EXALTED

     The first "thou shalt not," the first ban imposed on humanity,
was the edict of Yahveh God in Eden decreeing perpetual ignorance
for his creature man. In the midst of the garden Yahveh Elohim
planted the tree of knowledge, and thus he decreed:

          "Thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou
     eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen. ii, 17)

     Thus the priests banned human knowledge under penalty of
death, a penalty often enforced by them; and the ignorance thus
decreed they have perpetuated; they have forbidden and derided
knowledge, boasted of their own ignorance, and imposed it on
mankind ever since. Even the Master exulted that his preachments
were not for intelligent persons but were kept for the childish-
minded only. Looking up to his Father Yahveh, he fervently
exclaimed:

          "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
     because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,
     and hast revealed them unto babes." (Matt. xi, 26; Luke x, 21)

     The propagandist-in-chief of these beliefs of babes reiterates
his enthusiasm for ignorance and his scorn and fear of knowledge:

          "Knowledge puffeth up." (i Cor..viii, 1)

          "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." (i
     Cor. iii, 19)

          "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy." (Col.
     ii, 8)

And he expressly enjoins the perpetuation of ignorance and forbids
all effort for enlightenment:

          "If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant" (1 Cor.
     xiv, 88).

     The fruits of the Christian ban on learning and of its
exaltation of unthinking ignorance are seen in the quality of the
flock fed on such refuse:

          "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not
     many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things
     of the world to confound the wise. ... Base things of the
     world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen yea, and
     the things which are not." (i Cor. i, 26-28)

     Hear his own description of his converts and of the membership
of his churches:

          "We are made as the filth of the world, and are the
     offacouring of all things unto this day." (i Cor. iv, 13).

     And the apostolic feeders of the flock are admitted to be no 
better:

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                        IS IT GOD'S WORD?

          "We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels,
     and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake." (i Cor. iv, 9,
     10)

     One has only to contemplate the vast hordes of "true
believers" throughout Christendom, and to look upon the faces of
thousands of little padres and preachers of the word, to visualize
the ancient apostles and their followers. Those countries of
Christendom to-day where the faith most flourishes are shown by
readily available statistics to have the greatest percentages of
illiteracy among the credulous population, and there ignorance and
superstition most abound.

     Victor Hugo knew the class whom he describes as "neither men
nor women -- priests"; and he says: "There is in every village a
lighted torch, the schoolmaster; and a mouth to blow it out, the
parson."

                  CHILDISH FAITH FOR SALVATION

     When a person of any God-given intelligence has read and
pondered these correlated contradictions, so solemnly uttered for
our faith, he can better appreciate the subtle significance of the
oft-repeated prime qualification for Christian faith and salvation.
The Master himself declares:

          "Except ye ... become as little children, ye shall not
     enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. xviii, 3) "For of such is
     the kingdom of heaven"! (Matt. xi, 14)

     Little children have such childish simplicity and credulity,
-- believing in Santa Claus, fairies, elfs, and ghosts in full
faith. When they have grown into adult child-mindedness, the Holy
Ghost, Yahveh, and Jesus Christ are added to their holy faith.

                     DAMNATION FOR UNBELIEF

     Along with such childlike belief go the most fearful threats
of eternal death and damnation if one is not so childish as to
believe it all:

          "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he
     hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God;
     ... but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John iii, 18, 36)

     And after reading all the divine assurances, even

          "He that doubteth is damned"! (Romans xiv, 23)

                       FATUOUS FANATICISM

     When, under the influence of the inspired and contrary
preachments above dinned, coaxed, and threatened into one, one
forswears his reason and becomes so like a little child as to
believe, these are among the pious duties and obligations to which
he is devoted, by the Master's own avowal, and for his own sweet
sake and that of the holy Christian religion:

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                        IS IT GOD'S WORD?

          "The brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and
     the father the child: and the children shall rise up against
     their parents, and cause them to be put to death." (Matt. x,
     21)

     A Christian ideal realized untold times during the long dark
ages of faith, which to-day still flourishes, dividing the
Christian world into hostile camps of bigoted and intolerant
factions. And the promise of reward for so great inhumanity is very
incentive to those who believe it:

          "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or
     sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands,
     for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall
     inherit everlasting life." (Matt. xix, 29)

     In countless homes and hearts, blighting the tenderest love,
the curse of the inspired ban has been felt:

          "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for
     ... what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (2 Cor.
     vi, 14, 15)

                      THE "PRINCE OF PEACE"

     Of all the inspired words which we have quoted and commented
on, the only provable ones which have proved true are those of the
last few paragraphs, and the sinister, cruel, and fearful sentences
of the Man of Nazareth, fondly called the "Prince of Peace" --
words which have borne the bitterest harvest of blood, and blight,
and hell-on-earth through all the ages since they were uttered:

          "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came
     not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at
     variance against his father, and the daughter against her
     mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And
     a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that
     loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and
     he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of
     me." (Matt. x, 34-37; Luke xii, 51-53)

     The Christian creeds and dogmas, laid down with such inspired
assurance and so self-contradictorily -- in the Holy Bible, may
here be left, conveniently assembled and matched for the easier
radical revision of opinion regarding them.

                          ****     ****

                        IS IT GOD'S WORD?
                               by
                         Joseph Wheless
                              1926

                          ****     ****

    Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

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