Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The God-men

I rolled up my sleeves and I got to work at understanding the how the skeptic thinks. Why did the skeptic seems so confident in their disbelief of Christianity?

The first concept from the world of skepticism that I encountered was the “god-men” problem. This was all new to me and my mouth gaped open as I read claims that many Divine god-men came along before Christ claiming to bring salvation. I was shocked! But, I took all these claims as blatant, unfounded lies and trickery from demonic forces whose only purpose was to cause people to stray. Even if there were other “god-men” types who came and taught similar teachings to Jesus prior to 1 AD, these men in my mind were clearly counterfeit. So, eventually I dismissed this material. I didn't believe the claims. So, there . . .

Until, I came across an interesting website entitled – The Pagan Origins of the Christian Myth. This website referenced many of the former claims and materials that I read which were often referenced by skeptics. The idea was the same: Jesus isn't unique because so many other god-men came prior to him teaching and claiming similar things. And sometimes these god-men even used speech frighteningly similar to that of Christ's sayings in the New Testament. You could say they were copying Jesus, except that many of these guys came before Christ! I won't try to list them all here. Check out the link above and read all about it for yourself.

The author of POCM used an interesting analogy that caught my attention. He compares religion to soda pop. All soda pop share a few basic ingredients which is the essence of soda pop: carbonated water and sugar for starters. Now, the names are different on the cans and each brand may throw in some of their own unique flavorings. But, in the end, soda pop can't get too different as you go from drink to drink. So it is with religion; religions have a few basic ingredients that they all share: God, worship, sin, atonement, judgment, afterlife, miracles, scripture texts, clergy, and so on. And particularly during Jesus' time, a series of religions known as the Mystery Religions were prominent. These religions had rites of passage and inductions (baptism), symbolic meals (Communion), teachings with hidden meanings (teaching only the believers understand), and Divine expressions of the Godhead as a human being – just as Jesus is the divine expression of God in a human body.

Another idea that stuck with me was the challenge he gave at the beginning of his site: All these other god-men came before Jesus, and claimed to do many things like Jesus. However, we don't believe in them; we don't believe they ever performed the miraculous or made good on their claims at salvation. Nor, their claims to be God in flesh. Why then, do we believe in Jesus who isn't unique when compared to his predecessors?

Again, this didn't de-convert me; This information by itself wasn't enough to move me.

But, the skeptic's argument is long and has a cumulative effect. Later, my eyes opend to some additional ideas that caused the "god-men" problem to become a very serious problem for my faith.
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