Wouldn’t the Bible be much better without the Old Testament and the Book of Revelations?
Most Biblical debates I’ve either participated in or watched eventually turn into non-believers pointing out the atrocities of the Old Testament God and the believers defending it by either cherry picking the good parts or just using Jesus as an example.
Why not just admit that the Old Testament is full of historical inaccuracies, scientific fallacies, violence, rape, gang rapes and slavery among other things and that it doesn’t help promote either good moral codes or Christianity as a whole?
The book of Revelations is my personal favorite. It reads almost like a Dungeons and Dragons book with fire breathing dragons and God coming to smote unbelievers. It has a very fire and brimstone feel to it and the author (John of Patmos) must have been smoking some mighty fine herb to come up with some of those visions. Even though it provides an entertaining read, let’s do away with that as well.
What are we left with?
I think we’re left with the ‘better’ parts of the Bible. Or at least the parts that Christians can be reasonably proud of. We still have a few miracles that would break the laws of physics, like raising the dead, but as an entire concept, I think the Bible would be much improved.
Would it then be the most profound book of morality, ethics, love, science or philosophy?
Not by a long shot. But it would be improved in my opinion. We’d have a lot more Jesus teaching about love and peace and a lot less bloody violence and God dealing death at a rate that most serial killers would envy.
Why Should Christians Consider Doing This?
From a Christian perspective, I think it would make a lot of sense. It would be easier to find converts, since they could preach about Jesus instead of atrocities. I think it would also lessen the decline of Christianity in Industrialized countries because followers of the Church would no longer have to defend those atrocities or promote them as sound moral traditions – traditions that once pointed out to them, don’t make sense and outrage many of the younger generations of Christians, driving them away from the Church.
Whether or not Jesus actually existed is beside the point, really. I think even non-believers are okay with most of Jesus’ teachings. Whether he lived or not, the things attributed to him are far ahead of the times he allegedly lived in. Most of us can get behind things like ‘Love Thy Neighbor’. Christians could also do away with homosexual bigotry in one fell swoop, since there wouldn’t be any scriptural authority for that view. Even the Jesus hell doctrine (believe in me or go to hell, which I find to be one of the most reprehensible parts of the Bible) is mostly backed up in the Book of Revelations. Christians could interpret it to mean something else without it and Jesus never advocates for the killing of non-believers or people of other faiths so atheists would probably just continue to snicker at the possibility of being sent to another dimension to be tortured by a demon for all eternity, even if they find the idea absurd and immoral.
If you’re a believer and you’re reading this, you’re either thinking it’s a great idea or it’s blasphemy of epic proportions. Do me a favor and close your eyes for a minute and imagine having a debate with an atheist about your religion with the OT and Book of Revelations removed. How much more satisfying and easier would that be?
And let’s face it, most modern day Christians ignore a lot of the less savory portions of the OT anyways. They’d just be making it official.
Purists would argue that without the Old Testament, the New Testament doesn’t make as much sense because Jesus was supposedly sent to fulfill the New Covenant. Without an understanding of what the Old Covenant was supposed to be like, Christians wouldn’t be as able to grasp the concepts or realize how lucky they are that Jesus died on the cross for them as opposed to allowing God to kill them off whenever we pissed him off enough.
To this I would say that nothing would stop curious Christians from reading the Old Testament for themselves, without the allusion that it was divinely inspired. Just as you can read some of the books that were left out of the Bible now.
I think the benefits far outweigh the negative downsides.