Discuss: Wasn’t the Bible Created to Control the Masses?

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Was Christianity created by the Romans to control the masses? How can we know that the Bible is complete or authoritative in its present form? Join Drs. Jo and Vince Vitale this week on the Ask Away podcast as they seek to answer questions around the history of Christianity and reliability of the Bible.

I look forward to your comments, insights, and questions!

To learn more, our website offers detailed information about the Ask Away podcast.

(Matt Western) #2

Some thoughts to get the conversation going - though I’m not sure I’ve got much to add compared to the knowledge of Dr Vince and Jo Vitale. :open_mouth::grinning:

I listened to the podcast first and some points I got was

I would also add some followup questions (as the podcast question states a husband was asking the question of his wife)

  • why would the Romans bother trying to fabricate the story? they already had power, and used that power to destroy (they thought) Jesus by killing him. Is the books author suggesting that, Constantine revamped Jesus to continue to control the people 300 years after the events and put his own spin on history? Hardly.
  • the entire Old Testament points forward to Jesus coming, and fulfilling almost countless prophecies, thousands of years before the Roman civilisation were even known about or rose to power. Even in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, there was the promise of the Messiah, who would ‘crush the head of the serpent’, and in turn would have his heel bruised by the serpent. I’d like to know how the Romans would have fabricated the entire Old Testament - the Jewish Scriptures.
  • the message of Jesus was so different, and as theBibleProject describes it is an ‘upside down kingdom’, where the way up was down, through humility and serving others. All world kingdoms setup by humans rise to the top by power, violence and even today people climb the corporate ladder by treading on everyone else, stabbing people in the back and all the usual office politics that we see. Human nature is no different, we just pretend to be more civilised.
  • as in this video from the BibleProject acts series towards the end, the Romans saw the message of Christ as a huge threat to their way of life. the Romans were happy if you came into their civilisation and just added your own cultural gods into their collection. But, the Apostle Paul’s message was that Jesus Christ was the only way. Why would the Romans have created a competing worldview that was actually very confusing to them - and completely replaced the worship of Caesar as god. My understanding was that Christians helped out people who were sick during Roman times during plagues because they were so changed by what Christ has done for them, they were in turn sharing Christs love to others.

the theme video ‘the way of the exile’ asks the question of us: how do we live well in a world system that is about money, power, and violence

During the Crusades, there was violence committed in the name of Christ - and we know the history of religion mixed with politics throughout the centuries. The Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection, were into Judaism for money and power. If they believed that death is the end, and there was no resurrection, then why not use religion as a means to gaining power.

I remember John Lennox suggesting in one of his books or videos that anyone using violence in Jesus name, or to further the cause of Christ, is actually going against his teachings directly - Jesus rebuked Peter for cutting off the high priest’s servants ear (Malchus was his name) in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then healed his ear. What on earth must have gone through Malchus’ mind as here he was arresting Jesus, and Jesus picked up his ear of the ground and just stuck it back onto his head! :open_mouth: The account just casually mentions it, but this miracle right there surely must have got Malchus’ attention?

Jesus told Pilate that ‘if this kingdom was of this world, His servants or followers would be fighting’. John 18:36

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

I think the argument that Romans created a ‘Jesus story’ to control the masses is fairly weak - and as Vince quotes in the podcast a ‘parallelism’ (I forget the exact words and I can’t find it again in the podcast to quote it properly) :slight_smile: .

hope this is helpful and gets the conversation started…

(Matt Western) #3

I listened to a recent Andy Stanley message this morning and thought it was worth sharing in this thread - and hope it might be useful for someone.

He tells the story of time travellers who travel back from 21st century to be a guest of Emperor Domitian in AD 82, who asks the time travellers what the future holds for the Roman Empire. Quite an interesting way of story telling.

Andy goes onto quote Jordan Peterson from his book: 12 rules for life.

"Christianity achieved the well-nigh impossible. The Christian doctrine elevated the individual soul, placing slave and master and commoner and nobleman alike on the same metaphysical footing, rendering them equal before God and the law. … the implicit transcendent worth of each and every soul established itself against impossible odds…

It is in fact that nothing short of a miracle that the hierarchical slave-based societies of our ancestors reorganized themselves, under the sway of an ethical/religious revelation, such that the ownership and absolute domination of another person came to be viewed as wrong.

We forget that the opposite was self-evident throughout most of human history."

Andy goes on to say that it is self evident that might makes right, those with all the power make the rules, and to enslave a population is just natural, why would anybody question it.

But when Jesus came, He turned everything upside down.

Andy quotes further from Peterson:

"The society produced by Christianity was far less barbaric than the pagan - even the Roman - ones it replaced. It objected to infanticide, to prostitution, and to the principal that might means right. It insisted that women were as valuable as men. It demanded that even as a society’s enemies be regarded as human.

All of this was asking the impossible: but it happened"

It happened around the words of one Jewish rabbi, who’s words should never have survived the dusty 1st century.

(SeanO) #4

@matthew.western That is a great point about Jesus’ Kingdom being an upside down Kingdom. People saying that the Romans invented Christianity as a means of manipulation are looking at the abuse of power after Christianity became the state religion rather than the life and teachings of Jesus and of the apostles. The Romans would have been better off going the route of the Egyptians and declaring their rulers as gods if they wanted to manipulate people and they knew that, which is why they created the emperor cults and why dictators today exalt themselves. Nebuchadnezzar knew that too - even the Pharisees knew that - they kept the people too busy obeying their rules to truly worship the God who was above them and who cared for the marginalized and outcast. Dictators rule by fear - not by love. Why would they invent a religion where the ultimate ethic is self-sacrifice? A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

(Matt Western) #5

So true, that’s exactly what Jesus said to the Pharisees when they accused him of casting out demons in the name of Beelzebub. :slight_smile:

The notion that the Romans created a religion in competition to themselves just does not make sense.