A Beastly Revelation

How good are you at reasoning? How about recognizing when written words are meant to be taken literally? Figuratively? Can you, all by yourself, detect when someone is being serious as opposed to them saying something in an unbelievable way just to make a point? If you had one book to read and it contained all sorts of different styles of writing, could you confidently separate each and every style into individual categories? How sure are you about that?

If you were to read a book that speaks of real places, real people and some real events, but also included some things that weren’t real and weren’t meant to be taken literally, could you tell the difference? Could you spot the real and also recognize the contrived? How would you know you were right? How could you know for sure that the things you put into the “historical events” category were actually meant to be there and not in the “made-up-but-still-have-some-teachable-parts-even-though-they’re-absurd” category instead? There’s a book that does have both of those things in it and it’s being used all the time to teach us wrong from right (supposedly) and to help keep us up high and safe when we die, free from the fire.

When you think of Heaven, how do you picture it? Is it up in the clouds? Are there harps playing? Is it a new Earth? Do you have jobs there, working for Jesus? Is your family there, keeping you company for all eternity? Is it bliss? Is it paradise? Is it all you were taught it could be? These are some common views.

What about a not-so-commonly-spoken-of view? Did you know there’s a throne room with gemstone thrones? Sure. why not? That’s okay. That’s where God and Jesus are. That’s fine. It’s just God and Jesus, right? No? It’s not? There are 24 other leaders there sitting in their own thrones?

How many people actually talk about that when they speak of Heaven? None that I know of. That’s what it says in  Revelation 4:4. So do you believe there is a glass-like floor in front of the throne of God? Around that throne, are there strange beasts? Is Heaven not actually the wondrous image in your head but instead the home of creatures like this:

“…In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.  Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings…”       Revelation 4:6-8

Is this what your vision of Heaven is? No? Are you sure? These things exist there. It’s what John described in Revelation in his vision from God himself. There were strange creatures covered with wings and eyes. Also, they had lovely singing voices:

Day and night they never stop saying: 

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”

That’s what the Bible says and the Bible is the word of God, right? It was written by God-inspired men for our benefit, was it not? So if you don’t have singing monsters in your vision of Heaven, why not? Because it’s not meant to be taken literally? It’s a metaphor? It’s just written that way to illustrate a point and convey a message? How do you know that? Did you read it in the footnotes of your Bible? Did your pastor tell you that? Your parents? How can you tell it’s not what Heaven is literally like?

If you think that eye-covered beasts with six wings and different heads is just too absurd to be taken literally and therefore must be a metaphor for something else, how do you decipher the rest of the Bible? Do you use the same logic? Do you say, “I know Egypt is a real place and some of the names of the pharaohs were recorded elsewhere in history so it is meant to be taken literally”? What about the plagues of Egypt? Raining frogs? Water turning to blood? Death of the first born? Are those real too because they happened in a real place? That’s not very sound reasoning. Should we maybe go back to taking the unbelievable and setting it aside in the “”made-up-but-still-have-some-teachable-parts-even-though-they’re-absurd” pile?

There is a huge list of unbelievable stories in the Bible. Some, we are told, are metaphors, poetry or allegory. Others, we are told, are rock-solid facts of our history. Can you know which is which without someone else telling you? Talking snakes? Talking donkeys? Worldwide flood? Walking on water? Cherubs? Turning water into wine? Pillars of fire that follow you around? Rising from the dead? Giants? Curing blindness with spit? Talking burning bushes? Grotesque “heavenly” creatures? What about a seven-headed dragon? Can you tell which of these are true and accurate and which are not to be taken literally? How did you reach your conclusion?

What about other things that aren’t quite as obvious? How about prayer? Is the promise of answered prayer meant to be taken literally? Figuratively? When you pray and nothing happens, do you change your mind about which category prayer fits into? How about salvation? Is that real? Why or why not? When you pray for Jesus to come into your heart, nothing changes. Nothing is noticeably different, so how do you know? Is sin real? God? Satan? Are these real things or just things written into existence to keep people under control and to give them “hope”?

If I read a book, any book, I can tell what is obviously fiction and what is likely true. I can do this from my own experiences here in reality and I can draw from the recorded history of others’ experiences and the evidence kept to back them up. If I read about magic, dragons, creatures with animal bodies and human heads, dead bodies coming to life, talking bushes, worldwide destruction or even witches, I can easily and confidently know that these things are the work of someone with an active imagination. I can recognize that these things don’t exist, haven’t happened or are not currently happening so they were made up for entertainment purposes. But, if you take these same exact things and place them in the Bible, suddenly some (all?) of these things are true and historically accurate? How can you be sure? Some are explained away as being poetic or parabolic and others are unquestionable facts. Who decides?

If we had no churches. If we had no pastors, priests or rabbis. If we had no Sunday school teachers or televangelists. If all we had was the Bible, would we be able to figure these things out and all come to the same conclusion? If our Bibles had no footnotes, margin notes or accompanying study guide, would we be able to simply read the words before us and separate fact from fiction? I’m sure that many think they can (with the help of the holy spirit of course) but I think with billions of people, we’d have billions of discrepancies. Also, is the holy spirit real or a metaphoric spirit that isn’t anything more than the conscience all people have? If we just had the words in the book and nothing more, would we still have the same religion? Would we have a religion at all?

The reason we have churches and an endless supply of Bibles with different translations, different study guides and notes and different interpretations of all of it is because we need to be taught the same message…or close to it. We all need to be told that dragons aren’t real and the story of dragons is just used to illustrate a point. On the other hand, we do need to be told that Jesus IS real and he DOES love us and he WILL be back for us. We need to be told that the creation of everything happened exactly as Genesis recorded it. We need to be told that some of God’s laws still apply and some no longer do. We need to be told what to do or not do with our bodies. We need to be told who to love and if it is okay to enslave others. We need to be told everything. We need to have all of it explained to us as if we are children. We are expected to sit quietly and nod in agreement. We are expected to just blindly accept the interpretations, the literary styles used and the wild excuses.

Why can’t we just read it on our own without the outside noise? Why are we expected to listen to others and their take on things? Why are we shaped and molded (preferably in our youth) into an army of like-minded “believers”? What would happen if everyone just shut out the voices from the church, from the Bible translators and apologists? What would happen if everyone, on their own, read the Bible AS IS and gave their honest opinion? If no one told someone what to think, would they still believe? Would they still treat the absurd as if it was obviously true and 100% accurate?

Here’s my take: I lost my faith in a religion that I fully believed in. When I was in, it all made sense. When I was out and read the same exact material again, I felt like a fool. If you read the material (on your own) as it is presented, it is obviously nothing more than a collection of fiction stories meshed together. It is ridiculous. It is absurd. It is foolish. The things in there that are supposed to be taken literally are just as preposterous as the things meant to be taken as just metaphoric lessons. Without a coach blowing their whistle and directing the team, all of us players would be running in all different directions. It needs to stop. Be your own coach. Be your own team. Play your own game. Enjoy every minute of it.

Here’s a little video clip from Paradise PD (a Netflix comedy) that helps explain some of the differences between fact and fantasy by comparing the Bible to the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Enjoy:

15 thoughts on “A Beastly Revelation

  1. I was given a more liberal interpretation of the bible when I was growing up as a catholic. As you said, I was taught that a lot of the more outrageous things that were talked about were metaphor or allegory and didn’t actually happen. But as I got older and I read the real bible for myself I started wondering how one was supposed to tell the difference between allegory and truth? The stories in the Old Testament were just stories, but the stories in the New Testament were true? How did they know? Where was the proof? They tried to prop up the Jesus stories with tales about miracles and supernatural events that “proved” Jesus was real. But it doesn’t take much independent investigation to find out that those “miracles” were just as false as the stories about talking donkeys, etc. Either they were misinterpretations of what happened, lacked credible witnesses, or were outright falsehoods, deliberate frauds. The so called miracle that was used to make Mother Teresa a saint is a good example. Supposedly a woman was cured of cancer. But both the woman’s husband and her doctor swear she never had cancer in the first place and she was cured by normal medical treatment.

    I just get so frustrated with all of this sometimes.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I get frustrated with it too, both for believing in it to begin with and for the way others try to push it on people.

      There’s no way of knowing if something is meant to be taken literally (or not) in the story without someone explaining it. But who is qualified for that? Who put them in charge of such a task? If God is real then why doesn’t he set the record straight himself? The whole thing is frustrating.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is probably why the church refused to allow the actual bible into the hands of most people for so long. Attempts to translate it into languages the average person could understand weren’t just strongly discouraged, it could get you executed by the church. They were probably afraid that unless “interpreted” by ministers of the church people would start to ask questions that couldn’t easily be answered.

        Like

  2. Thanks Ben. Heaven can be anything a person can dream of; after all it is just imagination. Heaven, paradise, the great beyond and all the rest, exist only in the minds, behind the eyes and between the ears of homo sapiens. GROG

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are correct sir. It is imagination and we all have one. Some have wild ones. But without evidence it’s best to keep it to ourselves… or if we share it, at least admit it’s a creation of our minds when our “evidence” is just “intuition” or a “gut feeling.”

      By the way, I just realized I hadn’t been following your blog. Not sure how I missed clicking the follow link but I did. Correcting that now.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We are taught the delusion of the supernatural as children. All the fairies, ghosts, Santa Claus and our heavenly Father. The supernatural is a man-made world of magic, real magic. GROG
        Thanks for following. Now I should write something.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As is your usual style … EXCELLENT post!

    I just wish there were some way to give it more exposure and put it in front of the people that need to read it. I could reblog but many of my followers are the same as yours. I do think I have some Christian followers based on my email notifications that list some of their posts, but it needs even more exposure.

    Still think you need to write a book … !!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Nan. I appreciate your feedback (as usual) and I will continue to share as long as there is an audience. I’m not sure how many Christians read my blog who actually stop and think about what I write or just dismiss it because it goes against what they’ve been taught. The things I write about were not taught to me and not presented for me to investigate when I was a believer and it would have been helpful.

      I know I just have a tiny WordPress blog and not many will see it but I still feel like maybe I’ll reach at least one person who pauses long enough for contemplation. Who knows. It at least gives me something to do when my family is asleep at night but my mind is wide awake. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If they read it at all, the seed has been planted — and the mind has a way of bringing some things to the forefront when you least expect it.

        In any event, keep doing what you’re doing. If nothing else, it solidifies the reasons why many of us left “the faith.”

        Liked by 2 people

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