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Explanation, Please?

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

This past Sunday, at our local book store café “church of the non-believers” meetup, my friend Carl S. gave me a flyer which just blew me away. It was something his wife had picked up at her Assembly of God church the week before.

On the cover of this flyer was a starry night scene with the silhouettes of three dudes on camels approaching a manger which was right under an especially bright star. You know the scene. Inside the flyer, on the left panel, was a series of notices concerning the local church; birthday and anniversary notices, notes on the planned Christmas dinner for the needy, etc.

On the right panel was a drawing of a dandelion blowball with the words “BELIEVE for GREATER THINGS” under it. Below this were the words “2016 PRAYER FOCUS.” Okay, now we are ready for the main message, right? And sure enough, at the bottom of the page was this passage, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the father.” John 14:12 (NIV)

What?! At first I couldn’t believe my eyes. If I were looking for a Bible passage that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christianity is a scam promoted by a false prophet, it would be this one. What Jesus (allegedly) says in this passage is undeniably, provably false, so I was frankly astounded that the Christian who put this flyer together would suggest that it was a proper prayer focus for the upcoming new year.

Now, whoever chose this verse knows very well that he or she, a believer in Jesus, cannot do any of the miracles Jesus supposedly did, nor can anybody in the flyer’s intended audience. He or she doesn’t know anyone who can walk on water, make enough food for 5,000-plus people appear out of thin air, heal the diseased with a touch, or bring someone back from the dead. And he or she doesn’t know anyone who can. So, why on earth highlight a verse which shows Jesus to be either deluded or a bald-faced liar? A passage which so succinctly, so definitively, puts the lie to Jesus’ pronouncements, his promises?

Carl S. suggested that maybe this passage got into the Bible only because Jesus said the world would end soon and there wouldn’t be a world for a Bible full of incriminating evidence to hang around in for years and years. Maybe, but that doesn’t explain why the flyer’s creator would use it now; it’s as though he was looking for a verse that would say, “Wouldn’t it be just wonderful IF this were true?” But, of what worth is such a message in a passage which is so obviously false? I mean, what the hell was this guy or gal thinking?

And there, perhaps, is where I went off the rails. I expect people to think before they say or write something for public consumption, but I sometimes forget who I’m dealing with. It seems to me that it was simply irrational for this person to highlight an obviously false Christian message, but this is a person in the clutches of an irrational religion we’re talking about. I think such people, for the most part, studiously avoid thinking beyond the shallow surface of their dogma.

When they do think below the surface, they tend to come up with deep draughts of nonsense, like John Piper does at http://www.desiringgod.org. According to Piper, Jesus didn’t mean believers would do greater miracles than he did; he meant that once Jesus had gone to the father, then - because of “the indwelling of the crucified and risen Christ - your works of love and your message of life in union with Christ, will point people to the glory of the risen Son of God, and you will be the instrument of their forgiveness on the basis of the finished work of Christ (John 20:23). This will be new. This will be greater than Jesus' earthly miracles, because this is what he came to accomplish by his death and resurrection.”

This is an interesting explanation, but does it make sense? And why should Jesus’ words need an explanation? Is there a chance in hell that anyone listening to those words of Jesus 2,000 years ago would interpret his words the way Piper suggests? If they actually happened, then the average man-in-the-street would think of Jesus miracles as “the works I have been doing,” wouldn’t he, just as I have? Wouldn’t you? Is it really reasonable that Jesus would expect such “sophistication” as John Piper’s in the interpretation of his words as he spoke them? That seems a serious stretch to me.

So, with regard to this flyer, it’s the blindness, the obtuseness of its creator which astounds me. He or she has taken what many of us see as solid evidence of the falseness of Jesus’ message and chosen to highlight it for all his fellow believers to reflect on through the coming year. It just seems so incredibly stupid that I simply cannot wrap my mind around it. Can any of you ex-Christians out there shed any light on this mystery? That is, why would the flyer dude choose a passage which is (or should be) so damaging to Jesus’ reputation?

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