Oh We of Little Faith

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An extract from The Sceptics Bible. Part 518 of 666.

IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.

2 Even though Wittgenstein has proved the impossibility of a private language.

3 All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.

4 Although that begs the question of where the matter came from that all the things that were made were made with.

5 Unless, that is, all things are also made of God. By God.

6 In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.

7 Life and light not being qualities separate or separable from God, you understand.

8 Anyway, there was a man sent from God, whose name was John (no relation).

9 At least, John claimed to have been sent by God. There was no objective way of verifying that he had been. Yes, the name “John” means “a gift from God,” but that could just have been a coincidence.

10 Or because his mother, who had bestowed this name upon him, regarded him as a gift from God.

11 Or because his father often said of his son that he thought of himself as God’s gift to humanity. His father being prone to sarcasm.

12 This man John came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe.

12 ½ Men being used in the old, sexist sense, referring to all humanity. Lest women imagine that there’s nothing in this Christianity lark for them.

13 And John’s claim to bear witness having attached to it the caveat aforementioned in verse 9.

14 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

15 Which yields all sorts of metaphysical and ontological conundrums in light of verse 7.

16 Forgive the pun.

17 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

18 Presumably those born before the arrival of the Light being excluded.

19 It would have helped if John stopped speaking in riddles, obviously.

20 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

21 We’re supposed to be talking about Jesus here, I think. The text isn’t very clear.

22 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

23 I’m not sure how they were expected to recognize him. It isn’t every day you meet a bloke claiming to be the creator of the universe. I imagine they were just being polite and told one another to ignore him in the hope he’d go away. If he persisted, he’d only have himself to blame if they locked him up.

24 But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

25 Seriously, it was that easy. No tests, no questionnaires to fill out. No fine print. Believe he was the son of God and you’d receive eternal life.

26 Well. Okay. The promise of eternal life. Not actually eternal life. And not even The promise of eternal life. Just his promise of eternal life. A nutter’s.

27 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

28 See above provisos 1 thru 26.

29 And this is the record of John the Baptizer, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

30 And he said, I am not the Christ. You’ve got the wrong bloke altogether. He’s much swarthier than me and good with his hands.

31 They asked him, Art thou a prophet? and he said No. So they said, well, we’ve got to go back and tell the Jews something. Do you have a CV we can take with us?

32 And John said, I am the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

33 Art thou the prophet Esaias? asked the slower ones amongst them.

34 No, he said. Haven’t you been listening? Not really, they mumbled, and hid their faces out of shame.

35 Are you the one crying in the wilderness, then? asked another. No, he replied. I am the voice of the one crying in the wilderness. Do pay attention.

36 Are you sure you don’t have a CV? they asked him again. And those who were sent by the Pharisees said

37 Why baptizest thou then, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor that other one. Esaias. Hmmmm? Explain that.

38 And John said, I baptize with water: but there standeth one amongst you, whom ye know not; he it is who coming after me is preferred before me and whose shoes I am not fit to lace.

39 And they said, That doesn’t really answer our question.

40 The next day, John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

41 This is the one of whom I spoke of whom I said After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

42 And the people there assembled said, When did you say that? For they were not the same people to whom John had been speaking the previous day.

43 Oh. Yesterday, said John. To somebody else.

44 Obviously, I was present on both occasions, otherwise this gospel would just be hearsay.

45 I thought I’d better clarify that.

46 And the people said, If this man is the Lamb of God and also His son, does this mean that God is a ram? Not an actual ram, but a Ram-God like the Egyptian god Auf, the ram-headed aspect of the Sun God. And his mother a sheep god?

47 No, said John. I was being metaphorical. I meant he will be slaughtered like a sacrificial lamb to take away the sins of the world.

48 Ah, they said. We were wondering. Although many of them still thought their interpretation made more sense. And then they said, Does he know about this?

49 He knows everything, said John. He is the Word made flesh.

50 So, then, what’s the point? the people asked. If he knows it’s going to happen, then it’s destined to happen, so why bother? He could have spared himself a lot of pain and agony.

51 It’s important, said John. God so loves mankind that he is willing to sacrifice his only son to take away their sins. And they will attain eternal life if they believe that he did so.

52 Wow, said the people. And also, Seriously? they said.

53 Yes, said John.

54 That is a massive sacrifice indeed, said the people. God must really love mankind very much. Tell us this, they said: This Lamb of God, Jesus, he will be sacrificed and die and take away all our sins and never be heard of again?

55 Yes indeed, said John. He will die, take away the sins of mankind, and then on the third day he will be resurrected and then sit at God’s right hand in heaven for eternity.

56 Excuse me? said the people. Resurrected?

57 Yes, said John. To demonstrate that eternal life is genuine and that all who believe in him will receive it. Otherwise people would think it was some kind of scam.

58 And the people said, Whoa whoa whoa. Scroll back a minute, buddy boy. You said God so loved humanity he sacrificed his only son. Now you’re saying he’s going to bring him back from the dead and take him up to heaven for eternity. How’s that a sacrifice? God hasn’t given his son at all. This is a right crock.

59 Thereupon John bore witness and said, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Jesus.

60 And the people said, How did you know it wasn’t just an ordinary dove? Was it wearing a halo? Did it crap gold?

61 And John said, Look, I just knew, right. You’ll have to take my word for it.

62 And the people were sorely vexed.

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