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Mary Didn't Have A Little Lamb


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Mary didn't Have A Little Lamb

The New Testament Bible is filled with dire warnings about unbelief and other forms of noncompliance.

But the tactic of inducing fear isn't applied only to those that don't believe.

This tactic is also employed to keep those already in the flock from straying, especially when it comes to the area of their personal finances.

A particularly effective fear inducing story is found in the Book of Acts, where two believers literally drop dead after being "convicted" of their greed and selfishness by the Holy Spirit and Peter.

This story serves as a wonderful tool to strike fear into the hearts of people that already belong to the Cult of Jesus, also known as Christianity.

 

The Book of Acts reveals that the early Christians practiced a form of communism.*

In the early church, privately owned property was sold and the proceeds were given to the cult leaders, who allegedly put all money into a common pot.

The money was then distributed to the members, each according to their need.

 

Acts 2:44-45

And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

 

Acts 4:32,34-35

And the heart and soul of the multitude of those that had believed were one, and not one said that anything of what he possessed was his own, but all things were common to them;

For neither was there any one in want among them; for as many as were owners of lands or houses, selling them, brought the price of what was sold and laid it at the feet of the apostles; and distribution was made to each according as any one might have need.

 

Two believers, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, sold some property, and rather than giving all of the proceeds to the cult leaders, they withheld a portion for themselves. They kept back some money.

Peter, being infused with the all-knowing power of the Holy Spirit, instantly recognized that Ananias was lying about turning over all of the money. Peter tells Ananias that he's a liar and lied to God himself.

The wicked wretch Ananias, overwhelmed with personal guilt and fear of God, then drops dead on the spot.

 

Acts 5:1-5

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

 

Sapphira, his wife, also drops dead shortly thereafter:

 

Acts 5:7-11

And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

 

Notice the repeated emphasis concerning the great fear that came on all that heard this story.

This is a classic fear driven moral lesson, where complete compliance to cult leaders is required in order to escape the terrible fate of these two people. If you hold money back and are not honest with cult leaders about how much you have, you are lying to God himself. You may as well drop dead in your sin.

 

The New Testament clearly demonstrates how wicked it is to hold back offerings designated for God.

The Old Testament has a similar story about the sin of holding back wealth from God in Judges 7, where a man called Achan held back some treasure that he had taken during a military campaign.

This was deemed a disgraceful act and God was so angry that he not only had Achan stoned but his whole family as well, along with his domestic animals. Only then did God turn from his fierce wrath.

 

God is also not supposed to show favoritism(Acts 10:34, Rom 2:11, Eph 6:9), so this moral requirement should apply to all of God's people.

 

However, contrary to the Biblical claim about showing no favoritism, withholding a full offering to God is sometimes permitted, if you have favor with God.

Evidence for this comes from the conflicting stories surrounding the birth of Jesus as written in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. These are the only books in the New Testament that provide any information of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

 

[While fundamentalist Christians often advertise that the Bible contains no actual conflicting stories, and that it displays perfect harmony due to its direct transmission from God himself, these claims are quite dubious and could even be classified as dishonest.

The "catch" is in the use of qualifying statements and rationalizations that are employed to resolve conflicting stories or statements. This is the work done by professional Christian apologists, whose financial success is often directly related to the volume of their work.

By explaining what the scriptures are supposed to mean, which often involves adding subjective qualifiers to the alleged Word of God, apologists can weave an explanation that reconciles just about any contradiction.

Even the large ears of a rabbit can be rationalized completely off of the bunny if one adds enough subjectivity and wishful thinking, leaving the rabbit with only the appearance of having large ears.

This is often done while asserting that the Bible can only be properly understood by believers, who are guided by the Holy Spirit. Apparently God wanted apologists to have lifetime employment and wrote his Word in a manner that ensured the need for their work.]

 

The Matthew and Luke gospels do not reinforce each other with regard to many issues, and the birth narratives display a conflict that reflects poorly on the most sacred family in history, the family of Jesus.

The Gospel of Matthew claims that pagan star gazers interpreted an omen and traveled from afar to see the young King of the Jews(Matt 2:1-10). They stopped in Jerusalem and get directions south to Bethlehem.

Being guided by a star that must have perched itself right on the roof of the house, they found Jesus at a house in Bethlehem.

The pagan travelers brought treasures with them and gave Jesus and his family expensive gifts.

 

Matt 2:11

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

 

[being endorsed as King of the Jews by pagans doesn't get Jesus off to a very good start.

Those that dabble in divination, sign reading, astrology, magic, and witchcraft are abomination to God(Deut 18:10-12).

Being worshipped and financed by pagans of dubious character is not something to put on a Godly resume.

A far better endorsement and sign of approval by God would have been if Elijah had shown up to validate Jesus as a future King of the Jews and had anointed him as such. Being financed by pagans of dubious

Elijah was supposed to appear to usher in the messianic era(Mal 4:5-6).

However, Elijah was a no-show, perhaps being preoccupied or on another errand for God.]

 

After the visit from the wealthy pagan star gazers, Joseph and the family were told by and angel to leave the area and go to Egypt because Herod had issued an infant death decree for all male children two years old and younger in the Bethlehem area.

[There is no evidence for this death decree outside of the Gospel of Matthew.]

After Herod had died, Jesus and family returned to the land and then settled in Nazareth, which is in Galilee(Matt 2:13-21).

 

The Gospel of Luke was written to confirm with certainty, the facts surrounding Jesus(Luke 1:1-4).

However, there is much in written in Matthew that Luke doesn't confirm at all.

Luke makes no mention of pagan star gazers visiting Jesus and giving him gold and other treasures.

Luke makes no mention of an infant death decree by Herod or an escape to Egypt.

According to Luke, Mary was only in Bethlehem a short period of time after the birth of Jesus, leaving to go the Jerusalem to make an offering.

 

Luke 2:22

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

The number of days required for purification is 33 for a woman that bore a male child.

 

Lev 12:3-4

And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

 

If 33 days were added to the 8 days involved in the circumcision ritual, Mary would have stayed in Bethlehem about 41 days after she gave birth. There wouldn't have been much time for the wizards to find Jesus in Bethlehem under the Luke scenario.

After the ceremony Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem and went back to Nazareth.

Luke 2:39

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

 

As noted earlier, Luke mentions no pagans bringing riches, no death decree, and no flight to Egypt, then followed by a resettling in Nazareth.

If the account in Luke were accurate, there wouldn't have been any need for a dramatic escape to Egypt because Mary, Jesus, and Joseph would have left Bethlehem long before the death decree was issued.

They would have been up north, in Nazareth, over 60 miles away.

The infant death decree was for the area of Bethlehem, which is south of Jerusalem, in the opposite direction of Nazareth, which is well north of Jerusalem.

 

Also as noted earlier, the author of Luke was writing his story to validate the teachings his reader may have been taught.

If his reader had heard a story about visiting pagans bringing great wealth, an infant death decree, and a flight to Egypt by the family, none of these important events would be confirmed as valid history because they don't exist in the Luke gospel.

The author of Luke gives no instructions for his reader to read other stories by other writers for more information.

 

The problem created by the conflict between Matthew and Luke birth narrative stories produces an example of greed in the holy family.

The Gospel of Luke records Mary as giving an offering to God that's associated with a poor woman.

The offering that was given to God by Mary was two small birds.

 

Luke 2:22-24

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

(As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

 

According to the law of God, two offerings are needed after childbirth.

One is a burnt offering and the other is a sin offering.

However, a lamb is required for a burnt offering, not a bird.

A bird can only be substituted for a lamb if the woman cannot afford a lamb.

 

Lev 12:6-8

And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.

And if she be not able(cannot afford) to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

 

There is no good reason why Mary couldn't have afforded a lamb.

As the Gospel of Matthew says, the pagan star gazers that came to worship him presented Jesus and his family with gold and expensive gifts from the treasure chests they carried.

Of course, there is no story about pagans bearing treasure to be found in the Gospel of Luke.

However, because the Bible is the Word of God, and because fundamentalist Christians say so, both accounts must be historical fact. This creates a moral dilemma for Mary and the holy family.

The Virgin Mary, one of the most revered people in the entire Bible, a figure that the Catholic church has elevated to special icon status, held back in offering to God what he commanded.

Mary gave God the offering associated with a poor woman, one that couldn't afford a lamb.

In this case, unlike the words of a popular nursery rhyme, Mary didn't have a little lamb.

Yet, Mary should have easily been able to afford one considering the gold and riches that were given to Jesus by the wizards.

 

Holding back on offerings is the vile sin that convicted Ananias and Sapphira.

They literally dropped dead when confronted with their selfish nature, their greed.

But Mary skips away from her sin and becomes an icon because she's Mary, the mother of Jesus, and couldn't possibly be associated with anything so vile.

God, who is not supposed to exhibit favoritism, has no problem with her sin but doesn't like being lied to by other mortals that hold back money from him. Greed is a relative concept with the Bible God.

 

Now, all sorts of rationalizations can be concocted to make this problem go away.

One way is to claim that the riches didn't belong to Mary but belonged to Jesus, so Mary wasn't required to give a full offering. This is a rather inane excuse to use, given the sharing nature that Christians are supposed to have with each other.

Jesus, the biggest proponent of giving to the poor that the world has ever known, was too cheap to authorize using some of his money to help his mother pay for a proper offering?

Since both Mary and Joseph had experience with angels, it wouldn't have been very difficult for the infant god-man to send an angel to them, telling them that it was proper to spend some treasure money to buy a lamb in order to give God full honor.

Another excuse could be used that asserts the family spent all the money before Mary had to make the offering to God, so she was a poor woman after all.

That's a wonderful assertion, but it has no support from the scriptures. It's just an assertion supplied to resolve the problem.

It could also be claimed that Mary didn't actually lie about anything, she just didn't present a lamb and used the less expensive option of a bird. This is somewhat true, there is no evidence that Mary lied to the priest.

But what does the law say? Did Mary comply with it or not? Is this how a holy moral standard is set?

Is obedience to the law optional upon the discretion of the one under it?

This explanation would make the law relative and subject to human whim, and this is something Christians say God would never condone.

There are many more rationalizations that can be put forth to reconcile the issue, as they're only limited by the imagination of an apologist.

However, for every rationalization put forth to explain what God really meant to say, but couldn't make clear, the fundamentalist principle of an error free and perfect Bible becomes weaker and weaker.

If the author of Matthew hadn't put the part about pagans bearing treasure into the plot of his story, there wouldn't be any problem with Mary holding back money from God. But there it is, and fundamentalists insist that, like everything else in the Bible, it must be completely accurate in all details. No embellishments occurred.

 

This is the Bible that fundamentalist Christians are stuck with.

An all-powerful deity, that wants all people to be saved, produces a work that shows little sign of living up to the claims made about it, without human intervention via Christian apologetics.

Fundamentalists want God to be an extension of themselves, subject to their scriptural modifiers, qualifiers, and creative interpretation.

This form of Christianity uses assertion and circular reasoning to establish a divine monopoly for itself.

Believers have a monopoly on God and truth because they say so.

The Bible even lays the groundwork for this theological arrogance.

1 John 4:6

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

 

The next time a fundamentalist attempts to sell you a story about the Bible being the absolute Word of God, buy a lollipop instead. It's cheaper and you can still feel like a sucker.

 

Footnote:

* Radical right wing Christian talk radio and television hosts in America constantly associate communism with "evil Commies" and spend much of their time extolling the virtues of predatory capitalism, and how "democracy" combined with a private ownership society will lead any nation closer to Jesus.

Phrases like "the greatest nation on God's green earth" are often used in these chattering radio sermons to drive home the point that Christian values are the only thing that can produce a healthy, wealthy society.

However, fundamentalist claims about "holy" American economic values and Christianity are no more grounded in Biblical reality than their claims about a "sinless" Jesus are.

Both of these themes are popular myths.

The United States is the largest debtor nation in the world and openly practices legalized counterfeiting to pay its bills.

These facts are not acknowledged by the popular right wing Christians that host talk radio shows and television programs.

Jingoism often relies on layers of illusion to fuel its goals, but slogans and flag waving are not an honest replacement for reality. If the New Testament is to be believed, then Christianity is neither capitalist nor is it democratic.

According to the New Testament, personal financial interest represents personal greed, and Jesus is a Lord that will rule in the manner of a benevolent dictator. He is not democratically elected.

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  • 1 month later...

Well if your right about this Skeps... then Christian Realtors are in for one hell of a pickle of a time (in Hell). Good golly. Oh my. What a dickens of time is that going to be. (Puts away the Donny Rumsfled mask.)

 

But are you sure that Ananias and Sapphria actually died? The English here says they "fell down" perhaps they were just overwhelmed with guilt? I am not saying, just saying.

 

Also, on a historical note, the early church not only came largely from the poor-classes, but were also recruited from the poor. So I have no doubt that this part of Acts does document that time and how they made such grassroots inroads to a largely indifferent population. Now wether or not the couple actully existed, and if they died cause they cheated the church its due, is another matter.

 

But you make a good case about the morality that is drawn by the authors.

 

Radical right wing Christian talk radio and television hosts in America constantly associate communism with "evil Commies" and spend much of their time extolling the virtues of predatory capitalism, and how "democracy" combined with a private ownership society will lead any nation closer to Jesus.

Pat Robertson = Billions

 

Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.

 

Funny thing I saw on the way to work this AM, was a bumper sticker on a moderate, middle-class sedan. Nothing fancy, but it had the bumper sticker that said You may laugh at my car, but my real treasure is in heaven. I guess she doesn't read her bible, or understand the irony of her bumper sticker on her car.

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