It's what's for email.
I want to start off today by stating that I read every single email that comes into my inbox, because I am both a glutton for punishment and an idiot. I read it all, from the briefest flame to the longest letter of praise. I even read the letters from various government officials in Nigeria who desperately want to send my millions of dollars if I'll just send them my bank account number and the ads for pills and formulas the promise to make my cock so huge that I'll be able to strap a saddle on it and offer kids rides for two bucks a pop at the state fair. I read everything. Even though ninety-seven percent of the email I get has "CC: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]" in the recipient line and is part of a massive spam campaign, that doesn't change the fact that someone, or more likely some automated program out there took the time to write to me, and the least I can do is take a look at what they have to say.
So it was that I sat down in my favorite chair, which by a strange coincidence is my only chair, and checked my email. Amidst the adds for generic viagra and offers to help me make thousands of dollars from home was a ludicrously lengthy email about Christianity. The heading of the email caught my eye. "'BUT THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF RELIGIONS' (and only one true God)" it proclaimed. Now, I've been involved in electronic correspondence with many devoted members of the Christian faith ever since I lobbed a few lighthearted gags at Easter. My email address has been forwarded around from right-wing humorless fanatic to right-wing humorless fanatic over the last couple months. So when I saw this religious email, I immediately made the assumption that it was in response either to my article or to an email I had sent to one of my critics. As the email went on and on, I began to question whether it was really a personalized letter to me or just some Christian spam (just like Jesus ate!). Here now is the email in its entirety with my comments interjected along the way.
"But There are Thousands of Religions!"
(and only one true God)
There are many man-made religions and gods. But according to the Bible, there is only ONE true God and only ONE way to serve Him. The true God is the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. All the rest are frauds.
Is it just me, or does it look like Jesus is dropping a major deuce in this one?
Take that, Allah, you big phony, you! My question is, am I supposed to be surprised by the fact that the Bible ways that the Christian deity is the only true God? I think that's more or less the point of Christianity. Now show me a passage from the Bible where it says that Buddha is the one true God and I'll be shocked. I promise.
"Understand that I AM HE: before me there was no God formed,
neither shall there be after me."
The God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob
Right, this is just off to a bad start. Enough with the namedropping already! Abraham this, Issac that, Jacob whatever. I get it. I also get that all three of those individuals were Jews. Big Jews. Big, moneygrubbing, hook-nosed Jews. Stop trying to convert me to my own religion and get to the Jesus stuff already.
There are not many paths to God. Just one--His name is Jesus. A relationship with Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, cannot be compared to any religious imitations. Jesus stands alone without equal. The following is my response to an e-mail that I recently received (with just a few edits for readability).
Okay, now in my experience, when someone says that they're responding to an email of mine "with just a few edits for readability," it means that they've removed the swears and/or fat jokes. I was pretty sure at this point that the author of this email had one of my letters forwarded to him by a concerned Catholic who couldn't defeat my dark powers on his own.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
...may I submit a response to your comments about Jesus Christ?
I'd rather you didn't, but you're going to anyway, so knock yourself out.
Your Observation: There are and have been thousands of religions. They can't each be right about everything, though each one has believers who have insisted that their religion is the one true religion.
Boogie, Jesus, boogie!
I don't remember saying this specifically, but since it's been edited for readability, who the hell knows?
Response: This is true. What distinguishes "Christianity" if you will, is:
A. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and was seen by over 500 people. None of the major religions of this world make the claim that their leader did this. They all lay in the grave dried up carcasses.
Holy shit! I mean, I go over the line from time to time, but I've never referred to Shiva as a "dried up carcass!" That's just harsh.
B. Jesus Christ offers forgiveness of sins. Every single person on this earth has sinned--lying, stealing, fornication, etc. and we need to be forgiven. If you tell a Muslim that you did something wrong and ask him for a solution, he'll shrug his shoulders. A Hindu will tell you maybe you can get it right in your next life (which is, incidentally, considered a curse by those in the east). A psychiatrist will tell you, "You need some counseling, step in my office. Oh, that'll be $200 per hour once a week." I knew a Buddhist woman who had been going to her therapist for 20 years and was no closer to relief than the first day she went!
Ask Jesus for forgiveness and He will say, "I forgive you and will give to you the water of life freely." And you will be forgiven.
Well that's terrific, except that psychiatry isn't a religion and the rest of that paragraph is pretty much crap, too. If I tell a Muslim that I've committed a sin and ask what I should do about it and he shrugs, it's probably because he doesn't speak a word of English, not because the Islamic faith has no system or repentance. Don't be a freaking idiot.
C. Jesus Christ offers His disciples a relationship with the God of the universe unlike the religions of this world. They perform certain rituals and rites to please God hoping that these vain oblations will work. Buddhists chant to scrolls and give food and cigarettes to statues that cannot speak or hear (they even have to light the cigarette because their god can't do it), Muslims obey dietary and cultural laws, Hindus worship any of a combination of millions of gods and goddeses (Shiva has six arms!) with rites, Catholics do penance and worship a host of saints as well as a goddess named Mary. Some people even claim to be their own god (which is ridiculous--they can't even make one hair white or black as a result of their own will).
Now this is something new - a Christian letter that actually condemns Catholics for not being Christian enough! I think I can safely say that now I've seen everything there is to see in life and the only reasonable recourse for me is suicide. Before I go, though, I'd like to see a crucifix light a cigarette. That's not to much to ask, is it? Just a little spark. I don't know too much about miracles, but the only way I know to get fire from a crucifix is to rub two of them together. And yes, Shiva has six arms. Thank you ever so much for pointing that out. Did you ever stop to think that maybe Shiva's a little sensitive about that? Jesus made fish appear out of thin air, you know. That's a little weird, too, but you don't hear me harping on it all the time.
On the other hand, for the Christian, Jesus Christ is Succourer, Saviour and Provider. Jesus provided the sacrifice necessary to pay for our transgressions. The sacrifice of Jesus pleased God for it made a way for every man, woman, boy and girl to know Him even though they had previously been criminals who transgressed His holy laws (laws against lying, stealing, adultery, etc.). Jesus paid the price for those transgressions and everyone that repents, turns to God and believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is a child of God.
Alright! Catch a free ride on the Christianity Express! Woohoo!
Jesus is with the Christian morning, noon and night--guiding, directing, loving, perfecting. As you have tasted from your readings, His Word (which is also another name for Jesus--see John 1) is pure and doth teach us how to live, but it is far more important than that. It shows us how to know the true God, not some imitation--1) recognize that He is holy and without spot 2) recognize that we are sinful and full of spots 3) recognize that He loves us and sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins 4) believe in His Son, giving Him our lives and He will make us everything He created us to be, not to mention escaping hell.
JESUS... IN... SPAAAAAAACE!
Oh yeah, not to mention THE ENTIRE FREAKING POINT OF OUR TIME ON EARTH (according to an email I received from an angry Christian). And what's all this about spots? Personally, I like to think of my higher power as being infinitely wise and patient, not as a spokesman for "Giddyap" 409, despite its powerful cleansing bubbles.
D. Various religions have their "Holy Books" which are reported "revelations" coming through various means, e.g. dreams. But the origin of the Bible is quite different. It is rooted and grounded in history. It came from the experience of a specific people (the Jews, an ancient people who are still with us today), in identifiable places, at particular times. The archaeological record has only confirmed that the places and names found in the Bible are accurate--and has never disproven it. The Bible is not a "Holy Book" in the sense of esoteric philosophy like all other "religious" books. It is holy in the sense that it is God's word spoken through His people.
So then... wouldn't it make more sense to follow Judaism? I mean, if the Jews were there and they don't believe in Jesus, why should I? It seems to me like I'm on the winning team by being Jewish already. Go Hebes! We're number one! L'chaim!
The Bible does not contain the characteristic untruths of other religious books. In Job, one of the oldest books of the Bible (written in about 3500 B.C.), Job wrote, "He [God] hangeth the earth upon nothing". Back then, people believed the earth was on the back of turtles and elephants and all kinds of strange things--you will find no such ridiculous statements in the Bible. The only way Job could say that the earth was suspended in air is by the Holy Spirit of God revealing it to him.
Um... buh? I - I - I'm flabbergasted by the stupidity of this paragraph. I need a minute. So the whole giant turtle thing that people thought was divine revelation was obviously a load of bunk, but nobody could have possibly come up with "the Earth's just kinda floating there" without God telling them? Is that about right? Man, Jesus is giving me a headache.
The Bible is not a scientific book, but when it speaks about "scientific" matters, it is always correct. The Bible says that "the life of the flesh is in the blood". This is one of the most medically accurate statements that can be made. The blood carries all kinds of antibodies, nutrients, etc. George Washington died because the doctors (I'm sure they were the best at the time) bled him to death thinking that bleeding would help his condition--they took a quart of blood at the last bleeding. They drained his life out of him--"the life of the flesh is in the blood". Science was wrong.
When a man severed his hand in 1988, doctors could not reattach it immediately because of his internal injuries. So what did they do? They attached his hand to blood vessels in his abdomen to keep it alive and reattached it to the man's wrist two months later. The blood flow kept that hand alive--the life of the flesh is in the blood. The Bible told us this important fact over 5,000 years ago and science has only recently agreed. Does that mean that the Bible was wrong when scientists said bleeding was the answer? No. Science simply had not caught up yet.
I'm not going to argue over whether or not bleeding was a stupid practice. It was. But I can't think of a much simpler concept than bleeding copiously for extended periods of time makes you die. It's pretty easy to test. I'm pretty sure cavemen had a good handle on that one. Grunk hit Og in the head with a rock. Og bled a lot. Og died. Grunk did his best to avoid getting hit in the head with any rocks (but was later eaten by a sabertooth tiger).
You don't find truths like this in the various religious books but rather myth, superstition, and human wisdom. How could the psalmist write about the method of Christ's death a thousand years before Jesus came down to this earth? Crucifixion wasn't even a method of death in Israel when Psalm 22 was written. This a shallow treatise here, but a small taste of this awesome book. If we can trust the Bible for these amazing insights, can we afford to not believe it when it comes to life and death and heaven and hell?
What? No really, what? I'm totally lost.
Concerning manuscript evidence for the Bible, there is more evidence for the Bible than ANY other ancient manuscript--including the ones we use to assemble our history books--
- Aristotle - 5 copies available for comparison
- Homer - 643 copies available for comparison
- Plato - 7 copies available for comparison
- The Bible - 30,000 copies available for comparison (includes 5000+ Greek copies and another 25,000 written in other languages). This wealth of evidence is simply staggering.
I'll admit it - Jesus terrifies me. Also, I think he's high.
This proves what exactly? There are a lot of Bibles in the world, it's true. Well, you win. I can't possibly argue with that, so now I must renounce my silly faith and get a velvet portrait of Christ to hang over my bed.
Other interesting information--
The Bible was the FIRST book ever printed by moveable type.
The Bible is the bestselling book of all time. Press runs increase every year.
The Bible is the most circulated book in the world.
The Bible is the most translated book in the world.
The Bible is the most loved book in the world.
The Bible is the most hated book in the world.
No book is like the Bible. Millions have suffered and died for it. It has been burned. It has been spoken against--nevertheless it still stands because Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall NEVER pass away." The caretakers of the scriptures, the Jewish people (an ancient people) are still with us today and prophesies concerning these people are still being fulfilled.
Once again, yes, the Jews have survived through incredible hardship. They have carried their heritage and traditions down for many, many generations, which is why my family is Jewish. Doesn't say much for the Christians.
Your Observation: [All religions] probably all have valuable lessons, whether shared truths or unique perspectives.
Okay, I definitely never said that. All religions have valuable lessons? Bullshit. Some of them are just lame. I won't say which ones, though, just to piss off everybody. Now I'm starting to doubt whether this is actually addressed to me personally. The possibility of religious spam is becoming real.
Response: In a humanistic sense this may be true, but God is not a human, He is a Spirit and does not accept our motives based on what we think to be true. A person can live their life on this earth without the God of the Bible trying to live a good life, but this is not acceptable to Him. The Bible says that without Jesus, "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." We cannot please God with our humanistic good works. If you die trusting in these works, God will reject you, because you rejected His Son, His Beautiful love offering given for you.
Either the grammar of this paragraph is horrible or it just doesn't make sense. In any case, if a religion says I'm a bad person no matter how many saintly things I do unless I admit that I believe in some guy who's been dead for thousands of years, it's just not for me. Sorry.
Your Observation: The most important part of a religion is not its heritage, ceremony or philosophical consistency, though these do have tremendous value. By far the most important part is how a religion teaches people to act towards themselves and other people.
No, philosophical consistency is pretty fucking important. If you're going to sit on your brain, don't eat beans. But more importantly, I never said any of this.
Response: For a Bible-believing Christian like myself, the most important part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is being saved from the wrath to come, loving my Jesus with all my heart, receiving His love, and loving others as I love myself which is a result of loving Jesus.
So all that stuff Jesus said about how to act and how to treat others - you know, the stuff that basically makes up the entire New Testament - that's not important, right? Just so long as I keep telling myself "Jesus loves me," it doesn't matter that I'm a disgusting bastard who beats orphans with puppy legs. Good to know!
Your Observation: I admire Christ's teachings of kindness, forgiveness, and tolerance. These are good rules to live by.
Well, I suppose that's true, btu I still never said it. I believe at some point I might have said, "Jesus doesn't suck."
Response: Yes, they are--but it is impossible to live up to these statutes without a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I'm still praying for you, Tracy
"Tracy?" Okay, this is a fairly substantial piece of evidence for the email-wasn't-written-specifically-to-me team. I suppose I could have just looked at the recipient list and seen that I'm not the primary recipient. However, I am in good company. Everyone who received this letter is a journalist of some caliber for various websites. I can only assume that my name and email address has been placed on some sort of Worldwide Internet Heathens list. Unless this guy is calling me "Tracy." I swear if that's what's going on, I'm going to kick some gentile ass.
Reader, if you are unsaved, please ask God to reveal Himself to you. He can be known--
He is not unknowable like the Hindu says,
They never said that.
He is not unreachable like the Muslim says,
They certainly never said that.
He is not a force (or non-existent) like the Buddhist says,
Where do you get this stuff? You want to tell me how the Tao is all that different from the Holy Ghost? Hey, have fun.
You are not alone in this world like the atheist says; and,
You certainly don't have to be unsure about His existence like the agnostic says.
Question nothing! Everything is fine! Obey or be destroyed! Resistance if futile!
Come to Jesus Christ and you will never hunger, you will never thirst or wonder again about Who God is. One of my favorite passages of scripture is Matthew 11:28-30:
Jesus is going to provide me with refreshing beverages? Alright, now this whole Christianity thing is starting to look a little better!
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
--Jesus the Christ
Nah, follow me. I rock. And roll. All day long.
-- Ben the Platt
One more time. There is one God, He is the true God. He is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. There is none other. The Bible says so.
"I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
"Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."
That "one more time" thing didn't really work out, did it?
"I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:
I girded thee, though thou hast not known me."
"There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour;
there is none beside me."
...there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
1 Corinthians 8:4-6
Wait, I still don't get it? How many gods are there again?
There is a right answer to the comparative religion question. His name is Jesus.
Which is why the Jews have survived and continue to prosper, as you said. At least this saves me the trouble of taking that comparative religion class next semester. Alright, more time for drugs!
Well, I'm a little disappointed that I was just one of the recipients of this email, not the target. On the other hand, I've never been prouder to be Jewish! I wasn't that religious before, but now that I know that my people are the chosen ones, I've got to say it feels pretty good. Oh, and Tracy, if you're reading this, don't be overwhelmed by this guy's numerous quotes, skewed logic, and creative grammar. He's just a sad, confused individual who's upset because he doesn't have six arms.
The darkest, most controversial game since Luigi's Mansion.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.