My view of the New Testament...

I've been studying scientific and archaeological evidence for the Bible lately and wanted a place to document my conclusions.

I assume the events described, including the miracles, actually occurred as described. The gospels and Acts have ample evidence of being historically trustworthy and written by people genuinely wishing to factually present what occurred.

That said, there are errors of the kind we should expect with even the best eyewitness accounts. And there is added fiction; for example, making up the words of dialogs and speeches. And knowing details of events having no witnesses.

The influence of Greek philosophy and logic, with it's subsequent Hellenization of the Roman Empire resulted in the New Testament being historically trustworthy.

There are many references to fictional events of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Since these must be interpreted allegorically (how else to interpret fiction?), the New Testament writers interpret these by adding even yet another layer of allegory. For example, Paul's allegory of the bondwoman and the freewoman.

Errors...

  1. 6,000 years of human history, this idea borrowed from Judaism.
  2. Philosophy from Aristotle, the Greeks, Philo of Alexandria, and others; having many scientific errors and an unchristian worldview.

Objections that such and such a writer didn't have command of the language or knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures ignore the consideration that the New Testament writings may have been dictated to scribes. These scribes applied their skills in grammar and style, and some were likely religiously trained in the Old Testament scriptures before becoming Christians.

The events and teachings of the New Testament are a scrambled mess of contradictions; hopeless to sort it all out. Trying the harmonize the gospel accounts is impossible. Trying to reconcile the teachings of Paul and other writers is doomed to fail. We see this in the many various theological systems: each view proven using cherry picked verses. Seems you can prove any view at all! No wonder there are so many, each firmly believed and defended. My solution: reject them all; or be at least be extremely suspicious.

And so I reject: Young earth creationism, premillennialism and the rapture with its great tribulation and antichrist, Calvinism, charismatic, saved by faith only, scripture only, total depravity, legal models of justification, emphasis on works and law, so-called inductive Bible study (which is really just guided allegory disguised as application), long sermons by surfers, that wacky language Christian-ese, typology, public gossip prayer, pastors having no training in psychology destroying people's live by ineptly counselling them using so-called Bible principles and teachings, scientific ignorance, so-called Bible-based inequality of women and discrimination against women.

So the problem is: I never know for sure the exact details, or the exact context (what happened before and after), what the exact words were. The best we can know is, that is was something like such and such. Of course, standard theology and doctrine requires surgical precision, but this is not available. So, therefore, all these doctrines require updating and correcting.

I use B.C. and A.D. for dates.


Gospels

Written by the apostles (Matthew, John) and companions (Mark of Peter, Luke of Paul) on the dates claimed by the Church. Probably written by scribes such that the grammar is that of the scribe.

Historically true, including the miracles, resurrection, and description of who Jesus is matching the Nicene Creed and the Trinity.

What about the healing miracles and other miracles of Jesus? I don't want to believe them (not because I don't believe miracles are possible; I do), but I must believe them. The many miracles are tightly integrated with the other historical narratives and can't be separated.

I have no trouble believing the resurrection; this flows from my view of the spiritual realm and the true nature of the universe as merely a temporarily corrupted version of the new heavens and new earth.


Acts

Written by Luke on the date claimed by the Church, probably just after the story of Paul's shipwreck.

Historically true, including the miracles.


Paul's letters

Written by Paul on the dates claimed by the Church. Probably written by scribes such that the grammar is that of the scribe.

Paul spends a lot of time writing topics of interest for Jews who would have to make a major shift in thinking to become Christians. These are not relevant to us today and are, in my opinion, strongly overemphasized in Christian teaching and doctrine.

Paul makes errors. For example:

  1. Teachings called "cultural" by those who today wish to ignore them. (But Paul doesn't say they are cultural. Weird.)
  2. That secular rulers are trustworthy keepers of the peace and administer justice fairly.
  3. That Christians should only use other Christians to judge court cases.
  4. That slavery is OK.
  5. That women are subservient to men.
  6. He uses Greek philosophy.
  7. The body is bad, the source of sin.
  8. Economic redistribution.
  9. Jesus would come soon. He didn't.
  10. That we shouldn't stumble our brother. But where is the line? Anything at all we do might stumble someone who believes bad teaching.
  11. The purpose of marriage is to avoid sin.

Other letters

Written by James, Peter, John, and Jude on the dates claimed by the Church. It is unknown who wrote Hebrews. Probably written by scribes such that the grammar is that of the scribe.


Revelation

Written by the apostle John on the date claimed by the Church, after or during his imprisonment on Patmos about 96 A.D. during the persecution of Domitian; definitely after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. Probably written by scribes such that the grammar is that of the scribe.

John had the visions he describes. The events take place in the spiritual realm, not on earth.

The audience of this book: (1) Christians in John's 7 churches who were experiencing the Roman persecution under Domitian in Asia, and (2) the next few generations of Christians who would experience far worse persecution by the Romans.

Some interpret the book of Revelation as containing a strictly chronological account of yet-future events. I see no reason to interpret it this way and doing so leads to the most impossible of interpretations. I consider this book to be a collection of unrelated visions about a variety of topics in similar format as the book of Zechariah.