While reading Michael Barkun's Religion and the Racist Right -
The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, I was overcome by the
sheer number of horrible concepts that have been created under the umbrella
of Christianity in the last two thousand years. In a fit of theological
creativity, I decided to compose a few heresies of my own, or at least
modify existing ones (knowing that just about every thinkable heresy has
been advocated by somebody, I don't propose to having invented really new
ones). I choose heresies that have some inner logic, or that "explain"
incongruencies of the Bible and/or known history that people have been
wondering about for eons. The heresies aren't necessarily compatible (why
Positive responses and flames are ok, mail-bombs
(virtual or real) not. As an ex-catholic and card-carrying member of
Unitarian Agnosticists (1), I have a license to
blaspheme up to five times on weekdays, and three times on holy days
(Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays - we have some piety, and don't
I have no idea why I choose to write up five
heresies. Somehow it was the right number, and as I was able to come up with
all five of them within one evening (4 hours), it was not too bad a choice.
Heresy, the First: Jehova as Johnny-Come-Lately
The god we call God or Jehovah is actually a late upstart, so to speak. The
original God or Gods (let's stay with the gender-neutral plural),
unbeknownst to us, have no need for "chosen people" or "salvation
plans". Why should they? They were omnipotent in the full, and planned
mankind in its current form. We don't know where the God we usually call
Jehova really comes from (a separate part of the universe? or is he no god
at all, but merely a Created Being like ourselves, run amok?), but we can
see his handwriting all over the place: he has to influence people and
peoples manually, by using showy effects (signs and wonders) instead of the
mechanisms built-into our universe: careful selection of mutated strains of
genes and memes. Jehovah is an impatient and vengeful God --
characteristics of an underling manager who loses the grip on his projects,
not of an omnipotent, omniscient God as old as the Universe!
Heresy, the Second: Would the Good Guys Please Stand Up?
Separating out one tribe of people by giving them an entirely new,
isolationist religion, strange mores (don't tell me kosher housekeeping
isn't strange!), and calling them "a chosen people" is a sure way to
guarantee problems. Maybe Jehova is really an entity like Loki, a
troublemaker? With a minimum amount of work (a few dozen special effects at
the time of Moses; much less later), he has created a political and ethnic
trouble zone - the middle east - that has been fueling itself for millenia!
In contrast, nothing really damning can be said about the "bad guy". Was it
Satan who "hardened the Pharao's heart"? Nope. Looking at current
millenialists, we can even say that big J is indirectly (through
influencing John to write his Apocalypse) helping cults that want
things to get worse, instead of better. All we know of the
opponent's side comes directly or indirectly from the Bible, which is
hardly an unbiased account. Even so, Satan doesn't come off very bad, or J
very good, which is telling in itself - if even the promo material of a God
can't find very many good points about him, what should an unbiased
Heresy, the Third: The Anti-Christ Has Already Appeared, And He Founded
a Religion Called ...
... "Christianity". Today, we know Him under the name of "Paul". Satan's
best move for the last few thousand years, really. Just imagine yourself in
his (Satan's) position: your opponent, big J, has just landed a big coup:
he manifested a part of himself for a human lifetime on earth, spreading
his gospel unbeknownst to your agents, who only thought him one of a
thousand Jewish priests eagerly awaiting the End Time. Then, in a surprise
move, he lets himself kill publically, in such a manner that everyone can
see it, but by the mediation of the Romans, so that nobody of His own
people has to feel guilty --- and returns from the dead after a suitable
symbolic time of three days. Quite a publicity stunt.
What do you do?
Luckily, big J doesn't remain too long on earth, but leaves the physical
plane after a few weeks, so the field is yours. You plant a spy in the
inner circle, to subtly modify the message. You know that a horde of
apostles that can literally do wonders can establish a church in a few
years, but your man will shape the theology of that church, and
twist it beyond anything ever thought or said by its founder!
manages to place himself in a special position, as the sole apostle to the
gentiles. The other apostles don't have much theological background and
their arguments lack finesse, so they don't manage to create a consistent
theology. Paul does, writing dozens of letters to the churches, traveling
all over the realm, being conspicuous and better-known that all other
The other apostles are unable to convert many Jews,
and what remains is the Gentile Church, with Paul's doctrines
predominant. Judas is invented (does nobody wonders about his name? Such
flat symbolism!), the Romans are absolved from all guilt, and the
headquarters of the Church are are moved to Rome, of all places.
Heresy, the Fourth: Choosing a New People
Jehovah is a bad guy, and it shows in the behaviour of the people that he
"chooses". Luckily, he hasn't too much power to invest in flashy effects,
so his influence fades after a time. After the initial exposure to J, the
Jews behaved quite badly (killing thousands of Kanaanites etc.); later they
seem to have "rationalized" their religion up to the point were all the bad
influences of J have been eradicated (A doctrine like "don't do upon others
what you don't want them to do unto you; the rest is commentary" is
certainly much more mellow than what went for theology during the "kill all
men, keep women and children as slaves" times. Don't trust Leviticus to
faithfully represent the Law (it was written much later); look at the
historical books instead). Jehovah tried to bring them on a more militantly
racist course again (all those prophets warning against inter-breeding with
and accepting the mores of other peoples), but wasn't very
successful. Finally, he looked for a more receptive target population, and
found it in the gentile Romans. Church history since its very beginning
shows lots of rabidly intolerant ideologies that incited permanent struggle
within the church itself and between the church and just about everyone
else, so J's influence took on.
Heresy, the Last: Congratulations, You Failed the Test!
Imagine that all of the bible to be true, and that big J as depicted in the
Bible is the good guy. It might still be possible that Earth is
really intended as a test that filters out the uninteresting,
boring, authority-believing people. The others (the unbelievers,
satirizers, doubters, etc.) are much more interesting and will receive a
high place of honour in whatever kind of heaven you might imagine. Maybe
God is simply bored and wants people she can talk to, and who respond
(The boring souls will most likely get
recycled, or stuck in a nice peaceful heaven where they can't do any harm.)
(1) That's a lie, I invented UA on the spot.
A very nice one (indeed, an answer to a lot of questions) is given by
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