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The Bible

Many of those who contest the possibility of communication among spirits, the reincarnation, etc., do so having the Bible as justification. It is therefore important to situate things at their right place.

There is no intention to denigrate such work, or to diminish its importance as a material and spiritual roadmap which has conducted and still conducts the Israeli people and which continues to be a lighthouse to millions of minds and hearts, especially in the Christian world. However, it is important to let the truth surface in a clear way, as only it has the power to open up some of the inflexible arrangements which were built over the centuries and to undo rigid structures, at a moment when reason has finally started to prevail over imposition.

Many believe that since the Bible is the word of God, it has only to be obeyed and must not be questioned.  

We all know that humankind has evolved over time. Humankind’s current mentality is very different of that which could be found in the past centuries and millenniums. Life’s force makes creatures move forward and modify their way of thinking, their aims, concepts and conceptions. It is like somebody moving upwards on a mountain; the higher he or she gets, the further he or she may see.

So we ask: All that was good in ancient eras is still valid nowadays?

Certainly not.

As an example, we may look at the Laws contained in the Old Testament, only some of which may still be applied in today’s world.

In the Bible, we find two types of mentality: the hard laws applied by Moses, which set “an eye for an eye” and the Gospel, where Jesus ordered us to unconditionally forgive others’ faults; to love God, instead of fearing Him; to love our neighbours like ourselves; and to practice the good in every expression.

The laws of Moses were adequate and correct to discipline those simple men, which were in a primary phase of development.  The laws introduced by Jesus showed love and forgiveness as values and attitudes to be learnt and practiced by all.

 

FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTION

If all Jewish-Christian religions have their foundations in the Bible, which one carries the truth, as each of them believes to have the strongest arguments?

Let us reason a little.

If you are organizing your domestic budget and someone tells you that 5 plus 3 equals 11, what will you do?

Will you take such figures for granted, just because somebody told you should believe it; or will you do the math and check whether the statement is correct? In case you take what has been said to you for granted, without any questioning, you risk having big problems in your life.

The same happens with regard to religions. Each affirms it carries the truth, although all believe differently, one from the other.

What can one do, then, to find the religious truth?

Certainly the same thing one would do to figure the right amounts for the domestic budget: calculate, analyse, question, and use reason and good sense.

So, we have the following situation:

If we were to follow everything the Bible orders, especially Moses laws, we would have to:

- Let those who revile their father or mother die (or be put to death). This command is at Exodus 21:17.

-  Summarily execute all those who have had sexual relationships with somebody other than his/her wife/husband. This command is at Leviticus 20:10.

- Kill both, man and woman, who had sexual relationships during the menstrual period. This command is at Leviticus 20:18.

- Put to death those who engage in any work during Saturdays. This command is at Exodus 31.15 and 35.2.

- Kill he who eats “any manner of blood”. This command is at Leviticus 7:27.

These are only some of the numerous situations described in the Old Testament for which the death penalty is set forth.

If you do not believe it, go check in the Bible.

The first five books of the Bible are known as the Pentateuch. They narrate the creation of the Earth, Adam and Eve, the history of their descendants and the arrival of the Israeli people at the Promised Land, up until the death of Moses. They also contain the laws, from the 10 commandments, received at the Sinai Mount, to the Mosaic Laws, founded in the principle “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.

It is easy to understand why Moses imposed such strict laws. They were necessary to discipline a very rebellious people. Such rigor could also be justified by the fact that there were no prisons at the time and because of this, for a nomad people who lived in peregrination throughout the desert, it was not possible to impose a punishment proportional to the seriousness of the felony.

The laws of Moses, as one may easily perceive, were temporary norms elaborated for a certain people at a certain moment in time. However, still nowadays there is a part of humankind who is guided by them. And this is one of the main reasons why there is so much religious confusion in the western world.

The human mind has been conditioned, since the pre-historic times, to blindly obey leaders who present themselves as the representatives of divinity, a mysterious entity, sometimes frightening, responsible for ordering punishment and for conceding benefits. Based on this, many generations have got used to obeying their religion’s rules without questioning them.

Those who wish to leave the status quo behind, and to face the reality which was made possible by progress, always find a lot of inner resistance; fear of taking a wrong step and being punished for that.

Deep psychological conditioning is very hard to be eliminated. That is why it is important to tackle this subject, even if in a superficial manner.

Jesus said: “You will get to know the Truth and it shall set you free”.

Those looking for the Truth should be able to do so free from such millenary chains. Knowledge of these issues liberates the searcher of any feelings of guilt, so that he or she may begin a new phase in the search for the Truth - the search for God - with a light soul and a peaceful spirit.

This does not mean that we undervalue the role of the Bible, it is quite the opposite. Its moral teachings have been the lighthouse that illuminates the Israeli and all Christian peoples.  There is also the Gospel therein, this roadmap of light that arrived in the world as one of biggest blessings in the history of human thought.

Among the hundreds of laws established by Moses, we will find one that prohibits the consultation of the dead, which states: “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a necromancer, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you {to do} so.” (Deut. 18:9 to 14).

This prohibition was aimed at preventing Israelis from getting “contaminated” by the superstitious practices of  barbarians they were supposed to conquer, and is a proof that these peoples had the habit of consulting the dead.

The communication with the spirits, if made in an ethical and responsible way such as that which takes place at Kardecistas Spiritist Centres, has always a noble aim, never relating to material interests, as the spirits being consulted are not supposed to be our babysitters. There is also the assistance to suffering spirits and the orientation of obsessing spirits with the aim of making them abandon their ideas of revenge and leave their “foes” alone. The communication with the spirits which are more advanced happens always with a common good in mind, that is, the clarification and the exhortation of practices taught by Jesus. It is love put into action.

We recall what has been said by Jesus, in Mathew 7:16 and 17: “You will know them by their fruits” and "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.”

In fact, Spiritism’s fruits are all good.

One cannot deny that the Bible has to be considered as a sacred book, for the extraordinary ethical and religious values it represents. However, one should not blindly accept all that is written there. Good sense does not allow one to ignore the various contradictions and incoherence that exist therein, particularly in the Old Testament.

So that no questions are left unanswered, let us firstly take a look at some of the Bible’s contradictions:

1 – The first one can be found in the first chapter of Genesis, on the creation of nights and days, the separation of waters, the production of grass and trees which gave fruits and seeds, and only after these events, on the fourth day, the creation of the sun, the moon and the stars. How could there be nights and days, plants giving fruits, without the sun?

2 – For millenniums, the entire humankind has been paying for the sins committed by Adam and Eve, although God had affirmed in Ezekiel 18:20, Deuteronomy  24:16, Jeremiah 31:29/30, that “fathers shall not be punished for their sons sins; everyone shall be punished for his own sin”. If nobody is punished for somebody else’s sins, why would have Jesus died at the Cross to pay for the sins of humankind?

3 – In Exodus 9:1 to 7 we find that God had sent a plague that killed all the Egyptian animals, including their horses. Later on the story, the Egyptian cavalry drowned in the Red Sea. Which cavalry, if the horses had all died from the plague?

4 – How could we reconcile (Ecclesiastes 9:5) which says: “For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything”, with the parable about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:23); or the episode in which Moses and Elias (dead for centuries) talked to Jesus in front of three apostles (Luke 9:30), or still, with the interview that Saul had with the spirit of Samuel, already deceased? (1st Samuel 28:11/20).

5 – In Hosea 6:6 God says: “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” However, He, Himself, orders offerings, holocausts and sacrifices as punishment for the most insignificant acts… And not only as punishment, but also for a number of other reasons, such as celebrations and obligations.  

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR REFLEXION

Given that so many contradictions are found within a written piece of work, would it be logical for one to blindly accept it in its entirety?

Significant incongruence may also be found in the New Testament, for example:

John states that: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1st John 1:8), but in Chapter 5:18 he affirms that “We know that no one who is born of God sins;  but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”.

In 1st John 2:2, it reads: “Jesus Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world”, however, further in Chapter 5:19 it reads: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

The apostles themselves could never reach an agreement about the instrument of salvation, whether it would be grace, one’s work, or faith.

We should remember what Jesus said: “... For truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes” (Mathew 10:23), “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Mathew 16:28), and speaking of what has been interpreted as His second coming, he affirmed that that generation would not pass before all of that had happened.

The Gospels were written many years after the death of Jesus. They were copied and re-copied thousands of times; they were subject to numerous translations, interpolations, interpretations and even modifications and amendments, within the texts, in such a way as to accommodate them to the ideas and interests of the Church. As an example, we mention the Saturday rest, which was just transferred to Sundays.

There is also much inconsistency among the Old Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles. The content of Jesus message is integrally related to perfect justice, calmness, forgiveness and love. However, the discourse of some of the Christianity founders differs significantly from the teachings of Jesus. For example: the Master puts forward love and the practice of good as the only conditions for someone to reach the Kingdom of God.  Paul, on the other hand, states that salvation comes through faith, and faith only. He says: “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”(Rom. 3: 28). Meanwhile, other apostles teach that salvation comes through the grace, and others affirm that it comes through the work done. As one may see, there is no consensus around His teachings.

These ambiguities provided for the emergence of hundreds of religions, which interpret the Bible on their own particular way.

What we have shown so far is only a fraction of all the incoherence which may be found in the Bible. For those who want to know more, there is plenty of bibliography on the subject, as well as the book previously mentioned, “Spiritism and the Reformed Churches”.

It was possible to find an explanation for some of these contradictions, namely for those within the New Testament.

The well-known writer Carlos Torres Pastorino, a graduate in Philosophy and Theology at the International College S. A. M. Zacarias of Rome and a Professor at the Military School of Rio de Janeiro, in his book “Wisdom of the Gospel”, says:

“The first editions of the New Testament were copied on papyrus (kind of paper), a fragile and easy to deteriorate material. Later on, it started to be written on parchment (skin of sheep), which was more resistant and lasted for longer.

The manuscripts were written in capital letters. Only after the 8th Century, were texts written in cursive letters.

“Those in charge of copying the manuscripts were called copysts or scribes. They did not always know the language well, most of the times they were good at drawing the letters. It was even worse when they actually knew the language because then they amended the texts, to conform them to their knowledge.

There were no graphic signs of separation among sentences and the words were copied one after the other, without interval, to save parchment,which was really expensive. This justifies the various resources used, as for example, abbreviations, interpolations and many others which ended up modifying the original texts. There is also the issue of translations, insertions and modifications which were done throughout time, so as to fit different interests in.

This is also the reason why some of the passages in the Bible are so ambiguous. These may barely be rationally understood."

In the abovementioned book, Torres Pastorino reproduces a text by Origenes, who is considered one of the most important exegetes (scholar and interpreter of the biblical texts). He, while referring to the copies of the New Testament, affirms: “It is presently clear that many were the deviations suffered by the copies, be it due to the carelessness of certain scribes; be it due to the audacious perversity of those who corrected it; be it due to the arbitrary additions and suppressions.”

We may conclude by stating that the New Testament we have nowadays suffered numerous modifications, which makes it not possible to accept it unconditionally.  

 

 

LOGICAL QUESTION

Is there any religion or doctrine which can be followed blindly, without any questioning, without using reason and good sense?

Certainly not.

Let us conclude the analysis of these issues by using logic and good sense.

For the absolute truth to be in the Bible, it should have been completely coherent, without any contradictions and in total accordance with reason, because the contradiction within a Doctrine may hinder its credibility.

Some say: “The Bible is the word of God and must be obeyed, not understood”.

But if God gave us the ability to reason and a little bit of wisdom, it is so that we may comprehend our search for the truth. Let us keep in mind that Jesus said “You will get to know the Truth and It shall set you free”.

He made it clear with this statement that He came to teach us an ethics of life, and that the knowledge of the Truth (or part of It) would come later, whenever humankind were mature enough to understand It, so as to release itself from millenary chains which keep its minds imprisoned.

For the Bible to be the “word of God”, it would have to be absolutely consistent and pervaded by the most perfect justice, ethics and love, given that it should reflect the qualities of whom had written or dictated it.

Good sense tells us that the whole truth is with God, and God only. He is the (only) one who knows it all.

As for us, humans, we only have a slight vision of the Truth… That is the reason why humans fight and enter into bloody wars; it is because each one wants to be the exclusive holder of the truth even though we only have its fragments.

 

 

 

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