There are many things people claim are in the Bible. But when one studies the Bible and searches for those things, they find nothing.
Here are some of those things.
1. Angels with wings (there are angels but no mention of wings). Or that people become angels when they die. And would you believe the angels are not singing at the birth of Jesus, but rather just speaking? And yes, seraphim (the “burners” – flame on!, plural form of “seraph”) have wings, and no, the Bible never identifies seraphim as angels. Ditto cherubim (plural of cherub), who are intimidating beasts in the Bible, but turned into fat, naked, winged babies on the walls of Italian churches. Find me one place that says seraphim (burners) are angels (messengers). I’m waiting….
2. The devil with horns and a pitchfork (there is a devil but no red skin, horns or pitchfork)
3. Any account of a battle at Armageddon. They gather for battle, but does the Bible say that anything happens? Have a look. I once had coffee at the Armageddon truck stop in Israel. Yes, it’s a real place and you can get gas there.
4. Any female angels at all in the Bible. In both biblical languages, spiritual masculinity comes out of heaven and femininity comes out of earth. Ruach/Malkuth/Shekhinah (feminine), form the connection between the two. Kinda like the Christmas song “let earth receive her king—let heave and nature sing.” Female angels are found mostly in gift shops on earth, and of course, with wings. Gabriel (GBR-i-El) is literally, in Hebrew, God’s intimidator. Hardly a precious moments statue.
5. A singular apocalyptic Antichrist figure (used in plural by John)
6. Anywhere that says any singular Antichrist is the “Beast” of Revelation
7. That people mocked Noah for building an ark. By the way, seven (!) pairs of many animals were taken into the ark – not just two by two.
8. Jesus being the reason for the winter season. We’re not sure what time of the year Jesus was born. December 25 to January 6 (Epiphany) was just a beautifully symbolic guess.
9. The word or even the concept of a “halo.”
10. Any prohibitions against certain kinds of peripheral “cuss” words. Taking the name of the LORD (YHWH-יהוה) in vain is specifically mentioned and forbidden in the strongest terms. Cursing (but that was literally cursing people and things, not just dropping salty adjectives) is prohibited in the book of James. But throwing in occasional H, S and F words (although I don’t use them) is not specifically prohibited. Only the Old Testament forbids taking the name of יהוה in vain; there is no equivalent prohibition of the expletive use of Jesus’ name (or Christ).
11. Any encouragement to celebrate Advent or Lent. Or even any mention of them.
12. Any English version of the Bible with God’s pronoun capitalized. (i.e. “He”). Let alone the original versions that didn’t have an upper-case/lower-case writing system at the time.
13. Any mention of birth control (Although there is plenty of encouragement to have children).
14. The idea that God literally calls us to “be our brother’s keeper.” Cain simply asks it of God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
15. Any mention of the New Testament church celebrating Ash Wednesday or any biblical suggestion to do so in the future.
16. An apple in the Garden of Eden (only fruit)
17. Any suggestion that clergy should perform marriages, or that a wedding is anything but a family/community reception/feast. Old Testament priests never perform weddings that we can see anywhere in the Bible.
18. The Bible says that those who have sex before marriage should indeed get married. And that once you join with someone in that way, there are permanent consequences. But a strict, specific prohibition against cohabitation before marriage is hard to find, and all of we youth pastors would like to have had it handy. Courtship-betrothal-marriage customs in the Bible do not mirror our own very well, so it’s hard to know exactly how that worked. My guess is that premarital chastity was expected and assumed (for property and disease-prevention reasons) and thus not explicitly mentioned.
19. For that matter, any ordained clergy in the early church at all. Jesus and Paul were lay preachers who learned crafts. The former was a stone contractor (tekton). The latter likely supplied tents to the Roman army.
20. Any in-the-Bible explanation as to how we switched from worship on Saturday (Sabbath) to Sunday. Quite a historical mystery with a lot of speculation…
21. That Jesus was a (just a poor) carpenter. Inaccurate English translation of the original “tekton” (builder/contractor); likely with stone.
22. Any sense that communion, baptism, “sin management so we can get to heaven someday,” etc. were central to Jesus’ teaching. He did mention these things, but clearly his core teaching was always about Malkuth (Kingdom–the Creator’s creative and sustaining power in the universe). And his main purpose seemed to be to convince us to have the faith to share and operate in this power. The Kingdom is like unto a mustard seed…
23. The fish which swallowed Jonah identified as a whale (just a fish).
24. Jesus uttering the word “grace.”
25. Any word for “faith” (as we understand it) in the Old Testament.
26. Discipleship. A made-up word based on a military, Latin mis-translation of “mathetes” (students).
Any clear doctrine of Original Sin, let alone “total depravity.” Sure, there are proof texts you can find to support it, but there is tension with the fact that we are made in the Image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made, and “behold God saw that it (humankind) was very good.” There’s tension there.
27. Shepherds and wise men visiting the baby Jesus at the same time (wise men came way way later). Or that the number of wise men was three. I just saw this error (three wise men walking thru the shepherds to visit Jesus in the manger) watching the movie Ben-Hur last night! Most people ignore the fact that Magi are Zoroastrian holy people.
28. Anything that specifically says Jesus was single. No evidence either way. Very few ancient records of any famous people bother to mention spouses.
29. The fact that we live in heaven forever. No matter what your end times view, we end up on a renewed earth at the end (See the end of Revelation). Heaven is at best a way station in the Bible to our ultimate destiny.
30. Any suggestion that we should dress up for church
31. Any prohibition of gambling
32. Any record of a vote in the early church. They’d rather cast lots for big decisions ;-). Nor any votes at congregational business meetings.
33. Any sense that “liturgy” is on the Creator’s short list. Jesus never even mentions any “order of worship.” Mostly just “on the road” informal outdoor ministry.
34. Any overwhelming proof that Jesus was poor. Most evidence suggests the opposite.
35. Any mention of Mary remaining a virgin after Jesus’ birth
36. Any direct mention or description of an abortion. Or comment upon the issue. (For the record, I am very pro-life, but that’s beside the point)
37. Any record of a “confirmation class” or “confirmation ceremony.” Ditto first communion.
38. Any direct linking of Mary Magdalene being a prostitute or woman of ill-repute. Ditto any direct mention that Herodias’ daughter was doing any kind of suggestive dance.
39. Anyplace where the original languages of the Bible say that a person is “possessed” by an evil spirit. It usually just says a person “has” an unclean spirit or something like that. We have unclean spirits. They don’t “have” us. Most modern translations which use the word “possessed” were published after the movie The Exorcist.
40. Any specific mention of transgenderism, although men and women are forbidden from wearing each other’s clothes. Sorry, Boy George.
41. Any sense that Jesus wanted the government (Caesar) to take care of the poor. That would be our job.
42. Any record of anything Jesus said in his native language (Aramaic) except for “Abba,” “Talitha Kumi,” “Raca,” “Mammon,” “Jot and Tittle,” and “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani” His teachings and sayings were written down by Greek speakers.
43. Anyone praying with hands folded
44. Pews or Pulpits
45. “God helps those who help themselves.” That would be Benjamin Franklin, not God.
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