Selective use of the New Testament

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There are several teachings in the New Testament that are ignored by mainstream Christianity. This shows that habit and culture can override supposed dedication to an "infallible" holy book. Humans have a very strong tendency to conform to group behaviours. Many Christian denominations focus on the messenger rather than the message taught by Jesus, [1] which conveniently avoids having to take any meaningful action. If some religious teacher was to proclaim the inconvenient teachings of Jesus, he would be dismissed as a religious extremist (or worse).

"So its not that these texts have maintained their integrity over time (they haven't); it is just that they have been effectively edited by our neglect of certain of their passages. Most of what remains-the "good parts"-has been spared the same winnowing because we do not yet have a truly modern understanding of our ethical intuitions and our capacity for spiritual experience."

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Christians who claim some metaphysical connection or relationship to Jesus but ignore the teachings are cherry picking the New Testament:

"Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he [Jesus] commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person."

1 John 2:4 Bible-icon.png

The teachings of Jesus are extremely difficult to follow, which is perhaps a method of intentionally undermining Christians' self esteem and make them dependent on the church. Most Christians are unaware of at least some of the difficult teachings of Jesus. The more self aware Christians have accepted the need to be selective about following his teaching. Of course, atheists do not accept these commandments are anything more than myths and fables.


The New Testament contains many sections that specify how to pray, including appropriate setting, wording and clothing.

No public prayer[edit]

The New Testament says prayer should be done in private. This is obviously incompatible with public worship and ignored by mainstream Christianity.

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Matthew 6:6 Bible-icon.png

The biblical Jesus usually prayed alone, for example Mark 1:35 Bible-icon.png. Jesus does not have him spend much time in temples, or encouraging church attendance. He also rarely lead public prayer, only occasionally blessing food, but he rather focused on teaching and miracles. [2] Mainstream Christians downplay the verse and put all the emphasis on Matthew 6:5 which criticises prayer that is exhibitionist or self-important. [3] Some apologists have the double-think logic of performing private prayer in public: [4]

"Private prayer, as Jesus speaks about in Matthew 6:6 are words and expressions meant only for you and Him alone. I believe what Jesus is saying here is that unless you are declaring a group hug with Him at the center, then keep your intimacy with Him, intimate and private; otherwise you are only drawing attention to yourself"

If this simple verse was actually followed by Christians, their religion would be radically different. It also goes to show any text can be interpreted to mean anything people desire. (Matthew 6:6 is contradicted by 1 Timothy 2:8 Bible-icon.png which calls for prayer everywhere.)

No repetitive prayer[edit]

Do not use the same long wording for prayers in a repetitive fashion, with "meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases" [5]:

"And when you pray, do not [heap up empty phrases/use not vain repetitions] as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words."

Matthew 6:7 Bible-icon.png

Jesus's guidance on the Lord's prayer Matthew 6:9 Bible-icon.png is how to pray but not what to pray. If fixed mechanical prayers should be avoided, repetitions of mechanical prayers such as the Rosary is definitely to be avoided. Apologists claim that prayer with fixed wording is useful for group prayer in unison [6]; however this is disallowed by Matthew 6:6 Bible-icon.png.

Head covering[edit]

Proper head wear must be worn for prayer (or not, if you are man):

"Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven."

1 Corinthians 11:4-5 Bible-icon.png

Although practised by some traditionalist denominations, the rule is routinely ignored by many Christians. [7]

Family, marriage and divorce[edit]

Jesus taught that divorce is forbidden, except in cases of sexual immorality (which incidentally creates the perverse incentive for sexual immorality):

"Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”"

Matthew 19:8-9 Bible-icon.png

Divorce is accepted by many denominations and is a very common occurrence even in religious marriages. See also: Matthew 5:32 Bible-icon.png, 1 Corinthians 7:27 Bible-icon.png. Remarriage is equivalent to adultery. Luke 16:18 Bible-icon.png.

However, marriage is not encouraged. Single people should remain single 1 Corinthians 7:27 Bible-icon.png because being married is a distraction from God. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 Bible-icon.png Family obligations may be ignored to avoid distractions from God:

"Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”"

Matthew 8:21-22 Bible-icon.png

"If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."

Luke 14:26 Bible-icon.png

"those that have wives may be as though they had none;"

1 Cor 7:29 Bible-icon.png

See also: Jesus setting "a man against his father" Matthew 10:35 Bible-icon.png, Jesus snubs his biological family Matthew 12:46-50 Bible-icon.png. Paul contradicts Jesus by encouraging (or tolerating) marriage and family life 1 Timothy 5:14 Bible-icon.png, Hebrews 13:4 Bible-icon.png

Do not address your biological father as father:

"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."

Matthew 23:9 Bible-icon.png

Apologists claim that common sense allows biological fathers to be addressed as such since Jesus was using hyperbole. [8] This verse is particularly problematic for Catholics who address priests as father. Catholic apologists say the verse is not to be taken literally as father is used later in the new testament to refer to various people. [8]

Possessions and career[edit]

Main Article: Christianity and wealth

Western culture is based on consumerism and (crony-)capitalism, which are totally incompatible with a Christian society.

Sell your possessions, give money to the poor[edit]

Many times, Jesus commands that Christians should sell all their possessions and give the money to the poor: [9]

"Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth."

Luke 12:33 Bible-icon.png

"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."

Matthew 19:21 Bible-icon.png

"So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

Luke 14:33 Bible-icon.png

"When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me"

Luke 18:22 Bible-icon.png

Jesus says give away everything first, then follow me. Christians try to focus on the second step and never quite get around to the "give everything away" stage. Jesus compliments a widow who donates all her meagre wealth. Mark 12:42 Bible-icon.png Also, do not save or lay up treasures. Matt. 6:19-21 Bible-icon.png Christians are to renounce worldly attachments and possessions. 1 John 2:15-17 Bible-icon.png Colossians 3:2 Bible-icon.png James 4:4 Bible-icon.png Based on the teaching and personal example of Jesus, sell everything and give the money to the poor. Mark 10:21 Bible-icon.png Luke 21:1-4 Bible-icon.png Luke 18:22 Bible-icon.png

"Is this the same teaching, when Christ says to the rich young man, 'Sell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor'; and when the priest says, 'Sell all that thou hast and—give it to me'"

Søren Kierkegaard [10]

Apologists try to dismiss these commandments by claiming it was for the specific person Jesus was speaking to [11] and not a general rule. This ignores the overall teaching of Jesus on property and specifically ignores Luke 12:33 Bible-icon.png, which is a reiteration of the commandment in a different context (it appears at least twice in Luke). Therefore it is a general rule that applies to all Christians.

(Paul contradicts Jesus saying that one should provide for one's house/family. 1 Timothy 5:8 Bible-icon.png)

Common ownership[edit]

The New Testament on ownership of property is effectively communist. The disciples did not have personal possessions but considered their possessions having common ownership. Acts 4:32 Bible-icon.png Acts 2:44 Bible-icon.png Lend your property if it is requested, hoping for nothing in return. Matthew 5:42 Bible-icon.png, Luke 6:35 Bible-icon.png Forgive our debtors Matthew 6:12 Bible-icon.png (although the meaning of this is broader than merely debtors [12]), taking a loan or entering contracts is not allowed Romans 13:8 Bible-icon.png (although some claim that this means we should have responsible debt [13] or do not renege on debts.) Since Jesus said that all possessions should be sold and the money given to the poor, the exact meaning is moot.

In contrast, some Christians have argued that the Bible supports capitalism and free market enterprise. Holding possessions in common only now occurs within monastic orders and the Anabaptist/Mennonite movements.

The rich[edit]

Being rich is not a good thing, according to Jesus, because they will suffer later:

"Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger."

Luke 6:25 Bible-icon.png

This is probably because it is difficult for the wealthy to get to heaven. Matthew 19:23 Bible-icon.png

"For the love of money is the root of all evil; and while some have coveted after it, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

1 Timothy 6:10 Bible-icon.png

Values and behaviour[edit]

The New Testament has many sections that call for meekness (gentleness, submissiveness) and humility Matthew 5:5 Bible-icon.png, rather than strength or wisdom. [14] Be innocent like children Matthew 19:14 Bible-icon.png. The "last will be first, and the first will be last" Matthew 20:16 Bible-icon.png. Values that praised among men are an abomination to God, such as skill, education, health, wisdom, beauty, popularity, freedom, etc.

"And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."

Luke 16:15 Bible-icon.png

God particularly likes the foolish. 1 Corinthians 1:21, 27 Bible-icon.png 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 Bible-icon.png 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 Bible-icon.png Knowing about non-religious things is a distraction from Jesus. 1 Corinthians 2:2 Bible-icon.png. Definitely avoid philosophy if it is human based or worldly. Colossians 2:8 Bible-icon.png

Do not do what other people want:

"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

Galatians 1:10 Bible-icon.png

Jesus says don't be a hypocrite Matthew 7:3-5 Bible-icon.png, which is ironic given religious fervour tends to lead to hypocrisy.

Lip service is sometimes paid to these Biblical values, but for the vast majority of the time, people are more influenced by cultural norms and local customs. Many societies value achievement, success, sociability and wisdom but this is contrary to the Bible. The valuing of weakness or "slave morality" was fiercely criticised by Friedrich Nietzsche. Jesus's values seem incompatible with holding public office in a democracy because public office generally entails the candidate claiming they the best person of the job with greater wisdom and relevant experience.

Don't judge people, always forgive[edit]

Jesus preaches that Christians should be non-judgemental and that wrongdoing should be accepted rather than resisted:

"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Matthew 5:39 Bible-icon.png

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

Matthew 7:1-2 Bible-icon.png

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy."

Matthew 5:7 Bible-icon.png

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Luke 23:34 Bible-icon.png

Jesus says that we must forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven. Of course, he does not mean to imply 49 but rather forgiveness without limitation. Matthew 18:21-22 Bible-icon.png If anyone sues you, pay to them more than the damages they have claimed. Matthew 5:40-41 Bible-icon.png Even in the case of enforcement of the law, Jesus is non-judgemental and uses rhetoric to save a woman from death by stoning:

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

John 8:7-11 Bible-icon.png

Jesus also commands that Christians should not be angry with wrongdoers and they should not curse them. Matthew 5:22 Bible-icon.png They should always seek for reconciliation with their brother or enemy Matthew 5:21-26 Bible-icon.png. Forgiveness also applies to enemies because Jesus says "Love your enemies". Matthew 5:43 Bible-icon.png

Not only is Jesus's view incompatible with (earthly) capital punishment but it is also incompatible with conventional law enforcement! Christians in policing and security jobs should refuse to punish wrong doing and should not resist evil by their actions.

Apologists point out that Jesus affirms Old Testament law which mandates capital punishment. Matthew 15:3-4 Bible-icon.png [15] These examples are only Jesus showing that Pharisees have drifted away from God's word. However, Jesus is very clear and, for Christians, supposedly takes precedence over Old Testament law. If he modified the law concerning the sabbath, unclean food and divorce, he presumably can abolish punishment of criminals entirely.

Do not swear oaths[edit]

The New Testament clearly states "Do not take an oath at all" Matthew 5:34-37 Bible-icon.png,

"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."

James 5:12 Bible-icon.png

Almost no Christian denomination follows this teaching, except for the Quakers. Oaths are often sworn by witnesses in court or public office inaugurations. Apologists sometimes claim that since oaths were allowed in the Old Testament, they should still be allowed. [16] This complete contradicts their claim that the New Testament takes precedence for Christians!

Dealings with secular authority[edit]

Christians should be subject to secular authorities, institutions and rules. 1 Peter 2:13–14 Bible-icon.png Romans 13:1-2 Bible-icon.png Accept that a ruler says. Therefore, Christians should not complain about laws that limit their religious freedom.

A dispute between two Christians should not be settled by secular courts: 1 Cor. 6:1 Bible-icon.png. In a precursor to the separation of church and state, Christians should pay taxes but duty to God and duty to the government is separate Mark 12:17 Bible-icon.png, John 18:36 Bible-icon.png.

In summary, Christians by participate in democracy and paying taxes but must passively resist disobeying other commandments:

"a Christian can and must disobey when a government compels them to violate God's laws. But also, in doing so, he may be subject to government punishment for his actions. [17]"

These commandments are routinely violated: Christians are often on opposite sites in a legal dispute. Apologists say that Christians may go to court as "last resort" but this simply contradicts the New Testament. [18]


Main Article: Christian victimhood

The New Testament was written when Christians were a persecuted minority group. This historic victimhood has been transformed to a blessing and badge of honour by Jesus. Pay a greater penalty than is imposed on you by legal judgements Matthew 5:40 Bible-icon.png. Do not resist evil, turn the other cheek Matthew 5:39 Bible-icon.png. It is better to be defrauded than to dispute a case in court 1 Cor. 6:7 Bible-icon.png. This is justified because personally persecuted and victimised as a good thing, according to Jesus. Matthew 5:10-12 Bible-icon.png

Based on this teaching, Christians should not complain about being persecuted. Christians should not revolt against unjust rulers or laws. They should ask to be persecuted more! (Note: we do endorse the persecution of anyone but rather point out the absurdity of the New Testament.) Søren Kierkegaard argued that suffering for Jesus could not properly occur unless Christianity was a minority religion.

"While according to the Christianity of the New Testament the Christian has all the effort, the conflict, the anguish, which is connected with doing what is required, dying from the world, hating oneself, etc., he has at the same time to suffer from the relationship of opposition to other men, which the New Testament speaks of again and again: to be hated by others, to be persecuted, to suffer for the doctrine, etc. In "Christendom" we are all Christians—therefore the relationship of opposition drops out. In this meaningless sense they have got all men made into Christians, and got everything Christian—and then (under the name of Christianity) we live a life of paganism."

Søren Kierkegaard [19]


Jesus said wealth inequality should be addressed:

"And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”"

Luke 3:11 Bible-icon.png

Christians are commanded to "love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:31 Bible-icon.png. The parable of the good Samaritan illustrates that neighbor refers to people in need, including strangers and people of different ethnic groups. Luke 10:27–37 Bible-icon.png

These principles are reiterated in 1 John 3:17 Bible-icon.png, Hebrews 13:2 Bible-icon.png and Acts 20:35 Bible-icon.png. When combined with the teaching on possessions, materialism is thoroughly condemned by the New Testament.


No obscenity, old wives' tales or foolish talk Ephesians 5:4 Bible-icon.png, 1 Timothy 4:7 Bible-icon.png. However:

"that each one of you know how to [control/acquire/live with] [his/her] own [vessel] in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;"

1 Thessalonians 4:4-5 Bible-icon.png

"Vessel" has been translated as the body, virgin partner, genitals or wife. [20] The meaning of this is ambiguous. Paul may mean that sex in marriage should be without passion. [21] Alternatively, it might mean that passion should only expressed inside marriage. [22]

Do not plan for the future[edit]

Make no plans for the future. Do not worry about your body, food, clothing or shelter. God will (allegedly) provide. Matthew 6:25-34 Bible-icon.png Luke 12:22-31 Bible-icon.png

"And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind."

Luke 12:29 Bible-icon.png

If Jesus (likely a former carpenter/builder) and his apostles had jobs (some of whom were fishermen), they abandoned them and their families. They either had no home or rarely stayed there. Jesus mentioned he "has nowhere to lay His head" Matthew 8:20 Bible-icon.png.

Health and fitness[edit]

Main Article: Health and religion

Physical exercise is relatively unimportant compared to spiritual duties:

"bodily exercise profiteth little"

1 Timothy 4:8 Bible-icon.png

Beware of scribes/priests[edit]

Jesus warns people against priests or the keepers of religious law:

"Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,"

Mark 12:38 Bible-icon.png

Søren Kierkegaard pointed out this effective means "beware of priests". If only Christians would follow Jesus's advice here! Jesus also said to avoid strange doctrines and diviners Hebrews 13:9 Bible-icon.png, which is ironic because his teachings are very strange when viewed as an outsider to Christianity.

Be a follower of Paul[edit]

Main Article: Differences between the Gospels and the epistles

Paul the Apostle, author of several of the later books in the New Testament, is sometimes called the "founder of Christianity" as he largely shaped the church by his interpretation of Jesus. Paul never met Jesus in person but said he experienced him in visions. Paul called people to follow his example, rather than that of Jesus.

"Wherefore I beseech you, be ye [followers/immitators] of me"

1 Corinthians 4:16 Bible-icon.png

"Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample."

Philippians 3:17 Bible-icon.png

"Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ."

1 Corinthians 11:1 Bible-icon.png

"I beseech you, brethren, become as I am, for I also am become as ye are."

Galatians 4:12 Bible-icon.png

"Those things which ye have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you."

Philippians 4:9 Bible-icon.png

Paul clearly attempts to establish himself as a role model for Christians. However, the teachings of Paul and Jesus differ in an number of areas. [23]


Christians are to greet another believer with a holy kiss, Romans 16:16 Bible-icon.png; 1 Corinthians 16:20 Bible-icon.png; 1 Thessalonians 5:26 Bible-icon.png

"Greet one another with an holy kiss."

2 Corinthians 13:12 Bible-icon.png

Similarly, a "kiss of love" 1 Peter 5:14 Bible-icon.png. This was "a form of greeting that was already common in their day". [24] However, it is rarely practised by Christians in the West.


Jesus was a pacifist who taught that oppression should not be resisted - "resist not evil", Matthew 5:39 Bible-icon.png, "love your enemies" Matthew 5:43 Bible-icon.png. His actions also provide a role model of non-violent behaviour.

"If a ruler's anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest."

Ecclesiastes 10:4 Bible-icon.png

"Put your sword back in its place,' Jesus said to him, 'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

Matthew 26:52 Bible-icon.png

"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

John 18:36 Bible-icon.png.

The teaching is also reiterated in Matthew 5:9 Bible-icon.png, "Blessed are the peacemakers", always seek for reconciliation with your brother or enemy Matthew 5:21-26 Bible-icon.png.

Apologists counter that, according to the Bible, governments in the Bible are described as using force and therefore Christians may too. [25] This is incorrect because the Bible only descriptively addresses how governments behaved at that time, when they largely had non-Christian personnel. He does not claim that Earthly governments were sanctioned by God, only they should be tolerated Mark 12:17 Bible-icon.png, Ecclesiastes 10:4 Bible-icon.png. The violence exhibited by Jesus in the temple is sometimes used as a counter example John 2:15 Bible-icon.png. However, this may have been a metaphorical violence rather than physical force; this interpretation was common in the earth church. [26] It is also notable that it does not say he used force on any person, merely on animals and goods. Jesus also denied he was bringing peace to the world, Matthew 10:34 Bible-icon.png although when read in context this is likely spiritual warfare and in any case, is a descriptive statement, not a commandment and still compatible with an individual's pacifism.

Almost no Christian denomination follows this teaching, except for the Quakers. The result of a nation widely adopting Christianity would be their lack of violent crime, their lack of war, including even defensive war! Instead, certain countries practice pre-emptive war and call themselves "Christian".

Clothing and style[edit]

No long hair for men, long hair for women encouraged 1 Cor. 11:14-15 Bible-icon.png although it must not be plaited. No fancy clothes or golden jewellery for women. See also: 1 Timothy 2:9 Bible-icon.png.

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;"

1 Peter 3:3 Bible-icon.png

This is contrary to people wearing elaborate clothing and jewellery, which they continue to do even going to church!


Main Article: Misogyny in the Bible‎

Wives should obey their husbands in all things, 1 Peter 3:1 Bible-icon.png,

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything."

Ephesians 5:22-24 Bible-icon.png

Women many not speak in church: (see also 1 Timothy 2:11 Bible-icon.png)

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. "

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Bible-icon.png

Women religious teachers and priests are not allowed:

"But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

1 Timothy 2:12 Bible-icon.png

Women priests are ordained in some dominations, contrary to these verses. Proponents of women priests argue that the letters to Timothy were attempting to address a local issue at a particular time, and not intended to be a universal law. [27]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]