John 3:16: The expanded version

18 Jun 2008

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

John 3:16. It's one of the most widely-quoted Bible verses there are. It's been called "the Gospel in a nutshell", for its succinct summary of the New Testament's "message".

A verse as vital and revered as John 3:16 deserves proper examination in the light of the rest of Holy Scripture. Let's place it into the wider context of the entire Bible:

"For God so loved the world, that he...

  • Decreed sickness, painful childbirth, and death for all descendents of Adam and Eve;
  • Drowned every man, woman, and innocent child on Earth, save a handful;
  • Slaughtered every man, woman, and innocent child in Sodom and Gomorrah;
  • Murdered countless babies in Egypt to impress a Pharoah;
  • Explicitly allowed and even commanded slavery, the beating and murder of slaves, and the rape of slaves;
  • Ordered the execution of homosexuals, disobedient children, stubborn sons, blasphemers, non-believers, "witches", adulterers, complainers, anyone ignoring a priest or judge, anyone working on the Sabbath, anyone touching Mt Sinai, any woman whose father cannot produce bloody sheets as proof of marriage-night virginity, and any betrothed virgin who is raped but doesn't protest loudly enough;
  • Repeatedly commanded his people to capture and rape women after battles;
  • Established a law requiring that rape victims marry their rapists;
  • Killed 24,000 Israelites by plague, stopping only when Phinehas pleased God by murdering an interracial couple;
  • Commanded the Israelites to slay all Midianites, including women and innocent children – except for 32,000 virgins, who were to be saved for raping;
  • Commanded the Levites to attack each other, resulting in the deaths of 3000;
  • Allowed Lot to give up his daughters to a mob of rapists; Caleb to give away his daughter as a battle prize; and a concubine owner to give his concubine to a mob of rapists (after which she dies and is dismembered);
  • Allowed His various champions to rip the flesh off captives; kill 69 brothers "upon one stone"; bring down a building on 3000 men and women; massacre inhabitants of cities with saws and axes; and throw 10,000 captives off a cliff;
  • Commanded Joshua to kill all peoples of all lands he visited, including women and innocent children, as well as kill all livestock and burn all cities;
  • Ordered that all Samaritans be killed by the sword, with infants dashed to pieces and pregant women ripped apart;
  • Commanded and aided massacres of men, women, children, and infants among the Caananites, Bethelites, Moabites, Philistines, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, Amelekites, Midianites, Succothites, Sihonites, Benjamites, Ammorites, Syrians, Assyrians, Edomites, Heshbonites, the city of Nob, the city of Ninevah, the town of Laish, the house of Jeroboam, the house of Baal, the house of Baasha, foreigners in Samaria, Hagarites, Hazorites, Jebusites, Ethiopians, Babylonians, and Israelites;
  • Directly murdered people Himself for reasons including masturbation; refusal to strike a prophet; believing a lying prophet; looking into the ark; attempting to save the ark from a fall; and "offering strange fire";
  • Murdered the wives, sons, and small children of men who argued with Moses, along with 250 bystanders;
  • Sent bears to slaughter 42 children who laughed at a priest's bald head;
  • Killed Job's children, slaves, and animals as part of a game;
  • Repeatedly punished children for sins of parents or even earlier generations;
  • Vowed to use lies and stumbling blocks to lure people into unrighteousness, then damn them eternally for it;
  • Inflicted various peoples with curses including pestilence, leprosy, fever, mildew, hemmorrhoids, locusts, itching, blindness, dead livestock, slavery, madness, worms, burning, thirst, baldness, miscarriages, famine, hail, and fruitless olive trees;
  • Delivered a plague that caused women to boil and eat their children;
  • Welcomed human sacrifice, including Jephthah's burning of his innocent daughter; the Moab king's burning of his son; Josiah's offerings of burnt priests; and Abraham's willingness to slit a child's throat."

I don't know about you, but all this Godliness is really bringing a lump to my throat. Yet let's not neglect the key message concerning Jesus in John 3:16. God showed us His Love in one more way:

"For God so loved the world, that he...

  • ... gave his only begotten Son – to preach death, damnation, and eternal torment for disbelievers; to criticize Jews for not executing disobedient children; to defend Old Testament atrocities like slavery, massacres, and bloodythirsty laws; and to doom thousands of valuable pigs in a botched exorcism."

It's no wonder that so many believers find comfort in this homely scripture, and all the rest of the Holy Book that stands behind its message of hope.

Special thanks to the Skeptic's Annotated Bible for aid in this post.

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html

Comments

I'll pray for you to come BACK to reason. Jesus is the only salvation. But I think deep down, you already know that. Maybe you should read your Bible again and put things in proper perspective. Bless you.

defaithed's picture

 

I have to assume you're a fellow rationalist, having fun with a bit of believer-speak. Because a believer responding to a list of Biblical horrors with "you should read your Bible" would be hilarious.

So, hello, fellow atheist! Come visit any time.

If you are on some sort of medication and are not taking your pills for some reason....thinking maybe a god will cure your mental issues....the think again and start back on the pills ....the world will seem brighter in a short while.

maybe you people are anti christ!!!!!!!! why do you say bad things about the lord!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUR JUST A PIECE OF HIS CREATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

STOP YOU HYPOCRITES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

defaithed's picture

maybe you people are anti christ!!!!!!!! why do you say bad things about the lord!!!!!!!!!!!!

Huh? Please look at my words in the post; there is truly not one comment of mine that denigrates any lord. 

I do note many claims that put this lord in an awfully poor light – in fact, claims that paint him as a subhuman monster. But those aren't my claims; they're Christians' claims. They're all claims made by the Bible itself. Every single one. 

YOUR JUST A PIECE OF HIS CREATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My just a piece of his creation???????????

Soooo, Atheist; what your saying is that the bible is truth and your being critical of it? Or the bible is false and your being critical of it? In the latters case, why would you be critical of a fictious book? Are you nothing more than a literary critic? Do you feel as strongly about the litetary works of L. Ron Hubbard that people have based their lifes upon?

Soooo, Atheist; what your saying is that the bible is truth and your being critical of it? Or the bible is false and your being critical of it? In the latters case, why would you be critical of a fictious book? Are you nothing more than a literary critic? Do you feel as strongly about the litetary works of L. Ron Hubbard that people have based their lifes upon?

defaithed's picture

Hello! Am I saying the Bible is true? The answer isn't yes/no, but it's still easy: 

Demonstrable claims in the Bible may very well be true. The writers of the Bible mention a city called Jericho, and archaeologists today can confirm that Jericho certainly did exist then. No surprises there.

But non-demonstrable claims, like a talking snake or eternal torment after death? No, I certainly wouldn't accept those claims as true without evidence. (Would you?) 

Am I saying the Bible is false? Again, simple answer: It makes some claims that are demonstrably true. It makes some claims that are not demonstrably true, though not yet demonstrated to be false either; a good example is the existence of the historical Jesus himself. It makes some claims that may not be demonstrated to be false, but seem very unlikely to be true ("Hi, I'm a talking snake!"). And it makes some claims that are demonstrably false, whether due to evidence against the claim ("a flood covered the whole earth!") or self-contradiction (if each of the four Gospel writers gives a different account of the opening of Jesus' tomb, at least three of them are wrong).

Why would I be critical of a fictitious book? The post isn't criticizing a book. The Bible is what it is, and there's no crime in being a work of fiction. Rather, the post is criticizing a bizarre, unthinking, hypocritical claim made by Christians. Specifically:

The Bible paints a crystal-clear picture of its God as a genocidal, child-butchering, fetus-aborting, woman-hating, slavery-loving, rape-commanding psycopathic monster. Christians read that description and exclaim, "See? He is Love, and He is the source of all that's good and moral!"

That's idiocy. Idiocy raised to the power of dishonesty, multiplied by the square of hypocrisy. Wouldn't you agree? (And if not: Why?)

Finally: L. Ron Hubbard? I haven't read his works, but from what little I've seen, it looks like one could enjoy some serious mocking of ol' Hubby. (Perhaps we can happily agree on that. : )

No, I wouldnt agree. Mainly because; all of the things you listed are the things that happen in a time of war. Some of them still happen today under secular law, (abortion, murder). And when your waging war against the God of all creation, then your entire world will be torn to pieces. God gave those cities plenty of forewarning and chances to repent, but, they didnt. Whose fault is that. If a parent tells a child: dont do this or that, several times, and the child refuses to listen and consequently gets a spanking; is it the parents fault? Now multiply that dame situation for the father ot all humanity tell his children "dont do this or that" after the first city was sacked and destroyed, one would think the subsequent cities would learn. But they didnt. Again, not Gods fault. It may be extreme, actually, it is extreme. But thats what it took. And STILL, the peoples of those cities didint learn!!!! Should God have went in with a flowery hat waving a peace sign?! This is the God of everything on the planet. He formed the entire universe out of thought!!! And your telling me he doesnt have the right to destroy? Utterly and completely destroy? Cmon. Really? Its 2012 and we still havent learned. Two major countrys destroyed by natural disasters just happen to be a place where the dominate religion is voodoo (haiti) and a country where the christian to atheist population is about 1% to 99%. (japan). God will judge everyone. Christian, atheist, and voodoo(ese). Those who live by his laws will live. Those who dont will parish. Deal with it. Youve heard the message you hqve no reason to not accept it. So perish in your ignorant arrogance.

defaithed's picture

Read your own comment there. Read it again. See what your faith has reduced you to.

There's flat-out insane foolishness. You tell us that two countries suffered earthquakes not because they're situated in some of the more unstable spots on a geologically unstable planet... but because the peoples there weren't sufficiently adoring of a magic man in the sky who hates shrimp. 

(And you wonder why the world increasingly laughs at your beliefs?)

Then there's the abject moral rot. A warlike tribe allegedly invaded a city and, not content to kill the opposing soldiers or even all men and boys, obeyed a commandment to "dash infants on rocks" and butcher the bellies of screaming pregnant women to kill all fetuses. And you defend this as good and just.

Your protests in defense of slaughtering babies are sick nonsensical trash. You give no coherent reason whatsoever for the positive morality you claim in hacking up pregnant women with swords. None.

Passionately arguing for the goodness of slaughtering babies and young women. This is the depth of the sub-human moral cesspool to which your "faith" has brought you. (Hey, look at the bright side: from there, you can't get any lower.)

So I guess your just going to ignore the fact that someone in charge (God) gave orders to people of a nation, they refused to follow said orders after MANY warnings, and suffered the consequnces. How is that so hard to understand? Gods in charge. Deal with it. And I never said God destroyed haiti and japan. I insinuated it. Half of america is situated on a massive fault line that basically holds the planet together; but for some reason, we have yet to suffer the same fate as haiti or japan. Maybe, just maybe, its because we have "in God we trust" on our currency. Or maybe because the sole reason America exists as a country is because of our fore fathers wanting the freedom to worship God. Oh wait, im forgetting about new orleans being devestated by the hand of God. Yes, im saying that God sent hurricane Katrina to new orleans because of the sick disgusting moral depravity that ran rampant through the city. Prove me wrong and ill admit it was just thermal currents converging over a landmass.

defaithed's picture

Come on, you've got to be someone just goofing around to make believers look bad. Seriously. I mean, the responses to you are just too easy:

...someone in charge (God) gave orders to people of a nation, they refused to follow said orders after MANY warnings, and suffered the consequnces.

Babies and fetuses refused to follow God's orders and so suffered the consequences?

I know kids in olden times had to shoulder responsibilities at an earlier age than now, but wow, that's harsh...

but for some reason, we have yet to suffer the same fate as haiti or japan. Maybe, just maybe, its because we have "in God we trust" on our currency... Oh wait, im forgetting about new orleans being devestated by the hand of God.

Magic spells on money prevent disaster! Except the ones that occur anyway! Woo-hoo!

Yes, im saying that God sent hurricane Katrina to new orleans because of the sick disgusting moral depravity that ran rampant through the city. Prove me wrong and ill admit it was just thermal currents converging over a landmass.

I'm saying Leprechauns sent hurricane Katrina because they were mad about the "You must be this tall to ride the attraction" sign on the Six Flags New Orleans' Tilt-a-Whirl.

Prove me wrong and I'll admit it was just a magic sky man who gets off on burnt offerings and slavery!

Well I see youve reduced your argument to word play. Good job. And the parents of those babies were the ones to suffer through the death of their kids for disobeying God. Annnnnd not a magic spell, a symbol of a nation declaring its obedience to God. And I dont need to prove you wrong. I have faith in Gods actions. The burden of proof falls on your shoulders atheist.

defaithed's picture

There's no word play there. Just statements you can't begin to argue against.

And the parents of those babies were the ones to suffer through the death of their kids for disobeying God.

Your God kills babies because their parents were bad? Your God is psychopathic and an idiot. 

And I dont need to prove you wrong. I have faith in Gods actions. The burden of proof falls on your shoulders atheist.

The followers of Scientology don't need to prove you wrong. They have faith in L. Ron Hubbard's words. The burden of proof falls on your shoulders, Christian.

(Brilliant strategy you've got there.)

Scientologists dont say that christianity is false. Chritianity says all other religions are false. Why would I believe in something that doesnt proclaim its truth? Like the THEORY of evolution. Its a friggin theory!!!! The followers of the THEORY of evolution proclaim its a THEORY!!! Whereas the followers of christianity proclaim its the truth!!! Its sad you believe in something that you cant believe in. Like a lost puppy latching onto the first adult dog it sees because its so eager to find its way it latches onto anything that resembles it.

defaithed's picture

Scientologists dont say that christianity is false.

They DO. When Religion A makes a claim that directly contradicts the claims of Religion B, then Religion A is claiming that Religion B is false, at least where the claims in question are concerned.

Simple example: Scientology claims that "thetans" brought the material universe into existence. Christianity claims that a being called "God" did it. Scientology blames human ills on "engrams", which can be "cleared" through processes such as "auditing"; Christianity claims that human ills arise from "Original Sin", which can only be "forgiven" via "salvation". [Consult with your local Christian church for sect-specific claims. Claims are not guaranteed to agree with other sects' claims.]

In short, Scientology makes claims that dispute Christianity's claims. Plain and simple.

Why would I believe in something that doesnt proclaim its truth?

Preach it, brother! I used to be there myself: "Of course we Jehovah's Witnesses claim our beliefs are the right ones. Why would we believe them otherwise?" Like, duh, right? (Hey, are you, by chance, a JW? You sound like one...)

Like the THEORY of evolution. Its a friggin theory!!!! The followers of the THEORY of evolution proclaim its a THEORY!!!

Hoo boy. I'm happy to come out on top in a "discussion" with a believer, but I want that to be the result of my having better marshalled facts and reason. Not because the believer crashed, burned, and somehow shot himself in both feet at the same time.

What follows is well-intentioned advice to help you defend religious claims on the most grown-up level possible. No sarcasm, no snark; this is for real:

"Theory" does not mean what you think (or pretend) it means. It does not mean "hunch" or "idea" or "something that's maybe true; I dunno". It means, to borrow a good definition, "a well-substantiated, well-supported, well-documented explanation for our observations". Scientists apply the word "theory" to Darwinian evolution precisely because that preceding definition fits Darwinian evolution. (Hit that link; it's a great short overview. Then Google a bit for "just a theory" for plenty, plenty more reading.)

When you say "Its (sic) a THEORY!!!", the more thoughtful believers – the ones who are gamely trying to replace at least some dogmatic assertions with reasoned evidence – groan in dismay, do a face plant, and mouth "Dude, you are so not helping". Because you're making believers look all the more like ignorant goobers. A harsh thing to say, but it's true.

Don't take my word for it; listen to the beleagured believers! There are many resources out there, written by believers, listing the lame arguments that believers should stop using. Try Arguments we think creationists should NOT use by Creation Ministries International. Scroll to a bit above the bottom for the "Evolution is just a theory" discussion. (Spoiler: They're not about to give up the "God did it" dogma and concede the fact of evolution, but they do request that you stop embarrassing yourself – and all of Creationism – with "evolution is just a theory".)

Like a lost puppy latching onto the first adult dog it sees because its so eager to find its way it latches onto anything that resembles it.

B-I-N-G-O! Beautiful analogy for humanity. Humankind is like a puppy, latching millenia ago onto the first explanation to come along ("magic sky beings!"), a concept which resembles humanity itself (the magic sky beings are made in humanity's image, complete with human jealousy, violence, and other silliness). That lasts for a long time until reason and truth come much later, when the "puppy" finally grows up.

You nailed it! (Seriously! It's a good analogy.)

Wow, I wish I could apologize on the behalf of the "christian" people that posted comments here. What happened to "turn the other cheek" haha. 

defaithed's picture

For the most part, the Christian contributors aren't being overly mean. But they're failing to think and to address a single problem: How does a Christian reconcile the common claim "God is Love" with the hate-filled monster depicted in the Bible?

It'd be great to hear believers respond with "God is Love; the God-inflicted massacres and other horrors in the Bible didn't actually happen". Or, "God is hateful and cruel; the massacres and other horrors in the Bible happened just as written".

Either one raises other theological problems, but at least the believers would be starting with a consistent story.

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