The Foolishness of Preaching

by John Bedson

“For since in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” - 1 Corinthians 1:21.
 
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” - 1 Corinthians 2:14.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” - 1 Corinthians 1.27.
 
I look back on my two decades of preaching foolishness for the Christadelphians with a sense of embarrassment and shame The Christadelphians take pride in the weird things that they preach because the Apostle Paul described it as “the foolishness of preaching.”
That makes it difficult for Anti-Christadelphians like myself to criticize the religion, because if, after a great deal of effort and hard work I manage to convince a Christadelphian that something in their belief system is nonsense, they come back at me with “Of course it is foolish – the Apostle told us that it was foolish in 1 Corinthians 1.21” or “That means that you don’t have the Spirit (whatever that means, even the Christadelphians can’t agree on who has the Holy Spirit and what it means if you do have it) because these things are foolishness to you because they are spiritually discerned – see 1 Corinthians 2:14.”




To tell you the truth, when I was a Christadelphian I used the same ridiculous argument when I was completely out of ammunition defending my faith against an unbeliever. You know the feeling? That sick nauseous feeling that feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when an atheist has tied you up in knots defeating all of your best arguments for the truth of the Bible and you know that the only thing left in your depleted spiritual arsenal is the “foolishness of preaching” defense.
In total desperation, with the color draining from your face and your knees knocking with fear you trot out 1 Corinthians 1:21 to the atheist. Then as you watch him looking at you with a “These people are even bigger idiots than I imagined” sort of look on his face you throw in “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” - 1 Corinthians 1.27.”
Immediately you know that you have made a huge mistake. You have not only made yourself look stupid but you have also told him that (in the words of the apostle Paul) that he is “wise.” Nevertheless, you stand there, with a frightened grin on your face, trying to bluff him that you have delivered a knock down punch, while all the while you are thinking to yourself “Get me out of here, GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
All that remains is to hurl a few insults at him, inferring that he is stupid (even though the Apostle has just told him that he is “wise”) and run away as fast as possible.
Yeah, I have “been there and done that.” I have used the wildly contradictory prophecies about the return of the Jews to Israel and the crazy prophetic dreams of Daniel (who lived long after the events that he “prophesied”) evidence to prove the Bible true. I used the “Tyre will not be rebuilt” (even though it HAS been rebuilt next to where it was in the first place) evidence for the truth of the Bible and the “One (Jerusalem temple) stone shall not be left standing upon another” proof of how brilliant Jesus was at predicting things (even though tourists daily return with photos of loads of Jerusalem temple stones standing on each other).
I gave hour long slide illustrated lectures for the Christadelphians on many Sunday evenings showing how the complexity of nature proves the existence of God and the veracity of the Bible. What WAS I thinking? Where WERE my brains? What has the one got to do with the other? The Celts and Pagans used the complexity of nature to prove the existence of their panoply of gods, exactly like me two thousand years later trying to pin it on the God of the Bible! Why oh why was I such a dope to talk such arrant nonsense from Christadelphian platforms? What was wrong with my head?
I was even so stupid that I gave dozens of slide illustrated lectures for the Christadelphians attempting to prove the scientific evidence for NOAH’S FLOOD!!! I would have done better to have tried to present the scientific evidence for the Loch Ness Monster because at least we have a few fake photos of the thing.
But no, I was so deluded by the wretched family religion and misled by cognitive bias that I had to “prove” that God existed by talking about all of the above and also:
· The ATP Synthase protein.
· The bones in a Woodpecker’s head.
· The fact that water freezes at the top and not the bottom.
· The fragmentary scraps of John’s gospel no bigger than ripped postage stamps dating to about 120AD.
· The Dead Sea Scrolls.
· The book of Leviticus instructs people to wash their hands.
· The Law of Moses forbids the eating of animal fat in an effort to reduce bowel cancer and ischemic heart disease.
· The Law of Moses forbids the eating of shellfish to prevent tummy ache.
· Car tires are made from rubber.
· Plants are often good to eat.
· Venus fly traps eat flies.
· Archaeology proves the Bible true.
· Etc. etc.
See: http://www.thebible4life.org/thebible4life_youtube_videos.htm to watch Christadelphians still churning out the same nonsensical “evidence” for the truth of the Bible that I was taught as a kid fifty years ago and that I myself used in Bible lectures and when staffing the British Bible Exhibition on numerous occasions. I even sourced the archaeological replicas from the British museum for that exhibition thirty years ago. I met my first wife on a Bible campaign in Hertford, led by Michael Owen in his youth. I made “The Miracle of Israel” film in the early nineteen eighties and I wrote “The Destiny of Israel” booklet and others for the Christadelphians.
- And it was all “foolishness.”
It was not “the foolishness of preaching” it was foolish preaching. I was a young man caught up and befuddled by a cult that belonged back in the Victorian times when Britain ruled the waves, slaves worked the cotton fields in the US, Einstein was playing in his pram and Darwin was trying to pluck up the courage to publish “On the Origin of Species.”
I was born into a family indoctrinated into a cult that was frozen in time. If they had been Amish or some other mad cult I would have been an enthusiastic young Amish sprouting their version of the “foolishness of preaching”, driving a horse and buggy and disfellowshipping members who used buttons on their pants or picked up a phone. But no, I was born into the cult that is called “Christadelphians” so that became my “tribe” and I championed their brand of lunacy.
It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible being true, or false. It has nothing to do with whatever brand of Christianity has worked out “The Truth” from the muddled mess of eschatology that is the Bible. It has everything to do with cognitive bias and the tendency of humans to unthinkingly defend beliefs that they adopted for emotional and not rational reasons. Once adopted, the tribal instinct in all of us causes us to defend the tribal religion against all rational evidence that contradicts our beliefs with arguments that are entirely irrational and which the apostle Paul calls “the foolishness of preaching.”
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” - 1 Corinthians 2:14.
In other words, people who have not been infected with the cult virus of Christadelphianism, or who have managed to escape and clean the Christadelphian bugs out of their minds think that the religion is foolish. But those who remain trapped in the mind numbing delusion of Christadelphianism “spiritually discern” that this “foolishness” makes sense in their heads and look forward to ruling the World for a thousand years and watching innocent animals slaughtered in Ezekiel’s temple. It is cuckoo crazy; but when you think that you have got “the Spirit” anything is possible in your head and the fact that you believe in “foolishness” becomes proof that what you believe must be true because 1 Corinthians 1:21 tells you that you are “saved” by believing in “foolishness.”
Let’s go back to those guys who prepared the videos at: http://www.thebible4life.org/thebible4life_youtube_videos.htm
Philip Mallinder, Martyn Lawrence, John Botten, John Hellewell, Mathew Biggs and Leem Ritmayer. They are really smart guys; some of the brightest brains in Christadelphianism. They have enough letters after their names that strung together in a line they must stretch to the moon and back. In their academic fields and employment they must be brilliant people conducting some wonderful work. But while I ponder things like the effect of quantum variability on the nature of free will and further developing the efficient market hypothesis of common stocks, they are intent on telling me in their videos that Tyre rebuilt in a slightly different place to the original location, proves the reliability of the Bible and that the long ago debunked ATP Synthase protein proof of Intelligent Design should make me embrace a book that commences with a story about a talking snake!
Do they not understand that I watch that stuff aghast and open mouthed, lost for words and incredulous that anyone should be so distantly out of touch with reality that they dare, that they DARE present such shallow trivial “evidence” to demonstrate the existence of a supernatural creator of the entire known Universe?
What is going on here? What has gone so terribly wrong in the brains and minds of those brilliant and admirable men that when they walk out of their laboratories or climb out of their archaeological trench and sit in front of a Christadelphian operated video camera, that they have to use pictures of woodpecker bones and other trivia to demonstrate the existence of the God who created this entire Universe with its untold trillions of stars, black holes and planets, together with all of the complex laws of physics?
Martyn Lawrence: Why is your God hiding behind your dusty manuscripts and damaged postage stamp sized gospel fragments? Has it never entered your brilliant mind that a message delivered by a single angel to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, televised on satellite TV to several billion people, might be a more appropriate method of communication? Do you REALLY think that a few thousand, mostly parochial, trapped in a time warp of an out dated religion Christadelphians are God’s chosen method of witnessing to the billions of human beings on this planet?
Is your God out of his mind to engage in such a pointless, doomed to certain failure and futile enterprise? - Adam and Eve sent to be outwitted by the serpent; prophets to be stoned, Israel to be persecuted, Christ to be killed, apostles to be martyred and Christadelphians to make complete asses of themselves with their “Ecclesias” and “splits” and “disfellowshipping” innocent girls for marrying out of the faith etc?
Your God is the fantasy invention of cunning, conniving, deceiving humans like the priests who sacrificed humans in ancient Chaldea, burned babies to Molech in Philistia, taught the megalomaniac Pharaohs to build pyramids and threw human victims down the steps of Central American ziggurats. Your God who ordered the genocide of the Midianites and took their virgins to satisfy the sexual lust of his chosen people is just another version of human originated legendary Gods formed in the image of man at his most corrupt and immoral.
But you brilliant guys can’t see it. Along with John Carter, Alfred Norris, Cyril Tennant and a host of other great Christadelphian minds both alive and dead, you are and were trapped by a deadly delusional cognitive bias that leads to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation and wholesale irrationality of belief in the supernatural.
In your professional employment you shine and your peers doubtless appreciate and admire your achievements. But when you open your Bibles your minds become unrestrained by the rational standard of comparison with what is normatively expected as making sense and you offer me a dead woodpecker’s skull as evidence of your God and a cave full of manuscripts as the basis of your eternal salvation and expectation to rule the World with Christ for a thousand years.
I am NOT trying to insult you terrific guys. Three decades ago I was precisely like you. My mind worked in exactly the same manner that your minds are working now. Like you I felt no pain or shame that my thinking was so out of touch with reality. But little by little, rationality, reason and reality impinged on my thinking. Like the small cloud the size of a hand reported from Mount Carmel to Elijah, reason grew to become a storm that swept away the horrors of Christadelphian delusion.
And when that storm subsided I was left with the delight that my mind was no longer trapped in a cult. I knew that the “foolishness” of apostolic teaching really was foolishness and “spiritually discerned” was actually dysfunctional cult thinking on a foundation of distorted cognitive bias.
It is a wonderful feeling that you guys may never know. The promise of eternal life with Christ is absolutely nothing compared to the satisfaction to be gained when you take full control of your own mind and you remove the Christadelphian virus from your thinking.
Unfortunately, all the evidence and arguments from me will not move you one millimeter away from your current beliefs. Your religious thinking is not rational, because you did not get to where you are by a process of reason. Like me and like most Christadelphians it was emotion that put you where you now find yourselves. But like most, if not all personality failures, we have a blind spot to our weaknesses. We just can’t see it no matter how hard we might try. So we become trapped in an awful illusion that our religious beliefs are as sensible as the way that we conduct our daily employment or the way in which we provide for and shelter our families. But that is NOT true. The latter is sensible and rational; the former is distorted and dysfunctional.
Emotion got you guys to where you are in your religious beliefs and it will take emotion, not reason, to get you back to a reality where reason can take over. Reason is just not powerful enough to pull you out. Divorce, the death of a child, extreme trauma, abhorrent Christadelphian behavior or some other shock might knock the scales from your eyes and allow reason into that part of your mind that is currently controlled by Christadelphian eschatology. If that were to happen, the brilliance of your minds will soon open the windows of that darkened room and the flood of reasoned light will bring to you the delight and satisfaction that I now enjoy.
But that is not going to happen for the great majority of you lovely people who I still consider to be my very dear brethren and sisters. You are not going to get the break that you need and you will go to your graves trapped in a cult. I grieve for you my friends. I am so very sorry for you. I wish that I could help, but much as I try, it is mostly beyond my abilities to break the spell that Dr John Thomas has cast upon your minds by his poisoned prescription.
But there are a tiny number of bright brains in the Christadelphian movement who one way or another will stumble out of the dark labyrinth of their religion and like me they will turn back to those poor souls still trapped in the maze and they will cry out: “The foolishness of preaching IS foolishness – follow me to freedom!”
And there are a larger number of Christadelphians who may not possess “bright brains” but instead they have something even more desirable. They have common sense and that is to be treasured in this life beyond all else. Those people will not stumble out of the labyrinth of Christadelphianism. When their time comes they will run out leaping for joy and they won’t even bother to look back, because their future is before them. I have seen it happen many times over and it is a joy to watch.
I did not run out of the Christadelphian labyrinth. I stumbled out over a period of two decades. But at least I got out and in that I rejoice.
Now I reach back to my beloved brethren and sisters and offer my hand to desperately try to guide some of you out. Many years ago and for two decades when I was a Christadelphian I helped to push some of you out of the light and into that dark labyrinth of dysfunctional thinking. Some of you were baptized because of the foolishness of my preaching and I curse myself that I did that to you. Some of you are now dead and I attended some of your funerals. I am so sorry.
And to the Christadelphians who will never leave the labyrinth I say: “In the name of humanity stop what you are doing and free those people. The human race cannot advance if bedeviled by superstition.”
And so humanity progresses; three steps forwards and two back. But slowly we advance and leave irrationality, superstition and even the foolishness of Christadelphian preaching behind.

John Bedson
 

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