The God Who Wasn’t There 2005 Brian Flemming
Let us set the stage: Brian Flemming starts off the narrative, telling us that the earth revolves around the sun, but the sun used to revolve around the earth. “Christianity was wrong about the solar system”. What I think he means, is that certain people involved in Christianity, at one time, were wrong about the solar system…but that wouldn’t fit well with his assertations.
Next, the film has Christians… we suppose they are Christians, and why not…telling us about who they think Jesus is. “Look at how happy Christians are when they are talking about Jesus…How come I’m not this happy? I want to be this happy…of course, those aren’t the only faces of Christianity.” The film then cuts to a picture of Charles Manson aka “Jesus Christ”. Well, we have a problem here … several actually… first, if Charles Manson is claiming to be Jesus Christ, then he isn’t a Christian, he follows himself? Secondly, let us say that I claim to be Adoph Hitler and go work at a soup kitchen, giving of my time, money, and generous nature to help the homeless…does that make me a NAZI? Would history books then have to be rewritten about Hitler? That is moronic. Then we see pictures of several other folks, Christians, who do dispicable things…Pat Robertson…Dena Schlosser…Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins…alright, I suppose the “Left Behind” series isn’t on par with Shakespeare or Dostoyevski, but the actual picture of those two does look pretty happy, which when you see Mr. Flemming’s point of other faces of Christianity, it kinda falls flat. But don’t forget the crowning jewel, a picture of the Branch Davidian Sect’s compound, on fire, in Waco Texas, with the caption, “86 Crispy fans of similar apocalyptic literature”. Well, “Similar” does not equate to “the same” now does it? If that isn’t another face of Christianity, then it is another false analogy…and we a a total of three minutes and fifty-five seconds into the film. It isn’t getting better any time soon.
Next, we are treated to a lovely little recap of the Greatest Story Ever Told… I would say “as a third grader would tell it” but that would insult third graders. He does a pretty good job of setting up his strawman, complete with ridiculous b-grade movie clips and corny acting. “It all started here in this field, some shepherds were sleeping…” Well, no, it didn’t start in that field, but go on…”Meanwhile back in the manger, the virgin Mary gave birth without complication…” Which Gospel was that from? I must have missed it. For all we know she was bedridden for weeks…sorry, do go on…”and three magi show up”…oh… I get it… Mr. Flemming is basing his story on a Nativity scene like you would find in a kitchy catalog…that would explain his confusion. Maybe he should have based it off of…I dunno, maybe Christianity’s Holy Scriptures? (The magi brought three gifts, by the way… we aren’t told how many of them there were, but “we indeterminate number of scholars” doesn’t fit real well into a song like “We three kings” does.)
Now, Brian Flemming asks “Why is it that Christians can be so specific about the life of Christ, but they are vague about what happened after He left?” Okay, let us take this question at face value: the Gospels were written to tell us about the center of the apostles’ and early church’s values: Jesus Christ. The New Testament was writtem to tell people about what happened, not what was happening…people didn’t need that, they were living it.
On to a history of the Gospels, through Brain Flemming’s mind, starting with Mark, being the first written. Why does he claim that? Because the other three are clearly derived from Mark. Are they really? The Gospel of John, for instance isn’t even considered to be from the same source material. Mr. Flemming falls flat again…so, anyway, when was Mark written? After the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD…how do you know? Because Mark mentions the destruction of the Temple…actually, Jesus prophesies that it will fall, in Mark 13:2, and if you come in with a view that presupposes that Jesus wasn’t real, then you have to assume his prophecies were made up. Mr. Flemming’s closed-mindedness and biases are showing here…as if they weren’t before.
Mr. Flemming then goes on to talk about Paul. A Paul who never heard about Jesus, apparently, because he didn’t write about Jesus’ life, and miracles. Interestingly, Paul does quote from Luke, and if Paul dies in 67 AD, then we know that Mr. Flemming’s timeline of the Gospel’s being written is either mistaken, or downright fabrication. However, Paul does quote from Luke, and if Luke was written after Mark, then we know that during Paul’s life, there were already at least two Gospels written about Jesus. Why would Paul then go on to write a third, from the position of someone who wasn’t there? Why, Mr. Flemming would have us believe that Paul taught that Jesus’ activities all happened in a heavenly realm. Seriously? The tagline for the movie says that Brian Flemming is an “Ex-Christian fundamentalist”…. you would have thought he had read a little more. Now, we get a real gem, with Paul saying “If Jesus had been on earth, he would not even have been a priest” from Hebrews 8:4. Actually, it is from the first part of Hebrews 8:4, and leaves out the WHY of Jesus not being a priest. And, to be pedantic, which I am, Paul didn’t write the letter to the Hebrews. Another fail, by Mr. Flemming, but keep going….
I’m going to try to slow down my commentary, because we aren’t going anywhere real fast, but I will pick out some choice tidbits, like Robert Price referencing the Gospel of Peter. If you are unfamiliar with it, then you are not alone, it isn’t part of the Christian Bible.
Arg… I should have known… we get a list of similarites between Jesus and “other gods” and mythological figures. I would like to know where Mr. Flemming went to church, because everywhere I have been has been pretty specific in teaching that Jesus was NOT born on December 25…we just celebrate His birth that day. A lot of the other “similarities” come into these character’s mythos after Jesus’ story became known. Maybe I’ll do a future blog on this in more detail, but for now, I’ll struggle through the last 38 and a half minutes of the film.
Okay, next up: Christians love the Passion of the Christ because we are obsessed with blood. …or, just maybe, we think it tells the story more accurately than the previous attempts, like Jesus Christ Superstar…or maybe we also appreciate modern production techniques….
Mr. Flemming says that we should put gay people to death…strap them to a gurney and lethally inject them because Leviticus says so. I would put forward, that the laws of the land of ancient Isreal are slightly different than those of modern United States. We live under a different law-of-the-land… Oh, and we get another Biblical quote…this one from Jesus Himself, “Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them -bring them here and kill them in front of me.” -Jesus (Luke 19:27) which, is true, as far as it goes…but let us look at the context: Jesus is telling a parable, the words quoted above are, from His mouth, but not His words. When I quote from Mr. Flemming’s work, here, please don’t be so daft as to think his words are mine…I don’t think you will, but Mr. Flemming apparently thinks so.
“The greatest crime in Fundamentalist Christianity is to think.” yep, he really said that … right after he pointed out that the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit…
I’m going to add here, just to end, even though it wasn’t chronologically here, an interesting quote from Richard Carrier: “You’ll have someone make up a fake quote, or misrepresent the document, misrepresent the evidence, then they’ll put it on a website or put it in a book that is published by people, what people think is a respectable publisher, and then hundreds, thousands of Christians will read this an believe this because hey assume, ‘well, this guy wouldn’t lie, he wouldn’t have made this stuff up’ and so they go and repeat it, so you get teh lie repeated many times, mostly by people who aren’t lying, who really do think its true, but they just didn’t check.” Kinda sums up the expectations of this movie I would say, if you replace “Christians” or just add on atheists, and so on. We’ve already exposed several lies, misrepresentations, and mistakes…I’m surprised Mr. Flemming added that quote into the movie.