Q: What do you hope to give the reader of this book?
A: So many people that I know, who come from a basically Christian background no longer have faith or belief in their own religion and as a result have become agnostic. The major complaint is that the Bible contradicts itself and does not make sense. Which in many instances is true. What is more, they are unwilling to accept orthodox theology on blind faith and as a result turn their backs on Hebraic/Christianity altogether. In a sense this is a loss because the Bible is an incredibly rich piece of literature. What I have hoped to achieve is a logical framework where I not only confront the contradictions, but attempt to make sense of them. I believe that I have done this. Though I am sure that not everyone will agree with my interpretations.
Q: Would it bother you if people don't agree with your interpretations?
A: Not at all, just so long as this book encourages others to think and question for themselves. To come up with answers for themselves that make sense and especially for those people who have either given up and no longer read the Bible or who in spite of the fact that a contradiction is staring them in the face, throw their hands up in the air and resort to taking it on faith. Alan Paton, the author of "Cry the Beloved Country" was such a man. I remember reading in one of his autobiographies that he had found a contradiction between the teachings of Paul and the teachings of Jesus. This did not sit happily with him, a man who basically questioned everything and was put under house arrest during the apartheid years in South Africa because he disagreed with racial discrimination. Being a deeply religious man and having been taught from an early age not to question the Bible, Alan Paton very resignedly decided to take the contradiction on faith, which disappointed me a little. But then again, if he had found an answer, I suppose that I would not have gone in search of my own. This was one of the many incidents in my life that spurred me on to find some answers.
Q: Your book has a very political flavour. How do you link politics to religion and visa versa?
A: I believe that you cannot have a certain political belief, say for example, racial discrimination and yet at the same time profess to be a Christian where one of the most famous stories in the New Testament is that of the Good Samaritan. This creates an internal hypocrisy and as Jesus said, it is the equivalent of worshipping two masters. Either you are faithful to the one and deny the other or the other way around. By the same token, one cannot advocate a belief in say, the divine right of kings and yet at the same time believe that we are all equal in the eyes of God. Again this causes internal hypocrisy within the individual and a type of spiritual schizophrenia. There is an ancient saying that goes, "as above so below" which is reflected in the words of the Lord's prayer being "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Religion to my mind, should be a reflection of, in fact part and parcel of our daily lives and politics is most definitely a part of our daily lives and effects our personal well being as well as the well being of the world as a whole. If our political beliefs are at odds with our religious beliefs then there is chaos.
Q: You are of the opinion that there are two belief systems that weave their way through the Bible. Can you explain this concept further and how does one choose which belief system is the right one when we have been brought up to believe that everything written is Gospel, so to speak?
A: I do believe that there are two different religious and political philosophies expressed in the Bible and we can see this right from the beginning in the creation stories. In the first story, male and female, in fact the human race as a whole, is created together in the image of God. As images of God, then we too have everlasting life. Politically this would translate into ual and racial equality as well as democracy. In the second story a single man is created from clay and then his wife is made from his rib in order to be his companion and to be his handmaid. In this story we are denied the tree of everlasting life. Politically this does not translate into democracy and equality. So you see, if you advocate democracy and equality as a political system and yet still believe in the second creation story, you will have internal hypocrisy. On the other hand, if you believe in racial and ual inequality, then you will feel quite comfortable in your religious beliefs. Right from the beginning we have a choice, we are allowed to choose, in fact we must choose. The texts are challanging us to think for ourselves. What is right? What is wrong? Nothing is handed to us on a platter. We have to think, we have to decide. Personally, I believe in democracy, equality, a justice of liberty and self empowerment. So throughout my book, in confronting the contradictions in the Bible, I have used this premise as a yard stick to measure the contradictions by.
Q: Would you say that this same discrepancy, or dual belief is found in the New Testament?
A: Most definitely. The personality type described in the four Gospels who we know as Jesus, is in todays terms the equivalent of a Nelson Mandela who did not cling to power as many other dictatorial leaders have done, but retired after one term in office. Or a Mahatma Ghandi with his policy of passive resistance or even a Dalai Lama who does not believe in physical aggression in any manner or form. Or take Mother Theresa and Princess Diana, both had incredible power, but they used that power to the benefit of individuals as opposed to benefit themselves. Mother Theresa's work with the poor, Diana's work against landmines.
Now take the personality types of Peter and Paul as well as their philosophies found in Acts and Romans. Their attitude was more in line with the type of fanatical, religious fundamentalism that we have seen in the world today which more often than not leads to and a quest for power over other people in order to subjugate them into a certain type of system. Which is of course to the benefit of the leader who is sustained and maintained by the dedication of the group and not to the benefit of the individuals involved. Recent examples would be David Koresh, the Moonies, Stalin and .
During the first century Palestine suffered incredible turmoil, and political suppression by the Romans. There were many freedom fighters or Zealots at the time who were politically active and were put to for their actions. Jesus on the other hand, appears to advocate passive resistance. In fact, if he were alive today he would most probably be considered to be an advocate of Liberation Theology. Such ideologies would not have gone down well with the Temple priests in Jerusalem at the time, nor with the Romans and in fact would have appalled Herod Agrippa who was trying to follow in the footsteps of King Herod the Great. I do believe that Jesus not only delivered a religious message, but a political message as well, which has been, by and large, ignored throughout the last two thousand years. My gut view is that he advocated equality, democracy, a justice of liberty and self-empowerment not only from a religious standpoint within the church, but outside of the church in the political arena as well.