I used to struggle a lot with Christianity and the Bible when I was in my late teens and early 20's. It tore me apart. But eventually, I learned some things that helped. So I want to share them with any struggling or confused Christians or ex-Christians out there, or fellow truth seekers. Let me say that the contradictions and paradoxes you struggle with will be made a lot easier and more understandable, once you stop expecting God to be perfect and truth to be absolute, and stop taking the Bible literally. Instead just accept the following self-evident, common sense, logical conclusions that me and many other truth seekers, researchers and historians have come to. Then you will have peace of mind and understanding as well as a more mature evolved view of Christianity and of religion in general. Let's begin.
1. God is not perfect. Religion is not perfect. The Bible is not perfect. Neither are humans or animals. Nothing is perfect. The aforementioned are all error prone and filled with good and bad qualities, as well as selfish motives, biases, agendas and do what they need to survive and thrive, as all living creatures do.
Even God makes mistakes and has both good and bad qualities. You can see this in the Bible where God does mean and bad things in the Old Testament that are cruel and extreme, and he even regretted creating the first world before Noah's Flood as if he made a mistake. The Bible, even if divinely inspired, was written by humans and is thus subject to human error, biases, agendas, politics, opinions, interpretations and delusions. It is not inerrant, because humans are not. In fact, nothing is inerrant. So just drop this inerrancy delusion of fundamentalism.
Harold Kushner, Jewish Rabbi and author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" states in his book that if you let go of your need for God to be perfect, then you will have a lot easier time reconciling God with a world of injustice, evil and suffering, where bad things happen to good people. Once you accept God as imperfect, then you won't be troubled by such irreconcilable age-old paradoxes such as, "Why would a good God allow evil and unjust suffering?"
Furthermore, the notion that God has to be perfect, or all good, all powerful, all knowing, never made sense anyway. It was just an assumption, one that did not logically follow. Just because there is a creator or designer, it does not logically follow that he MUST be perfect or all good or all powerful or all knowing. Ask yourself this: Is the architect who designed your house or city perfect? Are the team of construction workers who built your house perfect? Of course not. You know that creators, architects and designers in the real world are not perfect, they have flaws just as we do. So why then does the creator of this universe have to be perfect? It just doesn't logically follow. It's merely an assumption from religion to give its God power and authority. It's necessary to attribute such unrealistic qualities to God, in order for the religion and church to have authority over people, not because they are true or reasonable.
Moreover, just because a being such as a God or deity is bigger and more powerful than you, it does not automatically follow that he must be perfect too. To an ant, you look big and powerful too, but does that make you perfect? To all the trillions of living cells in your body, you are God to them, since your brain controls them and their functions. But does that make you perfect? Even if all the cells in your body believed you were perfect? Obviously not. See what I mean? The logic or assumption that all creators or powerful beings above us must be perfect, doesn't logically follow. It's just dogma designed to have power and authority over you.
In the original Star Trek episode called, "The Enemy Within" a transporter malfunction creates two Captain Kirks, one good and docile, the other evil, aggressive and uncontrollable. After a while, Spock and Mccoy realize that Kirk cannot survive as half a man, he needs both his good and evil side. So they have the transporter meld them back together at the end.
The moral is that man is both good and evil and needs both sides to live and function. Now, since man was made in the image of God, as the Bible says, it makes sense then that God would also be compromised of both good and evil qualities. Right? Wouldnt that logically follow?
Even in Genesis, after the fall of man, God says, "Behold man has become like us, knowing good and evil." So if man in his fallen state of good and evil has become like God, then that directly implies that God is a mixture of good and evil too. Hence not perfect.
2. If there is a God, then it's likely that he can work through all religions, not just one, and even connect with people without any organized religion at all.
It's not true that there's only one way to God and that all other religion are false. That's what exclusive narrow minded religionists and fundamentalists want you to believe, not what God wants you to believe. Here are some good logical reasons why Jesus and the Bible are NOT the "only way to God".
First, think about this: The creator of this universe created a lot of VARIETY in this world. He or she made many different types of plants, animals, vegetables, colors, flavors, flowers, climates, sea life, mammals, human ethnicities, etc. So why would he only make one religion true while all the rest false? A creator of the universe would not be that narrow minded or exclusive, especially if he loves variety and created a lot of it. That would be like a creator who created many different cultures and races, but saying that only one of them was good, while all the others bad. We all know how absurd that would be.
Logically speaking, a being or entity who cherishes and loves variety would not be so exclusive and narrow minded as to only allow one religion to be "the only right way" and all others to be "the wrong way" and condemn everyone who follows them. That would be far too inconsistent and out of line with his own character.
Second, you would think that a creator of the universe would be broad minded, not narrow minded, as well as fair and reasonable, since his mind and perception are so far above ours, and his wisdom so vastly superior to ours, just as our mind is to an insect's mind. Such a broad minded creator would not send the followers of only one religion to heaven while sending the rest to hell. Anyone that trite and small minded would not even be smart enough or capable of creating the universe or even our planet in the first place. Instead, he would be like a hick living in a shack and achieve nothing due to his small mindedness.
Third, why would a powerful creator limit himself by only working through one religion? An omnipotent and omniscient God ought to be able to transcend such narrow man made limitations. If he only accepted those of one religion, then he would be rejecting billions of people in other religions and missing out on them. He'd be alienating billions of his own children.
Consider this: If your father or mother asked you to visit them, would they mind if you took a car to see them, a bus, a plane, a helicopter, a boat, a parachute, or even if you walked on foot? Obviously not, as long as you arrive and try to see them, that's what counts. Or, if they wanted you to contact them, would they mind if you called them by phone, Skyped them, emailed them, or wrote a letter to them by mail? Would they accept all those forms of contact, or only one form? I'm sure they would accept any form of contacting them. So why wouldn't God? Especially a reasonable and sane God?
The point is, if God wants to badly to reconnect with his children, why wouldn't he work with them? Heck even corporations and businesses allow you multiple ways to pay them and contact them. They take different types of credit card for payment, and also cash or check. And you can contact them by phone, email, postal mail, using their online contact forms, or sometimes even via live online chat. So if a business allows you different ways of paying or contacting them, why wouldn't God? Don't you think God would at least be as reasonable as a business would be? Think about it.
Fourth, how would God expect the average person to know which religion was "the true way to God" anyway? One cannot look at all the religions of the world and easily distinguish which one is true and which isn't, even if one is really smart or bright. So why would God expect that one could, when in reality one cannot? Wouldn't God have the sense to put himself in an ordinary man's shoes and realize that if he were human, he would have no idea which religion was the right way to God either? You would think that God would consider this, since a reasonable man would. Is it asking too much to expect God to have common sense and act like a reasonable man?
Fifth, all major religions have resulted in many stories and testimonials of changed lives, miracles and answered prayers. There are documented accounts of miracles from people of all faiths, not just Christianity. So Christians do not have a monopoly on changed lives, miracles or answered prayers. All major faiths and religions do. This indicates that some higher power or divine source (even if it's within rather than without) is at work in all of them.
Now I know that Christian fundamentalists will cite New Testament verses such as John 14:6 where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." and the one in 1 Timothy 2:5 that says, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." as authority to try to prove that Jesus is the only way to God. However, you gotta remember that:
* Words are just words. They don't create absolute reality, truth or law. Anyone can say anything.
* You don't know for sure that the historical Jesus even said those things. Jesus wrote nothing himself, which is strange if he had intended to start a new religion. Those words from the Gospel of John were written 50 to 70 years after Jesus lived. And anyone could have written them. You should not trust random anonymous sources, as you know. In fact, many of the Bible authors are anonymous and unidentified. So they carry little or no weight or credibility.
* And even if the historical Jesus really said those things, it doesn't mean they are literally true. No one is infallible or perfect, no matter what they say. You wouldn't believe anyone claiming to be perfect or infallible today, so why would you believe that someone was perfect and infallible 2,000 years ago? It doesn't make sense. Likewise, you wouldn't believe anyone today claiming to be "the only way to God" so why would you believe it if someone said it 2,000 years ago? It makes no sense.
* Each religion and its texts were created by man, or is man's interpretation of the divine, even if they were inspired by a divine source. Therefore, at best each religion and its texts are a mixture of both man and the divine, and are hence subject to mankind's bias, opinions, interpretations, agendas, politics, mistakes, contradictions, etc. So just because there are verses in the Gospels or Epistles that claim Jesus is "the only way" doesn't make it true. And even if higher beings or divine entities wrote the Bible, that wouldn't make them infallible. Just because something is higher or more powerful than you, doesnt make it perfect or infallible. For example, an ant may see you as big and powerful, but would it be right in assuming that you are perfect and infallible? One of the living cells in your body may see you as God, but would it be right in assuming that you are all knowing and infallible and perfect? Of course not.
* These Gospels were written as stories of "good news" and the Epistles are merely personal letters by Paul and others. They were not meant to be infallible dogma or canonical law. And even if they were, it wouldn't make them so. Just because someone "says so" doesn't make it so.
The bottom line is that words in any text form are merely words. They are not divine absolute laws that are infallible or irrefutable. They do not create reality or truth either. Words are merely words. No need to make them something they are not.
Most likely, Christian Churches like to claim that they are "the only way to God' because it gives them power, authority and exclusivity. Human nature seems to get off on that. It makes them feel more special and meaningful. But once you broaden your mind and your perspective of religions, spirituality, life, the world and reality, you begin to see that these "only way" beliefs are not true. And you realize that God and the universe are much bigger than that. As the famous spiritual teacher and author Deepak Chopra said, "Once you define God, you limit God."
What all this means is that not only can you connect with God through different religions - as long as you are sincere of course - but you can connect with God even without a religion as well. Some connect with God through Nature, as the Native American tribes did. And some through meditation (which has been dubbed "listening to God" while prayer is "talking to God") or yoga. There are those that connect with divine inspiration through art, music and poetry. Others just have a general belief in God without religion. It's a personal choice. There's no one right way. Everyone interacts with the divine differently. As the late comedian George Carlin said, "Religion is like a pair of shoes. Find one that fits, but don't try to make me wear your shoes."
In fact, God may even have many faces, as Hindus believe. Hinduism is the only religion that is both polytheistic and monotheistic. It has many deities, but all these deities are considered different faces and facets of the same God, Brahma. So it is the most complex religion that has God as multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, beyond human understanding. If this is true, then God is truly more complex than we can imagine, per the Chopra quote above.
So far, I've given a number of logical reasons above why if there's a God, he should be able to work through all religions, or no religion. In contrast, ask a Christian to give a logical reason why Jesus is the only way to God and they can't give one. All they can say is "because the Bible says so" which does NOT constitute a logical reason.
3. The original teachings or sayings of Jesus were likely reshaped, reformed, influenced and corrupted many times by various sources, entities and time periods - the Church, the Roman Empire and others - for power and political purposes. Thus the version of Jesus' teachings that we have today in orthodox Christian churches is likely not what the historical Jesus taught. (This is assuming that he existed of course, which is not 100 percent certain, but that's another subject.) All the best religious history scholars have come to this conclusion. If you study the history of Christianity extensively, it becomes obvious and most logical as well. Christianity has been twisted, reshaped, reformed, influenced and upgraded multiple times at various levels, during the last 2,000 years, by the following:
- The early Christians of the first 300 years.
- The Apostle Paul, who taught things that contradicted Jesus' teachings and spread his version of the Gospel.
- The authors and translators of the Bible, of which there are many, some of which are unknown, hence the many variations of each Bible book.
- The Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicea which established official Christian doctrine and decided which books were to be canonized.
- The Catholic Church throughout the Middle Ages for nearly a thousand years, which ruled Europe and controlled the monarchies, and no doubt had a lot of power and politics behind it.
- The Protestant Churches during the Renaissance and up to this day, which shaped Western culture and values.
- Modern Christian denominations today, of which there are hundreds of.
- Western and European cultures and values that influenced the Christian religion.
So you see, a lot can change in a message or religion over the course of 2,000 years, during which it's been reshaped and reformed, and probably corrupted by power and politics as well. Especially when a Roman Emperor and a big organizational Church like the Catholic Church were involved. That's why you have so many different variations of manuscripts for each Gospel and Bible book, and hundreds of different Christian denominations today.
Furthermore, once you study the history of Christianity with an unbiased mindset, you find that it's gone through a process of evolution in which its theology and doctrines have changed over time. Some examples:
* The early Christians did not even use a cross symbol until approximately 800 AD.
* The first three Gospels teach a simple salvation by works and doing good deeds, whereas the fourth Gospel, John, teaches a salvation by faith and atonement alone.
* The early church fathers such as Origen also taught reincarnation, which is supported by some NT verses too, but it was eventually thrown out to give the church more power over the souls of its followers.
* Jesus said his teachings were for the Jews, which are his people, and that he came to fulfill the OT law. But Paul said that Christianity is for all Gentiles as well, and that Jesus made the OT law outdated and unnecessary. So even the Apostle Paul made changes to Christianity and molded it into its orthodox form.
* During the Reformation started by Martin Luther of course, Christianity went through a big change which split Christiandom in two. Then the establishment of the Eastern Orthodox Church split the Catholic Church up even further. And today we have hundreds of denominations, all with different interpretations of the Bible.
So it is not true that the teachings of Jesus and his disciplines are the same 2,000 years ago as it is today. That's what Christians and their Churches claim to give their beliefs validity and authority, but any study of history shows that to be obviously wrong. All of the best Bible scholars and historians, including those of the Jesus Seminar, have concluded what I've told you above.
4. The Bible and other religious texts, even if divinely inspired, were still written by the hands of HUMANS and are therefore imperfect, since humans are imperfect, and are also a mix of good and bad things, just as humans are. This is obvious logic. And it applies to anything written by humans. Something created or written by humans will be subjected to human bias, opinions, interpretations, agendas, delusions, and of course politics. Therefore, it is tainted and imperfect. There's no way around this. So it would be a very logical decision to drop this fundamentalist notion of "Biblical inerrancy".
In fact, even the Bible itself does not claim to be flawless or inerrant. The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy was created by the Church in the 19th Century to counteract the teaching of evolution in schools and orthodox science. It was an attempt to regain authority. And the reason it exists is for survival purposes. Just as no government can allow its citizens to "pick and choose" which laws it wants to obey, so too must the Christian Church claim that its Bible, doctrines and dogmas are authoritative and constitute divine law, and therefore cannot be subject to "picking and choosing" what you want to believe. That's why Christian evangelists and fundamentalists claim that you have to accept all of the Bible or none of it, and that you have to either accept all the tenets of Christianity, or none of it. Hence their black and white extreme thinking.
Therefore, once you accept that the Bible is imperfect, and contains mistakes, truths and lies, facts and myths, wisdom and follies, good and bad stuff, helpful teachings as well as dangerous teachings, etc. then you will have a lot easier time dealing with its many contradictions and discrepancies (and yes there are many, no matter how much Christians try to deny it). Because you will not be trying to demand perfection from it any longer, instead you will accept the obvious truth.
Just from reading the Bible itself, you can see how its theology and stories have changed and evolved within itself. For example:
* The concept of the afterlife isn't in the Old Testament, and the resurrection isn't even mentioned until the book of Daniel, when the Israelites were living with the Persians, whose religion of Zoroastrianism which contained the concept of heaven and hell. Only then was the idea adopted into the Bible.
* Also, Satan and Lucifer are not even portrayed as evil or the devil in the Old Testament, only in the New Testament. Satan merely means "the opposer" and Lucifer means "bringer of light".
* And the Old Testament predicted a political messiah, one that would be a great warrior king and make Israel the master of the world, not a spiritual messiah that would die on the cross to redeem mankind's sins, as the New Testament claims.
So you see, the Bible does not teach one fixed message or theology throughout, as Christians would have you believe. It taught different things that evolved over the time it was written. Thus religious scriptures are definitely not perfect. Like anything else, they contains good and bad things, truths and lies, wisdom and myths, exaggerations, inaccuracies and mistakes, etc. It's your job to use your wisdom to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff, and that goes for any religion or book or teaching. There is no 100 percent truth on a silver platter. (unless of course, you put my writings on a silver platter )
In fact, virtually every system or work produced by humans has a mixture of good and bad in it, as well as truths and falsities. This not only applies to religion and the Bible, and other religious texts, but to literature, philosophy, New Age books, self-help/self-improvement books, political systems (democracy, socialism, capitalism), etc. Anything humans create is going to be a mix of good and bad, truth and lies, facts and myths, etc. because that's how humans are. We are all a mixture of opposites, as depicted in the Chinese Ying Yang symbol. So what we produce will contain a mixture of opposites as well, in various forms. If you understand this, you will no longer expect or demand perfection or absolute truth or consistency from any religion, book, person, philosophy or political system.
In the treatise "Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine - one of the founding fathers of America who incited the American Revolution with his pamphlet "Common Sense" - Paine explains what the "true word of God" should be, which makes the most sense.
But some, perhaps, will say: Are we to have no word of God — no revelation? I answer, Yes; there is a word of God; there is a revelation.
THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD and it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.
It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a word of God can unite. The Creation speaketh an universal language, independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they may be. It is an ever-existing original, which every man can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.
Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of the Creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible whole is governed! Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not the book called the Scripture, which any human hand might make, but the Scripture called the Creation.
5. If there is a God or Creator, then there are probably multiple creators and gods, not just one. Think about this simple analogy: A building is not usually built by one person, but by a team of people. Likewise a virtual reality world is not usually designed by one person, but by a team of designers. Therefore it logically follows then that this universe or this world, was created by a team of creators or designers, not just one. It's simple logic, and more likely true than not.Almost the only parts in the book called the Bible that convey to us any idea of God, are some chapters in Job and the 19th Psalm; I recollect no other. Those parts are true deistical compositions, for they treat of the Deity through his works. They take the book of Creation as the word of God, they refer to no other book, and all the inferences they make are drawn from that volume.
In our world, we see more than one of every living thing. This applies to animals, plants, trees, insects, marine life, fungi, bacteria, and humans. So why can't there be more than one God or deity too? Why can't there be a family of deities, including parents of the gods, as depicted in Greek and Roman mythology? (e.g. Zeus was the son of Chronos) It would logically follow.
Therefore, there being more than one deity, or a race or society of deities, would make more sense. There is no logical reason to suppose that there can only be one God or one deity or one creator. There are no logical arguments that I know of to support that. People just assume it because the Churches and Christian religion says so. Just because something or someone "says so" is not a logical argument.
Moreover, consider that all ancient cultures were polytheistic. Monotheism is a relatively recent phenomena. According to religious historians and scholars, monotheism began with the rebel Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who forced monotheism onto Egypt and angered the priestly establishment and people, and was thus eventually overthrown and banished. Before that, all cultures were polytheistic and believed in multiple deities. Even the ancient Jews and Israelites were polytheistic, contrary to what people might think. See here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-t ... 77340.htmlThe origins of Judaism lie in the Bronze Age polytheistic Ancient Semitic religions, specifically Canaanite religion, a syncretization with elements of Babylonian religion and of the worship of Yahweh reflected in the early prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible.
So if all the earliest religions of the world were polytheistic, then as a rule of thumb, if something is older and more original, it's more likely to be closer to the TRUTH and more accurate.the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 indicates that Yahweh was believed to have been one of the children of the Canaanite deity El Elyon (God Most High). The song describes how the nations were originally formed, and what it says is that the peoples of the earth were divided up according to the number of El Elyon’s children (the junior members of the divine pantheon). Yahweh, Israel’s patron deity, was one of Elyon’s children.
The best evidence suggests that Yahweh did not begin as the “only true God” of later Jewish monotheism; he did not begin as the creator of the world. Yahweh began as a young, up-and-coming tribal deity whose prowess among other gods mirrored Israel’s aspirations vis-a-vis surrounding tribes and nations.
There are also passages in the Bible that suggest a plurality of Gods. For example, in the Old Testament, the first of the Ten Commandments that says, "Thou shall have no other Gods before me" is not saying that there are no other gods, only that the Israelites should not worship others gods. This implies that other gods exist, for if they didn't, why would this commandment even mention it? Furthermore, in Genesis when God was creating the world, he said, "Let US make man in OUR image" and then later after Adam and Eve fell from eating the fruit off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God approached them and upon finding out what happened, said, "Behold, man has become like US, knowing good and evil."
Of all the religions, Hinduism is the only one that is both polytheistic and monotheistic. It features many deities, but all the deities are faces of the same God, Brahma. This signifies that God is very multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, possessing many different personalities. Why not? Isn't God supposed to be able to do anything, including that which is beyond human comprehension? If this is true, then God may be more complex than we can imagine. So it's possible that multiple deities may be aspects of one deity. Perhaps it doesn't really matter, because in the higher realms of existence, such numbers as "one vs many" have no significance the way it does in our 3 dimensional universe. It could be that in higher realms, different laws apply that we cannot fathom with our linear minds. After all, our minds were designed and adapted to understand things in the physical universe, not higher realms or dimensions. So we must be humble and not pretend that we can know everything there is to know, or assume that everything can be measured in a laboratory, including higher dimensions of reality.
6. Pure truth does not come on a silver platter or in a package, it's a search one has to dig for. (unless you put my writings on a silver platter of course, just kidding) Truth does not come in a ready made package like fast food. No. It's something you have to dig for. It's a search, a process. Consider this: When you buy a package at a fast food restaurant, is the food in it 100 percent pure, natural, wholesome and healthy? Of course not. We all know it contains artificial ingredients and preservatives, as well as flavor enhancers to make it taste good and look good. As such it may contain some nutrition, but it contains unhealthy stuff too.
Well it's the same with the "truth package" you get from organized religions, including Christianity. The gospel you get may contain truth and wisdom, and "food for your soul" as well. But it will be tainted by the religion's politics and power as well. And it will have been influenced by the culture it evolved from. So it will not be pure absolute truth. Also, it will narrow your mind as well, because strong rigid beliefs will edit your reality and put a filter on the information your brain processes. So your mind will become closed and locked into a circular belief system, which is what happens when you take literally the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity.
Therefore, if you seek pure truth, you gotta dig for it. You gotta separate the wheat from the chaff. You gotta use your wisdom to sort it all out. It's a process, and a long one too, for truth has layers as well. You may discover truths in one layer, but then when you dig deeper, you find other truths beneath it. It's a process and journey for sure, so you better enjoy it, otherwise you might as well live a simpler life where you don't have to think too much.
Now, just because religion and Christianity are not perfect, does not mean they don't have value. Of course they do. They help people get through the day, give their lives meaning and purpose, and a moral foundation. They help give people comfort, protection and guidance, and occasionally miracles as well. Religion provides "food for people's souls" just as fast food chains provide food for people to eat. This applies to churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues. They all serve a purpose and provide value and benefit to people, otherwise they would not exist.
However, that doesn't mean they are perfect or provide absolute inerrant truth that cannot be questioned. Nor does it mean that one religion is "the only way" and all others are false or deceptions of the devil. A little religion may be good for you. It's only when you take it too literally and become a fanatic, does it become extreme and warp your mind, and close up your mind really fast.
Now just because some people need religion, doesn't mean everybody does, as a Christian evangelist would claim. Likewise, just because some people, such as Atheists, do not need religion, does not mean that no one ought to either. Both extremes are wrong. The truth is that some people need it and others don't. Also, not everyone needs the same religion. There is no one religion that is right for everyone, including Christianity. So just because one religion works for you, doesn't mean it will work for everyone. As the late comedian George Carlin said, "Religion is like a pair of shoes. Find one that fits, but don't try to make me wear your shoes."
Let me give you an example of layers of truth:
Christianity: The first layer of truth will be the common version, that Jesus came to die for your sins and by believing in him and accepting him, you will be saved and reconciled with God and go to heaven. But if you dig deeper, you find that much of this religion was shaped by power, politics and culture of the Church and Roman government. And used perhaps for mass mind control too. As Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opium of the masses." That's the second layer. Next if you dig deeper, you find that Christianity is a mixture of Roman pagan worship mixed in with Egyptian and Babylonian motifs of a dying and rising savior. That would be the third layer of truth.
Then if you dig even deeper, you find that there is a system called "Astrotheology" behind Christianity that has to do with Sun worship and Astrology (Google the term "Astrotheology" for more info or search for videos about it on YouTube if you want to learn more). Astrotheology explains much of the Bible, including numbers and symbols in it, such as the 12 disciples, origin of Christmas, Resurrection of Jesus, fish symbol of Jesus, golden bull of the Israelites under Moses, etc.
Anyway, I hope these logical conclusions above open and broaden your mind, so that you see that reality and truth are not so narrow or black and white as people have tried to make them out to be. God and the universe are much bigger than that. Once you realize that and see the larger view of things, you will stop seeking absolute truth in religion, or expecting God to be perfect or taking the Bible literally. Hence you will no longer be so confused. I hope all this brings you peace of mind and a more evolved mature understanding of religion, and life in general.
Thanks for reading. If you are interested in understanding the meaning of religions further, or seek spiritual truths beyond religion, I recommend the following books and authors who have synthesized many major religions and occult systems around the world, as well as ancient mysteries and histories, into their works and teachings. Now I'm not asking you to believe everything these people say or write, since some of what they say may be "out there". But they are very accomplished in the quest of spiritual truth seeking and therefore their works and teachings should be studied and considered at least. You can find copies their works online by Googling them or getting them from Amazon.com.
* "The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell. Campbell was considered the leading world expert on mythology and studied religious stories and motifs all his life from all over the world. He found meaning, wisdom and power in all religions and mythologies, and thus was a great expert on connecting and synthesizing them. PBS filmed interviews of Mr. Campbell with Bill Moyers. George Lucas was a student of Campbell and used his mythological motifs in his Star Wars films too.
* "The Secret Teachings of All Ages" by Manly Palmer Hall, who is considered the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century. In the early 1900's, Hall traveled around the world and learned about many religions, occult knowledge and esoteric teachings. He founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles in the 1934, which still exists today and hosts an impressive library. In his life, he wrote 150 books and essays and gave 8,000 public lectures on philosophy and many other subjects. Hall was made an honorary 33rd degree Freemason by the Masonic lodges of America for his vast superb work in interpreting the history and meaning of Freemasonry symbols. His book mentioned above is his magnus opus, published in 1928 when Hall was only 27 years old. It is an encyclopedic synthesis of esoteric occult knowledge, symbolism, religion, mystical teachings, ancient histories and mysteries, secret societies, metaphysics, etc. It's a must read for all truth seekers and spiritual searchers.
* "The Secret Doctrine" and "Isis Unveiled" by Madame Helena Petrova Blavatsky. Blavatsky was a Russian woman who lived in the 1800's. She's probably the greatest female philosopher that ever lived. When she was 18, she began traveling the world to escape the rut of a boring marriage or servitude and routine. She went to India and Tibet to study spiritual truths with the adepts there. After 10 years, she went to Europe and then America to establish herself as a renowned medium and hold seances. She eventually founded Theosophy and the Theosophical Society and won the admiration of many aristocrats, who joined her new group. One of her proteges was the renowned Indian sage Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Late in life, Blavatsky began writing books synthesizing all that she learned. She was the first person in history to synthesize science, religion, philosophy, history, the occult and esoteric teachings together into her masterpiece works. Her two biggest volumes are "The Secret Doctrine" and "Isis Unveiled". She has also been dubbed "The mother of the New Age movement" since her works and teachings led to a revolution in spirituality in the Western World that incited the New Age spirituality movement of the 20th Century. Manly P Hall was a great admirer of hers and gained a lot of his knowledge from her. So like Hall, her works are a must read for all truth seekers and spiritual seekers as well.
By the way, there is an Irish philosopher and deep thinker named Darryl Sloan who has expressed his struggle with the paradoxes of Christianity better than anyone I've ever seen, in his videos and books. Anyone struggling with Christianity out there will relate to him very well. You can get his books on his website at http://www.darrylsloan.com and see his YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/darrylsloan