Myth 1: The soul is immortal
What is the origin of the myth? "the early Christian philosophers adopted the Greek concept of the soul's immortality and thought of the soul as being created by God and infused into the body at conception." - The New Encyclopedia Britannica 1988 Volume 11, page 25
What does the bible say? "The soul that sinneth, IT itself shall die." - Ezekiel 18:4 King James version.
Regarding the creation of the fist human soul, the bible says: "Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul." The Hebrew word for soul ne'phesh, means 'a creature that breathes." When God created the first man, He did not infuse into him an immortal soul but the life force that is maintained by breathing. Therefore, soul in the Biblical sense refers to the entire living being. If separated from the life force originally given by God, the soul dies. (Genesis 3:19, Ezekiel 18:20)
The doctrine of the immortality of the sould raised questions. Where do souls go after death? What happens to the souls of the wicked? WHen nominal Christians adopted the myth of the immortal soul, this led them to accept another myth- the teaching of hellfire.
Myth 2: The wicked suffer in hell
What is the origin of the myth? "Of all classical Greek philosophers, the one who has had the greatest influence on traditional views of hell is Plato." Histoire des enfers (The history of hell), by Georges Minois, page 50.
"From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms... the philosophy that suited them best was Platonism [the teachings of Plato]." the New Encyclopedia Britannica 1988, volume 25, page 890.
"The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer punishments of hell, 'eternal fire' The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God." Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994 edition, page 270.
What does the bible say? "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing... for there is no work or thought or kjnowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going." Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 Revised Standard Version.
The Hebrew word Sheol, which referred to the "abode of the dead," is translated "hell" in some versions of the bible. What does this passage reveal about the condition of the dead? Do they suffer in Sheol in order to atone for their errors? No, for they "know nothing." that is why the patriarch Job, when suffering terribly because of a severe illness, begged God: "Protect me in hell [Sheol]. Job 14:13 Douay-Rheims Version. What meaning would his request have had if Sheol was a place of eternal torment? Hell, in the biblical sense, is simply the common grave of mankind, where all activity has ceased. The "abode of the dead."
Is not this definition of hell more logical and in harmony with Scripture? What crime, however horrible, could cause a God of love to torture a person endlessly? But if hellfire is a myth, what about heaven?
Myth 3: All good people go to heaven
What is the origin of the myth? After the death of Jesus' apostles, by the beginning of the second century C.E., the early Church Fathers gained prominence. Describing their teachings, the New Catholic Encyclopedia 2003, volume 6, page 687 says: "The general stream of teaching was that heavenly bliss is granted to the disembodied soul immediately after whatever necessary purification follows death."
What does the bible say? "Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit THE EARTH." Matthew 5:5
Although Jesus promised his disciples that he would "prepare a place" for them in heaven, he indicated that the righteous do not automatically go there. (John 3:13; 14:2,3) Did he not pray that God's will take place "as in heaven, ALSO upon the earth"? In reality, one of two destinies await righteous. A minority will rule in heaven with Christ, but the majority will live forever on earth.- Revelation 5:10.
Over tiem the early church changed its view of its own role on the earth. With what result? "The insititutioal church increasingly replaced the expected kingdom of God," states The New Encyclopedia Britannica. The church began solidifying its power by becoming mixed up in politics, ignoring Jesus' explicit statements that his followers were to be "no part of this world." (John 15:19; 17:14-16; 18:36) Under the influence of the Roman emperor Constantine, the church compromised some of its beliefs, one of which involved the very nature of God.
Myth 4: God is a trinity
What is the origin of the myth? "The impression could arise that the Trinitarian dogma is in the last analysis a late 4th century invention. in a sense, this is true... The formulation 'one God in three Persons' was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life atd its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century.- New Catholic Encyclopedia 1967, volume 14, page 299.
"The council of Nicea met on May 20, 325 [C.E.]. Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed... the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, 'of one substance with the Father.' . . . Overawed by the emporor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination." Encyclopedia Britannica 1970, volume 6, page 386.
What does the bible say? "Stephen, filled with Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw he glory of God, and Jesus standing at God's right hand. 'Look! I can see heaven thrown open,' he said, 'and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.'" - Acts 7:55,56 The New Jerusalem Bible.
What did this vision reveal? Filled with Gods active force, Stephan saw Jesus "standing at Gods right hand." Clearly, then, Jesus did not become God again after his resurrection to heaven but, rather, a distinct spiritual being. There is no mention of a third person next to god in this account. Despite attempts to find passages of Scripture to support the trinity dogma, Dominican priest Marie-Emile Boismard wrote in his book A l'aube du christianisme- La naissance des dogmes (At the dawn of Christianity- The birth of Dogma): "The statement that there are three persons in the one God... cannot be read anywhere in the New Testament."
The dogma that Constantine championed was intended to put an end to dissensions wtihin the fourth-century Church. However, it actually raised another issue: Was Mary, the woman who bore Jesus, "the Mother of God"?
Myth 5: Mary is the mother of God
What is the origin of the myth? "Veneration of the mother of God received its impetus when... the pagan masses streamed into the church... Their piety and religious consciousness [that of the pagans converted to Christianity] had been formed for millenia through the cult of the 'great mother' goddess and the 'divine virgin.'" The New Encyclopedia Britannica 1988 volume 16, page 327.
What does the bible say? "You are to convieve in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. he will be great and will be called SON OF THE MOST HIGH... And so the child will be holy and will be called SON OF GOD." Luke 1:31-35 The New Jerusalem Bible.
That passage of the bible clearly states that Mary was the mother of the "Son of God," not of god himself. Could she have carried within herself the One whom 'the heavens themselves cannot contain? (1Kings 8:27) She never made such a claim. It is the teaching about the Trinity that has sown confusion over the identity of Mary. By proclaiming her Theotokos (a Greek word meaning 'God-bearer'), or "Mother of God," the Council of Ephesus, in 431 C.E., set the stage for Mary worship. The city of Ephesus where this church council was held had for centuries been at the heart of idol worship celebrating the fertility goddess Artemis.
So it was that many aspects of the worship of the image of Artemis that "fell from heaven," such as processions, were integrated into Mary worship. Another practice that crept into Christian teaching was the use of images of Mary and others in worship.
Myth 6: God approves of the use of images and icons in worship
What is the origin of the myth? "Images were unknown in the worship of the primitive Christians... The admission of images into the church in the 4th and 5th centuries was justified on the theory that the ignorant people could learn the facts of Christianity from them better then from sermons or books." Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, by McClintock and Strong, volume 4, pages 503 and 504.
What does the bible say? "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them." Exodus 20:4,5 The Holy Bible- New International Version. The Apostle John wrote to the first century Christians: "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21.
Are images, as the churches claim, simply a means of approaching and honoring what they represent? "At first," states The Encyclopedia of Religion, "images may have served primarily didactic [teaching] and decorative purposes; at least, they were defended on such grounds. but soon they came to fill admittedly devotional functions. This was especially true of the icons that became a prominent feature of Eastern Orthodoxy." However, the prophet Isaiah rightly asked, "To whom can you compare God? What image can you contrive of him?" Isaiah 40: 18 The New Jerusalem Bible.