Category Archives: Acts

Frantic disembowelment


Judas Iscariot was one of the original Twelve Disciples. He betrayed Jesus to the Jewish religious authorities for the sum of thirty pieces of silver.

We all know what happened next. Jesus was crucified. But what happened to Judas?

The New Testament has two quite different accounts.

Here is what happened according to the author of the Gospel of Matthew.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. (NIV)

Here is what happened according to the author of the Gospel of Luke.

With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. (NIV)

Two quite different and seemingly contradictory accounts.

Big problem for the biblical inerrantists! They’ve got some explaining to do.

There are two possible ways to reconcile the verses:

  1. Luke’s purpose in Acts may have been simply to report what Peter said at a point in time when the apostles’ information on Judas’s death may well have been sketchy. After some of the Temple priests converted (cf. Acts 6:7), they may have given further details on Judas’s death that were later incorporated into the Gospel accounts.
  2. It is also possible that after Judas hanged himself the rope broke and he fell onto rocks that disemboweled him postmortem. Matthew’s emphasis then would have been Judas’s actions in taking his own life, while Peter’s emphasis was on what happened to him after his suicide.

That’s according to Catholic Answers. According to Luke Historians, Judas hung himself.

Whoever happened to suffer that bizarre disemboweling experience, it most likely wasn’t Judas Iscariot.

Inerrantists rightly point out that there is no logical contradiction between the two accounts of Judas’s death. The two can be harmonised and the traditional resolution of the seeming contradiction is a combined account, according to which “Judas hanged himself in the field, and the rope eventually snapped and the fall burst his body open.” Or perhaps the noose tightened on the corpse’s rotting neck, severing the head (which then “fell headlong”) from the body (which upon hitting the ground “burst open and all his intestines spilled out”).

Cool story. But hardly plausible.

Of course, the obvious explanation is that at least one account of Judas’s death has been embellished or entirely fabricated. But this obvious explanation isn’t available to the biblical inerrantist, who must do whatever is necessary to force-fit the recalcitrant facts to preserve intact the doctrine that the Bible “is without error or fault in all its teaching” or, at least, that “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.”

Nothing wrong with a bit of ad hockery, or is there? There’s a lot wrong with a lot of ad hockery, and the simple fact of the matter is that the Bible is a mass of apparent contradictions and assorted anomalies.

I’ll be blunt. There’s a fine line between ad hockery and intellectual dishonesty, and biblical inerrantists are way over on the wrong side of it. (What if I told you all those Bible contradictions are there for a reason?)

So how did Judas really die? Disembowelment, of course. Keep it metal! 🙂

Who rolled away the stone?

I missed the deadline for an Easter Sunday blog post, partly because, unlike Jesus, I’m not an early riser, and partly because I got a bit carried away studying scripture. I might have to lay off the Bible study for a while, because I’m starting to see things that aren’t really there. Or are they? Incipient psychosis or hidden meanings in scripture?

Notwithstanding the foolishness of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, would it really come as a surprise to learn that the Bible is an integrated message system, the product of supernatural engineering?

So I was listening to my favourite metal band, Slayer. In particular I was listening to my favourite track on their Christ Illusion album, Skeleton Christ. And reading the lyrics. And I got to wondering, is Slayer, in fact, a crypto-Christian band and their lyrics also the product of supernatural engineering?

Psychosis. That’s what you’re thinking. But bear with me. The idea is not as crazy as it might at first seem. A strong case can be made that the band who gave birth to the entire heavy metal genre, Black Sabbath, was the first Christian rock band. If Black Sabbath is a crypto-Christian band, then why not too the undisputed (by me) masters of the genre, Slayer?


Here’s a verse from the Second Epistle of John.

many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (NIV)

And here’s an excerpt from the lyrics to Skeleton Christ.

You’ll never touch God’s hand
You’ll never taste God’s breath
Because you’ll never see the Second Coming
It’s all a fuckin’ mockery
No grasp upon reality
It’s mind control for compulsory religion
And the Skeleton Christ

What if this song is not the attack on Christianity it superficially appears to be, but an attack on corrupt organised religion (“mind control for compulsory religion”) and the false gospel of the antichrist and those he’s deceived into worshipping a false Skeleton Christ? A skeleton, you see, is not “coming in the flesh”, it’s all dead bones, such as you might find in a whited sepulchre. It’s worth a thought, don’t you think? Feel free to take it cum grano salis.

Speaking of sepulchres, back to the main story.

I got to pondering the symbolism of stone in the Bible, and found this verse.

Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ (NIV)

You see where I’m going with this? Jesus is the stone. It’s no wonder the women couldn’t find Jesus in the tomb. He’d been rolled away! But by whom?

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. (NIV)

Please understand that I do not deny that it was “an angel of the Lord came down from heaven” who rolled away the stone. That is the plain meaning of this passage from the Gospel of Matthew.

But please do consider the possible hidden meaning in the possible alternative scenario I’m sketching.

Who would roll Jesus out of the way, so that his own disciples couldn’t find him, finding instead a decaying soon-to-be-Skeleton Christ? One of the Devil’s angels, for sure, if not the Devil himself.

Here are a couple of clues.

[Jesus] replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (NIV)

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (NIV)

The angel’s appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow … like an angel of light or, indeed, Jesus himself transfigured. And, in a final coup de disgrâce, the angel then sits on the stone, making the Devil’s most feared enemy a buttstool for his sulfurous butt.

It’s a complete inversion of Bible truth. Which is, of course, the Devil’s calling card.

Beware of false prophets and false messiahs. And the Skeleton Christ.

Give me Communism, or give me Death!


Article twelve of the 1936 Soviet Constitution states

In the USSR work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”

It disturbs me that according to Lenin, “He who does not work shall not eat” is a necessary principle under socialism (the preliminary phase of the evolution towards communist society, according to Marx).

It disturbs me because under New Zealand socialism the exact opposite is true, “He who does not work shall eat”. Will the real socialism please stand up?

It disturbs me more that this aphorism is taken directly from Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (KJV)

But there it is in Article 12 of Chapter 1 of the 1936 Soviet Constitution. 🙁

What does the Bible say about communism?

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you[a] sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (ESV)

Now I’m not suggesting that this passage from the Acts of the Apostles endorses communism as we know it. But it certainly describes communism of a sort. There’s no escaping the fact that the first Christians were commies!

I’m also not suggesting that comrades Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for being insufficiently communistic. They died because they lied.

What I am suggesting is that this passage confirms the theory of property rights according to which property rights are conventional.

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (ESV)

Luke says that “no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own” so it might almost seem that the Apostles were maintaining a contradiction. Of course, any of the things that belong to you are yours! But I think that two conventions are being alluded to in this passage. The prevailing convention in society at large, that of private property, and the convention in force amongst the Apostles, that of communal property.

So the question arises, were Ananias and Sapphira thieves or misers? Did the proceeds of the sale immediately fall to the collective, such that in keeping back some of the proceeds of the sale Ananias and Sapphira were guilty of theft of communal property? Or did they proceeds of the sale fall to Ananias in the interim, and in keeping back some of the proceeds he (and his wife, who was party) were guilty instead of being mean and selfish and breaking an accord?

What does the Bible say about drug dealing?


There’s nothing wrong with responsible drug dealing. It’s an honest trade.

Some of my best friends are drug dealers. 🙂

But what does the Bible say about drug dealing? I thought I’d briefly research the question … but I quickly realised that briefly researching what the Bible says about drug dealing is not a live option!

There’s a school of thought according to which the sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, in penalty for which they and their cities were destroyed, included drug dealing and drug-fuelled debauchery. The same school of thought has it that the so-called sorcery that Paul the Apostle rails against several times in his Epistles is actually drug dealing. Supposedly, ‘sorcery’ is a mistranslation of the Greek word, pharmakeia. That makes sense, because it’s the same Greek word from which we get the English words pharmacy, pharmacist, pharmaceutical, pharmacopeia, etc. And, apparently, the Bible mentions two drug dealers by name. (They’re Simon and Elymas, mentioned in Acts 8 and Acts 13 respectively.)

I’m not going to get into this debate. (I found a lengthy discussion here for those interested.)

Anyway, there’s an alternative to the strictly scholarly approach to studying the Bible on any given issue, and that’s the prayerful approach. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to me about drug dealing!

This leapt off the page at me the first time I read it. (I’m baffled as to why I haven’t seen this particular verse mentioned in any of the discussion forums I briefly perused.)

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (NIV)

I think what Jesus is teaching here is actually something akin to our modern-day notion of host responsibility. (Notwithstanding that stunt he pulled at the Wedding at Cana.)

Sometimes drugs do cause people to stumble. (Alcohol, literally so.) They’re notorious for it. The plain fact of the matter is that some people can’t handle drugs, that’s why we have reality. And Jesus is here issuing a warning to drug dealers. Be very careful whom you deal drugs to. Best restrict your customer base to responsible adults, whom you trust not to get themselves—and, thereby, you—into trouble.


Why this post, at this time?

Because I’ve just downloaded a consultation document on the Psychoactive Substances Regulations and am about to fill a submission form (on behalf of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party) as should anyone who wants to have a say on the development of the Psychoactive Substances Regulations as prescribed by the Psychoactive Substances Act.

The Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority is seeking

input from interested parties into the development of regulations to support the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 (the Act) which came into force on 18 July 2013.

The Psychoactive Substances Regulations will provide the operational detail on how the Act will work.

Once in force, regulations will end the interim provisions of the part of the Act to which they apply, bringing the full regime into effect. This paper consults on proposals for regulations relating to licensing, product approval processes, labelling and packaging details, place of sale and advertising, and fees and levies.

It’s an exercise in mitigating evil. Evil because regulations are actually prohibitive—if government defines the one way they will allow something they are really prohibiting all other ways.

The time is now to tell the government what the one way they will allow something should be.

Here are the leading questions to which Peter Dunne, the prohibitionist wolf in sheep’s clothing, is seeking answers.

  1. Is the list of proposed information requirements for licence applications comprehensive enough? If not, what else should be required, and why?
  2. Should retail licence applications be accompanied by evidence of compliance with a local approved products policy if one is in effect in the applicant’s area?
  3. Should retail licence applications be accompanied by evidence of compliance with a generic local approved products policy if no policy is in effect in the applicant’s area?
  4. Are the factors the Authority should take into account when determining whether a licence applicant is a fit and proper person or whether a body corporate is of good repute in section 16(2) enough? The section 16(2) factors are:
    • whether the applicant has been convicted of a relevant offence
    • whether there has been a serious or repeated failure by the applicant to comply with any requirement of the Act
    • whether there are other grounds for considering that the applicant is likely to fail to comply with any requirement of the Act
    • any other matter that the Authority considers relevant.

    If you think these factors are not enough, please give examples of additional factors the Authority should consider.

  5. Should the regulations require applicants to provide details of their involvement in other regulatory regimes, such as alcohol licensing processes?
  6. What records should the regulations require licence holders to keep?
  7. How long should licence holders be required to keep records for?
  8. Do you think there are factors or issues that the Authority should consider when setting discretionary conditions? If so, please provide details.
  9. Should the regulations prescribe other matters the Authority must take into account when deciding on an application? If yes, what should these matters be?
  10. Do you agree a product approval application should include information on proposed manufacturing methods and how they will comply with the Psychoactive Substances Code of Manufacturing Practice?
  11. Do you think any further particulars, information, documents or other material should be prescribed in the regulations? If yes, what should these be?
  12. Do you agree with the proposal that the regulations require applications to contain information and data on the toxicity, pharmacology and related clinical effects of the psychoactive substance they are seeking approval for?
  13. Do you agree with the proposal that the regulations require product approval applications to contain information and data on:
    • the psychoactive potential and related behavioural effects of the substance
    • the addictive potential
    • the proposed directions for use
    • previous use, including use in clinical trials and in the wider population?
  14. Are the proposed requirements and restrictions on labelling sufficient? If not, please make specific suggestions for further requirements and restrictions.
  15. Are the proposed requirements relating to health warnings sufficient? If not, please make specific suggestions for further requirements (for example, advice on what to do in the case of an overdose).
  16. Are the proposed packaging requirements and restrictions sufficient? If not, please make specific suggestions for further requirements.
  17. Do you agree with the proposal to restrict a packet to one dose? Please give reasons for your answer.
  18. Do you agree with the proposal that a dose, in whatever form the product takes, is split wherever possible?
  19. Do you think there should be restrictions on the form products can take? If so, what forms do you think should and shouldn’t be allowed?
  20. Do you think there should be restrictions or requirements on the storage of psychoactive substances? If so, what should the restrictions or requirements be?
  21. Do you think restrictions or requirements should be set for the storage of approved products? If so, what should they be?
  22. Do you think restrictions or requirements should be set regarding the display of approved products? If so, what should they be?
  23. Do you think restrictions or requirements should be set regarding the disposal of approved products? If so, what should they be?
  24. Do you think there should be signage requirements in the regulations? If so, please give specific suggestions.
  25. Do you think the regulations should specify further places where approved products may not be sold? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
  26. Do you think the regulations should prescribe restrictions or requirements for advertisements of approved products? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
  27. Do you think the regulations should prescribe restrictions or requirements on internet sales of approved products? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
  28. Do you think the regulations should prescribe restrictions or requirements on the advertising of approved products? If so, please provide specific suggestions.
  29. Do you agree with the proposed fees for the different licences? If not, please provide specific suggestions.
  30. Do you support a fixed fee or an hourly charge for processing applications for product approvals?
  31. Should fees be set for other specific functions? If yes, please state what they should be set for.
  32. Do you agree with the proposed list of items and process for setting levies? If not, please provide specific suggestions.
  33. What have you been being smoking?

Submitters should be aware that the Psychoactive Substances Regulations adopted under the PSA will apply to cannabis if cannabis is removed from the schedules to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Removing cannabis from the MODA is the most probable path to legalising cannabis at this juncture. (But hell of a messy. The PSA approves products, not substances and certainly not plants. It would have to be rewritten to accommodate cannabis.)

All other drugs not classified as either foods or medicines would also be subject to these regulations if the MODA is simply repealed. (Why the hell not? It’s well past time that the maximum penalty for committing a consenting act between adults—which is what drug dealing is—was downgraded from life imprisonment to something a little less draconian.)

Which direction is heaven?


Acts 1:9-12 Jesus Ascends to Heaven
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

What precisely happened when Jesus ascended?

Why did Jesus go up to get to heaven?

Is heaven closer or further than Kolob?

You will not be able to stop these men


Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Then Peter began to speak


“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (NIV)