The Cult within Christianity

Christianity’s Downfall Series – Part Three
(Read Part One and Part Two before continuing)The evangelist John of Patmos writes the Book of Revelation. Painting by Hieronymus Bosch (1505). 

So far in this series I have outlined the first immediate dangers of fundamentalism (strict literalism), as well as explained how to gain the most out of Biblical reading (by acknowledging symbolism, metaphors, and the like while respecting context). In this part of the series, I am going to point out two specific fundamentalist movements that are quite possibly the most dangerous in society today.

Before I begin, let me just say that I am not going to call out these ‘ministries’ by name, as my point is not to attack specific individuals or campaigns. Instead, I will focus on the nature of these movements and explain why they are simply missing the point with Christianity.

First, I want to focus on the religious groups which focus on segregation. What do I mean? Well, these types of groups are generally strict literalists that take it upon themselves to tell others why they are “going to hell”. The focus of these groups is to inform others of their sin in a malicious manner (key word: malicious) that Jesus would have never endorsed (although the Pharisees may have). Campaigns against homosexuals come to my mind when I speak about this issue. Extreme Fundamentalists (and yes, note that this is the extreme of extremes) in this country have become obsessed with stripping homosexuals of their humanity – and for what purpose? Self-righteousness? Seems like it; because it certainly isn’t a higher calling.

Unfortunately these individuals are missing the log in their own eye while attempting to take the speck out of their neighbor’s. Or how about: let he without sin cast the first stone. Are you getting my point here? The campaign of this kind of interpretation might be the most un-Christian I have ever seen. It creates walls instead of breaking them down; it neglects the teachings of Jesus the Messiah; it halts any kind of spiritual progression of the individuals preaching the message of hate. Note that this isn’t just limited to homosexuality. I used this example because it is the most prevalent in society as of late.

That being said, let’s move on to the biggest downfall in Christianity to date – the Christian groups that are utterly obsessed with the “End Times”, or, The Second Coming. Now, before you jump straight to the comment section to defend your beliefs, understand that not too long ago I was over my head in all the hype surrounding this kind of Christianity. In other words, I could not get enough of “discerning the signs” and I felt it was my job to tell people to be ready. Heck, I even read the entire LEFT BEHIND book series!

Well, I’ve changed (for the better).

Having this belief is perfectly fine, although as a word of caution, the concept can become intellectually addicting. Sadly, ministries with this focus miss the point of Jesus. Sure, He told us to be aware, but He also said that no one will know the Day nor the Hour! Fundamentalists that are bent on the Second Coming need to let that point sink in.

In the mean time, we have to grow in Christ. Yes, Paul preached about Jesus’ return (he thought it was going to be in his lifetime), but he spent more time teaching and progressing spiritually through Jesus.

Resurrection of the Dead. Based on Revelation 20:4-6. Stained glass, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, ca. 1200

These groups are not doing much for the Kingdom of God – they are not releasing the chains of death or guilt from humanity. No, instead they pray for a steadfast return of Christ…which we all know comes with death never seen before in this world. So, in essence, they are wishing for carnage on an immense level. This is similar to one Islamic sects belief in a 12th Imam returning to bring peace (but only after havoc never seen before in this world – following which he requires complete submission to Islam or else face gruesome death).

People obsessed with this theology certainly don’t demonstrate the compassion that Jesus preached. There is no love, none whatsoever. There is a sense of urgency in the Gospels, but there are greater lessons and teachings that lead humanity in the proper spiritual direction.

Is it important to know that Jesus will return? Yes. Is it right to obsess over it and make complete ministries to tell people that the world is at its end? Well, it certainly doesn’t correlate with the spiritual lessons from Jesus. Also, I should note that ever single generation (from the Christian perspective) has thought they were the last…perhaps we are, but why waste time over-analyzing the newspapers if no one will know the time or hour? (Not even Jesus knows, but only the Father in Heaven).

The two examples I discussed are like a poison to the faith.  The first preaches hate and superiority while the latter undermines the true teachings of Jesus.

That is all for this series. I suspect I’ll start a new one on some other topic in the future. In the mean time, enjoy the political and religious articles on this blog.

God Bless,

Justin

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12 Responses

  1. That’s a really fantastic (read great) post. I think you’re spot on.

    Something that I can’t figure out is the morbid obsession with end of times scenarios. I could understand it if it was simply a way of celebrating Jesus’ return but more often than not, it’s more than that. It’s almost an addiction, something sexual even. Maybe that’s not the best way of describing it but I hope you get what I’m trying to say 🙂

    The real problem we face is when people begin to interpret scripture in ways which promote a certain kind of ‘destruction’. Imagine for one moment that one believes the end of times will take place through a nuclear war. (Many do). That’s puts us in a very dangerous situation because far from people being scared of a nuclear holocaust, they might be tempted to embrace it. That’s all fine and dandy if you’re Joe Bloggs on the street but what if you hold a position of power? It could get very scary. I know of one Christian that believes nuclear disarmament is a useless cause because nuclear war is how the world will end. That’s not a comfortable position for any society to be in.

  2. So… you raise some interesting points, and agree with 98% of them (particularly the very un-biblical left behind series), but what is the solution? The problem is clear, but the solution, not so much so.

  3. I can appreciate your comments and views. One of the most dangerous things that we can do as Christians is to fall into the trap of thinking that we have it all figured out. In my experience, this is when we start losing our focus. A humble heart and an open mind can keep you away from the “you guys are going to hell” mentality. When we have a deep appreciation for and understanding that we were saved (in spite of ourselves), we tend to pass on good news, not condemnation. Jude said, “save some with fear…” So, there is a time and place for that; some things are just blatantly against God and his righteousness and we simply can’t stand for them. But to hate is something altogether different, and I think that is what you are talking about. We begin to hate others when we love ourself too much.

    Good blog.

    Check mine when you get a chance.
    http://www.fatkidrecords.com

  4. hi atheistperspective,
    thank you for your compliments. Personally, I believe that the reason end times ministries are so “seductive” is because people take comfort in knowledge, and in this case, it knowledge about the end of everything! (our biggest fear).

    Hi Brad,
    to be honest, I don’t know if there is “a” solution. I think the best place to start is with a little self-reflection. Jesus had a way of doing this with His teachings (making people look at, and change, themselves before others). There will always be people obsessed with end times (there have been since Jesus walked the earth), we just see it a lot more because of technological advances.

    Hi fatkidrecords,
    “we begin to hate others when we love ourselves too much”

    i like that line a lot!

  5. “One of the most dangerous things that we can do as Christians is to fall into the trap of thinking that we have it all figured out.”

    But isn’t that what you, as Christians, do? Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? You have a relationship with the creator of the universe and a book that tells you how it started and how he did it, scripture that tells you what is right, wrong and moral and, most importantly, you are enabled to be absolute in your beliefs.

    Granted I suppose that that might not go for those less literal amongst you but it still applies to a large extent.

    I guess the problem I have with Christianity is that the militant followers believe they have all the answers, and the more moderate, the answers to the most important questions. Both are dangerous. Both impede our species. But now I’m sounding militant 🙂

  6. […] from the Bible Archive addresses Justin’s “Christianty’s Downfall” series by answering a few of his earlier points with his post Dangerous […]

  7. Hrmm… I do think there is a solution. The left behind series, and pre-mil thinking like that, is definitely just a fad. It is already beginning to go away (or at least fade from it’s hype somewhat).

    In my experience, 95% of the problems, particularly with ANY kind of religious fundamentalism, are caused by adding to the bible or taking away from it. If we read scripture with a microscope and isolate individual verses out of context to prove a point, it is going to be disastrous. Conversely, when we say that the bible doesn’t say enough about ________, and add our own rules, regulations, and opinions, more disaster will result.

    I think that a gospel-faithful contextualization and application are the solution. The answer is there, but many fundamentalists (who, by definition are a fallacy if this is true) do not put real trust in that.

    Does that make any sense at all?

  8. atheistperspective,

    As far as having things figured out, you may have a point. While I agree with Justin that we should not claim that we (individually or corporately) have it all 100% figured out, I would heartily concede your point that Christians do claim to have all the answers.

    By that I mean that the bible DOES have all the answers. Yes, the bible is silent on some issues where there is a neutrality between options (in that going one way or another is neither good nor bad). But for those things that the bible does speak on, yes, I would say we claim to have those answers.

    This is the difference between objective and subjective truth claims. To claim that there is an objective truth that the bible itself contains, is NOT (or at least should not be) offensive as long as we verbalize it respectfully and in love. This presupposition that all belief must be personal and not in conflict with anyone else’s is a very new and postmodern trend.

    Jesus said that He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. Not a truth, a way, and a life.

    Paul also says:
    And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
    (I Corinthians 15:14)

    I wholeheartedly believe in the objectivity of those truth claims. It is neither dangerous, nor does it impede our species.

  9. Well if we’re reading The Bible literally and being objective, I guess you’d be within your rights to stone my daughter to death as she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night?

    You see, The Bible doesn’t have the answers, because we live in a time with a changing moral zeitgeist. We get into trouble the moment we start trusting The bible on matters of morality no matter how loving our intentions are.

  10. Justin,
    Well, finally I found something to disagree with. It’s kind of funny too.

    “Personally, I believe that the reason end times ministries are so “seductive” is because people take comfort in knowledge, and in this case, it knowledge about the end of everything! (Our biggest fear).”

    Actually those who do not believe fear that there is no end to everything. If there is an end to life there is no Hell.
    Everyone’s end times are close. Does it matter if the whole word ends, or that life ends for the individual? The result is the same for person.

  11. Justin,

    All of your readers share good points. I personally don’t believe as Christians we are supposed to have all the answers. No one does. Frankly, the antidote to all this is to focus on Christ not on each other! End Time believers are obsessed with having the last taunt as if we are children in a schoolyard duking it out with bullies. They want to be able to say to unbelievers, “I told you so!” I think it’s spiritual pride myself. It’s also spiritual pride to claim superiority over someone else in the righteousness department, as in the case of homosexuals. If it came down to it….a gay man or woman who fed the poor, clothed the poor, and helped the stranger will get into heaven before the Christian who beats his wife for not submitting. Jesus more or less said so (Mat 21:28-32). Spiritual pride (thinking you know what God wants or how He will act in history) is the worst sin in my book. All sins are results of the state of our hearts first and foremost.

  12. MOI,
    you make very good points. I especially like your comparison of a gay ‘good’ Christian and a straight anti-Christian. I can sense you feel the same as I do towards these types of (hateful?) ministries.

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