The Cult of Christ and on Becoming Thinkers

Christians will often take offense when one draws valid comparisons between their religion (Christianity) and cults. But the truth of the matter remains, at the very center of Christian faith are the teachings of a radical cult leader. Jesus taught what most cult leaders typically do—he told his followers to give up their possessions and do as he did. He instructed his acolytes to abandon their families and follow him on nothing more than a whim. Furthermore, he asked them to forsake their individuality for the brotherhood, and he told them, as cult leaders often do, that the end of the world was nigh. Then, in the true spirit of the cultist, Jesus had himself untimely killed. 

The Christian’s ears should burn with Christ’s command to follow him and do as he did, since his life met with a gruesome and untimely demise. Oblivion, if you will. A common characteristic, I think you’ll find, among death cults both past and present. But alas, Christians like to say “He died for us,” so that they should not have to follow their apocalyptic cult leader to the grave. Which is another trait typical of death cults; they need to be radically revised and/or reinterpreted if there is going to be anyone left to follow them. Christianity was reinterpreted in just such a way, i.e., to be about spiritual sacrifice via vicarious redemption instead of physical sacrifice dictated by the old Mosaic laws. As such, Christianity was able to transcend its own limitations as a cult, by offering spiritual redemption and the promise of an afterlife, an incentive for those who would continue to carry on the tradition of the cult, and this in turn was translated and rendered as the metaphorical form of salvation. Thus the cultism of Christianity grew and spread until it grew big enough to become the world’s dominant religion.

But just because Christianity is the dominant religion doesn't necessarily mean it is a worthy or even very good belief system. But in order to realize this one must first step away from the cult and look at it from the outside on in, as the skeptic does, and only then will it become clear that Christianity offers the same promises as any other cult--transcendence. But only if you pay the price by giving yourself over. This is why those freethinkers like myself so adamantly oppose such propositions. To give into them is to become a slave and throw your life away, not for a worthy cause mind you, but for a false promise. Sacrificing yourself in the name of God, whether spiritual or literal, is not a worthy cause. It is to act upon a false promise; either out of fear for punishment or selfish desire for reward. It is a hollow and bankrupt belief. 

If Jesus had realized this he would not have gladly marched off to the grave on the misguided assumption that his deepest faith, it too predicated on a false promise, was in someway true. But this is the final feature of any cult. It's propensity to convince the seeker that they have found the truth they were searching for. This is done because, as a believer one is promised every belief of theirs will be revealed as true upon paying the price of membership. 

Jesus offered many teachings in his lifetime, but at their core they amounted to little more than an exercise in dressing up false promises and making them attractive enough that you might be seduced into buying into them. Everything he offered came at a god awful price though, and never for free. The cost was your soul, your submission, and you could only gain his promised rewards, such as redemption and salvation in an eternal afterlife, only if you blindly followed him--Jesus Christ--a man without a cause. A man whose teachings directly reflected his morbid belief that the world would end tomorrow and so found nothing of value in the whole of it. 

Christians say Christ died selflessly, but there is nothing selfless in vicarious redemption, because it strips us of all responsibility. It is to deny us the choice to learn based upon correcting for past mistakes. It is to say we are incapable of earning salvation on our own and so sets up a false dichotomy stating we only have one of two choices--salvation from God or eternal damnation courtesy of the same God. A good critical thinker would not be fooled by such a sham. Besides this, Christ having forsook the world resembles more the nihilist than the selfless martyr. Perhaps this realization is what prompted Nietzsche to quip that Christianity is just another form of nihilism.

Christianity asks you to forsake the world and your life for the promise of something eternal, better, yet always just beyond our reach and understanding. For this reason Christianity can never offer more than false promises and fleeting hopes, and so real truth and meaning cannot be expected to be found within its teachings. Unyielding belief in the tenets of Christian faith only yields bitter disappointment. If Christianity is true, then you have to graciously accept death's invitation in order to know it, and I cannot think of a more nihilistic promise than that.

Personally, I prefer to be a thinker to a believer, and the only thing I rightfully seek is knowledge. I say this with one small caveat, I do not seek knowledge based on any promise that it will somehow make me a better person or enlighten me in some small way, although I hope it will. Truth be known, although I value truth I am in no way expecting to discover ultimate truth. I simply wish to know more because I have consider the alternative, which is ignorance, and find there cause enough to desire better knowledge over this dire alternative. Contrary to popular opinion, ignorance is not bliss--it is oblivion. This is why I choose to be a thinker, not a believer. 

When I was a believer, I accepted certain beliefs without question. It is simply what one does when they practice faith based belief. Now that I have become a thinker I hold all my beliefs up to scrutiny--always being mindful as to any changes in the evidence the belief is predicated on--so that I may correct my beliefs whenever they prove to be faulty or unnecessary. Beliefs which prove to be erroneous will get discarded. This quaint practice has helped me make sense of the world by casting everything in a new light. Instead of taking things on faith anymore, I question everything, and then I think it through. Sure, it's easier to not question, to simply believe. But one does not make sense of their beliefs by simply holding onto them like precious marbles. No, I'm afraid thinking requires some real effort, work, and none of it easy at that. Perhaps Bertrand Russell wasn't wrong when he quipped that people would rather die than think, and most of them do.

Making sense of world lends to better truths, I find. It is in the assessment of our collected knowledge where we gain a better understanding which, in turn, can open our minds to the universe. There is no need to feel compelled to rely on God for understanding, because such understanding will never come. It is wrong to assume  God will share with you his wisdom simply because. There is no reason to presume God even wants you to understand his creation, should he exist. Rather, God is entirely a creature born of our ignorance--from the dawn of our species when we had so many questions but no way in finding any real answers--so we imprinted the world with the patterns of our psyche and called it God. 

The human race has come a long way since our sentient awakening. Now we have science. Technology has aided us in surpassing our limitations, and we continue to improve and hone our knowledge with each scientific advancement. The realm of religious faith has nowhere provided as much in the way of progress as science has, and this is why the nostalgia for religion is imprudent. There is nothing to be gained in turning back. We must keep moving forward--toward progress.  

In the end, it is my firm opinion that it's simply not enough to believe. Be thinkers--and then--and only then--will you become free to write your own destinies.


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