3/18/2011 | Share this article:By Agnosticator ~
It can easily be argued (and I am) that American religious cults owe the New Testament for their existence because it contains a blueprint for the cults. The believer is told to focus upon doing God's will, while surrendering his own will, family, and all worldly possessions to God. Next he must separate himself from the "world" by living in a community of believers (see Mt.19:21, 1Thess.3:14, 1Cor.5:9-13, lCor.6:l). So why are we continually shocked and appalled by Christian cults?
Image by LZ Creations via FlickrThe story of Ananias and Sapphira illustrates the importance of this communal life. They sold some of their own land and gave most of the money from its sale to the apostles, to be distributed to anyone who needed it. The married couple made one mistake by lying so as to keep a portion of their own proceeds for themselves. So of course, God struck them dead as an example to anyone who does not obey and give all their possessions to the commune (Acts 5:1-11).
Believers are expected to surrender their independent, rational capacity for thinking-their minds-so God can do his Will through them. But it isn't God's Will to surrender to the leader of the cult. Or is it? Someone has to decide how to follow God every step of the way since the Bible is vague about all the details. God also chooses leaders for the sheep to follow throughout His Holy Book. Since humans are easily manipulated by authority (see Stanley Milgram's "Obedience to Authority"), God's slaves and sheep are in over their heads. Inevitably, followers will pay a price and their tragedies will make the news.
Far from being harmless, Christianity is potentially dangerous both to the believer and to others. By asserting it has the only Truth, and that this Truth must be obeyed, the Bible denigrates truth as a concept. Truth must be verifiable and "of this world" in order to be relevant to our reality. Otherwise, reality itself is denigrated along with it. How we deal with truth proves us to be either in or out of touch with reality, mature or immature, and ignorant or knowledgeable.
When I became a liberal Christian (after my fundagelical phase), I believed that many layers of false, man-made doctrines and beliefs had to be peeled away until the core of God's Truth was uncovered to reveal true Christianity. However, in attempting to do so, I discovered what I had mistaken as being core truths were merely veneer. These texts covered up the more numerous texts that betrayed what was stated by the few humanitarian ones. The veneer was stripped away, ending my Christian walk. These anti-human doctrines cannot be avoided.
Far from being harmless, Christianity is potentially dangerous both to the believer and to others. It is all too easy for church leaders to lead the sheep to slaughter while feeding them Truth which will set them free from this life.