Who is a Christian?

As my criticism of Christianity often focuses on the belief in a place of eternal punishment for nonbelievers and other sinners, sometimes I receive the response that not all Christians believe in hell. Since they cannot deny that in the gospels Jesus frequently spoke of hell and threatened his listeners with damnation for failure to follow him, they offer various explanations of these texts: he never said anyone will actually be damned, he was speaking metaphorically, he just meant you have to be a good person, he just meant you have to believe in something, he didn't really say this, he never really existed or even God doesn't exist! (Most often, however, they offer no explanation whatsoever and simply ignore the question completely, giving it no thought at all.) We find each of these views held by self-identified Christians, but how can one label apply to people with such disparate opinions and still retain any useful meaning? I'm well aware of the danger of falling into the No True Scotsman fallacy, but it seems we need to draw the line somewhere. There are perhaps as many different Christianities as there Christians in the world, but as for me, whenever I present criticism of the religion in this blog, I implicitly refer to the basic theology shared by Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism unless otherwise stated. I'm arguing against a specific collection and system of beliefs, not the label “Christian,” which can be and has been applied indiscriminately to almost anything. If I criticize a belief which you yourself don't hold, then you can ignore it and move on.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When xianity came to wield secular powers (313 CE) its alliance with a dying western roman empire created a totalitarian state. The days of church-is-state and of church-and-state are certainly not behind us 1,700 years later as the anti-democratic ideology of christo-fascism (dominionism) in the US amply demonstrates.

** Live and Let Die **

Seven deadly Lies of the Big-4 monotheisms:
1. there is a better, a *spiritual* dimension apart from and above nature
2. nature displays design and evinces moral purpose
3. time is shallow (6,000 yrs.) with an apocalyptic end
4. humanity represents the (non-evolutionary) goal and apex of life on Earth
5. morality must have a religious (spiritual) foundation
6. each person must choose between some metaphysical good and evil
7. *truth* is absolute (as revealed in some ancient magical text)

Xianity, like its murderous relatives islam, judaism, zoroastrianism never offers anyone a choice to live-and-let-live. Conversion is not optional. The Big Lies are non-negotiable demands.

You must conform — abase yourself. Let your wishes, desires, and plans be dictated by some priest, pastor, imam, spiritual adviser, rabbi. Of course, hypocrites play a double game, but accept its *rules*.

And, if you're too honest or brave to be a hypocrite? What then? It depends — on how much power over life and death true believers have.

I see no psychological difference between the Taliban in Afghanistan and bible-worshipers (fundies) spread like metastases across the US. Without a vigorously enforced secular state, we anti-supernaturalists would burn at the stake or receive a bullet in the head.

For all true believers, this is their doctrine: "those not with us are against us" (Luke 11:23), or as Ian Fleming says, Live and Let Die.

bipolar2 © 2008