- Religion and Philosophy
Could Christianity Itself be a Cult???
To read my previous hub, How Christian Cults Work, please visit this link: http://sayyestolife.hubpages.com/hub/How-Cults-Work
This painting depicts the fall of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel.
To recap: in the mid 1990s, I inadvertently joined a cult, putting my life in danger. I moved away from there to Seattle, where I joined a wonderful church that got me out of several precarious situations. However, due to a nasty string of bad luck, I had to be rescued by my brother, who brought me to live with him on the Big Island of Hawaii. There, I was forced to watch helplessly while his daughter dropped out of high school to join a cult. (The story is told in the hub, My Experience in a Cult.) This bothered me tremendously; my brother needed my help, but I could not offer it. Why didn’t Christ make me a new creature, so I could have had my niece live with me in Seattle, which has plenty of great schools and churches?
When I left Seattle, my pastor there said I could discuss these events with him at any time. It took me over 12 years to finally get to the point where I could take him up on his offer. I wrote him an email telling him my story. I never heard from him again.
I was very upset about this. First, I blamed myself for revealing too much. Then it occurred to me; why should he have to answer for a God powerful enough to create the Universe? Why can’t this God speak for Himself? And – come to think of it – my troubles are piddly compared to someone who dealt with a monumental issue like the Holocaust. What about THEM?
Perhaps the real cult is Christianity itself!
Here is the question I asked:
"Cult" is defined as a system of beliefs that doesn't work, but people cling to it because they fear "eternal hell" if they admit it and quit. The Bible promised me if I accepted Christ, I would become a new creature, but I have not. Also, it makes no sense a benevolent God would allow so many atrocities. If I subjected my kids to this, I would be considered abusive, even unfit. Yes, Christianity has helped people with aggression and addiction problems. Still, it's not a cure-all. Yet, if I consider other religions, I'd be condemned to hell. This sounds like a cult to me!
And here are the responses:
ChristinS: As with anything, I think it's unfair to paint any group with a broad brush. I don't like it when people do so to agnostics/atheists like myself. I don't find it right to do it to Christians either. With every group, you have your bad apples, but most Christians I know are very down to earth, humble people who are simply living the best way they know how. Some do find their faith a comfort and I have no problem with that. There are some radical fundamentalist types - those are the ones I think you are actually referring to, we truly believe that everyone who doesn't think like them is going to hell. Is it annoying? Yes, but more, it makes me feel sorry that they have such a fear-based belief about life.
Many of the tenets of Christian spirituality (not dogma) are quite lovely. "Love thy neighbor" for example - nothing wrong with that. There is a lot of love and peace taught in Christianity and it benefits those who don't twist it or use it for their own selfish egoistic needs.
It isn't what I personally choose to believe, but I can't and won't fault everyone who does embrace Christianity. I will extend them the same respect that I would like to have extended to me.
I do the same for people of any group. If we judge people broadly, we don't solve the world's problems, we simply create more division and suffering.
Say Yes To Life Thanks for your open-minded answer. All religions have some good in them, and they're all after the same thing; peace on Earth, and how to best live in this world. Yet, none have ALL the answers. The conviction that they do is what makes a cult.
jonnycomelately ++++ !!!!!
gmwilliams Excellent synopsis of the question, ChristinS.
Aliasis: Cults are basically new, relatively small and radical religions or beliefs. Because Christianity is such a huge religion and has been around for two thousand years, it in and of itself would not academically be called a cult - however, two thousand years ago when Christianity was just budding and its followers went against a long-accepted norm, and often were radical (throwing themselves to be martyred, preaching something that was ridiculous for the time) - it WOULD have been called a cult. (Academic essays on that time will actually refer to the Cult of Jesus)
So, history, large number of followers in addition to radical beliefs are what traditionally divide cult from religion. Not that I don't think a lot of stuff in the Bible is radical and a lot of beliefs are dangerous (as you said, going to hell if you don't believe, etc) but most scholars would differentiate religion from cult in that way. Of course, sects of Christianity could still be cults today - Westboro Baptist Church, for example. Especially when the "religious group" denies members a way to escape, and has one central leader that is psychologically damaging.
Say Yes To Life Apparently people in different denominations are taught varying degrees of loyalty to the Bible and Christianity. I was raised NEVER to question either one. If things don't work out, it's my fault, no matter what. That's why I'm in trouble today.
No voice boomed out of the sky giving me directions!
PlanksandNails: The term "Christianity" is something that is thrown around and could mean multiple things to different people, such as a "cult" through bad experiences they may have had. Cults use fear tactics to control their members.
Someone who considers something "abusive" would have to describe what kind of "abuse" is happening as many people have differing opinions on what constitutes abuse. Usually, our governing laws specify what illegal abuses are.
A true Christian will have the desire to apply appropriate doctrine in the proper context of God's Word. Unfortunately, the misapplication of Scripture out of context this has led to many cults.
("...it makes no sense a benevolent God would allow so many atrocities.")
The free-will God has given us the potential to do both good and evil.
Say Yes To Life How much free will do the victims in Syria have???!!!
PlanksandNails The victims in Syria, among many others, are the results and potential of man's free-will to do evil. The potential for both good and evil is evident in our reality and the impact it has on others.
jonnycomelately I suggest "spiritual insight" might be perceived as "superhuman," and "dogma" as "simply human."
Cordelia Bay: I guess anything can be made out to be a cult. In the matter of becoming a new creature "creation" if you accepted Christ....refers to your Spirit being and can only become present in the physical realm if your choices lead you to become a better you instead of remaining in your old habits and choices. Old things become new with a bit of renovation, restoration, fixing up, removing old stains, fixing gaps, holes, thoughts, ideas and making new choices. It is the motivation of most today to find fault in everything around them....rather than taking a look at one's self. The true concern is the thoughts that have you wondering about your faith and choices.
Say Yes To Life It's true that our choices are ultimately what makes us new creatures. In my case, no Voice booming out of the sky directed me to make better choices; I had to figure that out for myself, somehow. I'm still figuring!
I saw this movie on TV back in the mid 1970s. Though it is obscure, it made a huge impression on me, since I lived near UC Berkeley, which was a hotbed for cults in those days. I could not find it in movie version, so here is the novel on which it is based. A young woman gets lured into a Christian cult, and her parents rescue her by having her kidnapped and deprogrammed.
JThomp42: First of all, I can understand why you would think some Christian churches are an occult. The people get so wrapped up into the preacher that they start worshiping him instead of Christ, the reason for them being there in the first place. This is 'ORGANIZED" religion and I cannot understand this premise myself.
This is why I considered myself a spiritual person saved by the grace of God through the blood of his son Jesus Christ. Do I follow what man tells me what I should and should not do? No. I read the Bible and figure it out for myself. This is where people get into trouble my friend. When they start believing that every word a man says is true instead of researching it for themselves.
Take snake handlers for instance. Are they an occult? I do believe so. Brainwashed by one verse in the Bible. One verse that they say if they do not trust God while handling snakes that they will go to hell. One verse that has killed many. Yes, preachers of such ignorance can go too far.
The Bible must be read with prayer for understanding and conceiving the truth as well as common sense.
Rayne123 You know I have not read that scripture about snakes in the bible. can you please let me know what verse it is in, thanks
Say Yes To Life Rayne123 - the verse is Mark 16:18. JThomp42 - I recently wrote a detailed letter to my former minister in Seattle about why I had to leave. I may have freaked him out. It's one of those "why" questions; apparently, the Bible doesn't have an answer.
Rayne123 Really, wow I will check out that scripture. Thanks, but not sure I get that whole verse, you really have to read what is beside it and understand it.
JThomp42: Rayne.. In these verses Jesus is talking about what his disciples will be able to do. These are the verses that the "snake handlers" quote for their reasons to do this. Mark 16:15-18
Rayne123 Yes I read it now, thanks, so some are saying that if they handle snakes any way that even could be dangerous , and believe God will save them, they are fooling themselves and therefore use this for a reason to justify why they do not believe in God.
Straight from the Bible. Sounds pretty absolute to me!
WiccanSage: Actually, I don't know where you got that definition, but that's not the definition of a cult. Sociologically speaking a cult is a religion. That's where the word originated. And it doesn't imply whether it works or not or whether it's good or bad or anything.
When you're talking about "destructive mind-control cults", there are certain criteria to meet-- which has nothing to do with a religion working or not (spiritually speaking). It has to do with things like charismatic leaders who manipulate you into giving up your possessions, money, friends/family, serving them by earning money or converts for them, etc.
Christianity in itself (as an umbrella term) does not meet the criteria for a destructive cult, and most denominations or churches do not meet the criteria.
Most cults, though (something like 70% last I looked), are Christian in nature.
Sri T You have just described every Christian mega-church in America. Everything you said is what they are doing.
Say Yes To Life WiccanSage - I agree that Christianity is mostly a positive force. I'm currently having a problem with them demanding acceptance of the Bible as being Absolute Truth. I'm finding too many discrepancies in it, regarding my life.
WiccanSage Sri T, I agree the fundamentalist mega churches are dangerously close to mind-control cults, but most Christian churches are still small but well meaning organizations.
Say yes, I don't find truth in the Bible but not all Christians force it on us.
gmwilliams Intelligently analytical response.
Rayne123: I am not sure what exactly you are trying to say, however a cult is quite different.
A cult is usually someone/people trying to be Jesus like or say they come preaching the word of God.
These people usually have "kept" people in their homes. Whether they are beautiful or run down, everyone stays at the same place and follows the same set of rules.
I have watched one in particular on YouTube (forget the name at the moment) and it seems like heaven, the place was beautiful, everyone seemed happy, they walked around a beautiful garden when they wanted. They actually had some reporter spend a few days there to check it out.
Most people interviewed loved it. They also believed that this guy comes with the word of God. When he spoke at the park they turned off the cameras.
He was interviewed though and seemed highly intelligent for the most part.
He dressed and looked or resembled Jesus in some ways. The thing is we really do not know what goes on when the cameras are off or behind closed doors.
As for the Christian life, you have free will and you can or can not follow the "word of God"/bible which merely states for us to be kind and love, that’s it.
yes there are punishments and yes God will do what he likes, I do believe these natural disasters are in the hands of God. However to rebuild something back to good you must first take it down.
In no way does God make you do things you do not want or live with a bunch of people when you do not want to.
I am not sure how much more I can explain what I mean but this is my opinion, doesn’t mean I am right.
God will give you riches and love if you allow him whereas a cult will not.
Look at Charles Manson, he was loved by many and actually was a guitarist and singer. He seemed to love and treat all the woman very well. However they were all brainwashed until one woman finally realized what really was going on.
So when cults believe that the person they are worshiping has come in the word of God, that is just nonsense as we all know that a few select of us are not going to be the only ones seeing and hearing the world of God.
If/and when he comes back every eye will see him and we will know its real.
Say Yes To Life I saw the video. Yes, it looks like a wonderful community, but that's just the face they present to people; behind closed doors is another story. "Cult", however is a state of mind; most don't involve isolated compounds.
Rayne123 Yes you put in much better words than I do, thanks
This is the video Rayne123 is referring to
Is Jesus REALLY the first to rise from the dead? Check out the link I posted below!
Sri T: Every religion is indeed a religious "cult". In other words, an exclusive group of people who practice the same principles with a charismatic leader. All religions are born from ancient magic. As time went on, the "occult magic" evolved into spiritual wisdom. Elements of ancient wisdom still exists in all of them. The names of God's change, but the wisdom is basically the same. The purpose of ancient magic was to be able to handle any problem with supernatural power. One aspect of Christianity is to be able to handle all of your problems with supernatural power through Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with it. Some people are successful with it, others use different methods. So the question is: are you getting everything you want out of life? Is your "magic" working? If not, then try something else.
Say Yes To Life Weasey posted a question about the difference between Greek Mythology and Bible stories. While much is made of Jesus' resurrection, He is neither the first nor the last to do so. Here's a link: http://www.pathlightspress.com/resurrection.html
Sri T A lot of secret societies do supernatural and mysterious feats and develop strange powers in Japan, India, the US and other places. I don't think it's a good idea to join any cult no matter what type of knowledge they offer.
RealityTalk Weasey is so right. Everything about Jesus, from the resurrection and on was borrowed from other historical religions. Jesus & Christianity were made up as a hodgepodge of other beliefs. Not real. Not fact. Not new.
This book describes in detail the psychology of how cults work. It tells who is most likely to join them, and how their leaders use mind control to manipulate the group. This should give insight to what is happening in the Middle East.
Ann810: Christianity is free-will, loving one another, unity, positive thinking, meditating on the Holy Bible, prayer, being thankful, forgiveness, Spiritual strengthening, growth, fellowship, commandments, and more. (again free-will)
Say Yes To Life Yes, Christianity teaches a lot of positive things. They also teach some negative things, too. I still believe it is mostly good; it just errs grossly when it teaches it is perfect, and the Only Way.
Deborah Sexton: I'm not a Christian, I am just curious.
According to the dictionary, there are 4 definitions of a cult. Which of these do you feel Christianity falls under?
1. A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object
2. A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister
3. A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing
4. A person or thing that is popular or fashionable, esp. among a particular section of society
RealityTalk 1. Jesus. 2. it's all relative. Christianity is smaller than Islam. 3. Believing a dead man is an immortal w/absolute powers. 4. Jesus & Christianity.
I agree, every religion is a cult.
Say Yes To Life Christianity falls under all 4, but that's not my particular concern. I'm concerned with the mind trap they inflict on people for whom it doesn't work. Those who don't believe could "spend an eternity in hell".
RealityTalk Yoleen, I agree & that is one of the traits of a cult; threats of harm if you don't comply. If a creator is as loving as claimed, the creator would not torture people or demand alliance under treats. Don't follow fear. Follow your heart & mind.
Deborah Sexton In a religion any time you make any person more important than God, it's a cult. Jesus is the most important and then Paul's teachings to the Christians. Sounds like a cult to me.
RealityTalk Deborah, interesting that you mention Paul. If not for Paul, Christianity most likely would have faded away like so many other cults. Paul demanded all, including gentiles, practice Christianity. Before that only Jews could. He grew the religion.
Edhan Personally, cult is defined as a belief where bad things are being carried out and brainwash people to think it is goodness. Religion is supposed to guide us to the path of goodness and kindness.
Say Yes To Life I agree with your definition!
Savvydating: Hi Say Yes. I've read and commented on some of your hubs, and my understanding from them is that you actually have a fairly high regard for the Christian religion in which you were raised. Consequently, I expect that you already know the answer to your question. In addition, your definition of the word cult, is not one that I could find in the dictionary. But I did find this:
Cult: a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.
Anyway, as we all know, offshoots of Christianity do exist and some have proven to be dangerous; however, those offshoots are not actually Christian. The same principle could apply to Islam or Judaism. Rather, the reason why our lives do not turn out so well is because we make poor choices, i.e.; negative relationships, drugs, etc., not because one has a true appreciation for the teachings of Christ, which are love and growth centered.
At any rate, if you're really serious about this question you have posed, then I recommend some books for you to read. You can find some (if not all) of them at the library. They are as follows:
The Canon of the New Testament, by Bruce Metzger
Fabricating Jesus; How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, by Craig A. Evans
Reasonable Faith, by William Lane Craig
I wouldn't focus on whether one church has all the answers, nor would I focus on hell. Rather, do your own research. You might want to read the works of these three peer respected scholars who have extensive knowledge of Bible history, who have a full understanding of the Greek and Hebrew languages, and in one case, Aramaic, as well. (Keep in mind that the original manuscripts of the apostles were not written in Aramaic) Perhaps these books will help to assuage your concern about cults.
On another note, if you find that you are just plain restless, you might want to read, Care of The Soul, by Thomas Moore. It's a book on how to nourish your soul in simple, everyday ways - like painting your bedroom a different color or painting on canvas, for that matter. Warm wishes. -Savvy
Say Yes To Life Thanks, SavvyDating. Even if I decide to leave Christianity for another belief system, I still support the fact that it does a lot of good. It's just that many churches say it's Absolute Truth; that's what I'm having a problem with.
savvydating Hi Say Yes, I do understand. I'm sorry to say, but the #1 reason people are turned off by Christianity is because of Christians. Jesus himself rebuked the Pharisees. However, underground Christians are the real deal. They truly love their enemies.
Claudia Marie What I have found to be very helpful is getting a clear under standing of what the Bible really teaches. Being accurately informed makes all the difference. A good resource is www.jw.org, you will find the answer to "why a loving God allows so much suffering?"
You may find this definition of a cult interesting- Cult: a religion that is said to be unorthodox or that emphasizes devotion according to prescribed ritual.
Of course the standard for what is orthodox, however, should be based on the accurate knowledge of God's word the Bible.
Say Yes To Life I have read many explanations as to why God allows suffering. Personally, they sound like excuses to me. If I did that to my kids, I would be considered an abusive, unfit parent.
Borsia There are certainly some cult aspects to every religion and they all want world domination. Some are more restrained than others but they all have an evil side.
I don't think Christianity is worse but I don't see it as any better either.
Most cults in America have been based on some form of distorted Christianity.
Say Yes To Life Good point, Borsia. My brother has often said the purpose of religion is to control the masses. While that may not be necessarily bad, I can see how easy it is to manipulate others this way.
CalebSparks Your "question" is almost laughable. I've checked three different dictionaries on the word "cult" and not one of them mentions "beliefs that don't work" or "eternal hell." Looks like someone's desperately cherry picking...
Say Yes To Life A popular definition is any system of belief you disagree with, especially if it has a small number of followers. Yet one thing all notorious cults have in common is a system of beliefs that don't work, yet members cling to it because they fear hell.
gmwilliams Say Yes To Life, you are right. Religion is a cult to many people. Many people believe in religion because of fear of family/societal ostracization and fear of hell. Many people go thru the motions of their religion; they DON'T actually believe in it!
How long ago was this written?
RealityTalk I am not going to do what so many do & argue semantics. I know exactly what you mean by your question. The answer you are looking for is "yes." What is ironic is that Christians, Jews, Muslims and so many other religions will refer to their religion as some solid believable fact of life. They are not. They are all fantasy, pure and simple. The only difference between the legitimacy of one religion and another is which side of the fence you are on. Every religious group believes they are in direct contact with a creator and that their group has all the answers to the big questions. They are going to a life after death and all other religions are not - because they are obviously wrong. All other religions are fantasies made up garbage, but "not mine."
Say Yes To Life, you are the source of your strength. You are the source of peace in the world. You are the love and the light that helps others. The hands of man heal the injured. The hands of woman house us and protect our families from the weather. The hands of man provide the food that feeds our babies. The heart of humans helps those unable to help themselves. No invisible make-believe god. You!
I understand exactly what you mean by your definition of a cult. And I understand exactly where you are coming from in posing your question as such. Forget convincing those lost in make believe otherwise. They will use their loving faith to insult you and spew hatred at you; all the while telling themselves how godly they are.
Yes, Christianity is a cult. A make-believe non-factual childish cult taught children by their parents; children who grow stunted mentally or who are too lazy or unwise to think for themselves or grow up and realize that Santa Claus is not the only lie told them as children.
Say Yes To Life I'm afraid you're right. The worldwide network of schools and hospitals established by Catholics and Adventists are the works of altruistic people. On the other hand, bullying is the reason this "peaceful" religion is the largest in the world.
RealityTalk Right or wrong, you are doing the right thing. You are asking questions. The answers will come from people like you & to people like you. Not answers made up in one's head, but answers found by asking questions & searching for the truth.
savvydating Say Yes, why fixate on the failures of churches? All organizations are flawed in that they are made up of people who are not perfect. Asking if Christianity is a cult is like asking if Jesus was a cult leader? Give the book by Craig A. Evans a try,
RealityTalk Yoleen, don't read any cult author written books. There is no proof Jesus the man even existed let alone the god. Churches fail because their built on a non-existent foundation. THINK & u will know the truth. Don't believe the cult lies.
PlanksandNails Reality Talk, you seem to be quite liberal in using "cult" as an ad hominem attack on people that differ from you? You are hijacking the word and painting with a broad brush.
RealityTalk PlanksandNails, you have no understanding of the word "attack." Your response is what I expect from the delusional. I speak of objective reality. You really should try it sometime.
savvydating Say Yes. The authors I quoted are not delusional. They are highly critical scholars. All are learned men who know the difference between sound and unsound scholarship. I have given you excellent material from peer respected scholars. No one else has.
RealityTalk Yoleen, savvydating claims only she gave you a source to read. Well here is another, but it is non-fiction: "Evolution vs. Creationism," by Eugene C. Scott. Remember religious cultists always have an agenda - to join their cult.
Say Yes To Life Savvydating - I'm not fixating on where Christianity fails. I have stated it's good for overcoming addictions and calming aggressions. Re Jesus being a cult leader - due to discrepancies I've noticed in His teachings, I'm afraid that may be true.
PlanksandNails Reality Talk, you have just proved my point.
RealityTalk PlanksandNails, You have no point that is the point! You do what all fanatics with no proof & no real answers do. End the conversation & walk. The truth is Christianity is a cult like all other cults. It's just mainstream & all u know.
savvydating It's up to you, Say Yes. Either Jesus was who he said he was or he was a liar. There is more proof for him than against him, frankly. I've given you excellent material. You can research it or not. My best to you. -Savvy.
RealityTalk Yoleen, you know the truth, that is why u r questioning religion. savvydating says u believe what Jesus' says or not, but Jesus said nothing. Other men wrote words claimed to have been said by a man named Jesus. Believe your heart, not fantasies.
SavvyDating & RealityTalk - I find it interesting that Jesus Himself never published a bio; others did, at a time He wasn't around to refute what was said about Him. The Bible is silent about 18 years of His life; who knows what He did then???
Borsia Say Yes@ I find it interesting that there is no writing or for that matter any proof whatsoever $6 that Jesus even existed let alone was the son of a god,,, nothing!
RealityTalk Yoleen, I believe no matter if u believe in Jesus or not, being true to yourself & a good person is of the utmost importance - any good god would love u for that. Too many people claim a god controls good & evil. We control good & evil in
gmwilliams Listen to THIS MAN, he is one of the MOST INTELLIGENT people on HubPages. Totally agree with Reality's premise regarding organized religions Many organized religions are cult-like, they prey upon the gullible, using guilt to keep ppl in line.
RealityTalk Thank you gmwilliams that is really nice of you to write.
In western countries, it is a common belief that atheists have no morals. How can they, when they're not accountable to God, since they believe He doesn't exist? This book challenges that belief. I will add that in eastern countries, belief in God is not a moral issue; it is merely an opinion. Some eastern religions, like Confucianism, are atheist.
How hard does it have to be?
Celafoe From your question and your comments below I can clearly see two things.
1. You do not know what a cult is Your definition is your own , not a commonly accepted one.
TWO--You do not know what a CHristian is. If you you were truly born again and repented and baptized in water and the Holy Spirit you would not be able to make such statements.
Sounds like you listened to one of those folks that falsely say just believe in Jesus is all you have to do. and probably said their silly little prayer with them.
Becoming a Christian is not a one stop one shot deal, it takes time and action on your part and we are not promised a rose garden, in fact we are told we will suffer as He did. We are still living in this world full of evil and subject to most of it for now. I am not trying to be mean spirited to you , just want you to realize reality.
If you truly have an interest in understanding Christianity I will gladly help you but if you are looking for fire insurance I don’t peddle it.
Say Yes To Life 1) Yes, that is MY definition. But most destructive cults share those characteristics, which is how they hold members.
Brenda Durham You have not what? You said the Bible promised you if you accepted Christ, you'd become a new creature, but you have not. What? You didn't accept Christ, or you didn't become a "new creature"? IF you did the first, then the second happened at that time. There was a heart change. And from there, then your allegiance to Him and your walk with Him would've grown stronger as time went on, unless you recanted your petition.
So........did you accept Christ, or not? I don't mean just joining a "Church". And I don't mean just speaking the words like some magic formula. I mean did you humbly and honestly recognize the fact that Jesus is the Savior, repent of your sins, and ask Him into your heart and life, promise to follow Him?
Say Yes To Life Brenda - yes, I genuinely accepted Christ. In fact, I returned from rebellion back into the church 11 years before I inadvertently joined the cult. Though the whole cult misadventure happened 17 years ago, I'm currently having flashbacks, which is why I'm asking this question in the first place. Obviously accepting Christ and admitting my rebellion was wrong did not prevent me from inadvertently joining the cult, or save me from the ensuing consequences. Neither did it make me a success in life. You could say the Bible never promised it would, but that is weazling out of the situation. If I did that to my kids, I'd be called a bunch of unsavory names as a parent - and justifiably so. What good is a religion if it's not going to help me in this life? Why should I believe it will help me in the next?
Brenda Durham What cult? What denomination or what "Church" did you join? Sorry, I'm just trying to figure this out. Christianity isn't about a specific "Church" really; it's simply about Christ. So I can only assume that you joined a specific church group or something........
Say Yes To Life You can read about it in my hub, My Experience in a Cult. I tell all about what happened there. That's what's currently causing my flashbacks, and which all the Christian dogma in the world can't erase. I even recently wrote my Seattle area pastor about this, and apparently he's too freaked out to answer.
Brenda Durham Okay I'll read it.
Brenda Durham posted the rest of her comments on that hub. You can read them there.
Titen-Sxull: Certainly when it began Christianity was a cult but cults that turn mainstream and catch on with wide groups of people are called religions. As someone above me already stated that's really the only difference between the two. I've seen a lot of people make fun of scientology when they learn some of the ridiculous things they believe at high levels of Scientology. They laugh and call it an obviously manmade cult... but then when you say the same things about Christianity you are usually fed a long list of excuses for why the comparison doesn't work.
Often times people hide behind the comfort Christianity offers people or the good works that many churches and Christian charities do. But those things alone don't absolve something from being a cult. Or people claim that its antiquity and longevity mean there must be some kernel of truth buried at its center.
Christianity is a death-cult built around a martyr, his death is celebrated despite his innocence and the device he was tortured with is a symbol of their religion. Many sects perform a ritual where they pretend to eat his flesh and drink his blood and sing songs about being washed in it. If you strip away all the force-fed social acceptability Christianity is pretty damn creepy to be honest.
Even though I have several close friends (arguably one of my BEST FRIENDS) who are Catholic, I find your point to be especially true about Catholicism, which believes that the wafer and wine to LITERALLY turn into the body and blood of Christ at the moment it is blessed by the priest and then they eat it.
I think Christians would have a huge problem with a new cult/religion arising that worshiped someone executed by electric chair, and the followers wore a little silver/gold electric chair or light switch around their necks. A cross was a brutal, horrific torture tool. I don't understand why they wear a cross - not an empty tomb. I've asked many times, but I've never really gotten an answer.
Titen-Sxull: Let's not forget that the cross is a relatively simple symbol AND one that was used a great deal in the ancient world. It is possible that early Christians merely re-purposed the symbol for their own use though the fact that many crucifixes actually have a tiny Jesus on them has always perplexed me.
It's also entirely possible that the empty tomb couldn't have been a symbol because the earliest Christians believed in a spiritual Jesus, not a bodily one. Some scholars who study the works of the Apostle Paul, which are the earliest known Christian writings, think the crucifixion was a symbolic one and that Christianity may not have been based on a real person at all. It would certainly explain why no one today knows where the empty tomb is, because if it had really existed and been known as the site of such a great miracle you'd expect the early Christians to remember and pass on its location.
Many apologists still rave about the empty tomb, but if Jesus was a real historical person why is the place he was buried forgotten? Why is the site of the ultimate Christian miracle, the Resurrection, the event that gives Christians victory over sin and death through Jesus, something that they could not keep track of?
Say Yes To Life: Regarding the Cross as a symbol of Christianity - I understand to this day, crucifixion is a form of execution in some countries. Amnesty International is constantly on their cases, for good reason; essentially the victims die of exposure after several days. I personally prefer the Christian Fish as a symbol. The concept of wearing an electric chair is an excellent one!
Come to think of it, Communion is rather creepy...
This book describes in detail how humans all over the world created their religions. They were shaped by environment and circumstances. Though they vary, from polytheism to atheism, all attempt to explain how the world works and how to best live in it. Then came modern times - and science. According to this book, "there are many religions, but only one science."
HattieMattieMae: I believe any group can be a cult with the right leader. People can be deceived just by following the beliefs, opinions, rules, regulations, and traditions of one leader. I remember one Evangelist telling me you should only follow one minister. I've heard a catholic priest say the same thing. Don't read anything outside of the catholic tradition. I've heard about Guru's and other spiritual teachers as well be damaging to groups of people. I always recommend don't follow a group, or one leader, but have many teachers and find out your own truth. If you just follow one person you can be lead down the wrong path. Learning the past few years, I did notice this that basically Christian's have taught me over the decades that everyone else is a cult. Only to find out they are one as well, just with different beliefs, traditions, rules, regulations, and do instill fear and cause just as much damage as the rest of religions and cults just in a different way. I don't hang out at one church anymore, or follow one minister. I never have and have always been told I was wrong for doing it and needed to repent. There at least 40,000 sects of Christianity alone and they do not agree on the bible. You have Amish, Quakers, and herd of other branches. We never hear about all the things that happen behind the scenes in each group, but there are emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual, and mental damage from every single group around the planet whether they religious, atheist, agnostic, or what ever we can steer people in the wrong way.
Say Yes To Life The Infamous Harold Camping is one of those evangelists who claimed he was the only one who had the Right Way. His followers wound up losing their life savings over the false dates of May 21st and October 21st, 2011. The Bible plainly states that no one can predict Jesus' Second Coming, including Jesus Himself. Obviously, Harold Camping disagreed with the Bible on the wrong verses!
Zelkiro: When it's just a few people, it's a cult. When it's a lot of people, it's a religion.
That's the only difference between the two.
Jeremi: Titen-Sxull posted: Many apologists still rave about the empty tomb, but if Jesus was a real historical person why is the place he was buried forgotten? Why is the site of the ultimate Christian miracle, the Resurrection, the event that gives Christians victory over sin and death through Jesus, something that they could not keep track of?
Me: One reason might be contributed to the fact that when the last Jewish revolt was put down in 135 AD; the Roman Emperor Hadrian, began evacuating the entire population of Hebrews spreading them throughout the rest of the Roman Empire. It is written that his intention was to erase all evidence of there ever being a Hebrew Nation.
He held a formal ceremony at which he burned all of the religious documents to be found in Jerusalem. He also set up two statues on the previous temple grounds, one dedicated (I think) to Jupiter the other to himself. I believe Hadrian to be the "Little Horn" as mentioned in Daniel.
The point being that those documents that were to be found was either destroyed by Romans, and Ottomans, OR were confiscated and hidden by the Holy Roman Empire (church).
Titen-Sxull The Christians certainly had their enemies during their early centuries so it is possible that Jesus did exist in some form and that much of the evidence of that existence is lost. The fact that we've never found any original copies of the Gospels leaves us decades and decades removed, at the very least, from the supposed life of Jesus.
And as you say many other documents are either lost to antiquity or locked up in a Vatican vault somewhere.
Still many apologists posit the empty tomb as the ULTIMATE PROOF of Jesus' supernatural status and the fact that they cannot point to the tomb at all or to any other archeological evidence directly confirming Jesus' life makes the claim out to be as empty as his hypothetical tomb.
bBerean: Consider the power of Rome at the time. If Jesus was still in a tomb, would they not have paraded the body in response to the claims He was risen? Would it really be possible for His body to be stolen from under Roman guard? If stolen, knowing the story that would promote, making Him, as the Pharisees were concerned would happen, stronger in death than in life, would the power of Rome not have been highly motivated and able to solve that simple crime? If it happened as reported in the bible, however, it does make sense that Rome would simply shut up and hope it blew over, perhaps silently doing all they could to destroy any evidence.
His empty tomb still speaks volumes.
JMcFarland Knowing Rome, if a convicted criminal has supposedly risen from the dead possibly because his body had been stolen, they would have hauled in any or all of the apostles. Yet they never question them about grave robbing, and seem to not know who Jesus was. Even the Jews at Peters first trial have no idea who Jesus is. Don't you find that funny?
bBerean: Funny that they would not admit their guards couldn't guard Him? No, that would be highly embarrassing for Rome, plus the ramifications of what that meant. Funny they would pretend it didn't happen and forbid it to be spoken of? Not at all. Funny they wouldn't have made a big deal of proving it didn't happen, if it didn't...yes that would be odd.
JMcFarland Rome did not get embarrassed. They got even. Pilate would have executed the guards and gone on a regional manhunt for this escaped convict. Have you studied Roman history?
bBerean: Not if they knew He was not stolen, but risen. Even Rome would know there was nothing to do with that but cover it up.
JMcFarland Rome would not believe he had risen. They wouldn't care if his followers claimed he had. They would Mount a full scale inquiry, arrest the followers and hunt then down. You are reaching because you know there is no historical proof that backs you up, and the lengths you've gone to in order to spin doctor history is amusing.
bBerean: Yes, as we, and the bible have established, this is all foolishness to you. Of course you are amused. Glad to lighten your day.
JMcFarland The Bible is no more proof of itself than any other religious book is self confirming. The Bible says the Bible is true. So does the Koran. If you want real proof, you have to look outside of the biased source. You know that. There is no corroborating evidence of any empty tomb, and the accounts themselves don't agree on practicality any detail. There is no contemporary source citing jesus at all. You know that, though, don't you?
bBerean: Here is what I know, (or if you prefer, believe), Julie, and this is not intended to be flippant, just candid. Spiritually discerned confirmation and proof is nothing but nonsense to materialistically minded folks, so there is no proof I can provide which you would acknowledge or accept.
If there was materialistic proof, (and there may be), I fully expect it would be explained away and dismissed by unbelievers anyway. I don't require that proof, and without the luxury of time, am not concerned with seeking to obtain it for those I feel would go to great lengths to dismiss and reject it.
Personally, I have my assurance, but you are correct that I have no persuasive way to share that with you, so to you it is worthless. To me it is beyond any materialistic proof anyone could ever provide. So, what then is the point?
You believe what you want to of what you have read or been told while I believe what I feel has been confirmed in a way you believe is imaginary. Neither of us are impressed or persuaded with the others position, and neither can prove anything to the other.
You go on thinking I am ignorant or in denial of science, and frankly reality, and I go on thinking you are ignorant or in denial of spirituality which holds the explanation of, and key to, reality.
I have to agree with that book you rail against, in concluding this impasse almost certainly cannot be resolved. If we are both comfortable and confident in our positions, this should be of little concern to either of us. Nevertheless, it is usually nice to chat.
JMcFarland I don't consider myself to be particularly materialistic. I believe in many things that I can't see or touch. I believe in love. I believe in empathy and social interaction. I believe in the inherent good that shows up across cultural, religious and social divides. If that makes me materialistic, so be it - but I don't see that as a bad thing. I will never be able to accept that it's somehow "better" to just buy things on "faith" without coming to the determination whether or not what you believe is actually true. If something is true, it should be able to be proven - not by happy feelings or cheerful anecdotes. It should be able to be proven reliably and repeatedly. If proof is not possible, I find no reason to accept it off hand.
That's part of the difference between me and you. I don't just dismiss "evidence" because I don't like it or I'm not willing to look into it. Quite the contrary. The reason I do NOT believe now is because I started following the evidence with an open mind. I did not have an agenda against the religion I was raised to believe. I wanted to know the truth. That's all. I'm sorry if that's not good enough.
You have happy feelings, and you attribute them to the deity that you believe in. That's fine for personal faith. It's not sufficient if you want to proselytize or spread that faith to others - at least not others who are skeptical and want something more conclusive than a "feeling" that could be attributed to everything from a god to magical purple unicorns. You attribute them the way you do because that's what you WANT to do. Thousands of others do it with a different god. What makes them different from you? What makes your attributions right, while theirs are wrong? Is it not just confirmation bias about what you already believe?
You know the reason I think that you are ignorant of science is because of what you actually SAY about it, don't you? The things you say about evolution, for example, can be refuted by a junior high school science student. If you want to rail against science, feel fee - but you should know what you're talking about before jumping into the fray. The things you have said about science and evolution, for example, are about as silly sounding and unrealistic to me as it would be if I told you that the bible was written by aliens who built the pyramids and that Judaism was really an alien cult. It's preposterous and easily disproven and it would make me look silly to say something so easily refuted.
Don't think I hold the bible in particularly high regard. I rail against a lot of books - but you can't be against something until you actually know something about it. Why do you think I've studied this stuff for so long - even after leaving my beliefs? Just to pick a fight? Hardly. I want to be informed. Maybe I'm wrong. Who knows. Are you even willing to admit that you may be?
A Troubled Man Are you actually going to claim that nothing was ever stolen under Roman guard, or any guard, for that matter? Seriously.
As does any place in which something of value was kept, and then stolen.
Leaving a cult is simple, but not easy. It has provided a major framework, moral as well as community-wise. People who leave have to reconstruct their belief system; if they were so together in that area, they wouldn't have joined the cult in the first place. This book not only deals with those who've joined cults, it addresses children who were born and raised in one. It has gotten rave reviews.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Today is the 17th anniversary of the day I joined the cult. I have finally developed the courage to burn the baptismal certificate.
I have not turned my back on Christianity. I still have the Baptismal Certificate I got when I was baptized as a child. I will always keep that. I'm just admitting there is more than one way to think.
Tomorrow I will make a point of surrounding myself with friends.
Hopefully now I will stop getting flashbacks...
This was all a year ago. I still get flashbacks, but they're not as bad as they were. After reading and taking part in numerous discussions on HubPages and Bubblews, and researching the topic, I now realize all religions were originally crafted by multiple societies to explain the unexplainable and describe how best to live life in this world. In other words, they are ancient science. I am currently working on a 4-part article about the ten most practiced religions of the world.
What is your opinion regarding religion?
© 2014 Yoleen Lucas