...originally written on March 21st, 2006...
Christianity is dead.
On the face of it, that seems a ludicrous statement made purely to provoke. How can the world's largest religion be dead? At two point one billion, a billion ahead of the next largest religion, Islam, every third person on the planet is a Christian. In the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America, where “In God We Trust”, five out of six people identify themselves as Christian, and America's leaders in politics and business loudly proclaim their Christianity.
The Pope draws crowds of millions, tens of millions, and the death of a Pontiff is the cause for worldwide vigil. Mighty televangelist empires beam their message around the globe from towering houses of Christian worship. The name of Jesus drops from millions of lips every second.
“Christianity is booming!”, Christians shout from the rooftops, “So shut your Satanic mouth!” Yes, Christianity is booming ... as a religion. As a Spiritual Movement, Christianity is dead, and it has died by its Own Hand.
The Christ Message is at its very core one of Love, Forgiveness, and Compassion. The power of this Message is undeniable and it has driven Christianity to its pinnacle as the world's greatest religion. But there is a poison pill at its heart.
In John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. ”. Now whether Jesus said that or not, something theologians can split hairs and heads over - even if a Jesus Christ never actually existed - is irrelevant.
Christians believe those words more than anything else, and that is what has killed Christianity as a spiritual movement. All the Love, all the Forgiveness, all the Compassion is ultimately contingent on Belief in Christ, and that is Extortion.
The kindest, most loving Christian, one who lives a life of giving, who never turns anyone away regardless of belief or even non-belief, in their heart they “know” that non-Christians are Damned, that God is going to send them to a supernatural concentration camp to be tortured for all Eternity ... and that “knowing” utterly obliterates every one of the kind and loving thoughts and deeds that preceded it.
This is theological blackmail, the taking of hostages on a greater spiritual level, an epistemological shell game, that like any good confidence racket, has a high degree of success up front, which in major religion is measured in conversions.
But the inherent dichotomy is fatal. Boiled down to its fundamentals, Christianity says, “Love Jesus or Die.” The fundamentals – there's that word again – of Islam are basically the same: “There is no God but Allah” and, like Christianity through much of its history, condones the murder of non-believers. At this point, Judaism says, “Leave us alone”.
But that was not always the case. Once upon a time, the Hebrews were a warrior people – as the Israelis have once again become – and they put non-believers to the sword, as well. In 1 Samuel 15:1-8, “Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD/ Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt./ Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. / And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. / And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. /And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. / And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah thou comest to Shur, that over against Egypt. /And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.”
The author has reproduced this entire passage because this is where the seed of destruction was planted, for Judaism, for Christianity, for Islam. This is the Biblical Admonition for Genocide, and all three religions rest upon this foundation stone.
It is not the only foundation stone, but human nature being what it is, this has become the Keystone: “Believe Or Die.” Because the Hebrews were a tribal people and thereby insular, this was a non-starter, which is largely why the Jews have had such a rough time with it.
Christianity is a missionary faith, so all are welcome. The Christ message of Love, Forgiveness, and Compassion is in many ways an easy sale. It is the most profound manifestation of the Warm Fuzzies but, sooner or later, it runs up against the “Believe Or Die” paradigm, and that ruins everything. Christians might feed and house non-believers from cradle to grave and do so with great love and kindness, but somewhere their hearts are breaking because they “know” that these folks are “going to Hell”.
And let's face it, most people are not so loving and kind to those who are “not their own”, and this is where the trouble starts and the Christ Message dies.
Look at the leaders of Christianity today. Many Christians find the Robertsons, the Falwells, the Dobsons distasteful, even repugnant, and say “they aren't my leaders, that's not my Christianity.” However, they are the voices of Christianity in this media market and, at its fundamentals, yes, it is your Christianity, because until the Bible undergoes a major editing, which is the proverbial snowball in Hell, “Believe or Die” is the poison pill that all of you have swallowed.