By Kim Michaels
What is the Christianity-Insanity?
One of the more obvious aspects of the Christianity-Insanity is precisely the fact that the vast majority of the people who see themselves as “good Christians” are among the most closed-minded people on Earth. This is highly ironic, because Jesus’ early followers could not have been closed-minded people. If they had been, they would have sided with the scribes and Pharisees in their rejection of Jesus.
Thus, the simple reality is that the vast majority of the people who look at themselves as Jesus’ true followers would most likely reject Jesus if they encountered him today! This is an inconvenient truth, but it is nevertheless the truth! And it truly is a form of insanity. It is also clearly a for of hypocrisy.
Speaking of hypocrisy, we all know what Jesus thought about hypocrites, for example when he, in Matthew, exclaims several times “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites …” Thus, it should be a reasonable assumption that all who call themselves Christians would be constantly monitoring themselves and their religion for any hint of hypocrisy.
Instead, we see the stark truth that millions of people seriously think they are “good Christians” and are absolutely convinced that they will be saved, yet their actions and words do not live up to the basic requirements defined by Christ, such as turning the other cheek or loving your neighbor as yourself.
This is a discrepancy that has been observed by many people throughout history, and many Christians are painfully aware of it. Many are aware that their own actions fall short, and many are aware that the history of the Christian religion is a long string of hypocrisies and shortcomings. Few have expressed this basic problem more succinctly than Mahatma Ghandi who said:
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.
We might call this the existential question of Christianity, and the next logical question is how we deal with it. One approach is obviously denial, and this has been the “default” reaction of many individuals and of most mainstream Christian churches. This explains why many Christians feel they are fundamentally superior – even in God’s eyes – compared to people who are not members of any Christian religion or not members of their “superior” church. It also explains why so many Christians believe that their salvation is guaranteed by the fact that they are members of a Christian church and fulfill a few external requirements. In other words, many Christians believe that even though they do not live up to the requirements defined by Jesus, they will nevertheless be saved, whereas non-Christians will not be saved—even if they do live up to the standard set by Christ.
Obviously, this form of denial has been going on for centuries, yet this book is based on the observation that a shift has occurred, and it is becoming obvious to more and more people that the time for denial has passed. As one demonstration of this phenomenon, take the fact that most mainstream Christian churches are losing members, at least in the Western world. Most nations of Europe can no longer be considered Christian nations in that they no longer have a majority of their citizens who are active in any Christian church (although some are nominal members).
What is the basic explanation for this? Well, is it not simply that the Christian religion in its present form can no longer meet the spiritual needs of people in the modern world—a world that is in many ways much more complex than the times in which current Christian doctrines and rituals were developed. We cannot excuse this by saying that people are losing faith in God and thus have no spiritual needs, because facts and statistics demonstrate the opposite. Modern people do have psycho-spiritual needs, but traditional Christian churches can no longer meet them. Yet instead of acknowledging this fact and making the necessary changes, most Christian churches are like the dinosaurs who became instinct because these cold-blooded animals failed to adapt to changing world conditions.
As a text-book example of a church that is refusing to change, take the sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The phenomenon of sexual abuse is nothing new, as it has been going on for centuries. Yet what is new is that the Church’s traditional approach of denial is no longer working. It seems as if the Spring of 2010 marked a shift, and the Church can no longer simply ignore the bad press.
The basic premise for this book is simple: The time for denial is over! It is time to face up to the fact that if we continue to claim to be “good Christians” yet fail to live up to the basic commandments defined by Jesus, then we are acting as hypocrites. And if we refuse to acknowledge that Christianity must adapt to changing world conditions or become instinct (or at least become obsolete as a major religion in the Western world), then we are like the dinosaurs. This would be a clear form of insanity, for whereas the dinosaurs did not have the ability to adapt, we do indeed have that ability—the only question being whether we have the will.
I am not trying to say that overcoming the existential problem of Christianity is a simple task. There are many non-Christians who love to confront Christians with their shortcomings, yet they themselves often fail to live up to the commandments of Christ. And the basic fact is, of course, that most Christians are well-meaning people who would love to live up to the commandments of Christ—if only they knew how.
And here is the working hypothesis for this book. It begins with the recognition of a basic fact: Jesus gave a spiritual teaching that defines a certain standard for human behavior. Yet living up to this standard IS NOT EASY!
Once we have recognized this fact, we can ask the logical question: “Why is it so difficult to live up to the standard set by Christ?”
Obviously, we have multiple options for answering this question. One is to say that Jesus was simply unrealistic, that he was a hopeless idealist, a Utopian, who set forth unrealistic demands. Another is to reason that there is something wrong with us, that we are such sinners that we are unable or unwilling to do what it takes to live up to the Christ standard.
The problem with both these approaches is that they are dis-empowering. If the basic message of Christ is flawed or if we are flawed, then what can we do about it? Another problem is that they assume Jesus didn’t know what he was doing, which I personally believe is untrue.
So this book will take a different approach. The working hypothesis of this book is that Jesus did know exactly what he was doing. He did give us a teaching that we can realistically follow and he did give us the knowledge of how to apply and embody the teaching. Thus, living up to the Christ standard is indeed possible.
However, it is not easy to embody Jesus’ teaching and this is part of the reason why so few people have been able to do so. Grasping the true message of Christ requires a fundamental shift in perspective, and at Jesus’ time few people were able to make this seismic shift. Thus, from the very beginning, few of his followers truly understood Jesus’ message, and consequently this message was quickly “lost.” Unfortunately, Christianity as a whole has never recovered from this loss, because so far too few Christians have been willing to look at what was lost in the formation of the official religion.
As long as this denial persists, Christianity is in a bind, a catch-22. There is no way to overcome the basic discrepancy between the behavior of Christians and the commandments of Christ. Obviously, the way to overcome this discrepancy is for more people to truly embody the teachings of Christ. Yet as long as the Key of Knowledge remains undiscovered, there is no way for people to embody Jesus’ true teachings. Try as you might, you will always end up falling short as long as you do not fully understand the shift in perspective that Jesus wanted us to attain. The problem is a closed circle, and as Albert Einstein said, there is no way to solve a problem with the same state of consciousness that created the problem.
Thus, one conclusion emerges as the necessary one: If we want to change the equation, if we want to break the catch-22, we most do something different. We must dare to boldly go where no Christian has gone before. We must dare to rethink Christianity and ask ourselves new and daring questions about what Jesus was truly trying to teach us.
If we do not make an effort to rethink Christianity we are clearly engaged in a from of collective insanity, for as Albert Einstein also said: “If you keep doing the same thing and expect different results, you are insane.” How long will we Christians keep doing the same thing and expect that Christianity can survive in a world that is changing faster than ever before?
Here is the executive summary:
- Jesus gave us a teaching that it is possible for us to embody.
- Embodying Jesus’ inner teaching requires a seismic shift in perspective.
- Jesus’ did give us the key to making this shift – the Key of Knowledge – but it has been lost and is difficult to find in official doctrines and dogmas.
- If we want to live up to the commandments of Christ and if we want to turn Christianity into a religion that is relevant to modern people, we need to rediscover this lost knowledge and apply it to our modern times.
- Doing this requires that we think beyond the closed circle, the mental box, represented by current Christian doctrines and beliefs.
- This book can be seen as a journey of discovery that seeks to uncover the lost Key of Knowledge that will unlock the inner mysteries of Christ.
The question now becomes whether you are interested in taking this journey? If the answer is even a hesitant “Yes,” then the next question is whether you have the most basic trait that is needed for you to even start the journey. Or to put it another way, “What is your personal love-fear balance?”
The love-fear balance – a new measure for rethinking your personal life and the history of humankind
Given a basic knowledge of your personal psychology, your reaction to this book can be predicted with a very high degree of certainty. It is a simple question of whether your basic reaction to life is dominated by fear or based on love.
The concept I would like to introduce here at the very beginning is that we all have a personal love-fear balance. It is simply a way to measure to what degree our basic approach to life is dominated by fear and to what degree it is based on love. Do we see the world as a dangerous place with threats waiting around every corner, or do we see the world as an environment in which everything is an opportunity to grow and learn? Do we think the glass of life is half-full or half-empty?
Why is it important to talk about the love-fear balance right at the beginning of a book about Christianity? Well, as will soon become clear – to those who are not afraid to read on – the love-fear balance is actually part of Jesus’ original message, although he didn’t use these exact words. The early followers of Jesus could not have been dominated by fear, or they would have stuck to the official Jewish religion and they would have rejected Jesus as a charlatan (as most people did). However, let us not get ahead of ourselves.
The pragmatic reason why I start out talking about this is that your personal love-fear balance will determine your reaction to the information I present in this book. What is this book all about? It is about presenting information. As I said in the introduction, the working premise of this book is that we need to rethink our approach to Christianity. The only way to do that is to look at ideas and ask questions that are not normally asked in mainstream Christian congregations. And the undeniable fact is that the majority of all Christians are actually afraid to look at ideas and ask questions that go beyond the established doctrines of their church. They are afraid to do the one think that has a chance of bringing renewal to the Christian religion. Thus, the one thing that stands in the way of such a renewal is precisely fear—and that is why we need to address fear from the very beginning. If we don’t get fear taken care of from the start, the rest of the book will have no chance of having any positive impact on your personal life or on Christianity as a whole.
Okay, so the basic dynamic we face here is that all I can do in this book is to present you with new information. What you do with that information is up to you. Yet by becoming aware of your personal love-fear balance, you can actually empower yourself to overcome the fear-based reaction that has likely been programmed into you through a “good Christian upbringing.” It is a fact that most Christians are afraid to look at new ideas because they fear a variety of unpleasant consequences that might range from being ostracized by their family and community, excommunicated by their church or burning forever in a fiery hell with eternal torment.
If your psychology is dominated by fear, you will tend to see any new information as a threat, and if the new information goes too far beyond your present knowledge or beliefs, you will reject the information without even taking a closer look. If your psyche is more influenced by love, you will see new information as a potential opportunity, and thus you will give it a closer look before deciding whether to accept or reject it.
And right here we have a primary example of what I call the Christianity-Insanity. It is a basic, undeniable fact that the majority of the people who call themselves “good Christians” have used their religion as a justification for closing their minds to any new information that goes beyond what they already believe. They have used what they see as the teachings of Christ to turn their minds into closed systems, closed mental boxes. And many have thrown away the key—the key of knowledge.
Most Christians think they already know everything then need to know about, life, God and salvation, and they think they already have a full and correct understanding of Jesus’ message and teaching. They think this knowledge has been given to them by the doctrines of the Christian religion as they are found today, and thus they think they have no need to consider the historical facts of how Christianity became the dominant religion in the Western world. They think there is no need for them to consider whether the long and bloody history of Christianity might have distorted – or even completely obscured – the true message of Jesus. They believe that what they believe is not belief, but fact.
Yet let us consider a hypothetical question. Let us assume that there really is a major discrepancy between the true teachings of Jesus and the doctrines of modern Christianity. This rises one fundamental question: “If there is something missing from or wrong with your current beliefs, would you want to know about it?” A fear-based person would answer that question in the negative, and would instead argue against the question, using his or her existing beliefs to argue that those beliefs cannot be wrong. This is comparable to people using the belief in a flat earth to argue against Columbus when he came back and claimed he had discovered new land tot eh West. In other words, people who are dominated by fear inevitably turn their present beliefs into closed systems because they use their beliefs to argue against any new information that goes beyond their current mental box. So here is another question for you: “Once your current beliefs become a closed system, how could you ever overcome any errors in your beliefs?” In other words, if there really is something missing from current Christian beliefs, how would contemporary Christians ever find out about it if they continue to close their minds? And is closing your mind really the hallmark of a “good Christian?” Is this the reaction Jesus would have wanted from his followers?
Did Jesus want his followers to close their minds to new information?
What did Jesus actually want from his followers? In order to illume this question, let me ask you to consider something that you have probably never before been asked to consider: “What was the primary dynamic that took place when Jesus approached people 2,000 years ago?”
Think about this for a moment. What was the basic “thing” that Jesus came to offer people? I know you might have been brought up to believe Jesus came to offer people salvation, but if you try to step back from that, you see a deeper perspective. In reality, what Jesus came to offer people was information—new information, meaning information that went beyond what the people of his time already knew and believed!
Do you sense a stirring somewhere inside of you because of this thought? Do you sense there is something important here, something that could potentially give you a deeper understanding of Jesus’ mission and message?
Consider this: Jesus did not appear in a society that had no religion. He appeared in a society where people had a very rigid religion. Jesus preached salvation to people who believed they already knew everything they needed to know about salvation. The Jews of his time were firmly convinced that they were God’s chosen people and that their salvation was guaranteed if only they followed the doctrines, rituals and traditions of their religion. How easy do you think it was for Jesus to preach a new form of salvation in that kind of environment? What do you think was the major obstacle that Jesus faced? Yes, it was precisely the fact that people had used their religion to close their mind to any information beyond their present beliefs. Jesus’ main obstacle was that people had closed their minds to any new information about God, life and salvation.
So do you see the irony that Jesus came to open people’s minds to new information, but the religion that claims to represent him has become one of the most effective tools for closing people’s minds to new information?
If you don’t see any irony in this – and if you are already engaged in defending your present approach to Christianity – then this book has nothing to offer you. This book is not written in a vain attempt to argue with people who take a fear-based approach to life and thus have closed their minds. I have realized that attempting to change the minds of closed-minded people is not the way I want to spend my life. Thus, this book is written for people who have at least started to adopt a love-based approach to life.
What is the purpose of this book? It is to present you with information that for most people will be new. This information has the potential to deepen your understanding of Jesus’ inner teachings and this can help you change the way you look at life, God and “salvation,” or whatever you want to call it. And this can help you take command over your life experience, moving away from a negative life experience and toward a positive life experience. What does that mean?
What is your personal love-fear balance?
As the next step, let me introduce a concept that you probably didn’t hear about in Sunday School or kindergarden. It is your personal love-fear balance. To what degree is your reaction to life’s situations dominated by fear and to what degree is it based on love?
Now, why is that so important? Well, there is a personal and a supra-personal perspective. On the personal level, the love-fear balance determines your basic reaction to life. Thereby, it determines every aspect of your life. It determines whether your life experience is positive or negative. If you have any desire to improve your life experience, your only way of doing so is to become aware of your personal love-fear balance and then shift the balance away from fear and towards love.
On the supra-personal level, the love-fear balance determines every aspect of society. The reason is that society if created by people, and people do what they do as a result of how they react to situations—and their reaction is always determined by their love-fear balance.
History is full of examples of how people whose personal love-fear balance was weighted heavily towards fear have reacted in extreme ways and thereby created extreme situations. For example, it should be obvious that a prime example of a person who was dominated by fear is Adolph Hitler. On the other hand, Jesus himself is the primary example of a person who had completely overcome fear and was expressing only love. Thus, we now have a new standard for evaluating historical events and current events. Where they the result of a fear-based reaction or a love-based reaction?
In case you are wondering what this has to do with Christianity and with the topic of this book, let me throw a quick question at you (a more detailed explanation will follow): “Do you think it is possible that over the long history of Christianity, this religion has been influenced by people whose love-fear balance was skewed towards fear?” If you are tempted to answer “No,” let me assure you that this can only be because you know where little about the undeniable historical facts concerning how Christianity became the dominant religion in the Western world. These facts demonstrate very clearly that Christianity has been deliberately used to induce fear into the general population for the purpose of making people easier to control.
And this brings us to one obvious example of what I call the “Christianity-insanity: “How did it ever happen that a teaching given by an entirely love-based spiritual leader – Jesus – was turned into a formal religion that is as fear-based as the Jewish religion whose leaders had Jesus killed?” In other words, how did the love-based religion Jesus started become as fear-based as the religion that rejected him and his message?
Now, please watch your reaction to these simple questions. Do you feel threatened by them in any way? If so, that sense of feeling threatened by new information is the primary effect of a love-fear balance that is skewed towards fear. You see, fear closes your mind to new information and love ones your mind to new information.
Copyright © 2010 Kim Michaels