A Messianic Religion can be Frightening

messiah-picChristianity is a messianic religion which is a belief system that features a savior or redeemer. Many religions besides Christianity have a messiah theme, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Rastafarianism and others. In a messianic belief system, the world is seen as hopelessly flawed — flawed beyond the ability for humans to correct, and thus divine intervention through a messiah figure is essential.

On the surface, this can sound harmless but it’s not. In the case of fundamentalists who view the Bible as inerrant, it is quite scary because a significant part of evangelicalism wants death. It looks forward to the end of this world (which involves death), and it looks forward to a new heaven and new earth to replace the current world. There’s a yearning for things to be over and for Christ to take the throne. You see this when you read the New Testament and you hear it when fundamentalist preachers speak of end time prophesy in the Bible.

left-behind-bookI remember having these feelings myself when I was a Christian. The thought was often in the back of my mind that any truly horrific global catastrophe would just mean that the end was near, and that Christ would soon return and that all would be okay in the future.

In the 1990’s, a book series called Left Behind by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins caught the attention of many. I read the series as a Christian and it was well-written and fairly gripping as a story. Of course, it is wrapped up in the teaching of the rapture, which proclaims that the faithful will be called up into the air — into the arms of Jesus, while the rest of the world will enter into the great and terrible tribulation. During the rapture event, there would be horrific calamity when car drivers on highways would suddenly vanish, or when pilots of jet airliners would suddenly disappear as well, sending many to their death aboard a now un-piloted aircraft. It would make “9/11” look like a minor incident in comparison.

Happy-Rapture-DayI used to believe it, but now I find this type of fundamentalism to be frightening. Why? Because millions have a longing for the end of this world. There’s a lack of real concern over the horrible things that many world powers are engaged in. The threat of nuclear war is real, and there are billions of human beings that believe there’s something better that could come after the destruction of this planet.

This is a belief not based in reality. It is delusional and detrimental to human progress.

Many of us worry and fear that the crazy religion-fueled actions of human beings will bring about our own extinction. Do you think that is possible? Or likely? What can we do to help eliminate the madness?

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6 thoughts on “A Messianic Religion can be Frightening

  1. As the number of non-believers continues to increase – and increases exponentially as rationality and reason also spreads via the Internet – we can only hope that ridiculous beliefs are eliminated in time before they do cause the extinction of humankind.

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  2. I think it it also important, in addition to what Sad Lady said above, that those of us who have made the switch from belief to non-belief, be open with our friends and family. I believe that many of us are out there, but who is actually aware of our view? Belief is so much the common default setting, that until sane, rational, loving and compassionate people who participate in their communities and are respected ‘come out’, nothing will change.

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    • Lisa, I appreciate what you’re saying and I agree that as more individuals come out, it will eventually be a positive thing. I have new friends who either grew up in or spent significant time in various parts of Europe, and they tell me that religion isn’t discussed there like it is in the U.S., and that evangelical fundamentalism is quite rare there. Agnosticism and skeptical thought is the norm.

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  3. Hi Logan,

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said about christians. We are often too eager for heaven and salvation and let that cloud our judgment in the here and now to combat social injustice and actually do something with the time we have other than live standard self-centred lives concerned only with the needs of ourselves and those closest to us – this genuinely does frustrate me quite a bit when I look at the christians around me and often myself as well.

    That said I don’t think that’s the whole biblical view. Christians are definitely meant to look forward to the new creation but they’re also called to battle the injustice of our world in the here and now and try to live as light and salt – a small realisation of this hope that they have. This is often not how it looks and I personally don’t have trouble with that having accepted the notion of sin and the that things aren’t the way they should be and people will always fail to live up to the standards they are set, but I think it’s important to consider what the bible says here rather than how christians behave. Let me know what you think of this.

    Also in terms of saving ourselves from a nuclear war, I think the idea that eliminating ridiculous religious views will prevent it is a little oversimplified surely? As long as there is competition for finite resources like the exorbitant ammount of oil that we westerners use, there will surely be geopolitical instability? More often than not, I found religion is one of many tools used in this war over resources to rally people behind a political cause. if this isn’t the case I’d be open to hearing otherwise.

    My personal opinion is that profound engineering is necessary to eliminate the problem of shared resources – hopefully there will come a time where every one’s needs at least are satisfied by good engineering. Whether that solves the issues that spawn from their desires will have to be tackled when we get there.

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    • Matthew,
      I certainly applaud your view and desire to strike a balance in life, and to battle injustices in the world and to not let the hope of heaven be all consuming. I wish all people of faith would strive for that. I tried to strike that same balance while I was still a Christian.

      And I agree that religious views are not the sole worry in regard to the threat of nuclear war, and that our planet’s finite resources are a huge factor. My post might have painted a picture that blamed religion alone as the primary source for threat. It’s not the solitary threat, but I think we can agree it is a very significant one, and it’s sad, for example, that so many people in the Middle East continue to fight over a piece of desert property that they believed was promised to them by their god thousands of years ago. (See this section of video ).

      I’m glad too that we share the view that continued work in the fields of engineering and technology are needed to help solve the problems of getting the needed resources to humanity.

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