Friday, August 05, 2005

Does Christianity Preach Fear? p3


Jeremiah 32:19-21
Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day, And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand,
and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror;

In part two of this series, I mentioned four reasons which I believe critics use, making the claim that Christianity preaches fear. They are: Control, Money, Intolerance, and finally, that Fear is not the story of Love. This article will examine the claim of Control. The following quote is often used to make such claims. Is the claim true?
"The church is nothing more than a control freak. The preachers, preaching fear, to be afraid that you will go to HELL if you don't do what I tell you to do. Poor people that have no means of finances, can be controlled like that".

What is: The Church?

Nave's Topical Bible states: The people of God; the collective body of believers.

Easton's Bible Dictionary states: The church invisible "consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ, the head thereof." It is the body of Christ. It is called "invisible" because the greater part of those who constitute it are already in heaven or are yet unborn, and also because its members still on earth cannot certainly be distinguished. The qualifications of membership in it are internal and are hidden. It is unseen except by Him who "searches the heart." "The Lord knoweth them that are his" (2 Tim:2:19). The church is a spiritual body consisting of all true believers, i.e., the church invisible.
  • Its unity; in Christ
  • Its universality; not confined to any particular country or outward organization.
  • Its perpetuity. It can never be destroyed. It is an "everlasting kingdom."
Not Confined To Any Particular Country or Outward Organization

This article does not attempt to define the Christian Church or what this means to Christianity, as most people understand that the Church is; an institution, without borders and non-governmental. The question of control arises from the assumption of governmental power controlling its population through religious beliefs. The claim that Christianity preaches fear for control is bogus, while true religious intolerance is practiced in such places as China, North Korea, India, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, to name a few. The leaders of those nations control their societies through the active use of force. There is no such thing as freedom in those nations.

The founding Fathers of our great nation prevented government from retaining power by giving that power to the people. The only government the world has ever known that is ruled by the people, for the people. Freedom and equality are based upon the Biblical precepts of morality and justice. To claim that the religion of Islam actively promotes religious intolerance would be considered offensive, because the secular religion of pluralism, defines this as an attack upon another religion, even though this claim is made against Christianity. There are many nations in the world today that actively enforce such restrictions upon their society through force, thus controlling their societies by fear and intimidation.

When considering the Christian Church of the 21st century, I cannot find one theocratic Christian government anywhere in the world, clearly demonstrating that such claims against Christianity remains bogus. Moreover, the anti-Christian liberal media of corporate America continues the propagation that Fundamental Evangelicals are poised to take over our nation and turn it into a repressive theocratic state, such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. However, when Americans go to the voting booths and exercise their God given rights, they overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia as morally unacceptable, even though the liberal media labels these very same people as promoting fear and intolerance because they oppose the small minority that believes it has the moral right to legalize that which the majority finds unacceptable. Religious pluralism is accomplished by attacking Christianity with the bogus claim that it preaches fear and intolerance.

Fear Through Inquisition

The only honest claim that can be made in relation to Christianity and the use of fear, comes from the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Their rulers created and practiced totalitarian rule through their Inquisitions, causing great fear and terror throughout a large part of Europe. The Roman Catholic Church, believing itself as the Vicar of Christ, believed that only through their doctrine could mankind come to Christ and achieve salvation. Repentance, came by way of fear and the threat of torture.

The Inquisition became a permanent institution of the Catholic Church and was charged with the duty of eradicating heresy. In the Middle Ages, a permanent structure came into being and beginning in the 12th century, Church councils required secular rulers to prosecute heretics, thus resulting in four Inquisitions; the Medieval, Spanish, Portuguese and Roman [1].

These Inquisitions do not represent true Christianity, because any forceful attempt to coerce society to accept religious doctrine, through fear, is nothing more than a cult. Any church can claim to be the True Christian Church and though many have through the ages, only their living example of the Biblical doctrine will reveal true intentions and motives. Consolidating wealth and power creates advantage to those who are in position of authority, thus creating the potential to forcefully control society. To use fear for control is contrary to Biblical doctrine and principles.

Was The Christian Church Responsible For Practicing Fear and Terror?

Semantically speaking, this is true and particularly from the Roman Catholic Church. Christians cannot deny the tragic events of that history and the scaring of Christianity to this day. However, the fact is, as stated with the definition of what is the Church, the Biblical doctrines of Christianity does not teach torture and death to those who do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, nor does Christianity teach that any person is subjugated to death because they practice idolatry and reject Christianity, thus being labeled as a heretic.

In the late 16th century of early Colonial America, Protestants from England, known as Pilgrims and Puritans [2] came and settled in the area known as the New England colonies. While Pilgrims were considered separatists, the Puritans were much stricter in their beliefs and many considered their practices as militant. Both these groups came out of the English Reformation [3] and each sought greater reform and the elimination of Catholicism within the Church of England, known as The Anglican Church. The Pilgrims sought to leave the Church of England entirely, while the Puritans wanted to reform it into their model and thereby set the example of purity of Christian beliefs, through their society within this 'New World'.

The Quakers eventually settled in Pennsylvania and were known as pacifists, even though they suffered persecution against them by the English Monarchy. Neither the Quakers or Pilgrims were responsible for persecution of people that refused their religion and were tolerant and accepting of all faiths. The Pilgrims were the ones who gave us Thanksgiving, thus demonstrating the value of friendship and trust between them and the Native Indians who had generously helped them, thereby demonstrating the true example of authentic Christianity.

In about 1691, infighting among the Puritans found themselves in confusion and a lack of leadership. These different factions differed on how to deal with what they saw as heresy within their communities, and this division was one of the main reasons which resulted in the Salem Witch Trials, leading to the convictions and imprisonment of heretics and the execution of at least twenty-five people believed to be witches. These Puritans, in the name of Christianity, attempted the eradication of witchcraft, just as their Roman Catholic predecessors had done several hundred years before them.

Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch To Live Exodus 22:18
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Exodus 19:6
Exodus 22:18 is the command that these strict Puritans used to proceed with their persecution of witches and pagans. The question of why they chose to imprison and put to death (murder) those who they believed were witches, in essence, can only be answered with the weak argument that; they felt as if they were doing the work of God, in the eradication and purification of witchcraft as instructed by the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament.

Yet, the truth is, no matter how well meaning these Puritans thought they were, they nonetheless wrongfully misused this Old Testament law, because those laws were given only to Israel and the Jews under the Mosaic Covenant between them and God. Those laws have no relation to the Christian Church as they were given to the Jews and the nation of Israel. The Mosaic system ended with the New Covenant, as taught by Jesus, not only to Israel but also including the Gentiles into the Church. This was prophesied by the prophets and fulfilled with Jesus, thus ending the Mosaic system through the death of Christ, bringing in the New Covenant and the Church with Pentecost; the giving of the Holy Spirit [4].
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13 (see Jer:31:31)
In Contrast of Inquisitions and Witch Hunts

From part one of this series, the Fear of the Lord reveals that God is awesome in power and in majesty and that our fear is to be reverent, for that which has been revealed, "the soul that sins shall die" (Eze:18:4). The Christian doctrine clearly teaches that this death does not occur in this world, but upon our natural death and entrance into the eternal spirit world. Those who kill or torture for the work of conversion to accept Christ, are only practicing their own cult of religious doctrine, regardless if one attach's the name of Jesus Christ and claim it as a Christian church. Clearly what the Roman Catholic Church and factional Puritans did was not Christianity but that of self-created religious doctrine.

From the very beginning of the Christian Church, the Apostles and early church fathers laid down the foundation of the Gospel message, receiving that doctrine from Jesus, instructing them to deliver the 'Good News' to the entire world (Mark 16:15). Recorded in Luke 9:49-55 we have a story of those who refused to receive Jesus:
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But [Jesus] turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
In contrast to the Inquisitions, the Book of Acts recounts the convening of a council in Jerusalem, which dealt with heresy from the Judaizers who had contended with the newly converted Jewish faction in Asia and especially in Galatia (Acts 15).

In his article The Council at Jerusalem Robert Hunter notes:
Rather than making accusations against the Judaizers on their way to Jerusalem and during their welcome there by the church and the apostles and elders, Paul and Barnabas declared "all things that God had done with them" and "the conversion of the Gentiles....
James, the brother of Jesus, and the leader of the Jerusalem church, gave his judgment on how the foundation of the Gospel message would be pronounced and delivered to the Gentiles, while also giving consideration to the newly converted Jews and their centuries old customs:
Acts 15:28-29: For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Within the writings of New Testament, none of the Apostles persecuted people that did not accept the Gospel message. The Apostle's never taught or preached against idolatry by condemning their beliefs, but instead, preached Christ crucified and raised from the dead. There are no examples of the early Christian Church killing or torturing anyone who refused to listen to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
2Timothy 2:24-2 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
Christianity is Offensive

The nations that once claimed Judeo/Christian values, namely that of Canada and the European Union, are now governed through secularism; the view that religious consideration should be excluded from civil affairs and public education. This humanist religion bases its doctrine on tolerance, a socially correct type of theology which restricts freedom of speech by denying the rightful use of the Bible as moral truth and the attempt to eliminate that which is considered offensive, thus opening the way towards religious pluralism. This non-offensive morality declares that anything goes just as long as no one particular group is offended, and all within society are served with equality.

The United States is leaning ever closer towards a secular society by removing the Biblical moral foundations as the basis for law, government and freedom, as given by the Founding Fathers with our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Australia and New Zealand find themselves in the same position. Many of the African nations remain staunch in the core Christian belief that the Bible is the moral foundation of society, bringing true freedom and prosperity, yet many find themselves in a war with that of Islam, such as with The Sudan. After nearly twenty years of civil war, an estimated two million people have died from war between the Northern Muslims against the Southern Christians.

Within Asia and the Middle East, religious ideology controls over 3 billion people through Atheism, Islam and a repressive Hindu caste system that subjugates more than 250 million people to extreme poverty and outright rejection, all based upon the religious belief that these reincarnates are paying for past sins. Even though this practice remains illegal, Indian society accepts such inhumanity and cruelty as morally acceptable, simply because of a false religious belief. Yet with all the persecution throughout these nations, the Gospel message has reached millions in Asia and the Middle East.

While the post-modern intellectuals of the Western world continues to claim that Christianity is offensive, the evidence of these accusations remains untrue based upon the facts. There is no nation on earth today that actively practices a Christian theocracy. The claim that Christianity preaches fear for control remains bogus. The only true argument which can be made about preaching fear must then be found within the Christian Church itself.

Part Four of this series will continue with the claim of: using fear for control.

Discussions on this article

[1] Inquisition
[2] ©Duane A. Cline 2003
[4] The New Covenant Baker's Evangelical Dictionary -

Copyright Wendell Leahy
published by


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