Critical Podium Dewanand Christianity
Christianity is a Big Lie
Sacrifice code wfor0410
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Christianity is a Big Lie
Michael Arnheim is more forthright in presenting the plight to which Christianity
has been reduced. I will quote him at some length. He writes:
"By the early twentieth century the so-called 'quest for the historical
Jesus' was bogged down in negativism. The Gospels, according to an influential
schools of Protestant theologians, were to be taken as theological rather
than as historical documents, and they could yield no authentic information
about the life and deeds, or even the sayings and teachings, of Jesus.
"Such a conclusion might have been expected to have a cataclysmic
effect upon Christianity. For, after all, there could surely be no Christianity
without Christ, and there could be no Christ without Jesus? But if Jesus
were so shadowy a figure as to belong more to the realm of myth and legend
than to that of history and fact, the whole edifice of Christianity must
"Not so, said the radical theologians. The truth of Christianity
was independent of historical proof, and historical evidence was therefore
quite irrelevant to the validity of Christianity.
"How then is one to decide on the truth or falsehood of Christianity?
For Rudolf Bultmann, one of the most influential Christian theologians
of the twentieth century, the key element in the religion was what he
called an 'existential encounter with Christ', which did not depend upon
any intellectual critical process, but rather on a leap into the dark
- or, to put it more crudely, upon an acceptance of faith on trust.
"Knox and Nineham, two leading British theologians, similarly reject
the possibility of basing Christian faith upon historical evidence but
resort instead to the Church as the basis of faith, thus becoming caught
in a circular argument. As Donald Guthrie remarks: '...Neither Nineham
nor Knox has recognised the inconsistency of appealing to the testimony
of the Church when they have already denied the historical accounts, which
they regard as the products of the Church.'
"With this we are back to square one: by what criterion may the
truth or falsehood of Christianity be judged? To base one's acceptance
of a religion upon blind faith or unsupported trust gives one no right
to claim the superiority of that religion over any other religion, nor
does it entitle one to assert the truth of that religion.
"And yet there is no religion in the world which is more insistent
than Christianity upon its claim to truth or more confident of its superiority
to all the other faiths."28
The only other criterion on which Christianity can and does base its
claim to superiority is the fact that it has been a great success story,
having imposed itself over large populations in every part of the globe.
I shall quote Michael Arnheim on this point as well. He says:
"A creed religion like Christianity... is constantly competing against
all other religions - and, what is more, doing so on their own home grounds.
Its success is measured in terms of the number of converts it makes.
"There can be no doubt of the success of Christianity by this criterion,
but it is strange to find the same criterion used not as a measure of
success but also a proof of Christianity's truth.
"The basis for this may be the assumption that 'you can't fool all
the people all the time' and therefore that the wider the acceptance that
an idea or belief enjoys the truer it must be! But perhaps Adolf Hitler's
remark about the effectiveness of the 'big lie', a subject on which he
must be acknowledged an expert, is nearer the mark.
"Yet the equation between popularity and truth persists in the common
mind... If Christianity were not true, runs the common line of argument,
then why should it have prospered as it so obviously has?
"The argument of course rests four-square upon the assumption that
the success of a religion in attracting adherents and amassing wealth
is a mark of divine favour and an endorsement of its truth.
"But Christianity took a long time to become successful, and the
argument of 'truth from success' would therefore simply not have served
the interests of the early church fathers. Despite the occasional bouts
of persecution by means of which the Roman imperial government (inadvertently)
boosted the number of converts to Christianity, after three hundred years
the number of Christians in the Roman Empire, according to modern estimates,
amounted to no more than 10 per cent of the total population. It was only
in the fourth century after the conversion of Emperor Constantine that
Christianity became a major religion in numerical terms. It is now quite
clear that it was not the success of Christianity which attracted Constantine
to it but Constantine's conversion which led to the religion's success.
The emperor's conversion naturally gave Christianity an aura of respectability
which it had previously lacked, but, perhaps even more important, the
statute book was soon bristling with laws discriminating again non-Christians."29
Arnheim does not deal with the subsequent stages of Christianity's success
story. He assumes that the readers for whom he is writing are conversant
with the criminal history of Christianity in Europe and all other countries.
That history has been documented by Western scholars, and is available
to all those who care to know what Christianity has meant to peoples whom
it chose to evangelize.
Finally, Arnheim comes to theologians like Bultrann who stick to the
superior claims of Christianity in spite of it having been found out as
a fraud based on a total falsehood. He concludes:
"These are people who cannot accept the Gospel claims as literally
true but also cannot bring themselves to admit that a rejection of those
claims is a rejection of Christianity. They want to regard themselves
as Christians without accepting the basis of the Christian faith. Hence
the resort to high-flown jargon and the many attempts to explain the Gospel
accounts away as mythical or figurative representations of a transcendent
and not easily intelligible set of truths.
" 'Truth in matter of religion,' said Oscar Wilde, 'is simply the
opinion that has survived.' It is in this sense, and in this sense alone,
that Christianity can be said to be true. The only problem is that this
definition of truth brings it dangerously close to what can only be called
- the big lie."30
The merchants of the Big Lie that is Christianity were able to sell their
goods over a large part of the globe and for a long time, not because
they possessed any superior skill, but simply because they concentrated
on assembling big arsenals, floating big fleets, and marshalling big battalions
for terrorising the sceptical or the unwilling buyers. "Go out into
the highways and among the hedges, and compel people to come in"
(Lk. 14.24) was, for a long time, the only method they knew of increasing
the number of their clients. They would not have renounced this method
willingly or voluntarily, had they not been found out for what they were,
and exposed in their own homelands - Europe and North America.
Critical Podium Dewanand Christianity
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