Religion: A Cult of Fear?

One of the most impactful conversations I’ve ever had in life was with one of my closest mates, Tyler.  Tyler and I have been close since we were 11 or 12. We have one of those friendships that endures no matter the time or distance apart. We do not see each other as often as we would like, but when we do get together, we pick up right where we left off. He’s the Obi-Wan to my Anakin Skywalker—always there to provide insight whenever I feel lost.

The conversation we had took place at one of the hardest times of my life.  It was near the end of my sophomore year in college and I had just gotten out of a three and a half year relationship.  Naturally, I leaned on Tyler for support. This was the first opportunity I had to share my transitioning faith with him and he was curious about what led me to move in this direction.

My answer?

The bible.

The more I read the more I realized the bible was not the voice of a divine being, but of self-important men. I told Tyler that I believed a person’s actions were far more important than having faith in something that could never be proved.  Tyler did as he always does and listened closely as I spoke my mind.  He understands me well enough to know that sometimes I just need to let me thoughts spill forth, free of judgment. I told him I was not sure how I felt about Jesus and that it was more likely that he was just a man, no more, no less. It was here that Tyler decided to jump in and say something that I will remember forever: “If you aren’t sure, don’t you think it is better to believe just in case?”  This idea resonated with me because “believing just in case” was something I wrestled with for as long as I can remember. Hearing it out loud set me free and gave me the perspective I needed.

“What kind of faith is that?” I responded. “That is fear, not faith.”

Since I was a little child, fear of hell was the biggest reason I clung to Christianity. I now understand that I’m not the only one who was afraid.  Don’t be confused, my goal here is not to debate whether or not hell is real. Frankly, there is no point in worrying about something that cannot be proven one way or another. However, in that uncertainty, why should we choose the path of fear? Fear certainly is a powerful motivator, but it can quickly turn into extremism in the wrong hands. Instead, I choose to put my faith in love and my fellow earthlings. I work hard everyday to try and have a positive impact on other people’s lives. Empathy drives me.

I challenge people reading here to take some time to reflect on the role fear plays in their own faith, whether it be eternal damnation, social pressures or something else.  How is fear driving your life?  Who are you allowing to control you through fear?

See the original post on John Nelson’s blog HERE

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One Reply to “Religion: A Cult of Fear?”

  1. Pascal’s Wager has always been about fear – “believing just in case.” When I did finally permit myself to think a little more deeply about it than my pastor and Sunday School teachers had encouraged me to think about *anything*, I saw right through it. What deity worthy of the name wouldn’t see through it just as easily?

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