The Manipulative Character of God’s “Conditional” Unconditional Love
“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” -John 15:6 KJV (of course)
I read a recent post on a Christian Blog I follow about Abiding in Christ, the vine to our branches.
It wasn’t a new concept to any Christian who’s read John’s gospel, chapter 15. I used to read thru the gospels and Acts of the Apostles monthly as part of my devotional reading and bible study. I’ve even taught the verses and chapter fairly regularly as part of my teaching/discipleship of other men down thru the years.
The message is that Life, Hope, Meaning and Identity itself is derived from and dependant on our continued connection to and subsistence from Jesus as our “life giving spirit”. (1 Corinthians 15)
Overall, the encouragement to remain connected and “life supplied” by the connection In and To Christ was a positive one, offering greater freedom and “abundant life” (John 10)
“For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.” -James 1:11 KJV
But there is always another side of any coin
The same promise of peace and abundant life and loving acceptance and security “in Christ” offered just as sure a “promise” and warning of destruction, abandonment, hopelessness and loss of value and even personhood if you ever were to stray, or if any of His Branches should ever “Leave” Him.
This is the emotionally manipulative power of “Indoctrination” in action rather than simple teaching.
Teaching is communicating and passing on knowledge and understanding.
The process implies and in fact relies on a two way give and take, a teacher teaching and a learner learning, most of the time by asking questions, working things out, challenging answers and sometimes even changing the answers by mutual discovery. Learning is primarily an exercise in Discovery and questions.
Indoctrination on the other hand is not about Discovery and Questioning to understand or even Evaluate truths. It is primarily what used to be called “rote” learning.
Everyone can remember High School History classes. Names, dates, people, places often devoid of meaning or context. “You don’t have to understand it, just learn it”. As most College students or graduates can tell you though, they “learned” it only for as long as they needed to hold on to it and pass the test or quiz or semi final. Then it was summarily jettisoned to make room for the next mass of ‘edible’ but indigestible information.
Indoctrination comes at the Price of your Freedom
As Christians, we are taught to learn and study and assimilate material and ideas and concepts absolutely vital to our Eternal Survival, but never to question, evaluate, judge or Discover, much less reject, the truthfulness of the Truth ™ we are “learning”.
This is how Teaching differs from Indoctrination and Brainwashing, to use a purposely loaded term, differs from Real Learning. The extra kicker is that the constant threat of Rejection, Punishment, Abandonment and Eternal Torture in a place called Hell loom in the back of the mind, always presenting the counterbalance of Fear to the encouragement to Faith and Love for a God who says he offers Unconditional Acceptance, Love and Forgiveness.
If love, acceptance and forgiveness have as conditions Remaining Faithful or not questioning, they are not Unconditional. Doubt, Questions, Discovery and Understanding by challenging and evaluating answers are enemies of this kind of Faith and Learning. There is always the Firebrand waiting to set you ablaze for the crime of leaving or doubting. The threat of Hell and Eternal Torment is enough for most “branches” to Abide in the Vine.
But some, like me and others who have deconverted from previously long held beliefs and cherished memories, have had the courage to evaluate and judge for ourselves, challenge and even reject what we previously were taught, believed, and even taught to others to be True ™, after going on a Journey of Discovery and finding that they just were not actually true in reality.
Yet… The threats and taunts from others who are still believers like we were, afraid to question and unwilling to accept that they even could, come daily as reminders of the Fear we once called Faith.
One man’s “abide” is now become my “you better not leave”… motivated at least subconsciously by “…because I can’t”. My freedom is too much for them to bear. It beckons them to Freedom also. A freedom that they are taught to Fear on pains of Hell.
- But what kind of life is that?
- To Fear the God you love?
- To Love the God you Fear?
- Why not find out if there is any Truth in what you believe to be Truth ™?
- If it were all just a bunch of Bulls#!t, wouldn’t you want to know?
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” –1 Corinthians 13:11 KJV
This is why Christian blogs Fear deconverts and Block, Edit and Delete our Comments on their blogs. But they have no control here to “stop the mouths” of those who don’t believe their Apologetics BS anymore.
My encouragement for Christians like I was is to Think for yourself. Start your Journey of Discovery today. Like, comment, share and subscribe to The Recovering Know It All. Let’s do this.