Author Topic: Was Jesus just a cult leader?  (Read 265 times)

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Offline Lectus

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Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« on: April 25, 2014, 11:01:34 PM »
Let's make some parallels between Jesus' teachings and known cult characteristics:

Exclusivism:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." - John 14:6

Fear and Intimidation:
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." -John 3:36

Love bombing:
"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." - John 15:9

Information Control:
"Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." - Matthew 16:20

Relationships Control:
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." - Matthew 10:37

What do you think?
Religion: The belief that an all powerful God or gods created the entire universe so that we tiny humans can be happy. And we also make war about it.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2014, 08:46:46 AM »
Let's make some parallels between Jesus' teachings and known cult characteristics:

Exclusivism:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." - John 14:6

Fear and Intimidation:
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." -John 3:36

Love bombing:
"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." - John 15:9

Information Control:
"Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." - Matthew 16:20

Relationships Control:
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." - Matthew 10:37

What do you think?

There have been theories about Jesus as a cult leader; as a failed revolutionary trying to topple the Romans; as a fictional character with no historical evidence; as a well meaning mortal theist; and as God incarnate. 

Each has supporters and detractors. 

For me, it comes down to what one wants to believe about this guy Jesus of Nazareth and whether or not he was the Christ. 

Curious to see other responses I remain,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline stuffin

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2014, 08:42:30 PM »

Cult leader would seem an accurate assumption. There were many cults about in those days, unlike today with very few cults  ;). The only thing in question would be if Jesus had some sort of sex thing going on. It seems many of today’s cults require sex with teenage females as part of their dogma.  I’m not a gospel expert, but I wonder if there are any scriptures which would indicate the sexual tendencies of this Jesus person. Thinking further, the abstinence doctrine employed by the Catholic Church for its priests are contrary to such philosophy.

Anyway, I believe there was definitely something cultish regarding Jesus. I hope that clarifies everything.
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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2014, 08:46:05 PM »
Yes, the early band of christians was nothing more than a cult. 


From my quotes collection:


Religion: a large popular cult.
Cult: a small unpopular religion.


A cult is a religion with no political power.  (Tom Wolfe)


Just remember: all religions were cults at one time.


The core of Christianity is this: It's an Iron Age cult of human sacrifice. Any love, compassion, or gentleness tacked onto it is just natural humanity's attempt to conceal the hideousness of that sick horror.


If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you Pope.


One person believing in a magical man in the sky is madness.
One hundred people believing in a magical man in the sky is a cult.
One million people believing in a magical man in the sky is a religion.
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2014, 08:47:33 PM »

Cult leader would seem an accurate assumption. There were many cults about in those days, unlike today with very few cults  ;). The only thing in question would be if Jesus had some sort of sex thing going on. It seems many of today’s cults require sex with teenage females as part of their dogma.  I’m not a gospel expert, but I wonder if there are any scriptures which would indicate the sexual tendencies of this Jesus person. Thinking further, the abstinence doctrine employed by the Catholic Church for its priests are contrary to such philosophy.

Anyway, I believe there was definitely something cultish regarding Jesus. I hope that clarifies everything.

There are various passages in the Gospels about women being with the Apostles.  And it was women who first discovered the empty tomb.  In the Gospel of Phillip (See Nag Hammadi Library on line) there is a passage about Jesus and Mary Magdelene whish says something to the extent that he even kissed Mary on the _________ (there is a hole in the page and this is the only known copy). 

So, yes, a cult following argument can be made. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2014, 09:04:55 PM »
There are various passages in the Gospels about women being with the Apostles.  And it was women who first discovered the empty tomb.  In the Gospel of Phillip (See Nag Hammadi Library on line) there is a passage about Jesus and Mary Magdelene..........


Worth a watch; the whole thing, or start at ~4:00


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Offline Jesuis

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2014, 12:52:38 AM »
Jesus was what he was in his day. A Cult leader to the Jews and Romans but, to his followers who experienced what he taught them due to their love and purity in thought word and deeds - He was a man of God.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2014, 03:12:01 PM by Graybeard »
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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2014, 10:32:30 AM »
What do you think?

The cult leader is definitely a decent model for Jesus. The spectacular ending, where the authorities Waco him, is also telling. Cult leaders usually do it for the sex. Jesus never marries, and seems to associate with hookers and women of unspecified marital status.
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Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2014, 02:26:17 PM »
Mark 16:18 stands out to me as something a cult leader would say.  Did Jesus really believe that believers in him could drink poison and handle deadly snakes and not die?  Or that believers in him could touch injured people and heal them?  It's reckless to say, even if it's not meant literally, which is how fundamentalist Christians would counter.  Were there some that took Jesus literally here and die as a result?  The same can be said for the "lopping it off for the Lord" passage of Matthew 19:12, where he says some will become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.  Why encourage this?  Whether it literally means to chop it off, or to live a life of celibacy, why is either a great thing?  What happened to "be fruitful and multiply?"  After all, if everyone chops it off or is celibate, the human race would die out.  Doesn't this come across as a bit delusional?

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2014, 02:32:31 PM »
Mark 16:18 stands out to me as something a cult leader would say.  Did Jesus really believe that believers in him could drink poison and handle deadly snakes and not die?  Or that believers in him could touch injured people and heal them?  It's reckless to say, even if it's not meant literally, which is how fundamentalist Christians would counter.  Were there some that took Jesus literally here and die as a result?  The same can be said for the "lopping it off for the Lord" passage of Matthew 19:12, where he says some will become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.  Why encourage this?  Whether it literally means to chop it off, or to live a life of celibacy, why is either a great thing?  What happened to "be fruitful and multiply?"  After all, if everyone chops it off or is celibate, the human race would die out.  Doesn't this come across as a bit delusional?

There are a couple of theories regarding this last chapter of Mark's Gospel.

One theory says it ends at verse 8 and that's it. 

Another theory says there were more verses but they are lost

Still another theory says the additional verses after verse 8 were added after the fact because no one liked the way Mark ended at verse 8. 

Here is a link going into more detail:

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/the-strange-ending-of-the-gospel-of-mark-and-why-it-makes-all-the-difference/

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2014, 02:37:53 PM »
Thanks Old Church guy - to echo the sentiment of most others on this board, I admire your knowledge on the subject and respect your opinions.  I have heard similar things about the Mark passages; that Jesus never said them, etc.  Of course as you know though, that begs the next logical question - which passages are true and which aren't?  How can you weed through the passages and decide which ones are true?  Do most believers just pick the passages they're comfortable with and say that's the truth?

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2014, 04:43:50 PM »
Quote
Thanks Old Church guy - to echo the sentiment of most others on this board, I admire your knowledge on the subject and respect your opinions.  I have heard similar things about the Mark passages; that Jesus never said them, etc.  Of course as you know though, that begs the next logical question - which passages are true and which aren't? 
How can you weed through the passages and decide which ones are true? 

This is quite a question and, alas, there is either a simple formulaic answer or there is not.  The simple formulaic answer is that all passages are true.  Any possible contradictions can be explained by way of Apologetics or, failing in that, having faith to quit asking questions.  :)

The non-simple formulaic answer is a HUGE can of worms and has been for about the last 400 years or so.  Although, there are writings from the early church leaders also raising questions about who said or did what.  The most recent version is the Jesus Seminar which attempts to discern what Jesus most likely said and what is added by the authors.  As you can imagine, this group is either revered or reviled.  There is little middle ground as near as I can tell. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/unmasking-the-jesus-seminar/

The Jesus Seminar is of the Historical Jesus camp and, in a larger sense, Historical Viability of the entire Bible.  Meaning, they seek generally to accept Bible passages which can be verified from outside sources.  Thus, any miracles are dismissed as there is no independent proof / evidence to support the miracle.  Theirs is an appeal to the intellect and not an appeal to the heart. 



Quote
Do most believers just pick the passages they're comfortable with and say that's the truth?

Essentially, yes.  Just as some of the writings of Hitchens resonate with some atheists and while others prefer Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, I think most theists apply a cafeteria approach to their theology.  The Gospel of Matthew speaks to some people while others think the Gospel of John is tops. 

Since we are all unique individuals (theist or atheist) our views of the world are unique and, therefore, writings will also have a unique impact on us.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: Was Jesus just a cult leader?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2014, 07:21:26 AM »
I hear ya church guy, I hear ya.  But of course for atheists, it goes beyond just the words of philosophers like Harris, Hitchens and Dennett.  They are also basing a lot of their conclusions on science, geology, astrophysics, etc. and people in that field, like Clair Patterson, Charles Darwin, Neil DeGrasse Tyson etc.  Atheists are going towards where the evidence is leading them.  Sure, you have a lot of people on this board like myself that are former Christians.  Probably the biggest misconception of these atheists, though, is that they are angry people that are "angry at God" and disillusioned, perhaps because of some disappointments at their church.  For me, I can say that is what started it - our pastors were covering up sex abuse in their church by other members which occurred over a 30 year period.  But it goes beyond that - the next question that those who face a disappointment like this will ask is "Do any of these people believe?" If they truly believe, they wouldn't behave in this manner - so why don't they believe?  That's when you start investigating, and a disappointment leads you to research, which leads you to a conclusion based on the evidence at hand.  I think you recognize that though - you're not one of these theists that says "Deep down you know there's a God - you just want to sin."  I think you appreciate and respect opposing views, and that's a good thing.  Almost everyone on this board seems to work in a similar manner so I really enjoy the back and forth discussions.