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Animism Invades Christianity

animism-christianity

Are people generally looking to do bad things in the world? Is the world full of evil people set out to destroy you? If you take some doctrine too seriously you fall into this heretical view of life.

Here’s what I mean. A lot of Christians go through life scared of “the world.” You can show them proof that crime is down in America. You can ask them about the people that they know personally. And you can ask them about their personal experiences of good people versus evil people. And yet a perversion of the doctrine of man will lead them to believe that all people are out to get them. Trust me, there’s a reason for this.

Any reasonable observation of human behavior reveals the opposite… most people are generally good. Every person is not a potential murderer or rapist. Every person isn’t trying to rob you. Every person is not trying to knock you down. On and on.

In short, we have a  tendency to believe the Fall of man overrides the benevolence of God. We do believe that all Goodness in the world comes from God, right?

So why do most believers in Jesus Christ believe that the world is evil and full of people out to get them? My opinion is this: Too often the church, a place they trust to tell them the truth, is the one perpetrating this view of life that God’s creation is all-evil, all the time!

Why? Because creating a culture of fear leads to increased giving. (Increased giving means your church is successful, right?) Appealing to fear is easy access to cash. It’s a primal response true of people of all walks of life and belief systems. And the people who give to God out of fear don’t want to believe that they got ripped off… so they inherently believe that their giving has somehow protected them from the stuff the leader scared them about. (the church closing, their kids being conscripted by the world, their family falling apart, etc.) This is far different from giving an offering from a cheerful heart, isn’t it? Giving to a cause purely as a way to appease God to protect them from the boogie man… that’s not Christianity at all– that’s animism!

Take some time to observe how church leaders use fear to raise money. [This doesn't happen everywhere or all the time.] Watch TV and pay close attention to how a charity uses fear to separate you from your cash. Fear is the easiest way to convince a person to donate. I would dare say that many church leaders are so ingrained in this culture of fear that they don’t even intentionally use fear to raise money. But they do it instinctively because they know it brings the money. I won’t give examples of the phrases leaders use to do this. I want to challenge you to observe it for yourself. Oh, it’s ingrained in sophisticated ways!

My belief system recognizes that while there is evil in the world, and while we are all inherently sinners to the core… people are generally good. People generally chose to do good over evil. The world is safe. And I refuse  to allow fear  to override enjoying the benevolence of God in His creation. See my examples below for proofs.

Addendum #1: Of course, the culture of fear isn’t just for believers. Fear of bad stuff happening leads you to vote for candidates, vote to increase your taxes, support political ideologies contrary to your belief system– on and on.Any time someone is trying to manipulate you to their position… watch how they intuitively use fear and perpetrate this heretical view that the world is a horrible place.

Addendum #2: I’ve used fear to get you to read this blog post– the title and imagery were chosen to appeal to your sense of fear. Twisted stuff, isn’t it?

Example #1: Feed my sparrows. In general, every person will help someone less fortunate than themselves. Have you ever noticed that? A families house burns down and people they don’t know donate money, clothing, and shelter to them. People give their time and money to serve the needy all the time. Millions of dollars are given every year to pets to ensure that they don’t starve, that they don’t reproduce unnecessarily, and that they don’t contract diseases. In general, people of all walks of life, worldviews, and belief systems— all by themselves— will help those in need.

Example #2: We’re pretty safe. Even in places of war most people are pretty safe in this world. We are not hunted like dogs to be robbed or murdered. We live in an urban area– we only lock our doors at night. No one is out to come into our home uninvited. No one comes onto our property to steal things. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule. (An extreme example doesn’t override what is generally true, does it?) The world is a reasonably safe place.

Example #3: People are nice. This flies directly in the face of a lot of Christians worldview. Yet, it is true. 98% of people are polite, friendly, and courteous. When I ride my bike to the trolley strangers wave and say hello. When I ride the elevator people make sure elderly and disabled make it OK. When I sit down near someone they always acknowledge my precense.

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7 Responses to Animism Invades Christianity

  1. Tara Eastman September 15, 2009 at 7:12 am #

    Religion that is manipulated by power, control and fear is not based on the heart of God. Thanks Adam for expressing that the church is not the one carrying the light into the world, but should be joining God where he’s already been about the work of lighting the world up!

  2. Mike Lyons September 15, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    I think people are just dramatic. There’s a biblical argument to support that people are naturally sinful. People expand that out to everyone being “EVIL” and out to get them and everything else.

    On the other hand, thinking that people are naturally good and righteous is equally flawed. Blessed are the Cynical is a really boring book that makes a compelling argument on this side of the issue.

    Moderation is important. Everybody knows moderation is key to healthy eating. Moderation is the key to drinking alcohol without making a disaster out of yourself. It stands to reason, I think, that moderation is also important for the way we think. Most everything is ridiculous if you push it too far.

  3. Amy @ A Chase After Wind September 15, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

    Great thoughts. Two thoughts of my own.

    In my Reformed Christian circles, the fact that most people are good is called “Common Grace” – God gives good gifts (love for others, intelligence, musical talent, sense of humor, physical beauty etc) to ALL people, and he restrains us from giving in to every evil impulse our heart and the devil could possibly come up with.

    Secondly, I think this whole thing is based on the false notion that the only evils are that which cause harm. Sure, most people won’t ever commit murder or assault or theft or whatever. But I know that even when I am being outwardly good, there is much evil in my heart.

  4. bub September 16, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    Wow, someone that shares the same worldview that I do.Most people ARE good. I rarely lock the door to my house or my car and amazingly I’ve never been ripped off. Of course I grew up in Ramona when it was a small town so maybe I’m just naive? The thing is I’ve also lived in Paradise Hills with the same mindset and never had a problem. This was BEFORE I became a Christ follower. Besides the fact that it is a less stressful way to live your life. It’s a never ending argument with my wife who DOES believe the world is evil. Sigh. Except for the trolley. There IS evil on the trolley.Oh, the buses too. Just sayin’.

  5. Uhuru March 16, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    this article has some good points, but it should reframe the contrast.  You have misdiagnosed what animism is, and you have misrepresented many cultures.  Do you know what that mask represents?

    Animism is not about fear.  it is about respecting things besides just humans.

    i like your arguent about fear being the cause–but please change the framing of the argument, lest you be seen as an ignorant racist.

  6. Riva April 17, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    You have used animism in the wrong term. Look it up before you use it. It a belief that there are spirits in everything and that its about love and respet to natural all animals plants and humans are equal. Its not some horrid way to make money by scaring people in religion. 

  7. MP January 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Christianity long ago took a great step towards Animism when it decided that god was everywhere in another dimension- basically making him the mysterious forces of the spirit world.

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