The Outrageous Claim

Alan Silverman, one of the few men on the Internet who uses a human name, writes:

Though I do not follow the dictates of Jesus, I do not hold Christianity or its scripture in contempt. I merely disagree with certain points.

Friend, I am glad you do not hold Jesus or His servants in contempt. However, I am also surprised, even shocked that you do not, and disappointed.

I do not mean to seem impolite, but my surprise is because there is simply no such thing as disagreeing with Christianity on certain points. The claims Christianity makes are too extreme and large for that. One is either a baptized Christian, and saved, or one is not, and damned.

We are either telling the one, holy, universal and supreme truth, or we are mad as hatters and evil as imps. Malign madness, like supremely holy truth, is not something with which it is possible to disagree on certain points.

Nor are you the one in whom I am disappointed. If you are not a Christian and yet regard Christians as reasonable people, we are doing something wrong.

We are not a political party or a philosophical movement.We are not making a claim someone can partly agree with and partly disagree with.

If you are not a Christian and do not hold Christianity in contempt, the outrageous nature of our love and our demands, our desire to change you and save you and make you a saint, should scandalize and offend you.

If you are a Jew, we are making the outrageous and blasphemous claim that God is three, and not one, and that the Messiah came, and that we recognize the Messiah, and you do not. We are making the outrageous and insulting claim that all the history of the Jews, and all the salvation promised you, has come instead to use due to your hardheartedness and stiffneckedness. How can you not be offended with that?

If you are a faithful Mohammedan, we are making the outrageous and blasphemous claim that Mohamed was a mountebank, a heretic, a divider and a deceiver, and that your holy book is a lie, and that the God to whom you pray five times daily, and in whose name you give alms, will condemn you to Jahannam for rejecting His will.

If you are a pagan, we are making the outrageous and blasphemous claim that your gods are devils and your ancestors are burning in Hell; and all the things you hold sacred, threads worn at the waist or at the shoulder, shrines to spirits and solemn festivals, dreams of cycles of reincarnations or dreams of self-extinction in the bliss of Nirvana, all are worthless and worse than worthless.

If you are a modern pagan, we are making the outrageous and blasphemous claim that man are not the same as women, the words have real meanings, and that logic is valid, that the sex act is not merely recreation, the unborn babies are people, that human life is sacred, and that your dreams of worldly utopia are vanity and folly; and, in short, we claim that everything you respect and revere and reverence, everything from recycling to multiculturalism to self-esteem building, it total and worthless shit.

If you are a modern secular man, we are making the outrageous and shocking claim that you are blind, because the world contains a spiritual dimension which governs and defines the play of flat shadows you call reality; and we claim that everything you respect and revere and reverence, from a strong military to honest living to hard work to a sound dollar to the Rights of Man to the rationality of the scientific method to the enlightenment and peace of the modern secular world, all are either pathetic and dying echoes of our achievements and our culture, or are childish and worthless security blankets against the reality of suffering, disease, insanity and death in a dark and infinitely empty abyss called the universe.

The things you respect will fail you when you are on your death bed, and you will be without comfort or help. Fame is fleeting and loved ones die, and all your victories turn to ash. Entropy wins. Entropy always wins.

No matter what you are, if you are not a Christian, you should be offended with us; but you should be offended most of all if you are a open minded man, one willing to leave and to let live.

We Christians should have respect for Jews and heretics and pagans, because they at least are on the road, even if have not reached the end or walk the wrong way on it; and respect even for the slumbering secular man who amuses himself with toys during the briefness called life; because he can be stirred from slumber by a shock.

It is the Laodiceans, the men who are neither hot nor cold, they sleep with their eyes open, and nothing can stir them. They are the one who think Christianity is merely one ‘spiritualism’ among others. These are they whom we should least respect, and also who should hate us most of all.

You see, all human beings are psychologically and spiritually prone to love their sins, to applaud in others sins like their own (but also, with perfect hypocrisy, to condemn sins like their own). This is why drunks like being around those who place no value on sobriety, why liars like those who do not love truth, sinners like non-judgmental and empty heads.This is why no one should like being around good Christians.

The good Christian is a pest who loves you and hates your sins the same way and for the same reason a doctor hates your diseases, because they kill you.The Saints are even more good than this: their love for you is like a blinding lightningstroke of flame from purist heaven, and their hate for your sins is hot as hellfire.

Now, that part of your mind that also hates your sins should jump up with a thrill of impossible hope upon hearing the rumor that there is some escape from the degrading slime and shit of sinfulness, and that part of you, the larger part, which adores and loves your sins (and is pathetically enslaved to them) should leap up with a roar of defiance, and fight with an hysteria born of self-preservation to object to every true thing and every impossible hope Christ offers.

The point of your sins is to make you think that any attack on them is an attack on you. People identify themselves with their sins, calling them their choices and their authentic inner self; some more egregious sins, like sodomy, get their victims to name themselves after them, so a man will not say “I commit X” but says “I am X.”

If we men who march beneath the bloodstained cross seem like reasonable people to you, either you are close to baptism and hanging back by those same fears which make a drunk unwilling to call Alcoholics Anonymous, or a virgin bride unwilling to enter the marriage bed; or the Christians you have met are not living their lives like saints.

Does it sound reasonable that we think a man in AD 33 sprang back to life from the dead, and grants us eternal life?

Does it sound reasonable that we think your death will not be followed by a restful and dreamless oblivion, but by hellfire, torment, pain, and anguish, and the worst anguish of all will be your undeniable knowledge (which only dead spirits know) that their unholiness and imperfection merits eternal pain?

I am telling you a perfectly just, loving, and benevolent super being can and will inflict a eternity of torture on you, and that you deserve it. How can you hear me say that without wanting to slap my face, or at least to roll your eyes?

I am telling you that this is the one and perfect truth, and all other claims of other religions are faithless, false, stupid, absurd, diabolical, and all other claims of philosophies and sects and ways of life, renunciations and meditations and social policies and self help book are worse than crap.

They are useless, leading to frustration and pain in this life, and eternal woe in the next. How can you hear such a claim without wanting to rabbit-punch me in the solar plexus, or at least tell me to sit down and shut up, since my claim in incompatible with the peace and good order of a tolerant and pluralistic society?

I am claiming to know, and with absolute and entire certainty, things no human being can possibly know, such as the origin and fate of the cosmos, the arrangement of the supernatural order, the secrets of eternal things and infinite beings, the destiny after death, the promises made and laws imposed by God.

Should not you be backing slowly away from me at this point, speaking in a soothing tone, while looking cautiously for a fire poker or large brass urn or stone paperweight to stun me with, should I turn violent?

What I am saying is not a matter of polite disagreement. I am not offering a philosophical theory open to discussion. I am saying there is a terrifying divine being who has an absolute claim on you and on your loyalty and love.

What I am saying is not only impossible, if you are a man with any pride at all, it should sound deeply offensive to you. I am telling you your are not your own man. You are a created being. You are a creature.

If you have even the slightest inclination to use your fellow man for your own good, or to destroy your fellow man through abortion or euthanasia for his own good, if you have any pragmatism about the value of human life at all, what I am saying should sound deeply offensive to you.

The stinking bum you just walked past in the street, and the screaming rioter overseas, and the inconvenient baby in the womb which is only one undivided cell, and the even more inconvenient vegetable on life support and the dangerous murderer on death row, I am saying is made in the image and likeness of God. I am saying that to destroy that image is worse than burning a flag or trampling a coin that bears the king’s face, because it insults Him who made that man, and you. I am saying life is infinitely precious.

If you are a modern man who absorbed Christian ideas and values, such as the idea that human life is precious, this last claim will not sound shocking to you, but only because you have not reflected on how absurd a claim it is to make. In a secular world view, there is no logical justification for it. So even if you believe it, you should be offended with me, because I am claiming your deeply held respect for human life is a belief that is illogical and, from secular foundations, insupportable.

Are you truly not offended with us? Someone has not been doing his job.

If no one else has said this to you, allow me:

I have the secret of eternal life and infinite happiness, something as wondrous as having the Holy Grail and the Lamp of Aladdin. Not just everything you desire but more than that I can get for you, if you cooperate.

You are dead, and my Grail can save you, you must drink of it voluntarily, for it contains the blood of a god, and all godly things are voluntary.

The cost is both nothing, since the free gift of God pays for all, and infinite, since you have to give up that self sense of selfishness you think of as yourself. It is not a scam since I am not asking for money; it is not a ‘meme’ since that word means nothing.

Either I am completely sincere, and insane, in which case you should flee to the hills screaming (or, if you are less theatrically inclined, sneering); or I am completely sincere, and sane, in which case the universe is a far stranger and more magical place, more full of hope and wonder, than even an imaginative man can imagine, and there are angels beyond the stars.

If no one else has invited you, allow me: come home. Return to your father. Come to the palace of the king, where you will be given a new white robe and sit with us at the feast of the Bridegroom, and raise goblets and drinking horns of ambrosia and the waters of everlasting life. You will be healed of all your infirmities, and flooded with joy beyond joy. And we will sing, and we will be a song, a symphony of golden notes ringing from the mouth of God.

Come home. Don’t die.