The De-Humanizing Nature of Christianity

To Be a Christian: Give up What Makes You Human

One of the sites that I regularly read to get a Christian perspective on things is The Christian Post.  One of their regular opinion writers is a fellow named Dan Delzell.  He is the pastor at Wellspring Lutheran Church in Nebraska.  I have written a few posts on response to some of his articles in the past.  Usually, I do not bother to do so.  Delzell’s work is not aimed at the likes of me.  He preaches to the choir, so to speak.  With that said he takes much for granted regarding religion.  While I believe it is foolish, naïve, misleading, encouraging of lower order thinking, I get that I am not his target audience.  He is not trying to convert me, but is speaking to the already converted.

One paragraph in his piece today really stuck in my mind.  Delzell writes:

“That is to say, your life is now empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit. The main thing that will get in the way of this new life is “self.” Your agenda….your natural impulses….your sin….your personal ambition or pride….your greed or lust or worry….your perceived “right” to do it your way. Those are the things which will block the flow of God’s work in our lives. So….it is necessary for us to stay in the Word….and prayer….and Christian fellowship….and obedience….if we are going to stay in the flow of God’s power and love.”

He is writing about what it means to be a Christian, and, how to be a good or better Christian.  Here is the problem that I see.  The list of things that stand in the way of achieving that goal can be summed up in one phrase.  They are the “things that make us human”.  Delzell is demanding that you de-humanize yourself.

Who would you be if you subverted your agenda, natural impulses, personal ambition or pride, your greed, your lust, your worry, your perceived “right” to do it your way?  If you take all of those things and push them to the nether regions of your existence, what is left?  The answer is a miserable existence.

Much has been written on the idea that the Christian faiths need to perpetuate the concept that we, as humans are “sinners” and worthless beings from birth.  That in fact, Jesus/God/religion is needed in order to give us any redemption as a species at all.  (John Loftus treats this topic very well in his book “Why I Became an Atheist”).  This concept is one of my biggest objections to Christianity.  It is toxic to who/what we really are as humans.  It seeks to subvert all of the traits that in fact make us human.

Would any of us submit to any natural authority that required these same ideas?  My answer is no.  Further, I would argue that we, as a species, have done a relatively admirable over the past few centuries to fight against regimes of this sort.  We have, by and large, accepted the idea that any institution or regime that wants us to subvert our own agenda, impulses, ambitions, pride, greed, lust, worry, or “right” to do it our way is something to be avoided.  In fact, we have come up with terms to describe such institutions:  authoritarian and/or totalitarian.  Very few people, at least those living in developed societies of modern civilization would sign on to live under a system of that nature.

Why then would we, as humans, be willing to sign up to live under such a system where the strings are being pulled by a supernatural being?  The answer, at least in my mind, is a lack of critical thinking.  The only way that we could possibly view what Delzell is describing as a virtue, is if we fail to see it for what it really is: an authoritarian or totalitarian system.  After all, that is what he is describing.

Perhaps some Christians will counter this with their belief in God.  They will say things to the effect of “how can we not submit to our Creator in such a manner?   He is God after all…” They may have other thoughts along the lines that a supernatural and all powerful being is not the same as a human dictator.  If this were true, they may be onto something (though I would disagree, the proven existence of god would change the conversation).  Here lies the problem.  There is no evidence to support such a being exists.  Why give up pretty much everything that defines who you are for a being that most likely does not exist?   I would challenge every Christian to have this conversation honestly and personally.

The logical question to ask, if we are going to have an honest discussion about this, would be: If God does not exist, who benefits from this system, who is really pulling the strings.  The answer that we come to is: religious leaders.  The benefits to some humans (religious leaders) that can be won if some other humans (congregations) buy into this system are immense.  Two benefits come to mind immediately: power and money.  These two concepts have been major motivators for human beings for a long time.  The power side of this is easy to see.  Look at the respect that religious leaders garner in our society—from Catholic Clergy to local ministers.  They are often people who have a privileged place in our communities and society.  The power that comes from that cannot be discounted.

The money side of the equation is also fairly easy to see.  For religious leaders, being that leader is a job…and it often pays well.  Look at the rise of Mega Churches in the United States.  There is a tremendous amount of money there.  Those organizations are run like businesses and extend to far beyond simple Sunday services.  Many have their own publishing houses and radio/TV stations.  They are big business.

The fact of the matter is this:  There is much money to be made and much power to be won for religious leaders if they can promote the idea that Delzell is selling.  If they can convince people that we, as a species are sinners and worthless from the start, they stand to gain much.  The follower of these religions will submit all that makes them human, will return to services, will place their “faith” not in god, but in these leaders to shepherd them out of misery and to an imagined “promised land”.

My question to all the Christians who read this would be, if you follow Delzell’s advice and:

“That is to say, your life is now empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit. The main thing that will get in the way of this new life is “self.” Your agenda….your natural impulses….your sin….your personal ambition or pride….your greed or lust or worry….your perceived “right” to do it your way. Those are the things which will block the flow of God’s work in our lives. So….it is necessary for us to stay in the Word….and prayer….and Christian fellowship….and obedience….if we are going to stay in the flow of God’s power and love.”

Who benefits?  You or Delzell and others like him?  If you are going to give up all that makes you human, you need to spend some time seriously considering that question, and while you’re at it, questioning the supposed reward at the end.  It is time for you to have an honest conversation about that with yourself.

Thanks for Reading.  I look forward to your comments.


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13 thoughts on “The De-Humanizing Nature of Christianity

  1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    Robert Heinlein tackled the issue of "thy will be done" brilliantly in his novel, "Job: A Comedy of Justice." He pointed out that, in that phrase, you give up your right to your self and supposedly invite god to superimpose his will upon you. To which I say, Oooooooooooooooookay … and just HOW are we going to know what god's will is? Well, to try to determine god's will by oneself is to introduce that nasty element of "self" which Delzell seems to detest so much. But if a "Man of God" were to advise one of his flock on how to align him or herself to god's will, no doubt that would be perfectly acceptable. The only problem is that, it's someone else's "self" being pressed into service!

    Somehow I haven't the slightest doubt that such advice to a person seeking to allow god's will to be done will be beneficial … to that person, to his church and his teachings, whatever they may be. Whether they're of benefit to the person being advised is another matter, but you're not supposed to think in those terms. This is quintessentially what it is to be GULLIBLE: to abandon self and with it intellect, intelligence and skepticism in favor of the dictates of another, who may or may not have YOUR best interests at heart.

    To which I say, "No, thank you, Pastor Delzell. I will keep my own sensibilities, skepticism and judgment. You can't have 'em."

  2. Ahab from United States

    Bingo. A person without "agenda, natural impulses, personal ambition or pride, your greed, your lust, your worry, your perceived “right” to do it your way" is a hollow person who is easy to control. Instead of being human beings, the intent is to make them vessels into which religious leaders can empty dogma and orders. The problem is, this is a profoundly unnatural state, and the result is bitterness, frustration, and neurosis …or escape!

  3. matt greenberg from Norristown, PA, United States

    i was driving to Nags Head, SC when i happened upon a Christian radio show. i admit it's a weakness to tune in and get some good laughs. however, this particular woman had me stark raving mad. her discussion was full of this drivel, indicating the importance of not thinking for yourself, to suppress any rational (she used that word over and over) thoughts. the theme was to deny yourself the impulse to use logic (another word she denounced over and over) and to submit to God's message. her rationale – if you could keep your mind blank you will be more able to hear God's message and to do as He would wish. i was horrified by her message, so much so that i listened to her rant on for over an hour. to me this simply invites insanity and harmful acts. if you are convinced that a thought that comes into your head is not your own, but God's message (it has to be right, your mind is blank!) then you will be equally convinced that any deranged thought that comes into your head is not yours, but God's. this elimination of true thinking is no different, perhaps worse, than that of Islamic extremists. if that becomes the new normal for Christianity, we are in more trouble than i can imagine.

      1. matt greenberg from Norristown, PA, United States

        no idea. i was in rural Virginia at the time. weekday early afternoon. frankly i had a lot of choices. there were about 8 different Christian radio shows on at the same time.

      1. matt greenberg from Norristown, PA, United States

        i know, right? typically i just laugh at this stuff, but this woman had me enraged.

  4. John from Knoxville, TN, United States

    I see hypocrisy in his message. He uses the very things he ask's his congregation to give up. Self – He's obviously full of himself he's a minister, Agenda – His agenda is to stop their agenda whatever it may be, Natural impulses – I can only guess but apparently he has overcome them, Your sin – What about his sin, Your personal ambition or pride – His personal ambition is obvious, to save the sinners and you can't tell me he's not proud every time someone is baptized in his church. Greed, Lust , Worry – Lets put greed and lust in the natural impulses category and as for worry, if he wasn't worried about his parishioners why write the opinion, and last:: Your perceived "right" to do it your way – He's perceived that his way was is not just right but the "only" way. Now lets all turn to Matthew 7:5

  5. fester60613 from Binghamton, NY, United States

    The epic cognitive dissonance that believers must endure makes my head spin!
    Subsuming one's self, one's humanity and will responsibility for choices to the "will" of a supernatural being who purportedly exists beyond all reason and evidence would, in most circumstances, be considered lunacy – madness – insanity. Yet, when such abnegations are couched in religious terms, well that's just ducky, thank you very much.
    How do they do it? How do they deny their humanity in hopes of some pie-in-the-sky eternal beyond? It's depressing and disturbing and just plain wrong.
    Well – when I get upset about it I try to pity them. Doesn't always work. Heh heh.


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