Christians were rounded up and killed in ways most cruel, says the historian, “convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of hating the human race.” How can that be? Jesus’ followers—“hating the human race?”
Professor G. A. Wells, author of The Jesus Myth, writes that “the context of Tacitus’ remarks itself suggests that he relied on Christian informants.” No Christian is going to say: “We hate the human race,” but they will say exactly the opposite. It was their “informants”—their apostates, that spread the ill report!
No New Testament writer fails to deal with then-rampant apostasy—a movement which finds its counterpart today. Two Bible chapters are entirely dedicated to it. Apostates of that time would “despise authority.” How could that become a problem unless there was authority? They loved “lawlessness.” How could that become a problem unless there was law? They favored acts of “brazen conduct,” had “eyes full of adultery,” and were “unable to desist from sin.” How could that become a problem unless there was someone to tell them that they could not carry on in that way? Not only is the nature of apostates revealed in the above Bible verses, but also the nature of the Christian organization.
A faith that is “anything goes” will produce few apostates. What would they apostatize from? And a faith too bland to produce ‘quality’ apostates, like those of the first century, is too bland to be given the time of day.
History is not now repeating—but it is beginning to rhyme a little. A modern “anti-cult” movement takes aim at historically recent religion that veers off the mainstream and dares to heed Jesus’s words to remain “no part of the world”—from that position to extend a helping hand to individuals therein.
Incensed at the “authoritarian” nature of such a faith—anti-cultists take aim, and the “haters of the human race” charge seems not too far from revival. Time was when, if you fell under the spell of a charismatic leader, withdrew from regular human society, and did strange things, you just might be part of a cult. These days simply thinking outside of the box is enough, and the C-word is expanded to include what scholars call new religions, in hopes that its vilifying connotations will extend to its new target. Acts of violence result in countries such as Russia, home of a radical anti-cult movement, but also in the West, where two Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses were burned to the ground in 2018.
“If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own,” Jesus told his followers. “Now because you are no part of the world…on this account the world hates you.” Can his words reveal anything other than the “insularity” of those who would follow him?
Today, that “insularity” is deliberately mis-portrayed by anti-cultists as socially destructive. The efforts of apostates to malign their former faith should not be mischaracterized as a noble struggle for human rights. Those refusing marching orders from the mainstream should not be misrepresented as a “cult.” Tragedies, both real and concocted, should not be utilized to mask what is really an attack on thinking outside-of-the-box. All of these things happen. None of them should. This book attempts to level the playing field and answer the many charges of the anti-cultists.