Exclusivism and just how to perpetuate that specialness is a hallmark mindset and goal of most religious faiths. It is a mind virus that seems to be rearing it's rather ugly head again. One way, one belief, easily defined rights and wrongs, one law, and one common acceptable mind virus will provide all the comfort and security we need. The Bible in our culture is often misread and misapplied to perpetuate more harm than good. It's what exclusivists do best.
Most religions, denominations and even rival churches of the same denomination but with slightly different practices, teach that they are the one true path to salvation and all others will simply suffer the fates. I live and work close to Bob Jones University, where being consigned to hell for non compliance is an art form. Around here it is not uncommon to read “Love Jesus, or burn forever in Hell. " Try that one one on your kids. “Love Daddy, or I will kill you. " That's child abuse isn't it??? Ask a Bob Jones student what they believe and it usually comes out in some form of “whatever they say. "
When intollerant fundamentalists. who are infected with exlusivism speak, the goal is to spread the virus and get others to agree and support it's propagation. Once you are in, everyone not in, is out, and the virus then endeavors to become immune from attack through bluster, fear, shame and guilt. I recently tried to read a copy of the Philadelphia Trumpet, but gave up and opted for chewing ground glass which felt ever so much more pleasant.
Tell one of God's chosen they are biblically ignorant and watch what happens. So many sincerely misguided Christians and ministers are piously convicted, to be sure, but marginally informed in their education and perspectives.
While preaching exclusivism, they tend to leave out the being ignorant of the bible part. Tell one of God's chosen they are biblically ignorant and watch what happens. Too bad the being more like Jesus and less like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Malachi, Elijah and Paul never really caught on in the many prophecy motivated and obcessed churches and denominations. The “we only" mentality is responsible for much of the division in Christianity today. Christianity seems to thrive on division for multiplication.
So how does exclusivism work? What must happen for it to be successful?
First of all it must do two things. It must ensure it can take up a long term residence in the host (Membership or maybe Meme-bership). A meme is an idea that is passed on from one human generation to another. It's the cultural equivalent of a gene, the basic element of biological inheritance. The term was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. Secondly, it must bring about the proper conditions for spreading itself (Evangelism).
This is how it is done:
1. Promise reward for the effort, position, power, inside knowledge and specialness. It's better if the reward is “some day. "
2. Threaten punishment for failure to grow, or pay, pray, stay and obey. This can take place almost any time now and/or in the future.
3. Convince them they are the chosen, exclusive and special people. Teach them that all others are false and there is only ONE right way to think or faith to express. Teach them that right way just happens be where they are.
4. Disable their ability to challenge or disbelieve the information given. Lower their immunity. Faith is superior to reason. “The wisdom of man is foolishness with God. "
5. Establish a library of true literature and correct answers, for the faithful and discourage reading outside of this one true source, usually provided by the chief virus and his team of pathogens.
Once the parasite has been injected into the host, it will need to propagate itself or the virus will die. Follow these steps.
1. Emotionally, spiritually, psychologically or literally kill all immune persons. If you can't infect them, eliminate them.
2. Those you can't kill. . .intimidate and discriminate against. In religion, this is being disfellowshipped, demoted, censored or made to bring the watermelon to the picnic. Isolate them because such people, if not held in isolation can pass on immunity and resistance to the virus.
3. Encourage true believers to breed faster than false ones. Evangelism is a great tool for this.
4. Censor incoming information and remember to repeat “the wisdom of man is foolishness with God. ". . often, along with a lot of other scriptures that promote blind obedience. Most of these will be found in the Epistles of Paul.
5. Be prepared to give out disinformation and spread lies about your rivals. Demonise them. And remember, the bigger the lies, the louder you shout it at church and the more seriously concerned you appear for the welfare of the members, the more successful you will be.
Exclusivism is really a rather evil mind set. Us vs. them, Me vs. You, Chosen vs. unchosen, Christian vs. Pagan, True vs. False as defined by one government, organization or person over another, is never going to turn out right.
Dennis Diehl is a former pastor who has outgrown the box of Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity. Dennis currently has a Therapeutic Massage practice in Greenville, SC.