Subject: THE MIND OF THE BIBLE BELIEVER ...[A] propensity to religious extremism does not

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From: sdoe@nmsu.edu (Stephen Doe) Message-ID: 1992Dec6.205522.11696@nmsu.edu ------------------------------------------ Subject: THE MIND OF THE BIBLE BELIEVER ...[A] propensity to religious extremism does not require explanation since it is entirely consistent with basic religious tenets and authentic religious orientations. It is religious moderation or religious liberalism, the willingness of religious adherents to accommodate themselves to their environment, to adapt their behaviorial and belief patterns to prevailing cultural norms, to make peace with the world, that requires explanation. -- A professor of political studies at Bar_Ilan University, Israel[1] An Historical Perspective A generation ago the proposition that conservative Christian churches were about to enter a phase of very rapid growth would have struck sociologists studying religion as absurd; one might as well have expected astronomers to flock to the geocentric model in droves. Statistics on church membership indicated a continuing decline. The prevailing opinion was that religion served to explain the origins of the universe, and one's relation to the universe. As the more competent natural sciences increased man's knowledge of the universe, conventional religion became more and more irrelevant. Unless religion could re-invent itself --and the statistics indicated that those churches attempting to do so, the liberal and mainline churches, experienced decline in membership as well-- religion would, in a relatively short time, be relegated to the dustbin of history. Yet we live now in an era in which it is the conservative churches that show no decrease in vitality-- indeed, they show a great increase. "Contrary to the conventional wisdom of mainline church professionals, those churches that were least "reasonable," "tolerant," and "relevant" were (and are) the ones not declining. Those churches that continued to emphasize the primacy of the Bible, and to take for real the supernatural salvation plan set out in it, continued to add to their numbers each year."[2] What is going on here? Most of us, I think, would prefer to believe that the conservatives are just some fanatics that can be dismissed with a wave of a hand, that their harsh, literalist interpretation of the Bible is really going against the "spirit" of the Bible. We would like to think that the kindly, mellow, non-judgmental practitioners of the more liberal denominations are the true followers of Christ. But what the liberal Christians fail to recognize is that they are the heirs of a great tradition of rebellion *against* the harsher implications of the Bible. Each successive phase of theology served to both obscure these harsh implications, and to also find Biblical support for what passed for the conventional wisdom of the day. To see this in action, we must briefly trace the history of Protestant Christianity, from the Reformation to the present. The Reformation Two men figure prominently in the break from Catholicism: Luther and Calvin. Martin Luther had been a rather timid Catholic monk, who experienced anguish over his salvation doubts and his inability to make his life free enough from sin. His solution to this was to recognize that the Bible counseled that salvation was due solely to God's grace, and that a person's works have no effect upon it. This was of course in contradiction to the Catholic doctrine that the Church had the authority to dispense forgiveness for sin, and to sell indulgences from particular sins. The Catholic Church accepts as authoritative many extra-biblical documents; indeed the Pope, as Vicar of Christ, is said to be infallible when speaking ex cathedra. If, as Luther did, one is to reject these extraneous teachings, one [Christian] is left with only one possible source of authoritative information concerning God, Christ and salvation-- the Bible. The main goal of the Reformation then, was to fashion a doctrine that, as rigorously as possible, followed Biblical teachings, and *only* Biblical teachings. "The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible." There was no particular interest in harmonizing the Bible with secular learning (one has only to read Luther's comments on Copernicus to see that). The man who provided the most rigorous rendition of the Bible's teachings, and hence the rendition accepted as authoritative among Protestants until the late eighteenth century, was John Calvin. We can set down five essential points of Calvinism, long used to teach its fundamentals. 1) The nature of man, as a result of Adam's fall, is totally depraved, so that nothing good can come from him without God's gracious intervention. 2) God decided before creating the world which people would receive salvation; that number may be a very small portion of humanity, God's elect. 3) Christ's sacrifice on the cross redeemed the elect only. 4) God's grace is irresistable by the elect, so that a decision or voluntary action by the recipient is not involved in salvation. 5) Those who are saved cannot lose their salvation. These five points were formulated in response to five points of opposite meaning proposed by Jacobus Arminius, who attempted to humanize Christianity. We can regard Calvinism, as expressed above, as closed and authoritarian, while Arminianism can be regarded as open and democratic. At this point it serves our purpose to compare Calvinism and Arminianism with Biblical teachings. Both, after all, claim to be in accord with the Bible. With this end in mind, Dr. Cohen combed the New Testament for verses clearly supporting only a Calvinist interpretation, and for verses supporting only an Arminian interpretation. The results: 133 verses clearly in favor of Calvinism, vs only twenty-three in favor of Arminianism[3]. More significantly, no parable or story in the NT has an ending consistent with Arminianism. Calvinism is clearly the more accurate rendition of the two. (Of course, it's easier to strain 23 verses to fit Calvinism, than it is to strain 133 to fit Arminianism!) How does one know if one is saved? In Calvinism there is no discernable criterion, other than that "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."[Matt. 24:13] One cannot know if someone is a true saint until the full span of that person's life is over. (I do not here mean "saint" in the Catholic sense. In the Bible, all the saved are refered to as "saints.") Aside from that, only ambiguous, even teasing allusions are given (2 Cor. 13:5, Heb. 4:16, Phil. 2:12, 2 Cor. 10:7). I hope that the reader can now see how morbid fascination with question of one's salvation status could develop. Consider a passage from a sermon by Jonathon Edwards, the arch-proponent of Calvinsim in America: The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked, his wrath towards you burns like fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night, that you was [sic] suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep[4]. Clearly not an attractive doctrine, however an accurate rendition of the Bible it may be. To continue to attract new members, Protestantism had to --and did-- change. The next phase we can see is the ascendance of Methodism and Baptism. John Wesley was one of the co-founders of Methodism. This movement began in the 1730's at Oxford, where Wesley was educated. In particular, Wesley was strongly Arminian. Hence the emphasis was on good works and social action. This provided the model for nineteenth century efforts such as rescue missions, missionary organizations, the Salvation Army, and a generally civic-minded tone. The prevailing attitude in Methodism and Baptism was that anyone could decide to become a Christian, and that as a result would perform such good works as he was able. This charity, in the absence of any comparable secular efforts, goes a long way towards explaining the vague notion many have that the Bible is somehow connected to "doing good," despite the Calvinist injunction that works do nothing to ensure salvation. The key point to remember is that Wesley made individual judgment and conscience into a counterbalance upon the literal authority of Scripture. In fact, the authority of Scrpiture was made *subordinate* to common sense in Methodism. All the while, Wesley claimed to be following the Bible; as he wrote in his Journal on June 5, 1766, "My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small." An absurd statement, in the light of the Calvinist verses he passed over. He followed the "spirit," as his *conscience* dictated, not the "letter." Thus this teaching is Biblical only in a very superficial sense; for every negative Biblical teaching, a modern idea was substituted and clothed in Biblical language. What was achieved was *containment* of the Bible's true teachings, rendering the Bible remote, confusing and impenetrable. This lead to dispensationalism, the division of the Bible into as many as seven epochs, each with different theological rules. In such a view there is no need for unity, continuity and consistency in the whole Bible, which is what Calvinism had done. What does the Bible itself say about the Arminian-Wesleyan approach? Considering that Jesus himself often spoke in parables and allegory, it seems probable to assume that parts of it are not to be taken *literally*. On the other hand it does see itself as authoritative: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.[2 Tim. 3:16-17] Also consider that: . . .no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.[2 Pet. 1:20] The worst punishments in Hell are reserved exclusively for those who bring a false gospel, ie adding to or detracting from the Scriptures. Understanding the Bible is declared to be beyond mere human reason (1 Cor. 2:12-14, 1 Cor. 13:9-10,12). Clearly the Bible, the *whole* Bible, is taken to be authoritative, though taken on a figurative, allegorical level as well as a literal one. Also, since the Scriptures clearly deprecate any non-Scriptural influences ("whatsoever is not of faith is sin" [Rom. 14:23], "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." [Gal. 1:8]), we cannot possibly be meant to leaven Scriptural teachings with lore from any other source, not even with our common sense. Thus we can see that by the twentieth century, Protestant Christianity was well on its way to standing for--absolutely nothing. When individual conscience is made the primary discriminator between applicable and non-applicable verses, virtually any doctrine can be justified. In fact, the Bible can be emptied of any content whatsoever. One can consider "modernist theology" to be a complete, 180 degree turnabout from Calvinist doctrine. Paul Tillich provided the main insights here. To put it very simply, the key concept here is the *symbol*. A symbol has a few basic properties: 1) It points to something that it cannot make totally explicit (a totally explicit notation or character is refered to as a *sign*); 2) The symbol "opens up levels of reality which otherwise are closed for us." 3) It "unlocks dimensions and elements of our soul which correspond to dimensions and elements of reality." 4) "Symbols cannot be produced intentionally." They are spontaneous, they occur to us. 5) They grow to meet the needs of their users, and die when the symbol has fulfilled its use, ie has become explicit. A larger system of symbols is called a myth; something mythic prompts a resonance in those for whom it has meaning. A myth has psychological truth. Tillich did little to guide Christians towards a new idea-content which the Bible could stand for. The void was more than filled by C. G. Jung's investigation into religious symbolism. He saw the death-to-life transformation story in the Gospels as an image of the individual's innate, "authentic" destiny. The demands to submit to Biblical teaching were re-interpreted as openness to one's unconsciousness and living out that innate destiny. The focus is individualistic, and the idea that obligation is imposed from without vanishes. In essence, the goal is the development of one's true Self. (Notice that this approach completely frees one from taking any part of the Bible as meaning what it says. A believer who takes a Biblical verse literally is merely responding to the symbol system differently than the believer who is further along in self-development. The approach resembles nothing so much as the Gnosticism of early Christianity.) Here was the hoped-for rejuvenation of Christianity--or so Jung thought. Instead, the period saw no birth of new symbols to help Christians along in developing the Self. Instead, theologians complaining about the spiritual bankruptcy of contemporary Christianity were most vocal. The cover of the April 8, 1966 Time magazine featured the phrase "Is God Dead?" in large red letters on a black background. Theologians discussed topics such as the synthesis of Christianity and Marxism and gender-neutering the Bible. Against such a backdrop, the rise of conservative Christianity becomes a bit more comprehensible. The conservative message is, at least, unequivocal. "The Bible means what it says it means, and that's that!" In times of great social upheaval, such certainty is compelling, particularly if the liberal approach becomes more and more uninspiring. Furthermore, the liberal gloss put on the Bible by preceding generations has prepared people for the notion that it contains some sublime wisdom, while leaving them unfamiliar with the Bible's actual content. Thus for the first time since the Reformation, we have a significant portion of the population once again ready for the old Calvinist/Paulinist doctrine. The alternatives have played themselves out. I hope the reader of the preceding is ready to accept, at least in a provisional way, the notion that the Bible really does mean what it says it means, that the Calvinist doctrine really is the closest approximation of the Bible's message. Then we are left with a conundrum. Liberal Protestantism grew out of a rebellion against Calvinism's nastier implications. Yet churches built on liberal, humanistic premises have grown progressively weaker over time, while the conservative churches of our time (not to mention first century, Paulinist Christianity) display a great deal of vitality. Obviously there is something about Christianity that enables it, in its pure, undiluted form, to spread like wildfire, while tampering with the "recipe" spoils the effect. But if Calvinist/Paulinist Christianity is so repulsive as to have spawned the liberal Protestant rebellion against it, what is there to draw people towards it? The answer is that the themes of cleansing, rebirth, peace, prayer and so on, seen by the conservatives as literally true, by the liberal religionists as symbolic of sublime wisdom, and by skeptics as sheer invention, are not really any of the above. The Bible is primarily a *psychological* document. The relevant criterion for evaluating the contents of the Bible is not the Bible's intellectual content, but the Bible's psychological effect. Unravelling the Bible's true, psychological purpose will be a fascinating undertaking. But first, the foundations for discussion must be laid down. My next post will deal with the psychological premises at the core of Dr. Cohen's model. SD [1] Trans. Talcott Parsons (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958), p. 182. [2] The Mind of the Bible Believer, Edmund Cohen, (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988) p. 41. [3] Verses consistent only with Calvinism: Matt. 2:6; 7:16-20; 9:37-38; 10:5-6; 11:25, 27; 13:24-30; 37-43; 15:13, 24; 20:23, 28; 22:2-14; 24:22; 25:32-34; Mark 4:11-12, 15-20; Luke 1:77; 3:17; 6:43-45; 8:5-15; 10:22; 13:23-30; 14:23; 16:31; 18:7; John 1:12-13; 3:6;6:44, 65; 10:14, 16, 26; 15:16; 17:2; Acts 2:39; Rom. 8:29-30, 33; 9:15-16, 21-24; 10:20; 11:5; 2 Cor. 10:7, 18; Gal. 1:15; Eph. 1:4-5; 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:10, 19-20; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 7:3-15; 13:8; and 22:11. Verses consistent only with Arminianism: Matt. 11:28; Luke 2:10; 11:9-10; 13:34; 20:38; Acts 2:17; Rom. 10:9, 13; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:6; Phil. 2:10-11; Col. 1:28; 1 Tim. 2:4, 6; 2 Tim. 2:21; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet. 3:9; and Rev. 22:17-19, 21. [4] "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," preached July 8, 1741. In Ola Elizabeth Winslow, ed., Jonathon Edwards: Basic writings (New York: New American Library, 1966) p. 159. The initial word does not lie within the province of the theologian, but of the historian and the psychologist.--Hugh J. Schonfield, _The_Passover_Plot_ I ended Part 1 by asserting that the Bible is primarily a psychological document, and that the long and bitter debate over its didactic content had missed the point. To continue in this review, we must lay down the psychological premises at the core of Dr. Cohen's work. We may sum this up as follows: Freud's stance towards Christianity was the correct one, but his method was flawed; Jung's stance towards Christianity was flawed, but his general psychodynamic concepts (minus the religious theory) are useful. Dr. Cohen seeks to unite was is useful in both approaches. Freud For the sake of brevity, I assume the reader is familiar with the basic Freudian concepts--id, ego, superego; resistance, libido, Oedipus complex; and the five stages of psychosexual development. The basic idea was that from the id, two drives emerge: the erotic drive and the self-destructive drive. The aim of the former is possession of the parent of the opposite sex; the aim of the latter, the reduction of all tension and a return to the inorganic state. The attainment of either goal would have antisocial consequences, so only displacements, substitute gratifications are possible. These reduce tension but do not eliminate it. The ego develops through the fives stages of psychosexual development to cope with the outside world, where there are objects that psychic energy, libido, can be invested in. The superego develops out of the internalization of prohibitions laid down in childhood. The aims of the two drives are so terrible that they cause anxiety, and hence are repressed by the superego. This allows an individual to retain socially acceptable illusions about himself. Repressed material can cause various neuroses; analysis consists of bringing repressed material to consciousness, one small dose at a time. How did Freud view religion? Freud was a radical materialist. Almost alone among behaviorial scientists of the time, Freud was a destructive critic of religion. (This makes sense if we remember that religion was almost the sole provider of charitable outreach at the time, and that most of the destructive teachings in the Bible, which they would have criticized, were being explained away by liberal theologians anyway. Also, many of the behaviorial scientists had liberal Christian affiliations themselves. They were very gentle critics indeed, seeking mostly to encourage the positive effects--charity--that were socially useful. One has only to read William James' _Varieties_of_Religious_Experiences_ to see this attitude.) Freud saw three functions of religion: 1) The explanatory function, ie creation myths, which were losing significance with the advance of science; 2) the wish-fulfilling function, in which the need for a "protector," a father-figure, was projected onto God, and (in contradiction to his notion of a self-destructive urge) death was denied; 3) the social regulatory function, in which religion takes over the parental role of laying down rules against anti-social gratification. Freud saw the first two positions as illusions, while the third function would have to find some foundation other than religion, which was built up from false premises. Freud once said that participating in a universal neurosis such as religion spared one from constructing an individual neurosis. In Dr. Cohen's view, there are some things to commend in Frued's attitude. The first is that it helps to stand apart from the phenomenon being studied, to refuse to apply more lenient standards to religious truth claims. The second is that looking beneath surface impressions is necessary; we are looking for something that theological study serves to divert our attention from. The third is that the religious problem ought not be severed from the other motives and conflicts present in a person; Freud had a good point, in seeing religion could serve as a substitute neurosis. All the same, there are aspects of Freudianism to be avoided. One is its rigidity. No theory other than the sexual one is considered worthy of discussion; anyone proposing otherwise is diagnosed as having unanalyzed resistance to it. Any critics must have horribly intense, and repressed, sexual complexes. When Jung and Adler, his prize disciples, broke with him over the theory, they were accused of currying favor with outsiders. (It is interesting to note that in some aspects--namely, the negative view of humanity, and the demonization of outside views--Freud mimics aspects of conservative Christianity. An ironic result, considering that Freud proclaimed himself a proponent of the scientific method!) Misuse of history also ought to be avoided. Freud sometimes tailored history to fit his views. Christianity itself is an example of this. If Christianity's purpose was social control, then it was superfluous, as many such controls already existed in the Roman Empire. We will see later than maintaining social order is really not what early Christianity was concerned with. The key point then is that while Freud's insight into religion was good--ie, that it can act as a substitute neurosis--we will need some more flexible tools to extend this insight. (I hope the reader doesn't analyze this as "resistance" on our part!) Next we shall consider the views of Jung. Jung Jung viewed the subconscious as a much livelier place than Freud's dour trio of id, ego and superego. The fundamental concept here is that of the complex, which is defined as a grouping of energy-laden psychic contents which are compatible and belong together. These act as organized centers of activity within a personality, which the conscious is not aware of. They are distinct from the ego-personality because they embody attitudes at odds with the conscious attitude. Dr. Cohen gives us an apt analogy when he compares the various complexes to a parliament. "In a normal person, there is a majority party (the ego-personality) and a relatively docile, loyal opposition (the complexes). . . In a neurotic person, there is also a majority party, but the opposition is disruptive and combative, largely because the majority party has been too narrow and intransigent, not allowed the minority a hearing, and made too few concessions. In the schizophrenic, no party is able to form a government and confusion reigns."[2] There are several complexes for us to consider. The first is the ego-personality. This is the person's awareness of self, including memories and knowledge. The ego-personality grows and becomes more differentiated as it matures. There is the persona, the image presented to the outside world. Several unconscious complexes that one attempts to deal with in Jungian analysis are the shadow, the anima (in a male) or animus (in a female), and the Self. From the conscious standpoint, the shadow embodies all that is related to bad conscience. The anima or animus embodies qualities missing from the conscious attitude, and in dreams is represented as a person of the opposite sex. The Self is the "final complete quintessence towards which the person is growing," often represented as a child or an abstract personification. As such it has a relation to the idea of God, and to a Jungian, the personal religious quest and actualization of the Self (individuation) are the same. In the Jungian view, compensation is important in relating different aspects of the psyche, just as causality is important in the exterior world. Thus unconscious elements embody psychological opposites to the conscious attitude. Other Jungian concepts include intraversion vs extraversion, the four functions, and archetypes. Introverts feels overstimulated by their environment; extraverts, understimulated. The popular usage of the terms is what Jung means as well. The four functions are diagrammed thus: Thinking Sensation + Intuition Feeling Thinking means mental activity from an objective standpoint; feeling, subjective menatal activity. These are the raional functions, because they involve reflection. Sensation and intuition are irrational because they are kinds of perception. Sensation involves the explicit data of perception, while the intuitive type deals with tacit, subliminal data. Each individual has one of these functions most developed; that function is the main function. The psychologically opposite function is the inferior function--inferior in the sense of its poor response to voluntary conscious control. Archetypes can be thought of as universal symbols, that occur in the same way despite differences in culture and time because the psyche has fundamentally the same structure. This fascination with religious symbolism dominated Jung's later career. In Jung's view maturity is reached through the synthesis of opposites. "A psychic state or condition at a particular time, expressible in symbols, will finally combine with another, from the unconscious, that is in some ways it opposite, and a higher synthesis will emerge."[3] This is a continually ongoing process; there is always some finer nuance of individuation to be experienced. Jung connected this with his religious theory. Life's true main issue is the personal religious quest. Meaningful religious symbols are created and enable one to get in touch with deeper levels within oneself. As I've alluded to earlier, this resembles the Gnosticism of early Christianity, and has also been viewed as compatible with Tillich's conception of symbols. Jung was thus much friendlier to Christianity than Freud was--but Christianity in the Tillichian sense. He made no concession at all to the Bible's declarations about its meaning. One disturbing aspect of all this is that Jung and his disciple's seem to have been overwhelmed by the rich religious symbolism available for study. As Dr. Cohen says, "Jungians turn out to be escapists. . ."[4] and that they "prided themselves on putative superior individuation, and disdained those less withdrawn than themselves as benighted and unconscious. To me, they seemed like refugees from reality. . ."[5] We can correct for this by severing Jung's psychodynamic theory from his religious theory, and saying that individuation, the reconciliation of psychic opposites, is the goal. This is accomplished through projection, the application of the archetypes to stimuli (which we can call the progressive flow of libido, or psychic energy) and withdrawal of projections that don't fit and result in the blockage of progressive flow (which we can call regressive flow). Having defined the mentally healthy individual as one in whom individuation takes place, one who can successfully distinguish fantasy from non-fantasy (we use "non-fantasy" because reality can be a loaded term), we can speak of mechanisms that prevent individuation. Dissociation occupies roughly the same place in Jungian thought as repression does in Freudian. Psychic contents become dissociated (placed within the unconscious) which are incompatible with conscious attitudes. That which is dissociated is always a matter of bad conscience to the person. Dissociation is the ego-defense mechanism, in which one seeks to 1) avoid negative emotions associated with the dissociated material, and 2) avoid incongruity or conflict in attitudes. As we shall see later, dissociation induction, and the management of dissociation, is one of the most important features of the Biblical program, which Dr. Cohen refers to as "the Evangelical Mind Cointrol System." One can view Jung's notions about individuation as similar to Goldstein's view of "self-actualization." This is defined as "adequate, adaptive behavior, in accordance with the capacities and capabilities of the organism." In both we can see one overall, teleologically constituted drive--not for the reduction of tension, but for the maintenance of an optimum level of tension. The key insight of Jung's theory is that individuation takes place through the synthesis of psychic opposites. We can take our provisional definition of mental health to be that state in which individuation, or self-actualization, takes place. Now we can ask ourselves--is the Biblical system such an environment? The Biblical View of Human Nature Not to put to fine a point on things, we must say that the Bible has the most negative possible view of human nature. If it were even more negative, the whole system would be untenable. Some applicable verses: The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. [Ps. 58:3] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. . .[Rom. 3:23-24] . . .there is none good but one, that is God.[Mark 10:18] The implication is that this guilt is universal. Good works do not cure it. Outside of the Biblical program, there is no source of self-esteem. One objection to this scheme is the good that the unsaved do. The Bible's answer to this is that the unsaved have a form of the Law written in their hearts. Presumably this is put there to prevent the unsaved from wiping the saved off of the face of the earth. At any rate, this conscience that the unsaved have is vastly inferior to knowledge of the Scrpitures. Certainly conscience is never portrayed as a source of relief from Bible prescripts that are repugnant. Secular culture is uniformly condemned as "unprofitable." This takes advantage the fact that most people innately feel "wrong, inferior and unhappy." We have a distorted view of our own moral nature. Dr. Cohen's service as a defense attorney provides an illustration of this. Often he was called upon to defend street criminals. These people had fairly good information as to the punishment risk of their crimes; in general, they decided the crime was worth it. The sole exception to the rule comes in the area of confessions. Each criminal knows that what he says will be used against him, so self-interest dictates one say nothing. Yet a substantial number of convictions would have been unattainable had not the defendents essentially convicted themselves. There is typically a compulsion to confess, indicative of sound but guilty conscience. This blind spot to our own moral nature may serve a purpose. After all, it is those criminals whose self-esteem remains high are most prone to repeating crimes. Feeling "wrong, inferior and unhappy" serves to prevent us from doing great harm to others and ourselves. Being deprived of these feelings would be akin to being deprived of pain sensitivity. Mental-health officials do us no favors when they advocate a bland, untroubled state of mind, life on an even keel. The emphasis on self-esteem stems from a tendency to over-react, to do whatever seems to be the opposite of the bad, old way of doing things. The Bible exploits this tendency to its fullest, aggravating and distorting it enormously. Often we will hear Evangelicals say that Christ is the only thing that prevents them from being very wicked people. Yet we never hear from people for whom the Bible has helped to relieve an immense burden of guilt. What the Evangelicals seek relief from is a fairly low-key, nagging sense of guilt. They are guilt "dilletantes." On the other hand, the Bible does offer some sound advice on managing inner discord: Bear ye one another's burdens. . .[Gal 6:2] There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful. . .but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.[1. Cor. 10:13] In the world ye shall have tribulation. . .[John 16:33] These realistic pieces of advice protected the Bible authors against losing credibility with their hearers. The Bible author's approach then, is to start with some sound insight--tacitly expressed perhaps, but unmistakeable--about their people. They offer some useful practical advice about it. Then they veer off into something contrived and artificial. We can see that the Bible is profoundly "anti-Jungian"--the unconscious is protrayed in profoundly negative terms. The believer is not to seek individuation, reconciliation with psychological opposites, but instead to widen the gap between conscious and subconscious as much as possible. The good in man can only come from the outside. As complete an alienation from one's own inner being as possible is advocated. From the viewpoint of our provisional definition of mental health, such an attitude is sick. Here we are already seeing the psychological acumen of the Bible authors in action. They were not trying to create an intellectually corect model; they wanted to create a human organization that could get started without social power, prestige or acclaim on their side. The aim was not education, but indoctrination. In the process, they created the most successful assault on human psychological vulnerabilities ever devised. We have seen that, from the viewpoint that the primary drive in humans is individuation, the Bible authors advocate a scheme profoundly at variance with this goal. They advocate widening the gap between conscious and subconscious as much as possible. In my next post, I shall outline the seven devices the Bible uses to attract new devotees, to induce dissociation in the believer, and stabilize that state within believers. SD [1] (New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1965), p. 51. [2] The Mind of the Bible Believer, p. 97. [3] Ibid., p. 91. [4] Ibid., p. 96. [5] Ibid., p. 96. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Our method of explaining why people hold certain religious views can easily degenerate into argumentum ad hominem if used improperly. The most impressive Christian apologetic argument for believing things that cannot be verified as propositions in other fields is that Christianity's long history of attracting and holding the loyalty of people of good will must reflect that its truth and beneficiality was manifest to those people, even if it cannot be explained, or appreciated within the narrow breadth of the individual's perspective. That argument, and the history behind it, is the crucial datum for which social scientists studying religion have never accounted. Our purpose, which has never been undertaken before, is the explanation of the psychological attraction that has given Christianity such a tenacious hold upon people, despite the unverifiability or wrongness of its ideas. In so doing, we make no statement about Christians more derogatory than that they possess normal human psychological vulnerabilites. It is perfectly consistent with our approach to concede that nearly all Christians are sincere and bona fide, and that many of them are intelligent. The key to distinguishing ad hominem from fair criticism of psychological bias in holding any given view, is to keep track of who should have the burden of proof. The proponent of a position that is neither self-evident nor supported by intelligible argument, or the one attacking a point that has been made and supported by some proof, must draw on substance, or else we are entitled to suppose that it is only subjective motives and desires that account for the views expressed. If a Christian comes at me, saying that my failure to believe as he does indicates my lack of the Holy Spirit, or my having received a spirit of blindness, it is up to him to prove it. If he believes for no articulate reason, then it is fair for me to try to explain away his belief psychologically. Behind his biblical pseudopsychological analysis of me necessarily lies an indirect attack on my character. If my psychological analysis fails to make sense and fit the facts, then it is no better. The end result hopefully will be observables brought together and made intelligible by my analyses. The Christian, unable to make fact and his doctrine cooperate, will finally be heard to say that his view is right because it follows biblical teaching, and the Bible is right because it says it is.----Cohen, The Mind of the Bible Believer, p. 140. We are now prepared to discuss the seven psychological devices embodied in the Bible. These devices reinforce each other, so that their effect when working together is much more powerful than one would suspect. Some of the devices outlined would be too blatant to work on their own; others are so subtle that without other devices to reinforce them, their effects would quickly subside. The devices are arranged from the more obvious to the more hidden, from the more important in the experience of the newcomer to the more important in the deeply involved and indoctrinated believer. Device 1: The Benign, Attractive Persona of the Bible One way of understanding the kindly, mellow, non-judgmental and charitable liberal and mainline churches is to recognize that they have taken the lovely surface impressions of Jesus in the Gospels and built a whole new religion out of them alone. In essence, a few well-chosen fragments were taken to stand for the whole. This corresponds roughly to the "Arminian" viewpoint that we discussed in the first post--ie, that one could choose to be saved, and that doing good works went a long ways towards ensuring salvation. As we shall see later though, the more deeply indoctrinated believer must gradually be weaned away from the Arminian notions of doing good in this world, and gradually introduced to the notion that only preaching the salvation message is important. The newcomer is gradually made to understand that the teachings mean something different than what appears on the surface--and that it is oriented to the next life, not this one. The only promise kept is that a tranquilized state of mind will be attained, but with a net detrimental effect on mental health. These misleading surface impressions are crucial. Without them, recruitment of new members would be impossible. Once in the fold though, the old "bait-and-switch" sales pitch is what takes place! Device 2: Discrediting "The World" In my first post I covered some biblical teachings that require believers to distrust reliance on their own minds for knowledge. Only through the biblical teachings does any knowledge come. In essence reliance on any of the four Jungian functions is shunned. Since this state of mind is elusive, discrediting of people other than believers and of the environment is added. The Bible defines three sorts of people for the believer, as well as modes of conduct towards each. There are: 1) believers; 2) ordinary unbelievers and 3) missionaries of "false" gospels. The Bible doesn't prescribe depth of contact between believers and ordinary unbelievers; unbelievers are often referred to as "crops" to be "harvested," or "fish" to be "netted." Abundant numbers of contacts are being mandated. When the believer is in the presence of an unbeliever, it is to preach and "witness," not to listen. When we look at some indirect references to unnatural self restraint and apparent freedom from negative emotions in the face of provocation, (Luke 6:29-31, 1 Pet. 2:23) a pattern of conduct emerges. Believers in the presence of unbelievers are put in a frame of mind that closes them off to anything unbelievers might have to say. The unbeliever also sees in the believer a very odd state of euphoric calm, which the unbeliever mis-interprets as a spriritually higher, happier state. Actually, as we shall see in the later Devices, what actually occurs in the believer is artificially induced inner turmoil, masked by the dulled, divided state the believer is in. The believer develops a knack for being aloof and oblivious to what the unbeliever has to say; this is often mistaken for tolerance on the believer's part. Within the churchly life, protected by outside influences, believers can open up to each other--to a limited degree. (Col. 3:1-17, Phil 2:1-11) Complete immersion in the Bible is prescribed; other human priorities are devalued, and any investment of psychic energy in them is withdrawn. Intolerance for individuality is at the core; believers see each other as organs in the "body of Christ." While differences in gifts are praised as having their purpose, individuality of personality is not. (1 Cor. 12:12-31, Eph. 4:1-16) We also see that while other supernaturalistic premises are presented as being extremely hazardous (indeed, proponents of "false" gospels are the only ones to receive even harsher punishment in hell), devaluation of anything that passes for learning is implied. Paul often equates whatever is not in the Biblical program with homosexuality (eg Rom. 1:18-27) Consider the following: For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-christ. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not with the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. . . If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed[ie, give him no greeting]: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.[2 John 7-11] The implication of this teaching for our times is that "secular humanists", educators, mental health practitioners and liberal politicians, as well as proponents of other religious beliefs, all fall within the definition of "false prophets," preaching false gospels. The believer is not to heed any of them. The believer is effectively insulated from other doctrines. Also, looking for confirmation of biblical beliefs in the outside world is effectively discouraged. Although the believer constantly prays, he is not to tempt God by praying for a sign. If the thing prayed for didn't happen, it just means God said no. When bad things happen to good people, and good things to the wicked, it just proves how far beyond our sin-cursed, wicked minds God's wisdom, justice and foresight are. Thus no pattern of events fail to take on an aura of purpose for the believer. No matter what happens, the fact that it did, proves it is God's will. Device 3: Logocide In the Appendix of 1984, Orwell describes the purpose of Newspeak, which was to provide a mode of expression for the mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc (English Socialism), *and* also to make other modes of thought impossible. This was done by overburdening some words, and eliminating others. We can see a similar technique in key biblical terms. Dr. Cohen coins the term "logocide" for the technique of so overburdening words with ponderous, contrived, dissonant meanings that they are effectively put out of commission. Key terms (life, death, truth, wisdom, righteousness, justice, liberty, bondage, love, hate, will, grace, witness and word) are given this treatment in the Bible. In our discussion, biblical distortion of these terms will be denoted by a '; that is, "life" will refer to the usual connotations of the word, and "life'" will refer to the biblical meaning. Life and death are two such terms. Superficially, the Bible promises eternal life to those who heed its message. Naturally, most of us are interested in anything that promises to circumvent death. Yet if we look into life and death a little more deeply, a double layer of meaning is evident: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.[Matt. 16:24-25] And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.[Matt. 25:46] But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.[Matt. 8:22] God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.[Matt. 22:32] . . . [T]he dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.[John 5:25] Clearly the Bible promises continuity of existence to all, saved and unsaved. But instead of solving a problem, a new one is added: now we have to worry about eternal damnation. Death' means not the end of biological existence, but lack of salvation. Life' means attaining salvation, not continuity of existence, which the Bible promises to everybody. The confusion between the two serves the Device 1 purpose of recruitment as well. Paul added a key ingredient of confusion masquerading as profundity: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of god is eternal life through Jesus Christ. . .[Rom. 6:23] . . . [R]eckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ. . .[Rom. 6:11] . . .[T]o me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.[Phil. 1:21] To be alive', then, is simply to be a believer. Another important thing to recognize is that truth, wisdom, righteousness, and justice, which we all recognize as terms ascribing value to their referents, are completely arbitrary in the Bible. The commandments depend on the notion that God, as Creator, has the right to do as he will with his creations. . . .O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour[ie, dignity, economic value], and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called. . .?[Rom. 9:20-24] The question of God's righteousness is a thorny issue with believers, given the record of the many acts of God that would be wicked, had they been committed by anyone other than God. The answer to the question "Is God unrighteous?" becomes a deep mystery for the believer. Yet there is no mystery here, but simply a sterile tautology. God is *defined* as righteous; whatever God does is by definition "good", "wise," "just" and "righteous," no matter how repugnant those actions are to man. All these words are redefined in terms of Him. Wisdom' and wise', righteous' and righteousness', simply become code words for believers. Truth' refers not to the factual content of a statement, but to its accordance with doctrine: Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son. . .But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.[1 John 2:22, 27] One term that in particular suffers from inflation is "grace." Since the Reformation, this has been regarded as a Christian mystery. But when we look at the ancient-language texts, we find grace' to be pretty much an artifact of translation. The words translated as "grace" could just as well be translated as "favor" or "preference." Only the context determines when "grace" is to be inserted into the text. If not for the inflation of grace', the relevant verses would more clearly illustrate the arbitrariness of the bestowal of eternal life': For by. . . [preference] ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.[Eph. 2:8-9] Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through. . .[preference].[2 Thess. 2:16] Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the . . . [favoritism] that is in Christ Jesus.[2 Tim. 2:1] The last term I wish to discuss is love'. Again we see inflation of this term, when we consider some biblical definitions of it: . . .[L]ove is the fulfilling of the law.[Rom. 13:10] And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.[2 John 6] Could it be that this new kind of love, said to be so much superior to our own inclinations, is nothing but a very strict and obsessive type of self discipline? It seems so. We can harmonize all the Bible has to say about love' by saying that love' is "Holy Spirit-aided self-discipline in internalizing Christian doctrine and performing the devotional program." Too bad for the new believer; he's getting love' when he expected love. There are also indications that the believer's love' for God consists not of love, but of the outpouring of energy: And Jesus answered him, the first of all commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.[Mark 12:29-30] In psychodynamic terms, God is a complex, siphoning libido from ego-personality, disrupting the balance between progressive and regressive flow of libido. This harmonizes with the biblically mandated alienation from the world and other people. The last topic of discussion pertaining to Device 3 is that of contradiction. There are some examples of factual contradictions in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament. Such errors can be explained away as scribal errors or testing devices to lead the unfaithful astray. Atheists tend to focus on these contradictions; and so fall into the trap of considering these contradictions to be the ones of consequence. The inconsistencies we should be concerned with are all camouflaged. They consist not of contradictions so much as dissonance between biblical statements. Camouflaged inconsistencies can be best highlighted by a method Dr. Cohen calls triadic anti-apologetics--bringing together three passages that highlight inconsistency. Through the interaction of these statements, inconsistencies calculated to stick in one's unconscious are impressed upon the believer. Consider the following: . . .[E]very creature of god is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. . .[1 Tim. 4:4] Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.[Rom. 12:9] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.[1 John 2:15] Also consider how we are exhorted to obey god and secular authorities simultaneously: . . .[W]e have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.[Heb. 12:9-10] No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.[Luke 16:13] Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything. . .[Col. 3:22] Since "the whole world lieth in wickedness," then submitting oneself to unsaved earthly authorities makes one a partaker in that wickedness. But that is just what is being commanded. One is required to serve two masters, and to serve each totally and exclusively--a logical impossibility. Consider also an antiapologetic triad on love: As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. . . This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.[John 15:9-10,12] He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.[Matt. 10:37] If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.[Luke 14:26] The ambiguity here serves a purpose; to make affections for others equal, (so that they lose their distinctiveness) and unimportant compared to the God-complex. Coupled with instructions stressing obedience, discipline and prohibition of emotional spontaneity, libido is siphoned away from people and concerns of this world and cathected towards the God-complex. We see here a consistent pattern of words that have significant connotations for us being devalued, becoming code words for an obsessive program that, if it were expressed in plain terms, would lose all power to enthrall. This also reinforces Device 1, as the newcomer naturally uses these terms with their ordinary connotations. Deeply indoctrinated believers use the biblical connotations, though they usually have trouble articulating these new connotations. Believers and unbelievers are not just speaking about different concepts, but in different languages. Devices 4-7 will be covered in future articles. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Having experienced it before, in my Jungian phase, I call giving up on reality and withdrawal into fantasy and fiction by a different name: decadence. For me, Christianity is simply a cleaner form of decadence than recreational drugs, perverse sex, or rock and roll. Christianity has shown me that I, too, could be decadent. But, serious person that I am, I chose the way wherein one can be decadent--and still not have much fun at it.--Cohen, Mind of the Bible Believer, p. 405. We have painted a very drastic picture of the harmful psychological effects biblical Christianity can have. By such an analysis, one might be led to conclude that the biblical authors cynically pushed Christianity upon an unsuspecting populace. Such a conclusion ignores two pertinent facts: 1) We have shown, via appropriate quotes from Luther and Wesley, that the biblicist can essentially "brainwash" himself. It is perfectly consistent with our view that the Bible authors "brainwashed" themselves with their own doctrine, even as they invented it. 2) The unique historical situation, i. e. the Roman conquest of Israel, and the influence of Hellenistic culture, did much to create the situation in which such a strange doctrine as Christianity could come into being. But even though we acknowledge that present-day Evangelicals are sincere, we must evaluate biblical Christianity upon its effects, not upon the intentions of its practitioners. This final post in the series examines some of the social implications of the mini-Reformation. Mental-Health Implications We have seen that, as Freud led us to expect, there is a relation between the biblical, devotional program and neuroses. The program basically helps the individual to become more neurotic, widening the gap between the conscious attitude and the rest of the personality. The believers share the symptoms in this case, and spurious intellectual interpretations of these symptoms are provided. While the biblical program may help those with addictions, by diverting energy to a God-complex; while Christianity may not have that much of an effect upon those "other-directed" enough not to put the implications of the belief together in a coherent manner; the inescapable conclusion is that biblical Christianity is a poor substitute for optimum psychological integration. The main problems to be observed in conservative Christians are those of fear and depression. Because most mental-health professionals do not recognize what they are dealing with in conservative Christianity, those with Christian fear are usually misdiagnosed as phobic. But when properly questioned, the fearful Christian can discuss what he is afraid of, unlike those who come by irrational fears in other ways. What they are afraid of, of course, is hell, and they weary themselves with the anticipation of it. Fearful Christians tend to stay away from anything that remotely threatens to send them there by accidental death, and avoid situations requiring action, lest more demerits be entered into God's record book. (Dr. Cohen remarks that this "reflects faulty epistemology, not illogic.") Fearful Christians will testify that Christianity has delivered them from even greater mental distress; they don't identify the program as the source of the problem as well as the source of the palliative for it. It resembles nothing so much as addictive behavior, which may explain Christianity's success in helping some cope with other addictions. (An example can be seen in Old Order Amish. Though they eschew most forms of technology, they do avail themselves fully of modern medical care: they seem even more preoccupied than others with delaying the end as long as possible! This may be accounted for by over-riding fear of the hereafter.) The other main problem is depression. The Bible-believer needs constant exhortation and encouragement from others and, with that and self-discipline, attains a certain momentum that prevents what would otherwise be complete inactivity. One can see this depressed demeanor in the few conservative denominations with a long tradition. In the new, successful conservative church, one encounters a well-planned and well-acted show of cheerfulness, which partly compensates for the cheerlessness implicit in the doctrine, and also acts as more Device 1 "sales pitch." Basically, the purposeful misrouting of mental energy is draining, so the conservative must convince themselves that it is otherwise by "testifying" to how empowered they feel. (Again, using Old Order Amish as a an extreme example of a conservative sect, we can see some confirmation of our expectations. In the general population, the major cause of admission to mental-health facilities is schizophrenia; among Old Order Amish, the major cause of admission is depression[1].) How should these problems be dealt with? Unfortunately, we cannot say that the secular mental-health professionals necessarily do good. Every secular competitor to religion turns out to have too many orthodox defenders of some doctrine. Such doctrines always seem to have an overly simple but appealing concept of human nature at its core, subtly misleading and harmful in the long run. (One thinks of Freudianism, with its negative view of human nature, of Jungians whose religious quest has degenerated into escapism, of Rogerians with their "radical nonjudgmentalness," in which they basically repeat back to the client what he has said using different words.) Both the Christian and secular programs that promise a "better" life, life on an even keel, ought rightly to be viewed with suspicion. Self-reliance is the way to go. But a therapist can help, just by using his intuition and basic human qualities; just being reality-oriented is helpful to someone put through the wringer by conservative churches. Three Unproductive Questions Journalists and liberal commentators often fail to ask conservative Christian leaders the right questions. Instead, we often hear questions like "Don't you see truth isn't black and white, that there are many shades of gray?" "Do Jews who reject Jesus go to Heaven or don't they?" "How can you say your interpretation of the Bible is correct, when there are so many floating around?" These questions don't give outsiders any insight into conservative Christianity, and the conservative Christian in turn can reassure himself that the know-it-all interviewer really has no inkling as to what Christianity is all about. 1) "Don't you see truth isn't black and white?" There is a caricature of the Evangelical as one with simple, pat answers to everything, as one who can't tolerate ambiguity. Actually, the Evangelical is just the opposite--he tolerates too much ambiguity, lets artificial confusion operate where there should be clarity. The caricature of Evangelicals stems from the authoritarian personality theory, which says that conservative political attitudes result from personality inadequacy. The symptoms are supposed to be defensive over-compensation against anti-social impulses, rigid, overly conventional attitudes, and intolerance of ambiguity. This theory came out of the McCarthy era and implies that anyone not politically ultraliberal and not "radically non-judgmental" is mentally ill. It's an appealing theory, but is not confirmed by the empirical data gathered to prove it. The skillful Evangelical apologist can make it seem as if logic, rationality and self-discipline are exclusively Christian virtues, which "secular humanists" are necessarily against. 2) The second question can be described as a clumsy ploy to get Evangelicals to say that they are anti-Semitic. Actually Evangelical leaders deserve a lot of credit for instilling pro-Jewish and pro-Israel attitudes in their flocks. The Evangelical can honestly reply that unconverted Jews just don't go to Heaven, any more than unconverted Gentiles do, and that the Evangelical is just trying to save anyone he can. One can sharpen this question by changing it into what Dr. Cohen calls the "Anne Frank question." We can fairly describe Anne Frank as a "secular humanist," and it is quite possible she remained one right to the bitter end. The inescapable conclusion, from the biblical viewpoint, is that after the earthly Nazi death camp, she will be eternally remanded to God's death camp, where her torment goes on forever. Quite a picture of God's "lovingkindness!" 3) "How can you say your interpretattion is any better than anyone else's?" The assumption here is that the Bible is so ambiguous and incomprehensible, that it can be used to support any conceivable position. We have seen that, though the Bible does make use of ambiguity and contradiction for mind-control purposes, it *does* set forth a specific doctrine. Only the liberal Protestant tradition of encasing the Bible in an ever-thickening layer of obscuration gives the impression that the Bible can be made to stand for any doctrine. Religion in Politics We are by now nauseatingly familiar with politicized Evangelicals such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. These preachers basically got a free ride from Evangelical churches, because despite efforts to politicize him, the Evangelical develops a fatalistic attitude towards worldly affairs. Ceasing to become concerned with worldly things is, after all, a prominent part of the teachings of Jesus. Extreme concern with worldly things can be construed as symptomatic of unbelief! The religious right are reacting to a real failure on the part of the old-left intellectuals to make liberalism live up to its promises; this is what gives the religious right the opportunity to make conservative Christianity seem like an uplifting lifestyle. Aside from this disinclination to become involved in worldly activities, we see two Big Lies being propagated by the Evangelicals: that our nation has a Christian foundation, and that the Bible has something to contribute to our democratic tradition. The Founding Fathers were mainly Anglicans, with a minority of Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Roman Catholics and Jews. Their generation wasn't noted for religious fervor. Prominent Founding Fathers include Franklin, Jefferson and Paine, individuals with religious views so unorthodox that I doubt they would be tolerated in public life today. Many of the Founding Fathers were also Freemasons, which meant they spent much of their free time participating in a religious tradition at variance with their nominal Protestantism or Judaism. Fervent religious groups sat out the Revolutionary War, mostly because they were pacifists. One has only to read documents left behind by men such as Franklin and Jefferson to realize that these men were scarcely fervent Christians. As we have seen, the Wesleyans learned not to look too closely at the Bible, so that they could espouse a humane salvation plan. The abolitionists had reason to pass over the Bible even more lightly, given its unequivocal support of slavery. This is a part of history that Evangelicals conveniently overlook, when they claim that our nation has a Christian heritage. The archaic, authoritarian social views, which the Evangelicals uncover when they strip away the layers of tradition obscuring what the Bible really says, are ultimately foreign to our democratic tradition. (Peter's admonition in Acts, that "we ought to obey God, not men" applies exclusively to spreading the Gospel. Nowhere does the New Testament instruct the believer to oppose the State for other forms of injustice. Instead, we are instructed to be good slaves of both God and of earthly authorities, despite being told elsewhere that no one can serve two masters. In any event, given the negative biblical view of man's nature, we can hardly envision a Bible-authentic believer picturing "noble savages" coming together and basing a decent society on a social contract, a la Rousseau!) Charity We have seen that one motivation for nineteenth and early twentieth-century mental health professionals to treat Christianity gently was that Wesleyan-style Christianity provided much charity that was not then being provided by the secular sector. In Evangelical circles we don't see that much emphasis on charity, not because they are a bunch of skinflints but because they correctly interpret the biblical figures of providing food and clothing to the needy as figures for spreading the Gospel. (After all, when do we see Jesus and his disciples providing food and shelter for the unfortunate? More often than not, they were the recipients of such charity, not its providers.) In any event, we can expect the Evangelical to say that bringing eternal life to unbelievers takes precedence over making things better in this life, because the suffering in hell will be so much more awful than anything that could occur in this earthly life. Creationism [Dr. Cohen has little to say on this topic, but because it seems an important one, I have interpolated some of my own comments here.] Along with the surge in Evangelicalism, there has been a surge in so-called Scientific Creationism. In the 1980's Arkansas and Louisiana passed laws mandating "equal time" in schools for evolutionary theory and Creationism. I think with Creationists we see another kind of "double orientation" that we saw earlier in the hysterically blind soldier patient. Not too put too fine a point on it, Creationists regularly use tactics that most ordinary scientists wouldn't have anything to do with-- not due to superior morality, but because engaging in such tactics undermines the scientific method itself. Creationists routinely misrepresent evolution, and then "demolish" it with straw-man arguments; quote prominent scientists out of context; use old arguments against the occurence of evolution, such as the one based on the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, that were long ago shown to be false. They regularly distort evidence for evolution, as can be seen in their arguments about "transitional forms." They chide scientists for making extrapolations into the past (such as assuming that radioactive decay rates are constant) but extrapolate wildly when it suits their purposes. The failure of "scientific" creationists to construct a rigorous scientific theory of creation, and their assertion that in any conflict between what the data seem to be telling us and what the Bible tells us, the Bible takes precedence, ought to alert us that something other than science is going on here. The "double orientation" we have spoken of can help us understand why they seem convinced by arguments that strike those who understand evolution as so faulty. On some level they know they are falsifying science to suit their beliefs; and since doing so is an integrity-assaulting piece of business, they have to repress that knowledge more deeply, and often accuse scientists of the very tactics they indulge in! In Creationists we can see that the need to interpret Genesis literally prevents one from attaining the insight that it is really an allegory. And if Genesis can be interpreted as allegory, what is to prevent other parts of the Bible--such as Jesus' watery walk that we highlighted in Device 5--from being interpreted allegorically? The need to interpret Genesis literally is symptomatic of the need to suppress the conscious awareness that one is subconsciously interpreting the whole Bible as an allegory, symbolizing the believer's inner state. Thus we can expect Creationism to be a continuing preoccupation of Evangelicals. Scapegoating Evangelicals tell us that the Bible is a great guide for modern life, but never seem to make the conscious connection that part of the indoctrination leads to alienation and unconcern for others unlike themselves. While they have very commendably distanced themselves from racism and anti-Semitism, they have filled their need for scapegoats by adopting homophobia. The norm for conservative Christians seems to be hatred towards homosexuals. When AIDS first became prominent news, the immediate reaction of every conservative Christian spokeperson seemed to amount to gloating over God's wrathful judgment on the homosexuals. The thought that Christian spokepersons ought to evince some compassion never seemed to occur until after the demagogic benefit had been reaped from the "fag-bashing." (For anyone who thinks that the Bible advocates tolerance for homosexuals, check out Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9; 11:14; Phil. 3:2; Jude 7; Rev. 22:15 and of course, Deut. 22:5.) Scapegoating is integral to the biblically authentic program. Not only is one to expel negative thoughts and emotions from consciousness, but also the sort of natural affection and empathy that our "relatedness" psychology requires. One is to be a good Christian soldier, like those Roman soldiers who were among the first Gentile converts. One can see this mental approach in the present-day Afrikaaner, working the machinery of apartheid, and who typically has had a very severe, Scripture-saturated Christian-school upbringing. If some Evangelicals had their way, a pogrom against homosexuals would probably commence immediately. And to satisfy their appetite, they would then need more outgroups to bash. . . The End of the World Another peculiarity of our time concerns end-time events. The resemblance of some biblical images to a nuclear holocaust, and the immanent approach of the year 2000, has fueled intense interest in end-time scenaria. Here is the key New Testament passage concerning the end of the world: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you. . .[2 Pet. 3:9-15] The biblically-authentic believer is to regard the destruction of the natural world as immanent, and thus encouraged to cultivate unconcern for the natural world, and emotional disinvestment in it. There are three consequences that concern us here. Obviously the biblical images have a similarity to images of a nuclear war. That correspondance may be the single biggest factor behind the mini-Reformation. This situation prompts people to shift everything important to them to another plane, away from the impending calamity. The second consequence is a lack of interest in conservation, in preserving natural resources for future generations at the expense of short-range goals. James Watt, former Secretary of the Interior, is an outstanding example of this tendency. The third consequence concerns the Jewish people. Many of the end-time scenaria include a gory end for contemporary Israel. Perhaps the Evangelicals will eventually become less benign in their feelings towards Israel than at present. Conclusion I have outlined a theory concerning Christianity that is at variance with both the standard theories of religion and the standard theology that believers occupy their conscious thoughts with. We cannot directly observe the unconscious of the Evangelicals, but we can look for symptoms such as fear and depression, scapegoating, the need to twist scientific evidence to make creationism look tenable, and lack of charitable outreach on the part of Evangelicals as trends that tend to confirm Dr. Cohen's theory. Also his interpretations do more to make the Bible into a united, coherent whole than any Christian position I have encountered, liberal or conservative. Conservative Christianity comes down to a withdrawal into a shared fantasy, possibly as a result of the fact people are becoming tired of rapid social and technological change, and the fact that the end of the existence of all living via a nuclear holocaust has been a real possibility since the 1950's, and yet a possibility that in some ways seemed beyond our control during the Cold War. This sense of futility, more than anything else, may be the root cause of the mini-Reformation. As indicated in the quote at the beginning of the article, this comes down to a form of decadence, albeit of a cleaner variety than other activities we associate with the word. SD [1] Janice A. Egeland and Abram M. Hostetter, "Amish Study, I: Affective Disorders Among the Amish, 1976-1980," American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, no. 1 (January 1983), pp. 56-61. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- If we are mentally unbalanced because of spiritual despondency--and a lot of mental imbalance comes from this--the fear of hell and mental imbalance can be an escape mechanism to escape the reality of having to face the judgment throne. . . anything of this nature still leaves man a sinner. . . --Harold Camping, 1985 Devices 4-7 Now I will outline Devices 4-7 and conclude this discussion of the Evangelical Mind Control System. Device 4: Assaulting Integrity I know that labelling this device "Assaulting Integrity" will strike Christians as an insult. Before I begin, let me offer this little caveat from Dr. Cohen's book: There is no group around, whose people as a rule are more sincere, well-meaning, generous, natively tolerant if no one inveigles them into being otherwise, and free from saying one thing while intending another than the conservative Evangelicals. It will seem incongruous and even mean to claim that impairment of integrity has to do with their believing as they do. The reader versed in the mental-health professions will note drawing a blank as to technical understanding, there having been little written, and no consensus, on what is meant by integrity.--Edmund Cohen, The Mind of the Bible Believer, p. 234. Thus our first step is to make up for this deficiency on the part of mental-health officials and define "integrity." . . . with the complex model and varieties of psychopathology in mind, we perceive that all psychological conditions other than integration and relative cooperation of the ego-personality with the other complexes involve impairment of integrity. An ego-personality with control over its own boundaries, communicating with and continually integrating what lies in those reaches of the psyche beyond those boundaries, has a measure of integrity that the "psychotic" or the "neurotic" lacks. One who can use his capabilities to come to continually better terms with the circumstances of his existence we would say has integrity.--Cohen, p. 234. The main idea is that the believer uses the knowledge process to maintain self-deceptions rather than to make the conscious attitude as well informed as possible. It becomes like a journalist who makes selective use of information to make propaganda seem credible instead of communicating information fairly. An example of this assault can be seen in the case of the hysterically blind soldier patient that Dr. Cohen discusses. This soldier had seen a friend die in combat, and naturally began to wonder if he had done all he could to save his friend. Eventually an hysterical symptom manifested itself--blindness. In a demonstration Dr. Cohen once witnessed, such a patient was led into a room, and in his path was a stool. The patient was led so that he could not avoid stumbling over the stool, if he were truly blind; yet the patient avoided the stool. On one level, the patient knew he wasn't blind, but to maintain his illusions he repressed that information. Now the knowledge process keeps on trying to work properly; assaulting integrity requires energy. The inducement to expending this energy is avoiding the pain that goes with bad conscience, as we can see in the example of the hysterically blind soldier. How does the Bible induce one to expend that energy? Basically, the believer is subtly encouraged to repress any tendency he might have to think critically about his beliefs. The point of the stratagem of assaulting integrity is inducing the believer, for the sake of obedience, to affirm teachings that are inherently incredible, not germane to, and in discord with, the rest of the Bible. He violates his conscience, his common sense, his good inclination to tell the truth as it occurs to him, to call things as he sees them.--Cohen, p. 241. An extreme example comes from Luke: And he [Jesus] spake a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint [shirk]; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not god, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall God not avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?[Luke 18:1-8] Here God is likened to a wicked judge, lazy and infirm, tiring easily. The notions of God's perfection and faithfulness, and the selflessness the believer strives for, are turned topsy-turvy in this passage. By passively accepting passages such as this, by being encouraged to see them as enhancing those notions of God's perfection and faithfulness, though they seem in discord with those notions, the believer subtly attacks his own integrity. There is an amplification of this "vicious cycle" of continually repressing the bad conscience caused by assaulting integrity, by loading some biblical content with lurid, scandalous implications. The biblical content implicates both relatively neutral things, made taboo only by biblical doctrine, and aspects of the personality that would be taboo in any civilized society. Thus a very powerful dissociation is triggered. We can see here the sadistic and masochistic activities the believer is supposed to partcipate in. We are so hardened to these topics that we must pause and reflect to see them clearly. How many stop to really think about the fact that Christianity takes as its main symbol a Roman instrument of terror? There are many aspects of Christianity that we would deem nauseating, if it were part of a tradition outside our culture. One example is the communion ritual, in which believers are urged to eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood. This goes way back to ancient beliefs in the ingestion of totem animals or enemies. The biblical image of ". . .having their conscience seared with a hot iron[1 Tim. 4:2]" is ironically an apt metaphor for the state of mind a believer must be in, desensitizied to the unappetizing notion of eating flesh and drinking blood. Christians of course characterize this as a deep, spiritual mystery, but this doesn't change the character of the communion ritual. Another example is the idea of substitutionary atonement, the remedy for the sin affliction. The premise of the idea is that man is so wicked and depraved that there is nothing he can do to please God. For some reason, God requires propitation for sin, which man comes into the world totally saturated with, yet somehow becomes supersaturated by the inevitable bad deeds. So Christ had to be sacrificed in man's stead. The enormity of Christ's sufferings are supposed to guilt-trip the believer into obedience. But how enormous were those sufferings? The Father sacificed his "only begotten son," but unlike mortal fathers he had his son back safe and sound in three days. Christ's sufferings began with his anxiety attack in the Garden of Gethsemane and ends with his death on the cross. (The Bible hedges on the question of whether Jesus was even *conscious* before resurrection.) Viewed objectively, the suffering seems about on par with what after all must have been the fate of many a Jewish partriot of the time; certainly one begins to question if it really equalled all the sins of humanity! We should also note here another method of assaulting integrity, which is the call to evangelize others. Many of the most intelligent men in Christianity's history spoke of how terrifying God can be for those who know the Bible too well. Luther for example described his state of mind before hitting on the notion of "grace": Is it not against all natural reason that God out of his mere whim deserts men, hardens them, damns them, as if he delighted in sins and in such torments of the wretched for eternity, he who is said to be of such mercy and goodness? This appears iniquitous, cruel, and intolerable in God, by which very many have been offended in all ages. And who would not be? I was myself more than once driven to the very abyss of despair so that I wished I had never been created. Love God? I hated him![1] Frequently these men had mentors who recommended that they go out and preach as a means of getting themselves to believe. Luther's mentor, Dr. Staupitz, arranged for Luther to preach, and to succeed to his university chair of Bible[2]. Wesley also encountered such advice, as his Journal entry of March 5, 1738 illustrates: Immediately it struck into my mind, "Leave off preaching. How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?" I asked Bohler whether he thought I should leave it off or not. He answered, "By no means." I asked, "But what can I preach?" He said, "Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith!" Such a self-deception would be obviously seen as illegitimate in any other setting; yet these men freely accepted it. The basic idea behind this device is that the Bible's unbelievable premises, which the believer strives to believe anyway, are always accompanied by latent taboo content. These premises remain in the believer's blind spot, so that focussed thought about them becomes less likely. We can close this section with a quote from Dr. Cohen: When Christianity comes on with the figure of the man in whose words the echoes of the best human achievements of the far distant future must have resounded, being tortured, mutilated, killed early in what should have been the prime of his life, for its central emblem, it is telling us plainly what it proposes to do to the corresponding tendencies in ourselves, and we are too desensitized to turn away in nauseated disbelief! That emblem is, itself, an "integrity assaulting" piece of business, seen in that light.--Cohen, p. 258. Now we come to the core of Dr. Cohen's work. What does it take to make a person believe that he believes? What does it take to turn a Luther from hating God to loving him? The answer to these questions is covered in our discussion of Device 5. Device 5: Dissociation Induction This Device is the core of Dr. Cohen's work. Here we at last get into an intensive application of depth-psychology insights to explain the Bible's power over people. The previous devices set the stage for the this one; the last two devices stablize its effects. In conventional Christianity the notions of "sin" and "faith" are essential. In Dr. Cohen's work they are also essential notions, since dissociation lies at the root of the matter. What is "sin?" In the Bible, we actually see two senses of the word. In the Old Testament, the majority of mentionings of sins refer to epsisodes of disobedience to scriptural rules. But there is also a notion of sin portrayed in Genesis 2 and 3, and in the writings of Paul, that have nothing to do with individual behavior--in other words, original sin. Individual sins only add to a sinful condition that was already total from birth. To Christians, what was wrong with Adam and Eve's behavior was simply disobedience. It makes no difference that they violated neither the Ten Commandments nor the Golden Rule--the law had not been laid down at the time. Although some might infer that sexuality is part of God's curse, there is no indication that sex was unknown before the Fall, or a result of the newly acquired knowledge. The implication one gets is that the desire for knowledge, for self-awareness, is the essence of the transgression against God. A few more indications of this are present in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. One example is the story of the Tower of Babel. Apparently the advance of human science and technology, and the drive for mankind to cooperate as a single global community, usurps God's prerogatives. One can interpret the first eleven chapters in terms of the Jungian ideas of psychodynamics. First there is the division of primordial chaos into upper and lower parts, followed by the appearance of dry land. Then an innocent and naive male is created, and out of him an anima figure, Eve. Next a shadow figure, Cain, appears, cursed by God but essential as the ancestor of Enoch and Noah. Consciousness gets restricted to Noah's ark, with the rest of the human and animal imagoes swept into unconsciousness. After the Flood, the unity and concentration of human energies symbolized by Noah's descendants is fragmented into many language groups, i. e. complexes. What is sin then? Clearly gaining self-consciousness, psychological integration, is the essence of sin. One is to believe that there is nothing in the unconscious is worth redeeming, that it is all, in Jungian terms, shadow, and that all one can do is to keep the shadow in check. Having one's energies unified and focussed for an individualistic goal is essentially what the Bible abhors. This is what lies behind the idea that original sin makes one totally sinful, that sinful acts are just the outwards signs of this inner condition. Immorality or unethical behavior or thought is not even of the essence of sin. We can see further hints as to the nature of sin by examining the proposed remedy, faith. The Bible gives the definition of faith in the following verse: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.[Heb. 11:1-3] Faith is belief in that for which there is no direct evidence, only hearsay evidence--i. e., the Bible. The nature of faith is ultimately subjective. References to faith as a mystery[1 Tim. 3:9] and as a supernatural gift[1 Cor. 12:9 and Eph. 2:8] rule out the notion that it is somehow an extension of human intuition. In many places we find the Bible exhorting the believer to do something, or to adopt a certain mental attitude. If faith is a gift bestowed by God, why exhort the believer to do something? The things the believer is exhorted to do are arranged so that the connections between them and the subjective experiences the believer goes through are cleverly obscured. All these exhortations basically boil down to fostering dissociation. We can divide them into four categories: 1) Explicit Devotional Program Instructions--concrete acts that the believer is commanded to do. 2) Implicit Devotional Program Instructions--exhortations to do an act not meant to be done literally. 3) Direct Suggestions--allegory that serves to illustrate the mental state wanted of the believer. 4) Reverse Suggestions--some allegory, particularly those involving animals, demons and disasters, serve to illustrate the negative psychological effects of being a believer, subtly providing the believer with feedback. The most explicit instructions deal with prayer. The Bible is very specific about the sort of prayer it requires. Prewritten or rote prayers, and liturgy in foreign languages, are not really waht the Bible authors had in mind. Instead, intelligible content, engaging the believer's conscious mind, is the key. (The Lord's Prayer [Matt. 6:9-15, Luke 11:2-4] is presented as an example, not as a rote formula.) By continually telling God what he thinks God wants to hear, the believer internalizes biblical doctrine and forces the conscious mind to conform to it. Prayer boils down to self-brainwashing. As a result, the God-complex, if nourished with enough psychic energy, causes the believer to experience the illusion that another presence possessing personality is there. Hence the declaration that believers experience a "personal" relationship with God. Constant prayer is necessary to keep the God-complex energized, hence the need for church twice on Sunday, constant prayer and devotion, and maybe having a religious radio station playing in the background, to keep the God-complex pumped up. Also the various instructions to "put on" certain qualities, and to "put off" others, constitute Explicit Devotional Program Instructions. Earlier we examined the biblical definition of "love," and found it be little more than following the rules laid down in the New Testament. If we look at statements involving faith and love, we see further clues to the nature of faith: . . .[F]aith . . .worketh[energeo, has effect] by love.[Gal. 5:6] . . .[Y]our work[ergon, expenditure of energy] of faith, and labour[kopos, toil] of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God. . .[1 Thess. 1:3] . . .[W]e pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work[ergon] of faith with power[dunamis]: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.[2 Thess. 1:11-12] While these passages do not explicitly define faith, we are notified that it requires effort and labor, that it is difficult. The Greek words highlighted, besides being the roots for words like energy, erg and dynamic, hint at a notion psychic energy in accord with that we have developed. Faith consists of a constant outpouring of energy; obsessive conscious concentration is lauded, and mental relaxation, shunned. Let down your guard, and that could be the moment Christ returns "like a thief in the night," and sends you to Hell. This tense, on-guard sense of faith is further elaborated by Paul: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . .Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. . .[Eph. 6:10-17] The Bible's cynicism about human nature, supposing he can rise no higher than passive follower, is expressed here. The believer is to be in uniform and cumbersome military attire, submerging his individuality, restricting freedom of movement, and insulating him from all but a few kinds of approved stimulation. The objective of the campaign is to use "the sword of the Spirit," the word of God, tp pierce others, and to use the shield of faith to avoid being pierced by any other insight. Faith is a barrier against unapproved psychic content. One Bible incident brings these themes together, which also comes closest to defining the true nature of faith: And straightaway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And. . .he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out in fear. But straightaway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the son of God.[Matt. 14:22-33] This story contains the central psychological paradigm of the Bible. In the Bible as well as in our psychology, water represents the unconscious, a mountain or high place a particularly lucid state of consciousness, and stormy weather to passion and emotion. In other verses the believer learns that by faith he can make mountains go into the sea, i. e., he can rearrange psychic contents so unbiblical thoughts or attitudes are submerged into the unconscious. Here he learns that by faith he can strengthen the barrier between conscious and unconscious. But if his concentration is diverted, as Peter's was when he failed to tune out natural stimuli (i. e., his own emotions), then the barrier reverts to its usual permeability. Failing to be obsessed with Jesus results in a rapid deterioration of faith, and then one has to confront one's unconscious, mischaracterized as a stormy sea in which to drown. But it only seems that way when one bottles it up, forcing it to express itself too turbulently. On another occasion Jesus and his disciples cross the sea. In the stern, Jesus lies asleep, and an afternoon storm arises. The disciples, becoming afraid, awaken Jesus, who orders the sea to calm and chides them for their lack of faith. (One wonders at the disciples apparent lack of faith, when they could see and hear Jesus, and, being relatively provincial and uneducated, would have no trouble believing in the supernatural premise of Jesus' ministry.) Again the fluid boundary is smoothed over, and troublesome emotions gotten out of the way by faith, which seems to be enhanced if Jesus is in the forefront of attention. There are other references to water and to boats that pertain to fishing and the casting of nets. Jesus' disciples were "fishers of men." Paul describes loss of faith as "shipwreck." Mark and John also tell us what the disciples were doing in the boat before Jesus arrived, that is, rowing against the wind in a troubled sea. Here we see another image of the work that faith really entails. An image of heaven, according to our analysis, might that of a solidified membrane, so that proscribed mental contents are kept down without constant effort. Such an image is contained in the following passage: And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angles who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished. And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses the bond- servant of god and the song of the Lamb. . .[Rev. 15:1-3] The sense of a peaceful, restful state, yet one that takes constant effort, is expressed in the mixture of solid, inert glass and gaseuos, active fire. The theme of personality fragmentation is also symbolized by images of bodily fragmentation and division. Hence references to those who eunuchs "for the kingdom of heaven's sake"[Matt. 19:12], figures of plucking out an eye, a hand or a foot, rather than entering hellfire whole, and division between left and right, "let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,"[Matt. 6:3. Also passages refering to this left/right theme include Matt. 25:31-37, 40-41, 46, Matt. 27:38, Rev. 10:1-2, Matt. 20:20-23]. The true biblical program is one that promotes this state of inner dividedness. Paul gives us an outstanding example in the following passage: . . .[W]e know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not[i. e., don't understand]: for what I would, I do not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.[Rom. 7:14-25] Apparently the peace that passeth understanding doesn't come until the next life; hence Paul's explanation of the old nature remaining as an outer shell. Alienation from the world, others outside church, and oneself are in view here. Putting noncomplying mental content into the unconscious does not get rid of it. We can see this in two other biblical themes: that of evil spirits and the Trinity. If we make the connection between complexes and spirits, then the Bible shows if people do not integrate the unconscious to the conscious attitude, then they are doomed to live out the implications blindly, perhaps as weird neurotic symptoms. This is expressed in this reverse-suggestive passage: When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.[Matt. 12:43-45] Unclean spirits represent the unconscious from the conscious standpoint. The attribute most clearly identifying them as so is their knowledge; they know much more about Jesus than human onlookers[Matt. 8:28-32, Mark 1:23-28; 3:11 and Luke 4:33-35]. They are characterized as legion[Mark 5:9, Luke 8:30] and yet speak with one voice, exhibiting unity of mind. They do not cease to exist when cast out, but must go somewhere else, such as swine--symbolizing a lower, more primitive level of the psyche[Matt. 8:28-32]. Negative images of the unconscious are once again conveyed. The personality fragmentation expected of the believer is also conveyed in passages about the multiple personality of God: And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.[Mark 14:36] Jesus saith. . . I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. . . Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself[i. e., on my own initiative]: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.[John 14:6-7, 10] I and my Father are one.[John 10:30] But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels. . . neither the Son, but the Father.[Mark 13:32] The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.[John 13:16] . . .[W]hen he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself[i. e., on his own initiative]; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak. . .He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.[John 16:13-15] According to Scrpiture, Jesus determined who would receive saving knowledge of God, and the Father determined who would sit on Jesus' left and right hand. Jesus and the Holy Spirit only serve as parrots in declaring God's Word. Yet they *are* God's Word and were with him from the beginning. Jesus apparently does not know the hour of his own second coming. All three persons of the Godhead are endowed with God's power, yet the Father is apparently more omnipotent. This picture of God resembles nothing so much as a case of multiple personality disorder. Another source of dissonance concerns God's moral nature. Although the "lovingkindness" of God is often touted, the Bible contains many examples of God's apparent wickedness. In the book of Job for instance, God lets Satan torture Job, a righteous man, apparently so that he can win a bet with Satan. Job is unequivocal about making God responsible for evil, whether he does evil actively or by allowing evil angels to persecute his chosen. One also gets a sense of such hand-in-glove cooperation between God, Satan and other evil angels in other passages[2 Chron. 18:17-21, 1 Kings 22:20-23]. God sends lying spirits to those he chooses to harden, ". . .God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."[2 Thess. 2:11] Yet despite these many references to God's evil, despite references to God blinding people *spiritually* as well as causing physical suffering, believers overwhelmingly continue to perceive God as good, loving and just. Why? Because the believer is conditioned to project all his more positive qualities onto the God-complex. Psychologically the images of the good cop/bad cop God, and the trinitarian, three-faces-of-God God cancel each other out. The pull of one image keeps the other from coming into focus, leaving one with the task of identifying with an indescribable blob. That God-image is the ideal stumbling block for the "related" flow of psychic energy. Other descriptions of God can be understood as metaphors for mental activity: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.[John 4:24] . . .God is light, and in him no darkness at all.[1 John 1:5] God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.[1 John 4:16] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.[John 1:1] . . .[R]eceiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.[Heb. 12:28-29] God turns out to be nothing but a psychological complex. The goal is to give the God-complex so much psychic energy that other complexes are drowned out. The believer thinks he is free of them, but actually he has covered them up with the shared psychopathology, as Freud indicated. Thus the Christian claim to a transformed outlook is true, in a rather ironic sense! Dissociation Induction consists of stratagems to get a person to inwardly divide his awareness, to project his better qualities onto a God-complex and to occupy his mind with biblically prescribed artificialities. There are secondary gains as a result of this strategy, such as relief from whatever neurotic symptoms may be present (at least, in the short run), but so much energy goes into stifling one's authentic humanness, that it is no exagerration to say that this is a case where the cure is worse than the disease! Device 6: Bridge Burning In several ways the New Testament seeks to make the gap between believers and outsiders so wide the believers do not get out, though outsiders should get in. Passages against family and association with unbelievers, and passages suggesting that believers are to be blind, deaf and dead to worldly things, all work together to keep believers from even considering outside influences, even when exposed to them constantly. To accomplish this, something a lot more powerful than that which attracts a few a susceptible people to sequestered cults is needed. The dissociated state of mind is that powerful. Here is a passage illustrating that gap between believers and unbelievers: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?. . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.[2 Cor. 6:14-18] Muted disgust is to be the the reaction to the world outside the flock. Also, the life of the believer is described in terms of hating those members of his earthly family who do not come along, of leaving them and all one's possessions behind to be a follower. One is to burn all bridges behind one, to make it as hard as possible to return. Besides the flock, one is to have on other place to go. If the believer were to notice how convenient for controlling him it is for him to perceive outside ideas as emanating from Satan, he would first have to give himself permission to think such a firbidden thought. But he needs to entertain such thoughts first, before he could give himself that permission. The well-indoctrinated believer can't quite get himself to do either. To see his position in perspective, he needs to clear away all the biblical irrelevancies he is presently occupied with; but to identify the irrelevancies, he would already have to have that perspective. This paradox produces intellectual deadlock in the believer. The believer fixates on this paradox, and thus adds one more irrelevancy to the many already occupying his conscious thought. An impasse in rational thought is created. Thus Bridge Burning strengthens Dissociation Induction by splitting the believer's psychological reality into the realms of believers and unbelievers, and widening the gap so much that it remains uncrossable. This can be done by poisoning his mind against unbelievers, or placing logical conundrums in his path out of the Bible's semantic labyrinth, or bluffing him with the prospect of how harmful anything that would dispel this biblical intrusion from his psyche would be. Bridge Burning can't create the gap, but it can keep it open and widen it, lending stability to the mind control already in place. Device 7: Holy Terror Basically, frightening people into compliance with biblical doctrine is what it is all about. Every other issue we have examined is transformed into something radically different from the superficial, Device 1 form. The initial promise to transform mundane life is modified later on by the knowledge that in this life, we will experience persecution. Evangelicals disparage the "relativism" they see in non-biblical beliefs; but we have seen that the notion of the punishment fitting the crime is "spiritually naive." All that biblical "justice" comes down to is dwelling on offenses that pertain to keeping indoctrination in place, ratifying any existing secular state decrees, and maybe incorporating any prohibitions against theft, murder, etc. that all human groups invent anyway; it's only thanks to the rhetorical style that there seems to be anything more to it. What of the "love" a believer is to receive? We have seen that "love" boils down to an obsessive self-discipline in accord with the devotional program. The "hope" a believer receives is that there is some small chance that he won't spend eternity getting worked over in God's torture chamber. And as for the Bible being "pro-family"--the best it does is to provide some pro-family verses to cancel out the anti-family verses. Only the fear appeal remains the same as the indoctrination deepens. (Of course, pastors have developed the habit of saying that "fear" really means awe or reverence, just as "hate" really means psychological distance. Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of contextual, thematic or etymological justification for such an approach. This is a variation on the theme we have developed of selective dissociation, of isolating emotion from the idea that elicits it.) The Bible threatens non-elect with the worst fate imaginable--namely, eternal punishment coupled with the catastrophe at the end of the world, i. e. the destruction of everything the non-elect loved in this life. The punishment is described in terms of corporeal punishment, so that even densest of the rank and file will get the point. Thus the references to burns inflicted eternally[Matt. 25:41, 46; Luke 3:9, 17; 16:24; John 15:6; Heb. 10:27; Jude 7; Rev. 14:10; 19:20; 20:10 and 21:8], being deprived of rest, and being whipped [Luke 12:47-48]. Whatever happens takes place in darkness, elicits weeping and gnashing of teeth, and will be worse than what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. How does this fear appeal help foster dissociation? The Bible authors state that though heaven and earth pass away, it is with their earthly bodies and present psychological makeup that the unsaved are resurrected. Not only does the punishment consist of pain being inflicted upon one's now indestructible body, but also the denial of all creature comfort to creatures that still desire it. The saved on the other hand, get "incorruptible" bodies. The Bible doesn't say a lot about the way the saved will live in the new heavens and new earth, but apparently the "joy" of their existence will be release from creature wants and bonds of affection that only seemed important. The saved will be like the angels--no gender, no intimate bodily functions, no ordinary human feelings or compassion. The image one receives is that heaven is mainly the received ability to sit through an eternal church service without getting bored or without getting an aching posterior. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. . . The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.[Rev. 4:6-8, 10-11] (Here we can see the four beasts representing the despised unconscious, three parts animal and one human, and fragmentation indicated by the multiplicity of eyes, representing complexes. The beasts both regard the throne and are superimposed on God the Father, who occupies the throne even while the beasts are in the "midst of the throne." Also God here is protrayed as receiving power from the twenty-four elders worshipping him, which is consistent with the notion of a God-complex being constantly energized by believers. Once again, the conclusion is that God consists of pieces of oneself, projected and energized with one's own energy.) This contrast between saved and unsaved modes of existence in the afterlife--which really represents the state of the psyche--is just another way of pitting conscious against unconscious, where unconscious is once again negatively portrayed in terms of the shadow. Christianity comes down to a destructive, wasteful effort towards the goal of keeping the conscious and unconscious estranged; fear of hell is a metaphor for the fear of the consequences of letting the two mental realms communicate. If the dissociation should weaken, the fear of hell drives the believer to redouble his efforts, to perfect the dissociation, perhaps by praying more, going to church to get peer re-assurance, more Bible readings, etc. What keeps this fear from getting out of hand? The great genius of Christianity lies in the fact that it protects itself with intricately contrived non-disprovability. That which could disconfirm Christianity is is (conveniently) out of reach, beyond the grave as it were. Thus even though, like our hysterically blind soldier, the believer knows on some level he has no real proof for the belief, and so must dissociate this awareness to maintain the belief, he also knows that nobody has any direct basis for declaring the belief false. This "double orientation" keeps the fear remote enough for it not to get out of hand, and accounts for the mind knowing, at some level, what to expel from conscious awareness. Also it must be admitted here that there will be an enormous difference in effect on "inner-directed" and "other-directed" individuals. "Inner-directed" individuals are mainly guided by conscience, where "other-directed" individuals take their cues from other people. Most people are really more "other-directed" than we would like to think. The Devices we have been describing have a much greater impact on such "inner-directed" individuals than they do on the rank-and-file, who just "go with the flow" in any event. The great danger for the "other-directed" believer is to spend most of his life working into a position where the superficialities of Device 1 wear off and the true implications of the Bible make themselves felt. Because of the Protestant tradition of the last couple centuries of obscuring the Bible's true import, of making the Device 1 "sales pitch" into the whole religion, present-day Evangelicals have a potential crop of clientele almost as unsuspecting as those of the first century must have been. Once again, people are "open" to the concept that a kind of weakness, i. e. inner dividedness, really represents strength. Part of the blame lies with the failure of secular ideologies to provide a satisfactory answer--they all made falsifiable promises, and they were all, indeed, falsified. Add an underlying end-of-the-world hysteria, fostered by biblical images resembling a nuclear holocaust, and the approach of the year 2000, and it becomes quite conceivable that a socially dangerous situation could be brewing. Even in the best-case scenario, the new biblicism is probably resulting in needless fear, manipulation and mental anguish being spread all over our country. In my next post I will elaborate somewhat on Dr. Cohen's thoughts concerning the mental health implications of the Evangelical Mind Control System. [1] Bainton, Roland H. Here I Stand (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1978), pp. 44-45. [2] Ibid.

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