Nicodemus - played by Laurence Olivier. Remember the Jewish Leaders who loved and defended Jesus.

Nicodemus – played by Laurence Olivier. Remember the Jewish Leaders who loved and defended Jesus.

In reading the daily gospels this passion week it is frightening to see the traits of the religious leaders who killed Jesus.

They exhibit the kind of anti-religion that develops within any religious system. It has shown its ugly face with many different names. In one place Manicheanism, in another age Jansenism, in another place Calvinism, in another place Jihadi Wahhabism, in another place Protestant fundamentalism, in another place Hindu extremism, in another place Catholic extremism.

This anti-religion is universal. It knows no boundaries. It is universal because it lies in the darkened heart of humanity.

It subverts the true aims of any religion and twists it into a horrible counterfeit. Where true religion promotes charity this anti-religion promotes exclusivism and blame. Where true religion promotes simplicity and humility the counterfeit is ornate and proud. Where true religion serves the poor, the counterfeit blames the poor. Where true religion is full of humor, the counterfeit is self righteously unsmiling. Where true religion cultivates freedom, the false religion is legalistic. Where true religion calls for the growth and fulfillment of the human spirit the false religion suppresses and enslaves the individual. Where true religion calls for risk and the spirit of adventure, the false religion is based on fear and suspicion. Most of all, where the true religion embraces and forgives the sinner, the false religion accuses and blames the sinner.

Here then are the traits of those who killed Jesus, and still kill him today:

  1. Membership in a Religious Sect – The Jesus killers get together into a little sub group who are better than everyone else. They are the “true believers” who have the “correct interpretation of the Bible” or follow the “proper way of worship.”
  2. A Fortress Mentality – They do not reach out to others, but withdraw into their own little “fortress of faith”. They hunker down and view those outside with suspicion, accusation and blame.
  3. Anti-Intellectualism – This can take two forms: outright anti-intellectualism-“Y’all can’t trust them college boys…” or a second type which is a kind of bogus intellectualism in which they publish their own “learned” information with biased scholarship, wacky ideologies, conspiracies theories and a whole system of counter-knowledge.
  4. Legalism – The counterfeit religion will promote its own set of strict rules. These will often focus on sexual morality, and usually include a strict dress code and ritualistic behaviors. I knew of one sect where they legislated which side of the head boys should part their hair and stipulated that people should go up the steps two at a time to “show enthusiasm.” Continue Reading

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